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I am a little embarrassed, but decided to share my experience so perhaps others can avoid making the same mistake I did.
Four of my credit card accounts have Priority Pass lounge access as a benefit. Each one has different terms, and most notably, different numbers of guests allowed entry on a complimentary basis.
The Priority Pass received in conjunction with my American Express Platinum personal account (as well as the one annexed to my American Express Platinum business account) admits one person to a Priority Pass lounge for free. Additional guests are $27 per person.
The Priority Pass received in conjunction with my Citibank Prestige Card allows complimentary access to the cardholder and two guests. Any additional guests are $27 per guest, per visit.
The Priority Pass I received with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, allows complimentary access to the cardholder and members of the travel party. I’m not sure if the questions of what is a travel party and how many persons may be in it, have been answered, but theoretically, this covers more guests than any of the cards mentioned above.
The scenario discussed below occurred before I even had the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, so it is not pertinent to the snafu I found myself in.
The problem is – all of the Priority Pass cards look the same!
Once, In Abu Dhabi, I went to a Priority Pass lounge on a layover between Dubai and New York. There was a young Australian couple next to me who were prepared to pay approximately $50 each for access to the lounge. I was using the Priority Pass Select card I received from my Prestige Card, so I comped their entry. They were so thankful and I felt good. I love to pay it forward in ways like that.
Fast forward, I was at a Priority Pass lounge at Newark Airport. It was actually a pretty awful lounge. Anyway, I had two Priority Pass cards with me, one that went with my American Express Platinum card and the other that went with my Citibank Prestige card. There were two people on line behind me – they were having difficulty locating their Priority Pass card. I said to the clerk at the desk – one of these cards only admits me, whereas the other admits 2 guests and me for free. If you can tell which is which, I am happy to bring these two persons in as my guests. The clerk looked at the cards and said this is the card. So, I comped these two persons in as my guests (note, they barely said thank you to me).
Lo and behold, the clerk didn’t know what he was talking about and I received a $54 bill from American Express for these two guests.
I fought the charges. I contacted American Express, Priority Pass and Citibank. Surely, if I’d used the Priority Pass card issued per the Prestige card, I would have had no charge. Why couldn’t Citibank or Priority Pass just assume the charges? It was just a silly mistake of using the wrong card, but it all involved Priority Pass, so why shouldn’t they just adjust the charge and allocate it to the right account? Priority Pass is one company, so what was the big deal?
So, I was the dumb sucker who got stuck paying $54 for two ingrates to go into a lousy club.
The question is how others can avoid this in the future?
Two suggestions (short of never being nice again) come to mind, but you are welcome to chime in.
First, using a sticker or a sharpie, clearly mark which card is which.
Second, keep a note on your smart phone or elsewhere of your Priority Pass account numbers and which credit card account they go with.
What do you do to keep your Priority Pass cards – which look very similar – separate and identifiable?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.