Many premium credit cards provide complimentary access to airport lounges, giving you the opportunity to relax between flights and enjoy premium services without paying an entry fee.
Compare credit cards with free airport lounge access
How do credit cards with free airport lounge passes work?
A credit card with an airport lounge pass gives you complimentary access to exclusive waiting areas at the airport. This means you can relax in style and comfort before your eligible flights, with popular airport lounge features including Wi-Fi, food and beverages, premium seating and even beds and showers in some locations. Depending on the card and the lounge, you may even be able to share your access with a guest or family members travelling with you.
Most cards that offer complimentary airport lounge access provide a limited number of passes for each year you have the card, and a few provide lounge passes as an introductory benefit. Depending on the card and the type of lounge pass available, you may be able to invite a guest or provide access to a supplementary cardholder. Usually, you will have to meet specific requirements to access this feature, such as spending a certain amount, keeping your account in good standing or requesting the passes directly through your card provider.
Here, you can compare and apply for credit cards that offer complimentary airport lounge entry. You can also look at the common requirements you need to meet to get airport lounge access with your card, discover popular lounges and consider the pros and cons so you can find the right card for your needs.
Requirements to get airport lounge access with a credit card
While the requirements you need to meet to get lounge access with a credit card vary based on the provider and the airport lounge, some of the most common conditions include:
Valid ticket. Most airport lounges require all guests to have a valid ticket for a flight departing that day.
Dress code. Lounges often have specific dress code requirements, such as smart casual dress and no shorts.
Program enrolment. Credit cards that offer airport lounge access through a member-based service such as Priority Pass may require you to enrol in that program to receive your complimentary passes or access.
Spending requirement. Your credit card provider may require you to spend a specific amount of money each year to be eligible for complimentary airport lounge passes.
How to compare credit cards with free airport lounge passes
To get the most value from your credit card with free airport lounge access, you will need to compare the features of each option, including:
Annual fee. The annual fee will depend on the type of credit card, its additional features and spending limit. The platinum and black cards that usually offer this feature will have higher fees than your typical credit card. You may get lucky and find one that waives the fee for the first year, making it more enticing to sign up.
Rates. Depending on the way you plan to use the credit card, interest rates will make a big difference in the value provided by the cards. The purchase rate, cash advance rate and balance transfer rate may all differ in one card, so you will need a pretty good idea of how you plan to use it before you start out making comparisons. For example, if you are using it to earn points towards flights, but don’t plan on carrying a balance, look for low purchase rates with extended interest-free days.
The number of lounges you can access. This feature is dependent on the airline and network that the card is working with. An American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card holder, for example, will get 4 complimentary vouchers to participating SATS Premier Lounges in Singapore and Plaza Premium Lounges worldwide. A priority pass membership allows access to approximately 1000 airport lounges, and could be the best choice for travellers who always go with the airline that has the lowest price.
The rewards program or airline provider. Many of the credit cards with airport lounge access are a part of a rewards program that could be tied to a specific airline. If you favour one airline over another, then this is definitely worth considering. Another thing to look for is whether or not your exclusive lounge access is contingent on the number of points you have earned.
Perks. Airport lounges use various perks to please their first class and frequent flyers. The credit card you choose will determine the perks you are entitled to when waiting for flights.
Other benefits. Look to see what else the card is offering outside of the complimentary access to airport lounges. You could find some that have money-saving balance transfer offers if you are carrying a lot of debt, or bonus rewards points if you are trying for free tickets on your next holiday.
What types of airport lounges can I access with a credit card?
The design and features of airport lounges vary depending on the company or airlines that operate them. But if you’ve never set foot in a lounge and want to know what they offer, here are some of the locations you could gain access to with specific credit cards:
Plaza Premium Lounge (Terminal 1)
Singapore Changi Internation Airport has 3 terminal, with lounges in every departure/transit area. Each lounge offers unique design elements and services, with popular features including complimentary Wi-Fi, meeting rooms and complimentary food and beverages. Credit cards that offer complimentary access include the American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card and the OCBC Voyage Card. Note specific lounge terms and conditions apply.
Priority Pass is a subscription-based service that provides members with access to over 1000 lounges around the world. Depending on the level of membership, you can get unlimited access at no extra cost, a fixed number of free passes per year, or entry for a reduced fee. Credit cards that provide Priority Pass access and/ or membership include the DBS Altitude Visa Credit Card, the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card and the HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card. You can also pay for a membership.
Pros and cons of credit cards with airport lounge access
A relaxed environment. An exclusive airport lounge takes you out of the chaos that is typically found in an airport waiting area.
Freebies. Enjoy free drinks and snacks while waiting to be called for your flight, in some cases even a glass of wine.
Convenience. With cosy chairs, tables and workstations, you can spend your time wisely by taking advantage of free Wi-Fi to catch up on work, or your social media status.
Other benefits. Since the majority of these cards are a part of a rewards program, using them will earn you points that can later be redeemed for airfare, merchandise and more.
Restrictions. In some cases, you might be restricted to which amenities are available to you inside of the airport lounge.
Fees. As a result of the benefits and perks that come with these cards, you will find that the annual fees are higher than with regular credit cards.
Accessibility. With some of these cards, you will find that the lounge you have free access to is not available at certain airports.
Limitations. Complimentary passes are usually offered in pairs. If you are travelling with a large group, you might find that not everyone will be able to wait with you inside of the lounge.
Airport lounge access is just one small part of an entire credit card package. As you are taking into consideration the type and amount of access each card is offering, don’t forget about comparing that information against the other features and benefits that the credit card is offering.
Frequently asked questions about airport lounge access
With most of these cards, at least one of your additional cardholders will be given the same passes as the primary cardholder. Make sure you confirm this before you arrive at the airport to avoid any inconvenience.
In order to enter, you will need to show your pass along with a boarding pass for the same date.
Generally, no. The name on the pass and on the boarding pass must usually be the same.
Amy Bradney-George is the acting editor for Finder X and a senior writer for credit cards and Finder Green. She has more than 13 years' experience as a journalist and writer, with bylines in publications including The Equity Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News and produce industry website FreshPlaza. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Drama from Griffith University, and when she’s not putting (virtual) pen to paper, she spends her time as an actress.
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