Most innovative exclusive offers
Over the past few years, we've documented the escalating cold war between American Express, Visa, Citi and Chase to capture cardholders' hearts (and wallets) with exclusive entertainment and experiences.
This year, the loyalty battle moved to a whole new front: the airport lounge.
Airline mergers condensed lounge footprints, while alliances between carriers and banks bumped American Express Platinum Card customers off the airport lounge guest lists in many major hubs. With veteran travelers questioning the value of lounges with uneven service and limited availability, it seemed like a once-major perk was headed for the history books.
Imagine the meeting at American Express where someone just said, "You know what? Our cardmembers love airport lounges. Let's just make our OWN lounge, better than anything the airlines are doing."
With locations in four of the country's busiest airports (and more on the way), American Express wants to treat its biggest spenders to delicious (free) meals, fast (free) Wi-Fi, expansive (free) work spaces and cozy (free) couches.
In an environment where it seems airlines and airports have placed a premium on even basic amenities, American Express has chosen to pamper its cardholders at the precise moment when a generous brunch buffet can have the biggest impact on customer loyalty. Non-Platinum customers don't have to feel left out though -- a $50 day pass gets any valid AmEx charge or credit card holder into the lounge. It's a grand idea that can transform an airport visit from mediocre to magnificent.