American Express is removing access to Priority Pass restaurants starting on August 1, 2019. This is unfortunate because restaurants are a huge part of this common premium card benefit. Gary from View From the Wing (H/T) contacted American Express today about this today and confirmed it.
The personal and business versions of the Amex Platinum card are two great ways to get Priority Pass access. However, restaurant access is also being extended to co-branded Amex cards including the Hilton Aspire and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cards.
Amex cards that come with Priority Pass lounge access also come with a $28 per person dining credit. This credit can be used at airport restaurants that participate in the Priority Pass program. However, Priority Pass lounge access itself is not affected. “Select sleeper suites” are also not affected.
Why Is This Happening?
The removal of restaurant access is understandable. And that’s because Priority Pass lounge access is a common perk. The cost of Priority Pass access increases for American Express as more people go to more restaurants at more airports. Amex has already dealt with overcrowded Priority Pass lounges by restricting access to Platinum and Centurion cardholders.
Furthermore, restaurants have more food options than the actual lounges. Many travelers (especially those with kids) want more food options and they can go to restaurants to get them. More options mean more expenses for American Express. Therefore, more expenses have led to another Priority Pass benefit restriction.
Priority Pass lounge access is the most common benefit among premium credit cards. This means that you can get Priority Pass restaurant access from non-Amex cards.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige and the US Bank Altitude Reserve are three great alternatives. Be sure to switch out your Amex Priority Pass card for the non-Amex one if you have multiple premium cards. This will save you $28 per person if you go to a Priority Pass restaurant.
American Express Platinum cardholders have other lounge and dining options if they’re available. The Platinum cards are nice because they offer access to more than one lounge. This can be an opportunity to explore new lounges for some travelers.
While Priority Pass itself is not being removed, losing restaurant access is a huge blow. It’s another way that American Express is dealing with rising expenses and passing it onto consumers.
But hope is not lost. Chase, Citi, and US Bank all have premium cards that offer Priority Pass. This restriction with Amex cards now gives other premium cards an advantage. It also makes them more valuable and can shift the competition away from Amex to those banks.