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When you picture the good life, you might picture an American Express Centurion lounge.
Whereas some other airport lounges can be lackluster, with uninspired (read: bland) food and decor, Centurion lounges feature chef-designed, locally-inspired menus and signature cocktails. Most of the bathrooms have L’Occitane toiletries, and some locations even offer complimentary spa services!
Here’s what you need to know about The Centurion Lounge collection, including the credit cards that will get you free access to all 9 (soon to be 15!) locations.
At the moment, you’ll find Centurion lounges at nine airports, with six more slated to open in 2020. They all have high-speed WiFi, free food and drinks, magazines and newspapers, and dedicated work areas and service desks.
Here’s a list of the current lounges and their special features:
Here are the lounge locations scheduled to open in 2020 (and what they’re rumored to have):
On the map above, you’ll see several other lounges located internationally; though these are American Express lounges, they’re not under the Centurion brand. You and two guests will usually be able to access these lounges with a Platinum or Centurion card.
As noted above, American Express is pretty thoughtful when it comes to Centurion lounges.
The menus are designed by local celebrity chefs; the cocktails by Jim Meehan, a famous mixologist (and owner of PDT in NYC!). Many of the lounges have spaces to suit a range of needs, including shower suites, family rooms with kids toys, and semi-private workspaces.
At a select few, you’ll get complimentary spa services — like manicures or chair massages — and the JFK location will even feature a speakeasy!
Dana Zucker of The Traveling Mom called Centurion lounges a “great airport hideaway,” and said she loves the seasonal menus, “perfectly selected” wines, variety of work and leisure spaces, and “talented and helpful” concierge services.
“People often ask why I choose to hold an American Express Platinum Card,” she wrote. “Well, for my family it is so worth the expense… in drinks and food at the Centurion Lounges alone, my American Express Platinum Card has paid for itself… and it even makes my husband happy to travel.”
In addition to airport lounges, Amex also runs a “Centurion Suite” at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles (which is open only for sporting events, and not concerts).
“This VIP space offers a full service bar with a complete selection of finely crafted cocktails, beer & wine, and an array of non-alcoholic beverages for purchase,” states the STAPLES Center site. “Guests can also purchase and order premium food items… Then enjoy an exclusive view of the game or watch it on one of the Suite’s flat screen TVs.” All you need to do is show up with your card (and, of course, a ticket to the game).
Amex used to have a Centurion Suite at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, too, but according to a Yelp review, it closed in August 2019. While that’s a bummer, Amex card members do still get their own entrance to the arena!
You may also be able to find pop-up lounges at major events like the U.S. Open or Coachella. In 2019, for example, Amex held a weekend pop-up in NYC (with free snacks! and booze!) to help promote Small Business Saturday.
Centurion lounges sound pretty baller, right? Well, you’re not the only one who thinks so.
In recent years, they have become more and more crowded, prompting Amex to restrict the number of people who can enter. As of 2017, for example, you can no longer buy day passes to any of the Centurion lounges.
Now, in order to get in, you must hold one of the five credit cards below.
For most people, this is the best credit card for Centurion lounge access. An excellent travel rewards card, it earns 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights and hotels booked directly, or via Amex Travel, and 1X on everything else. Its annual fee (Rates & Fees) is offset by a variety of credits, such as $200 for Uber and $200 for airline fees each year.
It is undoubtedly the best card for diverse airport lounge access, as it includes entry to Centurion lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, and more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges, among others. (That said, for overall travel rewards, I prefer the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s a head-to-head comparison of the Platinum vs. Reserve.)
As of January 30, 2020, this credit card will begin offering access to Amex Centurion lounges. You must be ticketed on a Delta flight that day, and you must have purchased the ticket with the Delta Reserve card. Guests will cost $50 each. You’ll also get in free at Delta Sky Clubs, where you can bring up to two guests at $39 each.
You’ll earn 2X Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent at Delta and 1X on everything else. You’ll get priority boarding, one free checked bag per person, and an annual companion fare. Unless you’re a dedicated Delta flyer, however, and are using this card to earn qualifying miles toward elite status, we’d say the Platinum is a better all-around choice.
With this biz version of the Platinum card, you’ll earn 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, 1.5X on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points per year), and 1X on everything else. You’ll also get 35% of your points refunded when you pay for airfare with Membership Rewards. As for credits, this card offers $200 at Dell and $200 on airline fees annually.
Note that if you have both the personal and business versions of the Platinum, you can still only bring two guests into a Centurion lounge (the guest limit applies per card member).
Like the personal version, this card’s Centurion lounge benefit will roll out on January 30, 2020, and will require you to be flying on a Delta flight that was purchased on the card. It earns 2X Delta SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases, 1.5X miles per dollar after you spend $150,000 in a calendar year (starting 1/30/20), and 1X on everything else. It also comes with priority boarding, your first checked bag free, and an annual companion certificate.
You’ll note we didn’t include an application link to this card. That’s because, um, you can’t apply for it. You’ve probably heard about it in rap songs or movies; it’s that exclusive card you can only get via invitation. Since it’s Amex’s most prestigious card, it obviously comes with access to its most prestigious lounges.
The American Express “Black” Card: Everything You Need to Know
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, please click here.
The Centurion Lounge collection from American Express will soon have 15 locations at airports, mostly in the United States. Though the lounges have dealt with overcrowding in recent years, they’re still quite deluxe, offering gourmet food and craft cocktails — some even have spa services. To access them, you’ll need a top-tier Amex card; we recommend the Platinum.
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