Credit Cards That Provide Complimentary Airport Lounges Access 0

SKy Team Lounge at Heathrow LHR T4

Gaining Acces to an Airport lounge can turn your airport experience on its head, and turn the experience into a joy.  One of the best and easiest way to gain complimentary lounge access to various airport lounges around the world is through credit card enrollment. One of the perks of many premium credit cards on the market is access to various global lounge networks. Each card that provides lounge access will have its own set of rules and restrictions, such as how many guests you are allowed to bring in, do any authorized users receive the same lounge access privileges and such.

SKy Team Lounge at Heathrow LHR T4
Sky Team Lounge at Heathrow LHR T4

How To Acess Airport Lounges

There are multiple ways you can access an airport lounge:

  • Through credit card enrolment which provides complimentary Access to one of the many airport lounge programs like Priority Pass or Lunge Club
  • Direct Enrollment in a lounge program
  • Elite status with an airline
  • Pay per visit, some cards allow you to pay to gain access while others require you to prebook
  • Booking a Business class ticket or higher class of travel
Spirits Distillery tasting room at Portland International (PDX)
Spirits Distillery tasting room at Portland International (PDX)

The only time you will gain unrestricted access for free is via complimentary enrollment with credit card membership, even elite status with an airline will require you to be flying with the airline or a select number of partners. In every other case, you will be charged a fee either directly or to your credit card to gain access to the lounge. The exception is if you are flying Business or First class since you are granted access with your ticket.

Priority Pass Select

By far the most popular lounge program in the World is Priority Pass, which provides access to over 1200 lounges and restaurants at over 600 airports in the world. While Priority Pass offers standard paid membership available for purchase by the general public, it has a special membership for financial institutions who which to offer premium credit card holder lounge access.

The membership offered to institutions is called Priority Pass Select, and generally allows you and a number of guests complimentary access to Priority Pass Participating lounges. The number of guests you are allowed to bring in is set by your financial institutions, although occasionally a few lounges have their own restrictions. Most premium Cards offer you, 2 guests, while mid-tier cards can offer no guests at all.

Cards That Provide Lounge Access

Credit CardAccess TypeGuestsAnnual FeeNotes
The Platinum Card® From American ExpressPriority Pass Select Membership
Amex Centurion Lounges
Delta Sky Clubs When Flying Delta

2$550learn more
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card Priority Pass Select 2$450
The Business Platinum Card® From American Express OPENPriority Pass Select
The American Express Global Lounge Collection
Amex Centurion lounges
Delta Sky Clubs When Flying Delta
2$450Learn More
Citi Prestige CardPriority Pass Select 2$450
The Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express10 Free Visists per year $27 per visit afterwardsNA$95Learn More

Airline Cards That Provide Lounge Access

The following airline credit cards provide lounge access with some restrictions:

  • Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express- the card provides you access to 50 Delta SkyClubs, at 33 participating To access the Skyclubs, you need to have a same-day boarding pass on a Delta Coded or Delta-operated flight. You are permitted to bring in up to 2 guests at a charge of $29 per guest.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard- the card grants you membership to AA Admirals Club, there are 55 locations at 37 airports worldwide. You also have access to 64 partner airline lounges. To Access Admiral Clubs you can be flying any airline, however, to access partner lounges, you need to be flying with an AA coded or operated flights. You are permitted up to 2 guests, or your spouse/domestic partner, and children under the age of 18.
  • United MileagePlus Club Card- the card provides membership to the United Club which grants you access to the 46 clubs in 31 airports regardless of the airline you are flying with. You can also access Star Alliance partner lounges at 114 airports. However, you need to check the access rules since some partner lounges only allow United Elites and not United Club members. To access a star alliance lounge, you must be traveling on a Star Alliance carrier. You are permitted two adult guests, or one adult guest and any children under the age of 18.
Star Alliance Lounge at Paris CDG
Star Alliance Lounge at Paris CDG

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right card for you will ultimately depend on your travel patterns. If you hold multiple elite statuses with various alliances and always have lounge access, there is no point chasing it via credit card enrollment. On the other hand, if you generally fly economy but can not enough to hit top tier elite status, then lounge access via credit card enrollment can make a lot of sense. Choosing the right card for you requires you to balance out the cost of the Card (annual fee) against the overall benefits of the cards including how many times you see yourself using it for lounge access per year.

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