Using the Wrong Priority Pass Card — Reader Mistake Story

Oct 3, 2017

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express

We often publish stories from readers that illustrate how points and miles can help you get where you want to go. However, it’s important to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes, so I’m calling on you to send us your most epic travel failure stories. Email them to and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, we’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure!

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Janice, who was charged for lounge access she thought was complimentary. Here’s what she had to say:

I love the Priority Pass membership I received after opening my Chase Sapphire Reserve card last year. My family has been able to use it multiple times to enjoy extra comfort, food and drinks between flights. We had never been charged a penny for using the lounges, but one recent visit ended up costing me a lot!

We returned from a trip to Hawaii this summer after visiting several Priority Pass lounges along the way. I was surprised to see charges for $189 on my Hilton Honors Surpass Card, as I never use the card anymore and hadn’t even taken it on the trip. What baffled me most was that the charges came from Priority Pass, and the dates matched our lounge visits. I called to contest the charges, sure that a mistake had been made, but the representatives I spoke with were adamant that the Priority Pass charges were linked to a Hilton Honors Amex card.

After several phone calls, it became apparent that I had a second Priority Pass membership from my Surpass card. I hadn’t realized that was one of the card benefits, and I must have put the Priority Pass card away assuming it was the same one I received from my Sapphire Reserve. While packing for the trip to Hawaii, I mistakenly grabbed the wrong Priority Pass card (they look identical except for the numbers).

Unfortunately, the Hilton Priority Pass membership charges $27 per person every time you step into a lounge! I had unknowingly used it for myself and family members a total of seven times, bringing the total to $189, while using the Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass card would have cost me $0!

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Remember that not all Priority Passes are the same, and make sure to apply for and use the right card!

Instead of
Priority Pass has been upping its game with the addition of airport restaurants to its network.

A Priority Pass membership is a great asset for frequent travelers, but as Janice discovered, not all memberships are the same. Most credit cards that come with Priority Pass offer complimentary access, but some only give you a discount on the normal cost of entry. Guest policies may also differ, so make sure you know the rules of your specific membership before you check in to the lounge.

If you have multiple Priority Pass memberships, you’ll want to keep track of which card belongs to each account. Priority Pass cards from Chase accounts will have 16 digits on the front (compared to 11 for other issuers — H/T Doctor of Credit), so that’s one way to tell them apart. Another solution is to just mark the back of each card; writing “CSR” or “HH” on one side of the signature window should make it easy to distinguish between them. You can also try inputting the membership you want to use into your Priority Pass app, though this option isn’t available for all cards.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Janice for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels.

I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.