American Express Centurion Lounges are some of the world’s more upscale airport lounges.
The best? Not quite.
The worst? Far from it.
In addition to complimentary premium cocktails and food buffets, some feature spa treatments or other amenities.
Their decor, service, and ambiance are usually a step above your run-of-the-mill airline lounge.
Plus, there’s the American Express cachet — long perceived as luxury, prestige, and high class.
Anyone with certain premium American Express cards can access Centurion Lounges for free. But admission rules vary depending on which card you hold.
So, with that in mind, what American Express Card is the best to get you into Centurion Lounges?
Where are American Express Centurion Lounges?
You’ll find Centurion Lounges in the following airports:
- Buenos Aires (EZE)
- Charlotte (CLT)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Delhi (DEL)
- Denver (DEN)
- Hong Kong (HKG)
- Houston (IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Melbourne (MEL)
- Mexico City (MEX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Monterrey (MTY)
- Mumbai (BOM)
- New York (JFK)
- New York (LGA)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Sao Paulo (GRU)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Stockholm (ARN)
- Sydney (SYD)
Plus, cardholders can also access Escape Lounges – The Centurion® Studio Partner are the following locations:
- Hartford (BDL)
- Cincinnati (CVG)
- Columbus (CMH) – Opening soon
- Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) – Opening soon
- Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP)
- Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
- Oakland (OAK)
- Palm Beach (PBI)
- Phoenix (PHX) – Two locations
- Providence (PVD)
- Reno-Tahoe (RNO)
- Sacramento (SMF) — Two locations
Which Cards Give You Access to American Express Centurion Lounges?
These four Amex cards give primary cardholders (and fully paid authorized additional card members) complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
And, of course, the invitation-only Centurion Card or Black Card.
Let’s break ‘em down!
General Entrance Rules
Before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s take a look at the standard rules for admission to Centurion Lounges (although some policies may vary in different countries):
- Three-Hour Rule: Eligible cardholders can enter the lounge only three hours before their scheduled flight’s departure time — not boarding time.
- Confirmed Seat: You must have a confirmed seat (or boarding zone and line position when flying Southwest) on that flight. You’re out of luck if you fly standby. (Though your mileage may vary.)
- No Admittance Upon Arrival: Cardholders will not be admitted to Centurion Lounges when arriving at their final destinations.
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express allow cardholders to enter Centurion Lounges and Centurion Studios-Escape Lounges — regardless of the airline they travel. This benefit also extends to paid authorized cardholders. (The Platinum Card® from American Express holders can add up to three additional card members for $195 total. See Rates and Fees. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express members can add up to 99 authorized card holders for $300 each. See Rates and Fees.)
The cards also carry additional airport lounge benefits such as:
- Both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express members receive complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight departing from or arriving at the airport in which the Delta Sky Club is located.
- Cardholders are also eligible for complimentary Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment is required and terms apply).
- Complimentary access to select Lufthansa Business Lounges (regardless of ticket class) and Lufthansa Senator Lounges (when flying business class) when flying a same-day trip on a Lufthansa Group flight (Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian airlines)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express members receive complimentary access to select Plaza Premium Lounges worldwide.
Side note: I noted in my review of the Oakland Escape Lounge that my Platinum Card members received complimentary liquor upgrades for my wife and me.
Centurion Lounges charge $50 per guest, per visit. That took effect February 1, 2023. However, if you spend $75,000 on eligible expenses per calendar year on your Platinum Card, then you may bring in two guests for free to the Centurion Lounge.
Up to two guests are permitted complimentary access to Centurion Studios-Escape Lounges.
Delta Reserve and Reserve Business Cards
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card cards allow members to access Centurion Lounges when flying on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. However, that flight must be booked with a U.S.-issued American Express Card.
By the way, eligible lounges include all Centurion Lounges in the United States, Hong Kong, and London. For those of you taking AeroMexico MQD mileage runs and connecting through Mexico City: no such luck, sorry, accessing the MEX Centurion Lounge.
The “same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight” rule applies to Centurion Studio-Escape Lounge visits — though I didn’t see any verbiage requiring tickets being purchased with an Amex card.
The guest policy is the same as the Platinum Cards: up to two guests for $50 a pop. Guests must be traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight.
Meanwhile, the guest rate is $30 each for Escape Lounges. Those guests must travel on a same-day Delta-marketed flight. The Escape Lounge’s website says nothing about the flight needing to be Delta-operated — but something tells me it probably should(?).
My Take: The Platinum Card is the Best Card for Centurion Lounge Access
The consumer/personal The Platinum Card® from American Express is, for my money, the best card to get you into Centurion Lounges.
It’s far less restrictive than the Reserve cards — and offers many statement credit opportunities that easily help you earn back the $695 annual fee. (Rates and Fees.)
Plus, I like the fact it comes with Plaza Premium lounge access.
That said, the business version works just as well in terms of Centurion Lounge and Escape Lounge access. Depending on your business and spending, earning back that $695 annual fee shouldn’t be an issue. (Rates and Fees.) I’ll cover that topic in a future post.
No Credit Card or Travel Prerequisites
Here’s a big plus about the Platinum Cards: Centurion Lounge access isn’t contingent upon which airline you fly that day — or the method of your trip’s payment. The same can’t be said for the Delta Reserve cards. This is also a huge upshot for people taking Delta partner mileage runs on airlines such as AeroMexico, Air France, and KLM. (Although, those trips are usually in business class — which gain entry in airline lounges anyway.)
For example, one of my clients travels me almost exclusively on Southwest. (They book nearly all of their employees and clients on Southwest. Southwest should name a jet after this company. 🙂 )
This client pays with their own cobranded Visa credit card. So, that doesn’t matter when I’m in, say, Las Vegas for business and want to visit the LAS Centurion Lounge. Either my The Platinum Card® from American Express OR The Business Platinum Card® from American Express card get me in just fine.
I’d be out of luck, though, if my only Centurion Lounge card were my Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card. There are rare occasions, though, when the client books me on Delta. Again, the Reserve card would be worthless in this situation because the client books me with their Visa card.
Or for people who book Delta tickets with other credit cards — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® because of its great trip cancellation and interruption benefits — having a Platinum Card for Centurion Lounge access is the best option.
Plus, keep in mind that the Delta Reserve cards don’t get you into nearly as many Centurion Lounges as the Platinum Cards.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is, in my opinion, the best card for Centurion Lounge access. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is the same. The only reason is give the Platinum Card the edge is because of its better overall benefits.
The Delta Reserve cards require cardholders to jump through more hoops. Plus, Platinum Cards get better benefits at Escape Lounges.
Which card do you think is the best for Centurion Lounge access? Please share your take in the below Comments section!
To see rates and fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this link. Terms apply.
To see rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this link. Terms apply.
To see rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please visit this link. Terms apply.
To see rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, please visit this link. Terms apply.
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