How to get American Express airport lounge access

Young woman at airport checks the arrivals and departures boardImage: Young woman at airport checks the arrivals and departures board

In a Nutshell

The American Express Global Lounge Collection offers an exclusive experience to frequent and infrequent flyers alike. Access isn’t cheap, but the cost may be worth your while.
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I’ve always loved to travel, but I didn’t start to relish going to the airport until I got Amex lounge access.

The American Express Global Lounge Collection is a network of more than 1,200 lounges in airports across 130 countries. In addition to the credit card company’s flagship lounges — The Centurion Lounge and the International American Express lounges — Amex lounge access may also gain you entry with partner lounge networks.

Taking advantage of the Amex lounge network has enhanced my travel experience, especially in a place that’s often the most hectic part of a trip — the airport.

But getting access to such a prestigious experience doesn’t come cheaply. Read on to learn what American Express lounges offer and what it takes to get access.

Which American Express cards give you lounge access?

Here are the personal cards that offer Amex lounge access, along with some of the other travel rewards and perks they offer.

Platinum Card® from American Express

If you’re a Platinum Card® from American Express cardholder, you get complimentary access to the Amex lounge networks on the day of your departure. You can bring two guests with you free of charge, and day passes for additional guests will cost you $50 each.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers an abundance of perks in addition to its lounge access. For starters, you’ll earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after making at least $6,000 in purchases in your first 6 months of account opening. Note that this card has a $695 annual fee.

You’ll also get five points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel on up to $500,000 spent in purchases per calendar year (then one point per $1), and five points per $1 spent on eligible hotels booked through, plus one point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders need to be flying on a same-day Delta-marketed or -operated flight to be able to access Amex lounges. You can bring up to two guests per visit with you for $50 per person.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with a welcome bonus of 40,000 bonus miles plus 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles, or MQMs, after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

You’ll also earn three miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, and one mile per $1 on all other purchases. This card has a $550 annual fee.

Centurion® Card from American Express

Centurion® members can bring two additional guests or immediate family members into Amex lounges with them free of charge, and can also buy day passes for additional guests for $50 each.

This card is available by invitation only, so don’t expect to see an application link anywhere online. While American Express doesn’t publicly disclose the invitation criteria, its various fees can run thousands of dollars.

Read Credit Karma’s review of the Centurion® Card for more information.

Can you get lounge access with the American Express® Gold Card?

The American Express® Gold Card doesn’t come with complimentary lounge access.

If the steep annual fee for the Platinum Card® from American Express isn’t worth it to you, but you still want occasional lounge access, the American Express® Green Card comes with $100 in yearly statement fee credits for LoungeBuddy, a program that lets you book lounge passes starting at $25.

Which airports have American Express lounges?

The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ consists of two networks: The Centurion Lounge and the International American Express lounges.

The former has locations in 14 cities in the U.S., and the latter has locations across 9 cities, all overseas. Here’s a list of airport locations for each.

The Centurion® Lounge

  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • New York (LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)

The International American Express lounges

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
  • Delhi, India (DEL)
  • Melbourne, Australia (MEL)
  • Mexico City, Mexico (MEX — three lounges)
  • Monterrey, Mexico (MTY — two lounges)
  • Mumbai, India (BOM)
  • São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
  • Stockholm, Sweden (ARN)
  • Sydney, Australia (SYD)

Additionally, you’ll have access to any of the American Express partner lounge networks in various other airports and countries, including …

  • Airspace Lounge
  • Delta Sky Club® (when flying Delta)
  • Escape Lounges
  • Priority Pass™ Select (once enrolled)

American Express lounge amenities and perks

Each Amex lounge offers various amenities, and some offer special perks that you won’t necessarily find in each lounge. For example, The Centurion® Lounge at DFW offers a spa, and The Centurion® Lounge at SFO has a wine-tasting area.

At all Centurion Lounge locations, you’ll get complimentary food and drinks, but the International American Express lounges may charge extra for these benefits.

Other features you may find at American Express lounge locations include …

  • Children’s room
  • Showers
  • High-speed Wi-Fi
  • Dedicated or semiprivate work areas
  • Conference space

What’s next?

Before you apply for a card that provides access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, check out our top picks for credit cards with airport lounge access for more alternatives to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. In the end, you want to find the card that works best for your particular needs.

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Cr… Read more.