If you already carried a Hilton Honors Surpass American Express card, or if you recently signed up for a Hilton Honors Ascend card, one benefit it's easy to overlook are the 10 free Priority Pass visits you get each calendar year.
What is Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a program that gives members discounted access to participating lounges, and certain other benefits. It's not a great program on its own, since the "discounted" lounge access is still $27 per visit and doesn't include any guests.
However, many credit cards now offer a free Priority Pass membership as a benefit of card membership, and if you have one of those credit cards, you may as well sign up. In addition to a membership in the program, the Hilton Honors Ascend American Express card also includes 10 free visits per year. This makes it the equivalent of the $249 "Standard Plus" Priority Pass membership, although it's handled slightly differently by Priority Pass on the backend.
How to get your 10 free visits
If you already had a Hilton Honors Surpass American Express and the Priority Pass membership card that came with that card, then they should still be linked, or at least they were for me. If you never used your Priority Pass membership (and why would you?) then that card's probably extremely expired. However, you can call Priority Pass (972-735-0536 in the United States), give them your information, and they'll send you a new card and provide you with the information you need to create an online account. Once you have an online account, you can download the Priority Pass smartphone app and use that to enter most participating lounges.
If you are a new cardmember or weren't enrolled in Priority Pass already, you won't know your Priority Pass member number until you get your card in the mail. That letter should also include the information you need to create an online account, but if it doesn't, just follow the instructions above.
Non-lounge Priority Pass locations
I didn't realize this, since I've never had a credit card that offered free Priority Pass visits, but it seems they've expanded their options beyond just off-brand airline lounges. There now seem to be a number of airport restaurants, bars, and other venues where you can redeem a Priority Pass visit for a credit towards your order. A few I noticed while clicking around the app are:
- Kentucky Ale Taproom (LEX)
- House Spirits Distillery (PDX)
- Capers Cafe Le Bar (PDX)
- Capers Market (PDX)
- Minute Suites (DFW)
At the first four locations, you get a $28 credit towards food and drinks for you and each guest (each redemption uses up one of your 10 free visits). At the Minute Suites in Dallas you get an hourlong private suite for you and up to 3 guests.
Those redemptions might be a better value in some locations than a visit to an overcrowded lounge. And if you lived in Portland or Lexington and frequently ate or drank in the airport before or after flights, in principle you could get $280 in value from a card with a $95 annual fee, ignoring any of the card's other benefits.
Question: how do these redemptions work for unlimited-access cards?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, American Express Platinum and Business Platinum, and Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards credit cards offer a Priority Pass membership with unlimited lounge visits, and I'm wondering how non-lounge locations treat that benefit.
My gut tell me it shouldn't be possible for a Citi Prestige cardholder to receive three $28 restaurant credits with a single Priority Pass card by inviting two guests to lunch at the Portland airport, but I also don't see anything spelled out in the terms that would prevent it.
Does anyone have experience using the guest benefit at non-lounge locations?