Hidden Amex Platinum Perk: Access Suite Lounge

Access Suite Lounge entrance
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The American Express Platinum card has some great perks. You get access to Centurion Lounges. $200 in annual airline credits. Priority Pass membership. Global Entry reimbursement every 5 years. And $200 in annual Uber credits. But did you know that you also have access to hidden lounges, such as the Access Suite Lounge at South Coast Plaza? I braved the mall and resisted buying overpriced everything to experience this lounge for myself. Here’s the review.

Lounge access from American Express Platinum

One of the best perks of the American Express Platinum is having access to lounges that aren’t available to cardholders of other premium cards like Citi Prestige or the Sapphire family.

For example, American Express Platinum cardholders are the only people who get access to Centurion Lounges. Ok, Amex Black and Centurion cardholders also get access, but do you know anyone who has either of those?

And then there are independent lounges that also offer complimentary access, like the Escape Lounge in Reno and the Access Suite Lounge at South Coast Plaza.

See also: My favorite lounges accessible with the Amex Platinum Card

Where is the Access Suite lounge located?

The South Coast Plaza is one of most posh and high-end malls in all of Southern California. Wikipedia says that they do over $1.5 billion in sales across more than 250 retailers. It is the largest mall on the West Coast and has “the highest concentration of design fashion retail in the US.” You’ll find stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Armani, BVLGARI, Patek Philippe, and Cartier where you can spend more than your mortgage payment in the blink of an eye.

The South Coast Plaza is adjacent to the 405 Freeway on the north side. It is between the exits of Bristol and Harbor. We often hold our Orange County Travel Meetups at the nearby Pizza Press at Metro Point, which is across the street from South Coast Plaza.

I’ve lived in SoCal all of my life and have been to the South Coast Plaza countless times, and I didn’t even know that this lounge existed until Adam from The Sterling Traveler told me about it.

The Access Suite Lounge is located on the southern tip of the South Coast Plaza. You’ll find it on the 2nd floor, just outside Saks Fifth Avenue. Don’t blink, because you just might miss the non-descript entrance that looks like a shop that closed.

Access Suite Lounge entrance

For the easiest access to the Access Suite Lounge, park near Saks Fifth Avenue and enter the mall through the store or the nearby entrance.

What hours is the Access Suite Lounge open?

Although the South Coast Plaza is open 10 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday, 10 am to 8 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 6:30 pm on Sunday, the Access Suite Lounge doesn’t hold the same hours.

The Access Suite Lounge is open from 11 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday and from 11 am to 6:30 pm on Sunday.

Who can enter the Access Suite Lounge?

The Access Suite Lounge is a relatively exclusive experience. To enter, you must either have an American Express Platinum or Black card, or you need to receive an invite from a store or local hotel.

Amex Platinum and Black cardholders are eligible to enter with up to 3 guests.

Some stores within South Coast Plaza will offer a day pass to elite shoppers. Considering how high-end these stores are, I can only imagine how much you’d have to spend for them to provide a day pass. Selected local hotels will also provide access to VIP guests, but the concierge wouldn’t share which hotels provided this benefit.

See also: 6 less explore benefits of American Express Platinum

What will you find inside the Access Suite Lounge?

Unlike most lounges that are wide-open spaces, the Access Suite Lounge is designed to be more intimate and private.

When you enter the Access Suite, you’re immediately greeted by concierge staff who will verify your eligibility to enter, assign you a place to sit, and provide refreshments.

On either side of the concierge desk are two seating areas.

Access Suite Lounge concierge desk

To the left is a seating area with an L-shaped couch.

Access Suite Lounge L-shaped couch

To the right are two couches and two chairs with a flat-screen TV to enjoy. During our latest visit, we sat in the chairs and watched the basketball playoffs.

Access Suite Lounge main sitting area

Down the left hallway, you’ll find a conference room and two bathrooms…

Access Suite Lounge conference room

…and two private rooms.

Access Suite Lounge guest room

One of these private rooms is designed for guests who have a baby with them, complete with a changing table.

Access Suite Lounge baby room

Down the right hallway, you’ll find two private rooms…

Access Suite Lounge guest room 2

Access Suite Lounge guest room 3

…the concierge galley, two stylist rooms, and a meditation/prayer room. To reserve a stylist for all of your shopping needs, contact the Access Suite Lounge management at 714-435-8571 and they will help you out.

Access Suite Lounge stylist room A
Stylist room A
Access Suite Lounge stylist room B
Stylist room B

I like the idea of having private rooms to enjoy conversations with your friends and family. However, the only room with a TV was the main sitting area in the front. When we arrived, it was on some random TV show, and the concierge obliged with our request to turn on the basketball playoffs.

What amenities are available in the Access Suite?

Unlike lounges that offer full meals, complete bars, showers, and massages, the Access Suite Lounge at South Coast Plaza offers only a few things but does them extremely well.

There are an assort of complimentary drinks, including – soda, coffee, beer, wine, or champagne. I had a Heineken, while my buddy drank an Amstel. Some ladies on the couch near us were enjoying healthy pours of champagne. The beer selection that I remember is Heineken, Amstel, Corona, or domestics (either Bud, Coors, or a light version… but why drink them when you can have premium beers for free?).

Technically, there is a limit of 2 drinks per person. YMMV.

The snack choices were limited to bowls of chips or pretzels. And there was a bowl of assorted Dove chocolates at the concierge desk that we raided several times. Mmmmm, chocolate!

Access Suite Lounge Lee with No Mas Coach
Turned down for drinks, we headed to Buffalo Wild Wings!

Please note that “last call” for beverages and snacks is 30 mins prior to closing. When Ben & Jon from No Mas Coach joined me for a visit we arrived about 3 minutes too late to enjoy any goodies. All we could do was whet their appetite for a future visit, then head over to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.

The Bald Thoughts

Lounge access is an awesome card benefit, whether you’re at an airport or a luxury mall. The Access Suite Lounge at South Coast Plaza is a hidden benefit of the American Express Platinum card that most people don’t know about. If you’re ever in Southern California, I highly recommend doing some window shopping inside the mall, then stop by for a complimentary drink and some delicious chocolates inside the Access Suite Lounge.

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  1. I’ve actually held a bridal shower there. Every other space was going to be so expensive. So all of us (except for 6 of us) had Plat cards, so the cost of free made it a no brainer. We each brought in guests. Turned out to be 20 ladies in all. It saved us a fortune. And we enjoyed the open bar. After a few hours thought, the staff got a bit rude – it’s almost like they wanted us to leave.

    • Inge, what a brilliant use of the lounge! I can imagine they would get a little feisty with you taking over the lounge like that, but they’ll get over it. Congratulation on your wedding. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. For real or are you just trolling? “After a few hours thought, the staff got a bit rude – it’s almost like they wanted us to leave.”

    Did you inform the staff that you were going to turn the lounge into a bridal shower party? Or did you just bring 20 people in at once and raid the bar and snacks?

  3. I gave you some mild crap for the Augusta comment re use of cards. mea culpa. Great article had no idea. Probably never use it but great to know.

  4. Hi Lee,

    I love this place. Not too many ppl know it. Do you do MS in OC/LA area? do you notice that a bunch of walmarts stops taking GCs now? Thanks

    • MS is a tough game in Orange County right now. So many places that I used to go no longer work. More and more people are shifting to reselling gift cards and other products. Have you tried that?

  5. Me too. I used to go to some MS friendly W Neighborhood Market but they do not do it anymore. I bought some GCs issued by US bank at Ralphs a couple years but they were compromised a couple of days after I bought them. I am still scared of that now. So I usually liquidate the same day or the next day. Where and How often do you guys have OC MS/points meeting? I remember there was a meeting at INNOUT at Marketplace, but I have never attended one. Thanks

  6. Unless I missed it, I don’t see any option of holding bags with the concierge or stylist. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to SCP but when I’m at the mall that’s usually a service I would like (a central bag drop off and perhaps a car delivery service).

    • From what I recall, there is an option for the lounge to hold your bags while you are out shopping. The retailers live for things like this… anything to keep you charging that card and buying more goodies.

  7. Just seeing this. Its worth noting that ALL Visa Signature or Infinite cards also have the same Access Lounge perk.

    If you go to Visa Signature or Infinite Exclusive Offers, you can find one for South Coast Plaza that includes lounge access, valet parking, a bunch of discounts to restaurants/stores as well as a gift, which was luggage tags for the longest time, but has recently transitioned into a pin.

    You need to go to one of the main concierges located throughout the mall and show them the offer on your phone and card. They will give you a small bag with all the items in it.

  8. Just FYI but I went yesterday and they are no longer accepting AMEX Platinum for entry. They are making one-time exceptions as it looks like this was a very new and recently implemented rule. Enjoy it while you can for one last go around for the holiday shopping.

    • Thanks for letting us know. I used to enjoy visiting that lounge on a regular basis before moving to Nashville 3+ years ago. It’s always sad when perks like this are eliminated. Especially when Amex keeps raising the annual fee!


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