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Perhaps my favorite benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express is the Priority Pass membership that attaches to the card. It’s a great benefit for those who travel like crazy but sometimes people wonder if getting the Priority Pass via The Platinum Card® from American Express is worth it? After all, there is a hefty annual fee of
$450 (now $550)for the card. I’m going to show you why it’s worth it to me as well as explain some features of Priority Pass.
What is Priority Pass?
It’s a program that offers members access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide. You can enter into any of these lounges with a boarding pass for that same day, even if your boarding pass isn’t for that particular airline, too.
There are three different tiers of Priority Pass:
- You pay $99 per year and each time you enter into a lounge you pay a $27 fee
2) Standard Plus
- You pay $249 per year for 10 visits
- You pay $400 per year for unlimited visits.
The Prestige plan is the plan that is offered through the Priority Pass Select with The Platinum Card® from American Express. (The “Select” label on the Priority Pass just indicates that you’ve obtained your membership through a financial institution.)
Your membership is good for three years and will automatically renew free of charge if you remain a Platinum Card® from American Express cardholder. (If you ever cancel your card you will lose your Priority Pass Select membership.)
What’s so great about Priority Pass?
It’s great because of the flexibility and widespread access to airport lounges around the globe. Most of the lounges provide complimentary alcohol, refreshments and/or meals, free wifi, comfortable and quiet spaces to relax, a selection of magazines, power outlets, and some even have showers, spa, and bed facilities.
If you’ve never been into an airport lounge before, it can really enhance your travel experience. Personally, I’m always arriving early to the airport, usually 2-3 hours before my flight. I never want to take any chances. With access to lounges, I can relax in a quiet setting, get a bite to eat, something to drink, and not have to worry about staking out space and claiming an outlet. It just makes for a much more pleasant experience. This is especially true if you have long layovers at certain airports.
Now, sometimes the lounges can become very busy and you may not even be allowed access to them but that’s the beauty of having a pass like this because you can hop around to different lounges (assuming there’s more than one lounge in the airport where Priority Pass offers you access).
Signing-up for Priority Pass
First thing’s first, once you receive your Platinum Card® from American Express, make sure that you go online to the Amex website and select “benefits” and then click enroll. Your Platinum Card® from American Express card will not be enough for you to gain access to these lounges; you must activate your Priority Pass membership so that you receive a little black Priority Pass card in the mail!
It took me about 10 days to receive my Priority Pass in the mail after I enrolled in the program. When you receive your card, don’t forget to activate it either! There’s a pin number that comes with it and all you have to do is go to the Priority Pass Website and select “register” and enter in your card number and pin, and just like that, you’re ready to go.
Keep in mind that you’ll always need to bring your card with you to have access to the lounges. You can download the Priority Pass App and have the digital pass on hand but it’s probably always a good idea to have the actual card with you as well.
Is Priority Pass worth it?
In the context of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, I think that obtaining the Priority Pass Select membership definitely adds significant value to the card that can make the card worth the investment in many cases, depending on how often you travel and your spending habits when you travel.
Here’s a look at the factors I considered when determining if Priority Pass and The Platinum Card® from American Express card were worth it to me.
The value of the benefits
Over the last year I made about 12 visits to different airports. As mentioned, I usually arrive about two to three hours before my departure time. This leaves a void where I’m usually in search of seating in a quiet area, wifi, food and drinks.
The most often purchased items are probably food and drinks. Brad and I pretty much established a tradition of grabbing a meal and a beer before our flights at different airports. Unfortunately, this usually added up to $35-45 pretty easily. We’d each also be in search of a couple of snacks and usually a nice magazine or two to read, which adds up to at least another $15 for us. So it wasn’t hard to spend $50 or more each time I arrived at the airport on things that we wanted to make our travel experience a little more comfortable.
So $50 x 12 airport visits = $600 or $300 per person.
With Priority Pass Select, I can now get by without paying for most of those things by taking advantage of what is offered in the lounges so I essentially save $300/year based on my own spending habits. But there are additional benefits as well, including but not limited to:
- Free wifi
- Quick access to usually knowledgable customer service reps in the event of unexpected events
- Comfy seats in a quiet setting and even ability to take a nap
- Ability to indulge in adult beverages if I feel up for it
- Having a comfortable area to relax in in the event of a delayed flight or a long lay-over
- The “VIP” feeling/treatment
Having a place to relax and get free food and drinks for a few hours also makes planning trips easier in my opinion because layovers don’t sound nearly as bad with lounge access, especially if you can get into a really nice lounge and take advantage of things like shower facilities. The more open to layovers you are, generally the more options you have for flights….
Thus, I save around $300 and obtain a host of other benefits each year that make traveling much more comfortable and less stressful starting from the planning phase of travel to the actual flying phase.
I got this membership with The Platinum Card® from American Express and thus have to pay $450 annually for this card. Now, each year I get a $200 airline credit which I uses to recoup almost half of that so I in effect only pay $250.
So, if one were to not even consider all of the the other benefits like HH Gold status, SPG Gold status, Boingo Wifi etc. not to mention the hefty sign-up bonus which easily is worth way more than $450 (more on that below), one could say I’m paying $250 annually for Priority Pass Select. This is obviously cheaper than the $400 a year I would be paying without it so I’m saving around $150 on the price.
Remember, though, I’m saving close to $300 a year during my airport visits by not eating at the restaurants and buying drinks, too. So $300 minus the $250 I’m spending for the pass, and it looks like I’m netting $50 each year by utilizing this pass. So based on my spending habits, I’m actually coming out on top and spending less money in the future while utilizing this membership.
So even though I’m spending $250 a year now on fees, it actually still is an overall savings for me each year.
And that’s not even considering the 100,000 points I got for The Platinum Card® from American Express sign-up bonus (you can get it when you’re targeted or when it randomly appears). Even assuming a conservative redemption rate of 1 cent/per point, I’m also getting $1,000 in travel costs on top of my other benefits.
So I’m basically not spending more for the annual fee and getting this $400 benefit and by doing so am saving around $50 each year and enjoying the hell out of comfy couches, free food, drinks, etc. And don’t forget, the card (along with having a clean criminal history) also earned me TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, so I usually breeze through security and customs, which is invaluable and worth way more than $20/year to me.
As you can see, it’s really a no-brainer that the Priority Pass Select, via The Platinum Card® from American Express, is worth it to me.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.