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Airport Booking Strategy

American Express Drops Priority Pass Restaurant Credit Perk for Cardholders

Airport lounge membership Priority Pass says that travelers enrolled in the program as an American Express card benefit will no longer be able to use their membership for the usual $28 meals and drinks at participating restaurants. So far, membership through other premium travel cards has not been affected.

If you’re a frequent flyer—or if you have a premium credit card from American Express, Chase, or Citi—you probably already use Priority Pass. Those credit cards automatically give you top-option Priority Pass Membership, which offers no-fee access to “more than 1,200” airport lounges, worldwide. But at airports where it was unable to sign up actual lounges, Priority Pass added a deal where members get a credit, normally $28, toward food and drinks at airport restaurants. That’s the benefit that’s been canceled for members enrolled through AmEx.

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The blogosphere speculates that the cost of the deal, around $23 per use, became too much due to high rates of use by the large AmEx membership. If that’s the case, travelers who enrolled through Chase or Citi cards could face a similar restriction soon.

Overall, even without the restaurant option, Priority Pass remains an attractive proposition to anyone who signs up for one of the premium AmEx cards. I use it frequently, and I suspect most others who have the card do so as well. The main problem is, of course, that you might not find a good deal at some popular airports.

Readers: Do you use these popular restaurant credits through a premium travel card? Comment below.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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