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Compare credit cards with airport lounge access
Get plenty of amenities like Wi-Fi, drinks and meals.
Given the terrific amenities and growing numbers of airport lounges around the world, it’s no wonder more travelers want access between flights. If you rarely fly first or business class, picking up one of many credit cards with lounge access is one of the best ways to add this luxury to your travel routine. Here’s a list of cards that offer lounge access and how to choose the card that’s right for you.
How do credit cards with free lounge access work?
For the most part, many credit cards that offer complimentary lounge access also require an annual fee. On one hand, you can think of this annual fee as paying for the “price” of lounge admission. On the other, lounge memberships are often worth hundreds of dollars alone, and credit cards that offer lounge access typically offer far more benefits than just lounge access.
Cobranded lounge access
Many cobranded airline credit cards offer complimentary access or discounted access to the airline’s line of airport lounges. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers Admirals Club Membership, allowing access to Admirals Club lounges.
General lounge access
Other credit cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, grant access to a broader lounge program such as Priority Pass. These lounges are tied to no particular airline and can vary greatly from location to location.
Why choose a credit card with lounge access?
If you’re a frequent traveler, there are a few reasons to shoot for a credit card with lounge access. Of course, these cards also come with a few trade-offs.
- A relaxed environment. Experience a relaxing lounge outside the typical airport waiting area chaos.
- Refreshments and meals. Enjoy complimentary drinks, snacks, meals and buffet options while waiting to be called for your flight.
- Convenience. Catch up with work by taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and cozy chairs, tables and workstations.
- Other card benefits. Earn points that can later be redeemed for airfare, merchandise and more as the majority of these cards are part of a rewards program.
- Restrictions. In some cases, you might be restricted to which amenities are available to you inside the airport lounge. Not all lounges will necessarily have the same amenities.
- Card fees. You’ll pay higher annual fees than you would with a regular credit card.
- Accessibility. With some of these cards, you’ll find that the lounge you have free access to is not available at certain airports.
- Limitations. Complimentary passes often have limitations to who is allowed access. If you are traveling with a large group, you might find that not everyone will be able to wait with you inside the lounge.
How much is airport lounge access worth?
|Lounge network||One-day pass||One year membership||Discounts||Cost to add a guest|
|American Airlines Admirals Club||$59||$25 discount per American Airlines elite status tier ($625 to $550 for individual new membership)||N/A|
|Delta Air Lines Delta Sky Club||$59 or 5,000 miles||N/A||$39 per guest if you have an individual membership (effective January 30, 2020)|
|United Airlines United Club||$59||$650 or 85,000 miles||Between $550 or 75,000 miles and $600 or 80,000 miles depending on your elite status tier||N/A|
|Alaska Lounge Alaska Airlines||$50||$450||Between $300 and $400 depending on your elite status tier||N/A|
|Priority Pass Select||$99 annual membership plus $32 per visit||$429||N/A||$32 per guest per visit|
|The Centurion Lounge||*Available as complimentary perk only to The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders||*Available as complimentary perk only to The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders||N/A||Up to two guests free of charge, $50 one day pass for additional guests|
|Lounge Buddy||Starting from $25 per day or per hour (only available to American Express cardholders)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Our pick for lounge access
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Read more
Compare cards with airline lounge access
Best credit cards for airport lounge access
Best credit card for variety of choice: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Best lounge credit card for travel and dining earnings: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Best lounge credit card for American Airlines: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®The information about Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected independently by Finder and and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.
How we picked our best lounge credit cards
We compared all credit cards that offer complimentary lounge access. Among those cards, we compared other factors that those interested in a travel card might want to learn about, including annual fees, reward opportunities, redemption opportunities, statement credits and other travel perks. We chose to highlight the cards that stood out in one or several categories.
How to choose a credit card with lounge access
Choosing a credit card with lounge access isn’t necessarily as simple as picking a card associated with your airline lounge of choice. After all, a credit card also needs to serve its primary function well for your spending needs. Here are a few factors to consider when making your selection:
- Your preferred airline. Choose a card that offers additional rewards associated with your airline of choice on top of its lounge access.
- Your local airport options. A card will serve you best if it offers access to lounges available at your local airport.
- Overall coverage and availability. Not all lounge networks offer the same coverage — some focus primarily on the United States. If you’re an international traveler, you’ll want a credit card that offers access to a lounge program with coverage across the world.
- The rewards program of the credit card. If you only plan on redeeming on flights with a specific airline, you might consider a cobranded card. If you like to keep your options open, a more generalized rewards card with lounge access like the Amex Platinum Card might prove more valuable. Some credit cards also offer additional lounge perks, such as access to the LoungeBuddy app.
- Additional lounge perks. If you frequently travel with others, for example, you might look at the guest policy.
- Annual fee. Most credit cards offering lounge access demand an annual fee — some larger than others. Consider how much you’re willing to pay for that access.
- Card rates. Finally, you’ll want to pay attention to the bread and butter of any credit card: the rates and terms. If the card’s APR and fees are poor, it might not be worth the lounge access.
Card comparison breakdown
Here’s a quick breakdown of two popular lounge credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
At first glance, these two cards seem to offer similar benefits when it comes to airline lounges: access to the Priority Pass program. However, there’s a major distinction between the two cards: the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers 10 passes into eligible Priority Pass lounges while the The Platinum Card® from American Express offers unlimited access.
If you’re wondering why you might choose one lounge card over the other, here are a few factors to consider when comparing these cards and others like them:
- The annual fee. While The Platinum Card® from American Express offers unlimited complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges, you’ll need to pay the hefty $550 annual fee (see rates & fees) to use the card. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card on the other hand only demands a $95 annual fee. Considering the standard guest and member fee per visit is $32 dollars, you’d only need to visit a lounge three times to make up for the $95 annual fee (see rates & fees).
- How often do you travel? Ten Priority Pass lounge visits might sound miniscule compared to The Platinum Card® from American Express‘s offering, but it could be more than enough for the average traveler.
- Do you stay at Hilton Hotels? The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card also offers benefits and perks associated with Hilton’s loyalty program, including increased earning rates on Hilton points. These additional perks could provide additional value during your travel stays.
- Do you want more diverse lounge access? While the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers just Priority Pass, you’ll find even more options in The Platinum Card® from American Express, including access to the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges.
- Rewards. The Platinum Card® from American Express earns Membership Rewards points, while the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card only earns Hilton points. This could play a large role in your decision, particularly if you have a preference between point flexibility and earning rates.
- Card terms. Finally, if the card’s terms aren’t ideal for your financial situation and preferences, it likely won’t be a great credit card choice long term.
What types of airport lounges can I access with a credit card?
This depends on your credit card. If you choose a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express, you get to access a variety of lounges, including Priority Pass Select for Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Global Lounge Collection with The Platinum Card® from American Express.
If you choose a cobranded airline card, you get either discounted or complimentary access to the following lounges:
- American Airlines Admirals Club access with a Citi or Barclaycard cobranded AAdvantage credit card.
- Delta Air Lines Delta Sky Club access with American Express cobranded Delta credit card.
- United Airlines United Club access with Chase cobranded United credit card.
- Alaska Airlines Alaska Lonuge access with Bank of America cobranded Alaska Airlines credit card.
If you’re a frequent traveler, a credit card with complimentary lounge access can be one of the most valuable — and relaxing — things you have. With so many choices available, you’re sure to find a card that fits your travel and purchasing needs.
If you’re not interested in airline lounge opportunities, compare the full range of travel credit cards for more options.
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