I Made A *Stupid* Priority Pass Mistake

Filed Under: Advice
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Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent network of airport lounges, with over 900 lounges around the world. Even though I often have lounge access through my elite status or through the type of ticket I’m booking, I still use Priority Pass lounges all the time:

  • Sometimes I’m flying an independent airline in economy, where I wouldn’t otherwise get lounge access (for example, Priority Pass gets me access to Alaska Airlines Board Rooms)
  • Sometimes I like to visit more than one lounge at an airport, so I can see what offerings are available (for example, in London I thought the Plaza Premium Lounge was nicer than the Air India Lounge I otherwise had access to)

Fortunately I don’t have to directly pay for a Priority Pass membership, as it comes with several credit cards. In my case, I have the following two cards that come with Priority Pass memberships:

  • The Citi Prestige® Card comes with a Priority Pass membership, and you can take two guests or immediate family members for free
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a Priority Pass membership, though only the cardmember can access the lounge for free; additional guests cost $27 each

Well, since I sort of have all my active physical cards on me at all times, I have two Priority Pass cards in my wallet. Last week I guested Ford into a Priority Pass lounge (he actually has his own card as well, but I figured it would just be easier if they only had to swipe one card). I took the Priority Pass card out of my wallet, and didn’t think twice about it, because I knew where I keep the card associated with my Citi Prestige Card.

Airspace Lounge JFK Terminal 5, where I guested Ford

This morning I was checking my Amex online account statement, and noticed I had a $27 balance on my Platinum Card. While I pay the annual fee on the card, I almost never put spend on it (most of my Amex spend goes on the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card instead), so having any balance on the card was unusual. Then it immediately dawned on me that I must have accidentally used the Priority Pass card associated with my Platinum Card rather than my Citi Prestige… grrrr!


Ultimately it’s not the end of the world, though I feel so stupid for letting that happen. You can bet I immediately disposed of the Priority Pass card associated with the Platinum Card. Perhaps I should have just been using the mobile app to begin with, where this kind of confusion wouldn’t happen.

Hopefully it’s at least a good reminder to those of you who have a Priority Pass membership through both cards — be sure you keep your cards in order!

Has anyone else made this dumb mistake with Priority Pass?

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  1. When I got my Prestige Priority Pass card I jettisoned my Amex. Priority Pass card, precisely so I wouldn’t make this mistake.

    Is there any compelling reason to carry both with you? Not challenging you, just asking.

  2. One of these cards should consider offering a differentiating perk with Priority Pass. Since there are a multitude of credit cards out there offering free Priority Pass membership, having a complimentary guest benefit would differentiate them from the pack. Even if it was just one guest permitted for free.

    I’m looking at you, Amex Platinum! 🙂

  3. I have two membership cards as well. In order to avoid confusion, on the back of each I wrote which card is asscoiated with which credit card with a permanent marker.

  4. I actually have several memberships from several different cards. Is there a way to easily see which PP card is associated with each specific card? Thx

  5. @ TravelinWilly — Probably not. I guess with cards I’m a hoarder, and I’ve figured that if I lost or canceled one card, it would be good to have the other. But so far it has done more harm than good, I suppose.

  6. @ Nick — Because it’s my blog and I post about my travel experiences. Did I “need” to post this? No. But I figure some people might make the same mistake, so it’s a good reminder.

  7. Your mistake is even worse, actually – Airspace lounges allow entry to Amex Platinum cardholders with two free guests, separate from the Priority Pass program. So if you’d just showed your Platinum card (instead of the Priority Pass card that you got through the Platinum card) you would have been fine too. http://www.airspacelounge.com/faq/

  8. Your mistake was going into that sad sack lounge in the first place. Considering the rooftop at T5 is free and the terminal itself is nice, why bother?

    The shower is nice, -when- you have a competent attendant who isn’t too lazy to set it up, amd when there isnt a huge wait.

    also, that lounge is free for Amex platinum members…. but its still not worth the sadness.

  9. I also made this mistake once. I then placed the Priority Pass from Amex in a drawer at home together with all credit cards I don’t use everyday. I also downloaded the Priority Pass card from Citi Prestige to my Apple Wallet and I was never asked to show the physical card. One thing that many people don’t know is that the Priority Pass from Citi Prestige allows you to bring your immediate family with you to the lounge. I used several times this year in different countries and was able to get myself, wife and two kids to their lounges all for free. It is a great perk to have.

  10. You can’t add a Priority Pass Digital Membership card to Apple Wallet – you can only access it on the PP app.

  11. Not sure if any one else faced this issue in Indian Airports. A few months back in Chennai, they did not accept my US issued Citi Prestige’s Priority Pass card at the Chennai Airport’s Priority Pass Lounge. They said they accept Priority Pass cards issued in India or by Indian Credit Cards, I mean WTF !!

  12. I’ve got three PPS cards: one from Amex plat, one from citi prestige, and one from Hilton Surpass. One advice: BUY A LABEL MAKER! That’s an ultimate solution for this situation:

  13. @Adam: You can and I have it on my iPhone.Open the Priority Pass app on your iPhone. On the top left corner there is a logo similar to a bar code. Click there and the electronic card will appear. On the front of the card on the bottom left corner there will be an option to “Add to Apple Wallet”. You click there and the card will show up on the Apple Wallet.

  14. I am doing a Centurion lounge tour this year. 3 down…. So far SFO is a good place to pick up women. My husband had no idea why I was rolling my eyes when the guy told her good bye/ let’s get a drink soon… 20 times.

  15. I did the same thing once Lucky.Glad to know that rookie mistake can happen to the best of them. Thanks for sharing…

  16. Anyone know the source of the “knowledge” that the new Ritz card comes with a PP card that covers unlimited guests (as many as the lounge will let in)? seems too good to be true.

    i’ve never even activated the Priority Pass account from my Amex Plat because i don’t trust myself to keep these things straight

  17. Good answer to @Nick I am not a FF but have learned a great deal about flying from your blog,which lounge to use in which city and which airline to fly whenI do travel. For those of you not familiar with Ben’s history google the Rolling Stone article about how he got started. it is an amazing story. Thx Ben

  18. “Why would you feel the need to post this?”

    “For the potential $$$ referral, I mean, duh…”

    Oh come on, you don’t believe he just wants to make sure no one else doesn’t carry extra cards around for no reason so they can mistakenly use the wrong card.

    Does anyone believe this happened?

    This story sounds completely made up for the purpose of spamming referral links

  19. @Josh: Even if he wanted to add more referral links, who cares? If you don’t like the referral links just don’t click on them. You can still read the blog and that’s it. I personally made the same mistake Ben made. I got to the Priority Pass lounge and had both cards with me. Had no clue which one was what and gave the wrong one and was charged $54 because I had 2 guests. I think this post will help many people that would probably be in the same situation.

  20. So no signing or pin entry to authorise the charge? They can charge and you don’t know until you see the statements? That’s a bit nasty.

  21. I think the $27 is well spent.

    You got a blog post out of it as well as the opportunity to throw in a bunch of affiliate links.

  22. I don’t know if anyone’s ever asked this before but what wallet do you use to carry all them cards you use? I have recently got into the habit of using multiple card (to maximize the points of course) and I wear out my wallets a lot quicker than when I only had 1-2 cards. Any suggestions?

  23. Not with PP but I made a stupid mistake with uber earlier this year. I normally have my Citi Premier card on my uber acct but switched it for 3 months to Chase Freedom when they had 5% on local transportation. Didn’t even think of it when I was overseas and used uber until I noticed the foreign transaction fees on my statement. Doh!

  24. Trolls aside…

    This stuff happens after a while even with a good filing system. I had three PP cards and actually had to call PP to make sure which card went with each credit card and what the rates were.

    My solution was to shred all but my Citi linked one but you might have other solutions.

    Thanks for posting

  25. I did the same thing last year in Budapest when I guested my family into a lounge during a layover. They only counted my wife as a guest, as my kids are small, which was lucky as I ended up with only one $27 charge.

    I’ve taken out the PP card associated with my Amex card out of my travel bag, and now, of course, I have the digital card on my iPhone for the unlimited-guest version.

  26. @Matt. In SJC’s lounge the agent asked me how many guests would enter before doing the authorization. I told her zero, since my wife and I each have our own set of cards.

    Another tip to avoid surprise charges: I have instant alerts setup on all my credit cards. if there the charge was made while you were there, you can get a text or in app alert for the authorization and maybe resolve it while in the lounge.

  27. @aj I’ve found Ted Baker wallets are the right mix of stylish, not too expensive, durable and able to hold a bajillion cards.

  28. @Steven Mine and all my AU PP Select for the Ritz card just arrived, and it is the same guest policy as the lounge club it replaces. No guest limit except limited by lounge. No charges whatsoever.

  29. Ah, Credit. Best post of the day. Again.

    Also, the Airspace comments are on point.

    But none of that takes away from the interest of a “two Priority cards” post. I have two cards as well and, like another poster, have marked them on the back.

  30. Ben, thanks for posting this. The same thing recently happened to me…. traveling with my wife and kids and pulled out the wrong PP card to guest them in. I was really annoyed at myself, but now I feel a little better knowing that it can happen to the best of us. It’s a mistake you (and I) will probably only make once.

  31. That lounge sucks. Not even worth going.
    The first time I tried to go, I was denied because they thought an Amex MB Platinum card was different than a regular platinum.
    Second time I went, there was no one even manning the door. I just walked in.
    There won’t be a need for a third time even though I fly JetBlue a lot.

  32. I’ve done the same thing twice. In both instances I was able to call AMEX and talk them out of the charge. Now I have the Citi one loaded in my Iphone wallet and only use my iphone to enter.

  33. Hmmm, I appreciate this is your blog and you’re entitled to post what ever you like, but this scraping the barrel a bit!!

  34. If you have two credit cards that pay for Priority Pass Select, can you sign up for both and then use one for guests?

  35. Its his blog, the man can post whatever he damn well feel like posting. You get this information for (repeat after me) FREEEEEEEEE. You pay nothing. You voluntarily sign up for the information. You get to learn stuff for (repeat after me) FREEEEE. Maybe not every article is beneficial to you but then again you are not the center of the universe and if you gain any kind of new knowledge than you have gained something. The very least you can do is show some respect.

  36. Yes. Twice. On same day.
    Used my AMEX Platinum card in Budapest & Heathrow PP Lounges.
    My wife was w me. She was not asked nor did she present her card.
    Amex did a good refund when I called when statement received.

    Ditto for Delta Clubs but Agent asked if we had second card.

  37. Check out the priority pass app. Link the cities card and then you don’t have to carry around either card. Could be an option.

  38. I keep both in my wallet as well, but I mark the back (where the signature is) whether it’s Citi or Amex to avoid this mistake!

  39. Ben, thanks for posting. I just removed my AMEX PP from my wallet. Don’t know why I carried both either.

  40. Ha, you made the same mistake I made a month ago. My wife also has a PP and I thought the PP in my wallet was associated with Citi Prestige. So, I was surprised to see $27 fee charged to my Amex a few days later.

  41. I made the same mistake last year on a trip that took me and a friend through multiple lounges. I called Priority Pass and requested they charge the visits to my other card/account. They were completely unhelpful and rude. So then I disputed the charge via AMEX, explained the situation in detail (and that I had attempted to resolve directly already with Priority Pass), and requested that they advocate on my behalf. Either AMEX did just that or just wrote off the charges because I never heard anything else and was never charged.

  42. @ Marathon Man. I live in India and use my citi prestige pp probably 30x / year here (including in Chennai) and have never had an issue.

    One benefit to carrying multiple cards is if you need to take in more than would be free with one card. I used to carry the pp and my lounge club card (from the Ritz cc, which has since been cancelled). If I needed to get 4 people into a lounge, I would just hand over both cards and say “two and two.” Probably against the rules, but always works in India.

  43. “@ Josh — You caught me! I also doctored the screenshot of my Amex account.”

    Oh so you’ve heard of Fiverr?

  44. @James – Thanks for the info about AirLounge and Amex Plat. Awesome!
    Just like @Vivek, I pen the CC info in he signature area to remind myself…

  45. Brother P-Touch FTW! Forget Sharpies and everything else. Just about every bit of kit that travels with me has a P-Touch label on it. I even disassemble my laptops & phones and label the inside in case they get stolen and are resold.

    And I have to agree with @Alpha –T5 in and of itself is good enough to avoid using the lounge there. Unless there are major IRROPs and the terminal’s a madhouse, I actually don’t mind T5. Good food selection, plenty of power outlets, etc. It’s not architecturally interesting, and the janitorial staff needs to do their jobs better, but that’s a common complaint of the entire JFK complex.

  46. I only have one priority pass card which comes with my platinum mastercard from my local saudi bank and it allows me to guest up to 5 people :D. I tried it on malta lounge last month and guested my 4 friends for free.

  47. Just called the CSR desk (which is the same as CSP :/ ).

    Good news is enrollment is automatic. Bad news is no free guests. 🙁

    Hopefully someone can prove me wrong.

  48. Guested two people on my new Ritz Visa Infinite Priority Pass in Houston on the 1st of September – as of the 19th of September no charge ($27×2) on my Ritz Visa. So, are guests really free on the Visa Infinite PP? Also, I requested one for my husband and Ritz Visa Infinite sent him one without issue, actually because of impending travel they sent us both one overnight. Then I received my original one (which I never had to order) via regular mail. I might give my spare one to my daughter as her middle name is my first name and she should be able to use it even if they ask for documents. All three PP’s have different account numbers and I’ve logged onto all three accounts.

    Question – does the PP website usually log your lounge access? Mine doesn’t have any history.

    Thanks in advance for any help – planning a trip with friends and if I can swipe in guests we will do it at every layover rather than just the long layovers.

  49. I didn’t even realize that the Hilton honors reserve card came with priority pass. So when I got the new card, I assumed it was the replacement card for my Citi prestige priority pass. As such, I tossed the Citi one and had the Hilton one. Got charged $54 which I didn’t understand because I thought I was free, but didn’t realize that until I got off the phone and was so mad that I didn’t want to talk to them again. I argued with both Priority Pass and Hilton Amex and got nowhere. So I told them – fine I will pay but canceled the Amex card on the spot right after paying them online. I told the manager – I hope losing an account is worth the $54.

    Told Priority Pass not to bother sending the replacement card for my Citi account as I will never use them again.

  50. Thanks for the post. I didn’t even realize that PP was different through different cards, so definitely a useful post! I’ve used my Amex PP card, but will now switch to my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Thanks again, and good job dealing with the trolls!

  51. If you chase cancelled your Sapphire Reserve after a few months but your PP card still has an expiry for Sep 2017 can you still use the Priority pass card?

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