Not all airport lounges are created equally. Surely, any airport lounge is better than sitting in the public area of the terminal and paying for food and drink, but some lounges really outclass others when it comes to what they offer. I would confidently put the Amex Centurion lounges in that category as they tend to offer an elevated experience compared to your typical airport lounge.
Needless to say, I’m always excited when I find myself in an airport that gives me the opportunity to check out a new Centurion lounge.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know about American Express Centurion lounges and how you can access them on your next vacation.
What are American Express Centurion Lounges?
American Express Centurion lounges are airport lounges that are exclusively for cardholders of specific American Express credit cards. Whereas the Dragonpass lounge program is a collection of lounges operated by different entities, the Centurion lounges are their own beast and operate as an independent entity, keeping with the exclusivity vibe they are aiming for.
Visitors can expect to be wowed by complimentary top-tier food and beverage options, often including actual bartenders who can craft you your favorite cocktail or one of the Centurion lounge’s special cocktail offerings. Many Centurion lounges also offer showers, if you are looking to get cleaned up before your next flight.
There are over 40 lounges in the American Express Centurion lounge network across the United States and International airports. Of note, visitors cannot pay for access but instead must hold an eligible American Express card as outlined below.
Centurion Lounge Locations
Unfortunately, there are currently no American Express Centurion lounge locations at any Canadian airports.
If you want to visit an Amex Centurion lounge, you will need to depart from either one of the US airports or international airports listed below:
- United States Locations: Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Denver International (DEN), Houston International (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), John F Kennedy International – New York (JFK), LaGuardia – New York (LGA), Philadelphia International (PHI), Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX), San Francisco (SFO), and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
- International Locations: Hong Kong International (HKG), London – Heathrow (LHR), Stockholm (ARN), Mumbai (BOM), Delhi (DEL), Buenos Aires (EZE), Sao Paulo (GRU), Melbourne (MEL), Mexico City (MEX), Monterrey (MTY), and Sydney (SYD)
I highly recommend looking up the location of the lounge you are planning to visit in advance of arriving at the airport. Many of the airports listed above are massive in size and may require transferring between terminals depending on the airline you are flying with.
How to Access American Express Centurion Lounges for Free
Unlike many airport lounges, American Express Centurion lounges do not require passengers to be flying with a certain airline or alliance, as opposed to Maple Leaf Lounges for example where you must be flying on a Star Alliance flight.
Thus, this creates added flexibility since you can be flying any flight, on any airline, in any fare class, and access a Centurion lounge if you are departing from an airport that has one.
However, the caveat is that the only way to access an American Express Centurion lounge is by holding an eligible American Express credit card with a same-day boarding pass. While access is complimentary for cardholders, there are only a handful of cards on either side of the border that grant Centurion access and they come with a premium price.
Canadian American Express Credit Cards
The American Express Platinum card is the most common card that Canadians use to access Amex Centurion lounges. As a premium card, the Platinum card comes with a strong welcome bonus, airport lounge access, a $200 travel credit, hotel loyalty program status, and more, all for an annual fee of $699.
The American Express Platinum card earns Membership Rewards and offers cardholders a variety of benefits including an annual $200 travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, and instant elite status with many hotel loyalty programs.
80,000 Membership Rewards
The American Express Business Platinum card is the other option accessible to Canadians who are looking to gain Centurion lounge access. As is common knowledge in the travel hacking scene, you are eligible to apply for business credit cards as an individual. Click to learn more before applying for your first business credit card.
The Business Platinum card comes with a hefty welcome bonus, access to a variety of airport lounge programs through the American Express Global Lounge Collection program, hotel status, and more, all for an annual fee of $499.
The Amex Business Platinum card earns Membership Rewards points and offers cardholders benefits including complimentary access to four airport lounge programs and instant Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.
90,000 Membership Rewards
Finally, Canadians who hold the Amex Centurion card will of course be able to access Centurion lounges. There is no application for this card; if you are important enough, they will find you.
United States American Express Credit Cards
United States American Express cardholders have even more options when it comes to accessing Centurion lounges.
Similar to Canada, the most typical way US cardholders can access Centurion lounges is by holding the Amex Platinum card. This card has an annual fee of $695 USD which is offset by various statement credits.
On the other hand, the Amex Business Platinum card may be a better option as it has a lower annual fee of $595 USD while still providing cardholders with over $1,000 in statement credits in addition to Centurion and airport lounge access.
Interestingly enough, those who hold the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card can access an American Express Centurion lounge provided they are flying on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight and are accessing an eligible lounge in the United States, Hong Kong, or London.
Finally, similar to the Canadian side, those who hold the US Amex Centurion card will of course be able to access Centurion lounges as well.
American Express Centurion Lounges – Guest Policies
When it comes to accessing Centurion lounges with a Canadian or US Amex card, it is important to note that the guest policies differ greatly as of February 2023. As a cardholder, you need to be aware of what you are entitled to, to ensure you are not charged for guests when they actually should be complimentary.
For Canadian Amex Platinum, Business Platinum, and Centurion card holders, the guest policy is very straightforward and involves complimentary guest access. Each eligible Canadian cardholder is able to gain access for themselves and two guests at no additional charge. Focusing on the Centurion lounge access benefit alone results in the Canadian versions of these cards outshining their US counterparts.
On the other hand, holders of US American Express Platinum cards are operating in a different world when it comes to guests and Centurion lounges as of February 1, 2023. US Amex credit card holders are no longer eligible to grant complimentary access to guests, but instead will be charged a rate of $50 per adult or $30 per child (aged 2 through 17).
Alternatively, US Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders can earn complimentary access for up to two guests per lounge visit after spending $75,000 in a calendar year. However, this is most likely out of reach for the average cardholder and not a sustainable way to gain Centurion lounge access.
With these differences between these two cards, the Amex Platinum & Business Platinum Canadian cards currently reign supreme when it comes to accessing Centurion lounges. If you only hold an eligible US Amex card and often travel with a significant other, you may want to look into getting them their own Amex Platinum as well in order to access Centurion lounges during your next vacation.
American Express Centurion lounges are some of the nicest airport lounges out there and are well worth experiencing if you hold an eligible American Express credit card. If you find yourself at an airport that has an American Express Centurion lounge, I would recommend checking out that lounge first as a result of the top-tier food and actual cocktail menus. Needless to say, Centurion lounges can add a nice touch to your next pre-flight experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are food and beverages free in Amex Centurion lounges?
Yes – all food and beverage, including alcoholic beverages, are complimentary in the Centurion lounges.
Can I access Amex Centurion lounges upon arrival?
American Express Centurion lounges can only be accessed on departure. You will need a valid, same-day boarding pass in order to access a lounge before your flight departure.
The American Express Platinum cards used to access Centurion lounges have a high annual fee. Are they worth it?
Only you can decide if the annual fee is worth it for our lifestyle and travel habits. With any of the premium Platinum American Express cards, you can easily earn far more than the annual fee in value when considering the welcome bonus, benefits, perks, and insurance coverages offered. Many travelers find that the cards are well worth the higher annual fee.
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