Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge at LAX Review

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at LAX is located in Terminal 2 and it’s one of my favorite airport lounges I’ve stopped at to date. It’s a small but beautiful lounge with great cocktails, decent entrees, and a passionate and attentive staff. Here’s my Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX review.

Finding the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX Terminal 2

We easily found the lounge a little after we went through TSA Pre-Check at Terminal 2. Look for the illuminated staircase and then walk your way up the stairs and you’ll see a sign pointing you directly to the Clubhouse — you can’t miss it.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entrance at LAX Terminal 2.

This area of the terminal was recently renovated and it’s a pretty stunning sight.

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LAX Terminal 2.

After we strolled up to the entrance, the receptionist met us with a warm greeting and within seconds, we entered the lounge.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entrance.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entrance.

There had been a number of cancellations out of LHR due to snow and our Virgin Atlantic flight 24 had been delayed for over an hour. Due to the delay, we had a total of about four hours to spend at the lounge, which actually passed pretty quickly thanks in large part to the never-ending cocktail selection.

I should note that while this is a Priority Pass lounge, admission is limited to certain hours. Also Priority Pass guests do not get the full selection of hot menu items or cocktails so the Priority Pass experience will differ a lot from the experience below.

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Priority Pass hours for the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX Lounge

Upon entering, I noticed how chic all of the furniture and lounge decor was. There was nothing “boring” about this lounge and I could quickly tell that I’d be enjoying my time at the Clubhouse.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entrance.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entrance.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entrance.

The first part of the Clubhouse lounge has comfy seating in the form of long couches with plenty of multi-colored pillows that emphasize the modern look. There are some small tables as well, which all come with menus for your convenience.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX seating.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX seating.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX seating.
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The seating options come with bright colors.

In addition to the couches, there are several swanky chairs you can choose for your seating options if you’re not into sharing a couch with others.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX.

The walls are lined with seating options that look out to the taxiways. It’s mostly Delta and Southwest jets that you’ll be viewing but you also get views as far as the LA skyline and the Hollywood Hills.

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View from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX.
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View from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX.
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View from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX.

As you move more inside the lounge, the seating transitions into more dining-friendly tables and chairs.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining seating.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining seating.

At the very end of the lounge, there’s a semi-private booth area with a soothing LCD display. I wanted to snag that area but there was a gentleman there before we arrived and he never moved an inch so we had to admire it from afar.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining seating.

Eventually we chose one of the tables seen below for our dining experience. There were no outlets near our table, though you can see that one of the other tables did have outlets near it.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining seating.

The bar is also located in the middle of the lounge.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX bar.

Beside the bar is an area with chips, cookies, and water. (The cookies are soft, chewy, and amazing.)

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse snack area.

The bathroom is also nearby, just around the corner.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX bathroom.

Overall, it’s not the largest lounge but there are a lot of seating options. Considering that they limit access for Priority Pass members when Virgin Atlantic flights are set, I don’t think overcrowding will be a major issue. I will say that about 1.5 hours before departure, the lounge filled up and there were very few empty seats in the lounge so I strongly recommend arriving early to lockdown a preferred seat.

The dining experience at the Clubhouse

We decided to go ahead and grab a table in the portion of the lounge dedicated to dining. Within seconds we were greeted by Andy, a passionate server who most frequenters to this lounge have probably have met in the past. He was excellent in every respect and his passion for serving was infectious and greatly appreciated.

We chatted it up with him for a while and decided to let him serve up some different cocktails to get our lounge experience started.

He started by bringing us the Mediterranean, which is a fresh cocktail that comes with Grey Goose, Lillet Blanc, Singani 63, Aperol, strawberry, lemon juice, and seltzer. It’s a great starter drink. They also brought out some chips and spiced nuts to snack on.

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The Mediterranean

The next drink was the Bramble, which was another great starter drink that came with Bombay Sapphire Gin, blackberries, lemon juice, and blackberry liqueur. I really enjoyed this cocktail as did Brad.

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The Bramble.

At this point, we started to work up an appetite and ordered one of the starters, the salmon poke bowl. The poke bowl was absolutely delicious and both me and Brad agreed it was one of the best dishes we’d been served in any of the lounges we’d visited over the past couple of weeks.

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The salmon poke bowl.

Our server then surprised us with another drink called the Reckoning, which was a strong rum and punch that came in a formidable Tiki-inspired mug. It took me back to our trips to the Caribbean and was delicious, although by this point I was barely finishing half of my drinks before moving on to the next round.

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The Reckoning.

We then decided to order main entrees. I went with the Clubhouse burger and Brad tried out the tagliatelle. These dishes were not quite on par with the poke bowl but were still decent.

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The Clubhouse burger.
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The tagliatelle.

During our entrees, our server brought out another beverage which he touted as one of the top signature cocktails of the lounge. This was the Beach Bonfire. It came with Bourbon, aged Cachaca, pineapple, gum syrup, Angostura and Bitterman’s Chocolate Mole Bitters, fresh hickory smoke, along with a shorty of pilsner. I absolutely loved this drink!

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The Beach Bonfire.

To cap things off, our serve brought us out a serving of the donuts which were very good as well.

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After finishing up dessert, our server decided to bring us our yet another cocktail. At this point, I wasn’t even coming close to finishing up all of the drinks but decided to just roll with it and try out as many different drinks as possible.

This drink was the Virgin Redhead which came with some bubbly and Sapphire Gin.

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The Virgin Redhead.

After all of these drinks and entrees, we’d passed over three hours in the lounge and it was nearly time to board. Thankfully, our flight had not been cancelled though it’d been delayed over a 1.5 hours. Still, we happily made our way down to our gate (which was only a couple of minutes away) and boarded the aircraft bound for snowy London.

The menus

Below is the full menu for the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX as of March 2018.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.
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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX menu.

Final Word

Overall, this lounge experience was a departure from the norm. I don’t think I could handle every lounge experience being like this (with the never ending cocktails) but this was a fun instance to enjoy some indulgence. Having a passionate and personable server made the experience that much more memorable and I’d have to rate this lounge experience as one of the best I’ve had in recent memory.

Should I Apply For the American Express Platinum Card?

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Any time you’re applying for a card with an annual of $450 plus, you want to be sure that you’re making a smart decision and that the benefits that you’ll receive from your card will be worth it. The American Express Platinum Card is all about the benefits, meaning that you don’t get the Platinum card for its point earning potential — you get it for the lounge access, hotel status, etc. Here are some things to consider if you’re wondering if you should apply for the Platinum Card.

Do you value lounges?

The first thing to consider is whether not you value airport lounge access. The reason is that this is the primary benefit of the Platinum Card and if you don’t care for spending time in airport lounges, the value you place on this benefit (and the card in general) will be greatly diminished. 

What’s so great about airport lounges? 

There are several benefits to having access to lounges from a card like the Platinum Card.

For one, you get to escape the busy terminal waiting areas and relax in a nicer area with comfy seating, power outlets, free wifi, etc. You are usually given complimentary snacks or meals, drinks (alcoholic drinks are often included), and other items, such as magazines or newspapers. Some lounges have showers, play areas for children, and even areas for you to relax and take a nap. In short, airport lounges allow you to travel much more comfortably.

Complimentary drinks at MCO.

One often undiscussed benefit to lounges is that they also make your planning easier because layovers in a nice lounge can actually be enjoyable. Thus, you may have more options to choose from when putting your itinerary together.  

Ultimately, I recommend people to just try out a (good) lounge and see how they like it before they decide on how they value the “lounge experience” but from my experience most people come to love them. 

So once you’ve decided that you’re a lounge person (or at least open to being a lounge person), you want to take a look at the specific lounge benefits offered by the Platinum Card. 

Lounge Access offered by the Platinum Card

There are three different type of lounge access offered by the Platinum Card. 

Priority Pass

With the Platinum, you get “Prestige” level access to lounges from Priority Pass. This is a benefit worth $400 and will get you access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide, so if you’re planning on doing international travel, chances are you’ll come across an airport with a lounge for Priority Pass members. 

Most of the Priority Pass 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.

Centurion Lounges 

With the Platinum Card, you get access to American Express Centurion Lounges for yourself and two guests or immediate family members. Centurion lounges are among the best lounges that you’ll find at U.S. airports. They currently have locations at SFO, SEA, LAS, LGA, MIA, DFW and the freshly opened one in Houston (IAH). 

Delta SkyClub lounges

You also get access to Delta Sky Club lounges but you will need to be flying with Delta that day in order to gain access.

How often would you utilize lounge benefits?

Once you’ve determined that you value lounge access offered by the Platinum Card, you have to determine  how often you would take advantage of the lounge access. This will be an easy way to find out if the lounge benefits alone will make the Platinum worth applying for.   

If you only fly one or two times a year, you’d probably be better of just purchasing one-time passes or looking into a card like the United MileagePlus Explorer card to get you one-time access into a United Club lounge.

If you take about 3 to 5 trips a year (6 to 10 potential lounge visits), you will probably get your money’s worth out of the Platinum Card by spending time in airport lounges but you might want to check to see if the airports you’ll likely frequent have Priority Pass lounges by using this search tool.

If you don’t think you will be using lounges

If you consider your travel plans and airports that you’ll be using and find that you probably won’t be utilizing the lounge access benefit with Priority Pass lounges, Centurion Lounges, or Delta SkyClub Lounges, you shouldn’t ditch your plans to apply for the Platinum immediately.

That’s because if you catch the Platinum card with a 75,000 or 100,000 Membership Rewards offer, it might still be worth it to apply. Such an offer could easily provide you with over $2,000 in value (not counting the value from the lounges). That’s why some people will even apply for two American Express Platinum Cards, because with the $200 airline credits factored in, you can essentially turn $250 into over $2,000 worth of travel currency with one card. At that point, it’s not about the benefits, it’s all about the value of the sign-up bonus. 

Thus, if you don’t think lounge access is a benefit that makes the Platinum Card valuable to you, then you should still consider the value that might be earned with the sign-up bonuses (not to mention other benefits.)

If you do think you will be using lounges

So now let’s assume that you do think you will be getting your money’s worth by visiting lounges, does that mean you should just apply for the American Express Platinum Card? No. Before you decide to apply, you should consider alternatives for getting you lounge access. 

The alternatives

You should weigh your other options and consider other credit cards that offer lounge access. Unless you’re thinking about going with a co-branded card for a specific airline like United, American Airlines, or Delta, the most competitive card will likely be the Citi Prestige.

The Citi Prestige

You’ll need to make the call of which card you’d prefer (unless you’re thinking about going with both). You can read up on my comparison of the American Express Platinum Card versus the Citi Prestige here.

It’s really hard to go with the Platinum Card over the Citi Prestige considering that the Prestige offers the following benefits for the same annual fee of $450:

  • $250 airline credit that can be used even for tickets
  • 3x on airfare and hotels, and 2X on dining and entertainment
  • Fourth night free when booking hotels
  • Allows two guests to visit Priority Pass lounges for free
  • Admirals Club access to the primary cardholder when flying on American Airlines.
  • Allows you to add each authorized user for $50.

Compare the difference in these benefits offered by the Platinum:

  • $200 airline credit that is meant to be utilized for fees and incidentals (although there are ways around this)
  • No bonus category points
  • Gold HHonors and SPG status
  • No free guests with your Priority Pass and you must pay $27 per guest
  • Access to Centurion Lounges with free access for up to two guests
  • Add up to three authorized users for $175 total
  • Free Boingo Wifi subscription 
  • Access to Amex Offers

I’ve enjoyed the complimentary Gold status with Hilton as I’ve been upgraded to better rooms during my last 3 stays as a result of it; however, in a straight comparison, the benefits of the Citi Prestige stretch further and are simply more valuable, especially if you take advantage of the 4th night free benefit.

So should you apply? 

I think that the main reason to go with the Platinum Card over the Prestige is for the high bonuses that are offered. The 100,000 Membership Rewards offer (or even 75,000) that roll out would definitely make me consider taking the Platinum Card over the Prestige, especially if I were likely to visit airports with Centurion Lounges and valued Gold status with Hilton and SPG. If I had to choose between the standard 50K Prestige offer and the 100K Platinum offer, I think I’d go with the Platinum but otherwise, I think I’d lean more towards the Prestige. 

The Best Credit Cards with Lounge Access

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There are a number of credit cards that offer airport lounge access, but they all come with pretty hefty annual fees (which are almost never waived) so you want to make sure that you’re going with the card that will benefit you the most before applying for them. Which card will be best for you will depend on factors such as what airline you frequently fly with, which airports you frequent, and how much you value additional benefits that the card offers. Here’s a breakdown of my top 5 credit cards that offer airport lounge access.

Platinum Card from American Express


  • Annual Fee: $450

The Platinum Card from American Express offers you the “Prestige” level membership to Priority Pass  — worth $400 a year. This grants you access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide and you should be able to find a lounge at just about every major airport. 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.

The Platinum Card also provides you with access to American Express Centurion Lounges for yourself and two guests or immediate family members. Centurion lounges are among the best lounges that you’ll find at U.S. airports. They currently have locations at SFO, SEA, LAS, LGA, MIA, DFW and coming this year (2016) they will have one in Houston (IAH).
The Centurion Lounge at SFO.

Photo by Mighty Travels via Flickr.

What’s really nice about the Centurion lounges is that with the Platinum Card you’re allowed to bring in immediate family members or up to two guests for no additional fee. Thus, if you frequent any one of the above airports with Centurion lounges with travel partners or family, you may want to seriously consider the Platinum Card. 

Also not to be forgotten is that the Platinum Card provides access to Delta Sky Club lounges; however, you will need to be flying with Delta that day in order to gain access.

The Platinum card allows up to three authorized users to be added for the total price of $175 and each of the authorized users will be offered full benefits like Priority Pass and entrance into the Centurion and Delta Sky Club lounges. If you can max out the authorized users there’s a potential for huge value as you’d getting well over $1,200 in value a year for a mere $175.

Other benefits include:

  • $200 annual airline credit (essentially reducing the annual fee to $250)
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check (a Godsend that’s good for 5 years!)
  • Gold status with Hilton and Starwood
  • Free Boingo Wifi subscription (worth $120 per year)
  • Rental car benefits like express check-in, free upgrades, and discounts with status.
  • Concierge service

The standard sign-up bonus for the Platinum Card is 40,000 Membership Rewards but you can come across targeted offers for as high as 100,000 Membership Rewards making the potential value of the Platinum Card very hard to beat.

Citi Prestige


  • Annual Fee: $450

The Citi Prestige also offers Priority Pass but with the Citi Prestige, you can take up to two guests with you into the lounge for free. Compare this with the Amex Platinum which requires the guests to pay $27 each time for lounge access. If you and your partner do all of your traveling together then this essentially operates as a free membership for them, which means you’re getting about $800 in benefits!

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The Club Lounge at MCO accessed via Priority Pass

With the Prestige, you are also offered access to the Admirals Club lounges when you fly American Airlines on that day. Unfortunately, this benefit is not offered to authorized users and can only be utilized by the primary cardholder.

You can add an unlimited number of authorized users to your Citi Prestige for $50 each. Authorized users for the Prestige aren’t given the 4th night free, Admirals Club access, or the Global Entry Credit, but they do get the Priority Pass membership, which means they’re getting a $400 benefit for only $50, so it’s still a sweet deal!

Other benefits include:

  • $250 airline credit (which can be used for broader expenses, such as airline tickets)
  • Complimentary night at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive-night booking (Probably the most valuable benefit)
  • $100 Global Entry credit
  • 3 free rounds of golf through GolfSwitch
  • Rental car benefits like express check-in, free upgrades, and discounts with status.
  • Concierge service
  • Bonus category spending:
    • 3X on air travel and hotels
    • 2X on dining and entertainment
    • 1X on all other purchases

The Citi Prestige also comes with a solid sign-up bonus at 40,000 Thankyou Points and can even be as high as 100,000!

To read up more on the Citi Prestige vs the Platinum Card from American Express read here.

Citi® AAdvantage® Executive

card-executive AMERICAN

  • Annual Fee: $450

This card will provide you with access to over 40 Admirals Club® lounges and access to other airline lounges, such as Qantas lounges. It also allows you to bring in immediate family members (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18) or up 2 guests traveling with the primary cardmember or authorized user. 

A newly added benefit is that authorized users are allowed access to the Admirals Club® lounges, though it comes with some restrictions. For example, the authorized user benefit does not provide: (i) access privileges to the Arrivals Lounge, Flagship Lounge facilities, or other airline lounges or clubs with which American Airlines may have reciprocal lounge or club access privileges, including lounges operated by members of the oneworld alliance. Still, even with some limitations, with no fee to add authorized users, this can be a tremendously valuable benefit. 

Other benefits include:

  • First Checked Bag Free
  • MileSAAver discount for on MileSAAver awards to destinations selected every other month
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Application Fee Credit
  • 25% savings on in–flight purchases of food, beverages, and headsets on flights operated by American Airlines
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, and priority boarding privileges when traveling on domestic flights
  • The primary cardmember will earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after spending $40,000 in purchases that post to cardmember’s January through December billing statements

The annual fee is $450 but it’s cheaper than what you’d pay for Admirals Club membership without status ($500).

The sign-up bonus for the Executive Card is 60,000 miles but offers have been as high as 100,000 in the past.

United MileagePlus® Club card


  • Annual Fee: $450

This card provides you with United Club membership but authorized users will not receive their own United Club membership and are only eligible for United Club access if they are traveling with the primary cardmember, as two guests or one guest and dependent children are allowed access to the lounge with the card. With the Club card, you’ll also have access to hundreds of Star Alliance lounges when departing from those airports on a Star Alliance partner (but be limited to one guest).

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IAH United Lounge Terminal D

Other benefits include:

  • Designated check-in lines, priority security lanes, priority boarding
  • Free 1st and 2nd checked bag, priority baggage handling
  • Close-in booking fee waivers on award tickets booked less than 21 days before departure
  • Earnings of 1.5 miles for each $1 on purchases.
  • Primary Cardmember is eligible for Platinum status in the Hyatt Gold Passport program.
  • Use your miles to book any available seat, any time, on any United-operated flight. If seats are available for sale, they can be redeemed at the MileagePlus Standard Award level

The annual fee is $450 but it’s $100 cheaper than the $550 that you’d pay for United Club membership.

There is no sign-up bonus for miles with the card but you are given a $100 statement credit after your first purchase with the credit card.

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express


Annual Fee: $450

This card offers you complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges and a discounted rate ($29 per person) for up to two guests, so guests cannot get in for free. Authorized users can be added for $175 per card. As of yet, the Delta Reserve Credit Card does not allow access to SkyTeam partner lounges. (You can use this tool to find lounges where you’d be allowed entry with the card).

Other benefits include:

  • Get 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMS) after you reach $30,000 or more on purchases on your Card within the calendar year and if you spend $60,000 or more, you will be awarded an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs.
  • You and up to eight more passengers in your reservation can board your flight with Zone 1 priority boarding
  • You can check your first bag free on Delta flights booked with your Card
  • Delta Reserve Companion Certificate
  • 20% savings on certain in-flight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets, and movies, shows, etc.
  • Delta Reserve Companion Certificate upon renewal of your card good for a round-trip domestic flight.

The sign up bonus is currently get 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 10,000 bonus miles after your first purchase on the Card.

Final Word 

Always consider the airlines you’ll be frequenting and the airports you’ll likely be visiting before jumping on a card for lounge benefits. In addition, some of the additional benefits, especially for the Platinum Card and Citi Prestige can be add up to save you thousands, so always factor in those benefits as well. 

Review of the Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the top travel cards for individuals looking for a host of travel benefits, such as premier lounges access, Global Entry, hotel and rental car status, and solid purchase protections. The Platinum Card® comes with a pretty hefty annual fee, so many potential applicants wonder if it’s worth it to apply. Here’s a review of the Platinum Card® from American Express that will shed some light on whether or not this card is for you.

Charge card vs Credit Card

I’ll start off with the basics.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a “charge card,” which means that it must be paid off in full each month or else you face a hefty monthly fee. The benefit to a charge card is that you’re not restricted to a credit limit and so you have a little more flexibility — you just need to be able to keep yourself in check to make sure you’ll pay off your balance in full each month.


American Express will often offer you the opportunity to “pay over time,” however. This essentially turns your charge card into a hybrid credit/charge card and allows you to carry a balance. Typically, American Express will monitor your spending habits for approximately one year and then offer you this option (though sometimes it comes sooner).

In addition to being able to carry a balance, there are two benefits to the pay over time option. One, American Express does not conduct a hard pull on your credit when they check your eligibility. They run a soft-check in conjunction with their own internal credit check system. Second, American Express will usually offer you some kind of incentive and reward you with Membership Rewards for opting into pay over time.

American Express Transfer Partners

American Express cards like the Platinum Card® earn you Membership Rewards. They are generally considered one of more valuable reward currencies and these points can be transferred to several different airline and hotel partners. Below is a list of the eligible travel partners.


Membership Rewards Airline Partners
Membership Rewards Airline Partners
Membership Rewards Airline Partners
Membership Rewards Airline Partners

These partners do not have all have the same transfer ratios as you can see below:

  • Delta Skymiles
  • Club Premier AeroMexico
  • Aeroplan Air Canada
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • MilleMigilia Club Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avios British Airways (250 points = 200 Avios)
  • Emirates Skyrewards
  • Hawaiin Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue
  • KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America (200 points = 100 Elevate points)
  • Virgin Atlantic


Membership Rewards Hotels

  • Best Western Rewards
  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton HHonors (1,000 points = 1,500 HHonors points)
  • SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) (1,000 points = 333 Starpoints)

There are a few things to keep in mind about Membership Rewards:

  • Bonus transfers are occasionally offered allowing you to transfer your points to partners for higher ratios. Check this thread for a history of these transfer bonuses.
  • Your Membership Rewards cannot be freely transferred between you and any friend or family members
  • They don’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder

Redeeming Points

If you don’t decide to transfer your Membership Rewards to other travel partners you can always utilize them for travel redemptions or purchases.

Membership Rewards can be redeemed in the following ways:

  • Between .5 and 1.0 cent per point for gift cards
  • 0.6 cent per point for a statement credit/charge
  • 1.0 cent per point on air fare
  • 0.7 cent per point on hotels, cruises, and vacation packages.

Aside from maybe using them for air fare to earn or maintain elite status, I personally do not think these are good redemption rates. I just wrote a post on booking airfare on Aeroplan (a transfer partner of Membership Rewards) and showed how you can redeem points on a round trip from the U.S. to Paris in business class with stopovers in Geneva and Brussels, with a redemption rate of over 10 cents per point. That means you could get over 5X the value when transferring your Membership Rewards to Aeroplan for that particular redemption. Compare that value to the above redemptions worth at most 1 cent per point and you can see why it’s usually discouraged to redeem in that way.

Aeroplan can be an extremely valuable transfer partner of Membership Rewards

Photo by Caribb via Flickr. 

However, depending on the circumstances (no availability with travel partners, short on cash, etc.), it might make sense for you to redeem your points through the Amex travel portal, so don’t rule out the possibility entirely. Just make sure you consider all of your options before redeeming at what will usually be a sub-optimal rate.

Sign-up Bonus

There are several different sign-up offers for the Platinum Card® that appear for this card.

Here are the main offers:

  • 40,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card. This is the current main public offer.
  • 75,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $5,000 to $7,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card. This is a targeted offer with a pretty high spending requirement, so it’s not recommended for everyone. 
  • 100,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card. The best Platinum offer but it is a highly targeted offer usually only received by people who do not currently hold any Amex cards. 

Amex Platinum Card

One bonus per lifetime

You need to know that American Express has a once per lifetime rule for receiving sign-up offers for its cards. There are some exceptions to this and you can read more about them in the American Express application rules article.

Bonus Category Earning

The Platinum Card® does not have any bonus categories for spending. This is probably the biggest weakness of the Platinum Card® compared to cards like the Citi Prestige.

There are a couple of ways to earn bonus rates on certain categories, however. For example, you can earn 2X on purchases made through In addition, with Amex Offers, you can often earn 2X at certain retailers, such as Target, Amazon, etc.

Amex Offers
Not exactly bonus categories, but still something!


You can read more in-depth about the American Express Platinum Card benefits here, but here’s a run down on some of the top benefits.

Priority Pass

Here’s a detailed breakdown of my favorite benefits of the Platinum, but in a nutshell this card confers a host of benefits to you making it worth it including:

  • Priority Pass airport lounge access (worth $400 per year)
  • Centurion Lounge Access (including free access for two additional guests); Delta Lounge Access (when you fly with Delta)
  • $200 annual airline credit (essentially reducing the annual fee to $250)
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check (a Godsend that’s good for 5 years!)
  • Add up to 3 authorized users for only $175 per year (for all 3)
  • Gold status with Hilton and Starwood
  • Free Boingo Wifi subscription (worth $120 per year)
  • Rental car benefits like express check-in, free upgrades, and discounts with status.
Comfy seating at an Amex Centurion Lounge

Photo by Mighty Travels via Flickr 

The Priority Pass lounge access along with Centurion lounge access are some of the most valuable benefits of the Platinum Card®. If you’re interested in relaxing in comfy lounge areas and enjoying complimentary meals and adult beverages, you should definitely look into these benefits.

The other benefits add up in value pretty quickly, too. The $200 annual airline credit, $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check, along with elite hotel status, free Boingo, and rental car status, all combine for a substantial amount of value that more than pays for the annual fee when all things are considered.

And don’t forget about the authorized user policy. For only $175 you can confer the full benefits (minus the $200 airline credit) of the Platinum Card® to up to three additional cardholders, that’s easily $1,500 worth of additional benefits for only $175!

Other Benefits

Some other highlights of the Platinum Card® include:

Amex Offers

Amex Offers are promotional offers that are available to all Amex cardholders. Some of these offers will essentially provide you with free money, often giving you back $5-$15 off purchases at different online retailers. If used consistently and effectively, you can easily save yourself $100-200 a year on items you would’ve likely purchased anyway.

Foreign Transaction Fees

  • No foreign transaction fees
No foreign transaction fees for the Platinum

Photo by Jesús Pérez Pacheco via Flickr

Annual Fee

  • $450, not waived the first year

The annual fee is basically reduced to $250 with the annual $200 airline credit, so it’s really not quite as high as it might seem. And as seen above, the benefits this card can confer on you are far, far more valuable than $250, so always consider the return in value you are getting when looking at paying a high annual fee for a premium card like the Platinum Card®.

Travel protection

For damaged, stolen, or lost baggage, Amex may cover:

  • Replacement cost of carry-on baggage up to a maximum of $3,000
  • Replacement cost of checked baggage up to a maximum of $2,000 for each covered person on a Covered Trip

Car rental coverage is “excess,” which  means that Amex may reimburse the Cardmember only for losses/expenses not covered by plans, such as personal auto insurance or other sources of insurance. A Cardmember must first seek payment or reimbursement and receive a determination that other plans do not provide coverage before excess coverage will reimburse the cardmember.

This excess coverage may cover:

  • The cardholder for 1) the actual cost to repair the Rental Auto, 2) the wholesale Book value minus salvage and depreciation costs, or 3) the purchase invoice price of the Rental Auto minus salvage and depreciation costs.
  • Certain necessary covered medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident by the Cardmember or a Passenger are payable up to a maximum of $5000 per person.

Purchase protection

The Platinum Card® has some of the best purchase protection since it protects up to $10,000 per claim — that’s much higher than many other credit cards.

Here are some of the highlights of the protections:

  • Covers your new purchases for 90 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of five years or less.
  • You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $300 per item, $1,000 per year.

Final Word

The Platinum Card® from American Express can bring you exceptional value while providing you with a range of travel benefits. The lounge access to hundreds of lounges around the world, $200 annual statement credit, Global Entry, elite hotel status, and authorized user policy all are premier benefits that help set the Platinum Card® apart from many other cards.



Priority Pass Lounge Access with The Platinum Card® from American Express

Offers contained within this article maybe expired.

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:

1) Standard

  • 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

3) Prestige

  • You pay $400 per year for unlimited visits.
Priority Pass Pricing

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

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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.

The costs

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.