Is a Regus Gold Membership a Worthwhile Elite Benefit?

Regus is a global provider of short-term office space, often for those who work from home or are on the road and don’t have access to their normal office. These people tend to be frequent travelers, which may explain why United and American (to my knowledge) have been providing free Regus Businessworld Gold memberships to their top-tier elite customers.

I also received a second free Gold membership due to my American Express Business Platinum Card. To the best of my knowledge there is no difference in the membership, but I can say that American Express gets props for sending the card without making me request it first. It also looks different, with a logo for their OPEN small business network.

Regus credit card picture

The downside is that the phone number you call to activate the card tells you to use a web address, and the web address redirects to the Regus homepage with no further instruction. Really poor form for what is supposed to be a premium product, touted as a $600 value (it really costs about $588, since a Gold membership normally costs $49 per month for global access or $29 per month for the U.S. only).

What Does Regus Offer?

After receiving two of these Gold cards, I decided to explore whether it’s really worth almost $600 a year. My goal was to review the business lounge, since free access is the major benefit of having the Businessworld Gold membership. Is it good enough to include among the other benefits of top-tier airline status or paying for an American Express Platinum Business Card? (Other benefits include a 10% discount on meeting rooms and day offices and access to their discounted purchasing group.)

Blue membership is free and includes only the discounts. Platinum membership includes access to an office. Prices range from $249 a month for 5 days up to $599 a month for unlimited access. Platinum Plus costs about $300 more, but it really wasn’t clear why. In theory Platinum is for 5-10 days a month and Platinum Plus is for unlimited access, but both cards allow you to choose the other option. Renting an office as a Gold member costs about $80-120 for a full day.

Regus promtion screenshot

Regus business lounges are meant to be comparable to an airline lounge, but oriented toward getting work done. Sometimes airport lounges are horrible at this. Most people come in only for an hour or two, and the computers and desks are shunted off to a corner (if there are any at all). Furniture is shabby. Food inedible.

Seattle has several locations, including three downtown, so I visited the one on the 42nd floor of Columbia Center since I figured it must have a good view. ;) My impression was generally good, but the lounge was more similar to a large welcome lobby than an actual lounge.

Getting down to Business

There were a few chairs by the elevator, some more before the receptionist desk, and a few after it. With these were several lamps and power outlets. The furnishings were very nice, comparable to a good international business class lounge but certainly not anything like the Singapore Airlines Private Room. I felt like I was in a professional office.

picture of lobby

But the absence of much more beyond the chairs and a few cubicles makes sense: their goal is to pull you in and convince you to pay up for a real office. If you read the terms and conditions more closely, it even implies you can be denied access if you overuse it:

The Businessworld program is intended for your temporary use of our facilities. In order to best serve you and create a professional workplace for our cardholders, we reserve the right to limit or terminate cardholder usage if we consider it to be non-compliant with any applicable terms or conditions of use.

And more specific to the use of shared and private offices, which are not free:

A Businessworld membership is not intended to be a replacement for a full time or regular office. Should you use more than ten days in a single Regus center per month we reserve the right to charge an additional usage fee.

It certainly seemed like some people were there more than 10 days a month and knew each other well, so they must have been on an unlimited plan. I was able to work well in in the lounge for about five hours without much disturbance, good WiFi, and a view of a rare sunny day overlooking Elliott Bay.

picture of Elliot bay from window

The biggest sources of distraction were the televisions (I could ask to turn them off) and ambient conversation (regular visitors knew each other and were very chatty). I didn’t mind too much as I came here specifically to get away from the silence of my apartment. Despite my concerns, no one approached me about an upsell, although it didn’t seem like they got a lot of requests to use the lounge, either.

Amenities

The major benefit of a Regus lounge is that it is much, much nicer than an airport lounge or a coffee shop, my usual choice to escape from home. The downside is that it really is all about business, and you won’t find an array of beverages, snacks, and reading material

I did find a single copy of the Wall Street Journal near the elevator bank that no one bothered to read all day. On the opposite side from the lounge, there is a large kitchen with four (small) dishwashers, a refrigerator, microwave, coffee/tea machine, and two vending machines.

picture of snack bar

picture of vending machine in lobby

You are welcome to bring in outside food and drink, and there are plates and cups to serve it with. I found the staff very helpful throughout my stay making sure I was taken care of and the entire lounge was kept neat. The coffee and tea were not to my taste, but maybe I picked the wrong flavor packet for the coffee machine — a model I’d never seen before. Fortunately, there was also a Starbucks two floors down in the building’s sky lobby, and prices for the vending machines were very reasonable.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t pay for a Gold membership. It’s nice to have a place to go, but the lounge isn’t really a place to visit regularly as a substitute for an office. Even Starbucks or Panera has tables to work on, and this lounge didn’t unless I used one of the two cubicles. It was much quieter and the WiFi much faster, but still, five hours in a lounge chair is not good for my posture. The free membership is worth at most $100 a year to someone like me.

If you do need a workspace, I would approve of a Platinum or Platinum Plus membership. It’s pricey, but you aren’t paying for any unnecessary rooms or a storefront if your business doesn’t require it. You get the support of the on-site staff to accept packages, and there are fax machines, printers, and meeting rooms when you need them. And if you do travel a lot, you can pop in wherever you are in the world rather than setting up shop in one location.

Scott created Hack My Trip after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • Tony

    Thanks for sharing. Like you I received a free membership through elite status. I used a Chicago lounge once over the holidays and had a wonderful view of the skyline while working. It can’t replace a regular office workspace but when traveling can be useful… they seem to have locations everywhere.

    • The DS3 Group

      I work from home, travel frequently & benefited from Gold and Platinum Plus membership. When I lived in Houston I used Platinum Plus for 5 day offices a month to schedule client meetings in a professional, private environment. High end business, payments for services doesn’t happen well in Starbucks. During other days I would use the lounge or private business area to get out of the house or hotel room. If a client calls and wants to meet for an hour I could pay an hourly rate for a small conference room or private office. Great to have an address clients can come see me all the time when we schedule in person meetings. Free lattes, fridge & microwave. Great reception area and cheaper than Kinkos printing & copy rates. My 3rd year as a Gold member.

  • Amit

    I also received a free membership through elite status with AA. I found the lounge extremely useful (I work from home) when I recently moved and was not able to get the internet company to come out to my new place for almost a week.

  • STAN

    I GOT A GOLD MEMBERSHIP LAST WEEK FROM LH FOR MY BIRTHDAY( NEVER FLOWN THEM HAVE 500 TOTAL LIFE TIME POINTS ) , I GUESS EVERYONE IS GIVING THEM OUT FOR FREE—- I ALSO VISITED TO SEE WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT — YOU COVERED IT VERY WELL , NO GREAT SHAKES BUT MAYBE USEFUL SOME DAY — VALUE TO ME IF HAD TO PAY $0.00

  • Jeff The Wanderer

    I found my membership to be very valuable last summer in Rio. I got an email from a job with the US Government that I had applied for saying I had to print, sign, and fax 2 documents so that I could be considered for an interview. With the help of the Regus App, I was able to find a place to do all of this in just a couple of hours one morning. It did cost me about $26 to do all the printing, scanning, and faxing that I needed to do, but I eventually ended up getting the job and relocating here to DC. Sure, I probably could have taken care of this without Regus, but they sure did make it easy for me to get it done and get on with my vacation.

  • Pedro

    I suppose for some, it is all about having a (semi) permanent address in a city without laying down roots. As far as technology goes, most people can have similar results (wi-fi, refreshments, peace and quiet) in an out-of-the-way corner of a hotel lobby or business center or FedEx Office Center.

  • Jason

    There seems to be memberships with a Tripit Pro sign-up as well now which is $49/yr.

    • http://parasdoshi.com/ Paras Doshi

      +1 for that! I picked up the Regus Gold Membership via Trip it Pro.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yigal.brown Yigal Brown

    Actually writing from Regus lounge in Montreal. Found an interesting clause in their businessworld program:

    (http://www.regus.com/images/BW_enUS_Termsandconditions_tcm8-49412.pdf)

    “As a Regus Group Businessworld member you will have access to all participating Regus Group centers worldwide during standard business working hours. Membership entitles the cardholder to free Business Lounge access and/or a specified number of “Co-Work” office days or “Private” office days per month as specified by the region selected in your membership options. ”

    I am wondering, will I as a Gold member have some monthly allowance for these office days? Could not find anything about it… Do you have any idea?

    • Scottrick

      Yeah, I saw the same clause. The best I can figure, it’s an escape route so they can ban you if you start going there every day as an office replacement without actually paying more for a shared office (which costs $100s more).

      Starbucks gets $2-4 every time I visit for a couple hours. Theoretically you could go to a Regus and get free coffee and internet for the entire day in a more peaceful setting. They don’t want to give that away, every day, for free. But I don’t know the exact limit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15104883 Andrew Rivlin

    My city (Vancouver, BC) has 5 city locations and 5 more in the suburbs. Even if they have a clause limiting me to 10 days a month at any location, couldn’t I easily rotate through them?

    Homeless people should have no excuse now. Free Wifi, AC, and coffee, for an annual fee of $250 or less. (Ok that was mildly insensitive, but I am not too far off)

    • Scottrick

      I really don’t know how they track it or what their enforcement policy is. My guess is anyone would get a warning first, and that would provide some guidance on the topic.

      As for the homeless, unfortunately most business centers I’ve seen keep to regular business hours.

  • A. Michael

    Helpful feedback i was interested in their programs. thx

  • Angela Meharg

    Visiting Chicago this week and have just settled in to a ThinkPod at the 111 West Jackson location – it is new, clean, bright and quiet. I am delighted to have this free membership from my Air Canada Altitude status – and will be very sad that I didn’t fly enough this year to maintain it.

  • http://www.mightytravels.com/ MightyTravels

    My free BusinessWorld membership has given me access to some great Regus lounges in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and London (Mayfair). I primarily go there for hi-speed WiFi and most lounges deliver on that. It’s a good place to work for a couple of hours.

  • http://www.Fishing4Deals.com/ Fishing4Deals

    You can also get a free membership in Regus Gold via the Barclaycard Arrival.

    It is included as a benefit of the one year free TripIt Pro subscription (travel tracking) that comes with the Barclaycard Arrival.

  • John Richards

    I have been using Regus Business Lounges for a number of years and I have come across some very well run ones prior to the changes they made in their ‘Management’ structure. Out went the Centre Managers in 2013, many of whom were exemplary in dealing with their staff and with clients because they frequently came through the CSR route and knew what was what, and in came General Managers who were and are salesmen with a different title who know nothing about operations, client relations or much else beyond signing up new clients.

    The drop in standards since 2013 has been meteoric and it shows only too quickly.

    As an example I recently used the Mabledon Terrace, Kings Cross centre. The front desk staff are pleasant enough but I fancy most of that is the ‘Regus smile’.The General Manager (Adrian as I believe) cannot even be bothered to either smile or say hello despite him walking through the Lounge on several occasions. It seems, like so many, the GMs only concern is not those that have already paid and are paying but being pressurised from the AD to get new signatures alone.

    There is a clear sign on the pillar in the Lounge saying ‘no meetings’ but constantly there are the tenants conducting meetings upwards of two people in the Lounge and none too bothered about the volume of their conferences.

    The last time I visited this centre was two years ago and there were numerous complaints from Lounge users about the poor wi-fi. Two years on that is exactly the same.

    Kings Cross is definitely off my list. It’s terribly dilapidated, the heat in the Lounge is stifling and a portable air-conditioner makes a hell of a din. Oxford Street Regus is one I’ll not even go in to. That’s even worse.

    Very clearly the rot has set in since 2013 with this absurd, merely short-term profit oriented axing of Centre Managers and bringing in simple salesman as GMs. Every one I have seen is clueless on administration, customer relations and, frequently, decent manners.

    I am very disappointed by this downward spiral in image, service and professionalism.

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