Top credit cards for airport lounge access

Two people relaxing in a sunny airport lounge Image:

In a Nutshell

Wondering how you can score airport lounge access for your upcoming trip? There are various travel rewards credit cards that offer this luxury perk, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Platinum Card® from American Express. Learn which credit cards are our top picks for airport lounge access so that you can travel in style.

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Find out how airport lounge access can upgrade your travel life — and which cards offer this traveler’s perk.

Long lines. Security. Crowds. No, we are not talking about an amusement park, but rather what most of us have to deal with when going to the airport.

Let’s face it, traveling can be a stressful experience. That’s why having airport lounge access can be a complete game changer for travel — it may offer you an enjoyable, even relaxing experience before you board your flight.


First, what are airport lounges?

If you’ve never been to an airport lounge, you might be wondering what they actually are. Airport lounges are exclusive areas where members or passholders can relax before a flight. Many airport lounges offer complimentary snacks and beverages, as well as comfortable seating.

If you frequently purchase single-use lounge passes (which can range from $25 to $59 per pass), the right travel rewards credit card may help you save on lounge entrance fees.

“The savings can add up in a hurry when you have complimentary lounge access, either through your credit card or a membership that you paid for yourself,” says travel and lifestyle writer Lee Huffman.

“You’ll have to do the math to determine how frequently you travel,” he says, “but it doesn’t take that many lounge visits to break even on a membership, especially if you’re traveling with friends or family.”

QUICK GUIDE

Airport lounge networks

If you’re looking into airport lounge access, it’s important to note that not all airport lounges are the same. There are several different airport lounge networks out there, including …


Best credit cards that offer airport lounge access

Access to airport lounges is often a major perk offered by certain credit cards. But which credit cards offer this elite perk? Below are the best cards we found for airport lounge access.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From cardholders in the last year

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Chase Sapphire Reserve® made a splash on the credit card scene because of its major travel perks. One of the best perks it offers? Airport lounge access.

As a member of this card, you can enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which grants you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges. The card does have a hefty annual fee of $450 per year, but the Priority Pass™ lounge access alone saves you $99 on a Standard Priority Pass™ membership as well as the $32 member fee (per visit). That can certainly add up!

Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the corresponding Priority Pass™ Select membership can get you airport lounge access to locations all over the world. So if you’re looking for some preflight food and drinks, you can skip the pricey airport options and take advantage of this card’s lounge access perk.

Platinum Card® from American Express

From our partner

Platinum Card® from American Express

From cardholders in the last year

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Another great option to get airport lounge access is the Platinum Card® from American Express. This card is chock-full of travel perks, but the access you can get to airport lounges all across the world is noteworthy.

As a cardholder, you can score access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠, which is an impressive network of airport lounges. The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ partners with and/or gives you access to …

  • The Centurion® Lounge
  • International American Express Lounges
  • Delta Sky Club®
  • Priority Pass™ Select
  • Airspace
  • Escape Lounges

In some cases, you can simply present your card to get access. However, you’ll need to enroll in the Priority Pass™ Select network to gain membership to certain airport lounges.

A great perk of this card is that you may be able to bring two guests to enjoy select lounges with you at no additional cost or at a discounted price, barring any limitations by individual program policies. So whether you’re traveling with friends or family, this card can help you relax together before your flight, in luxury and in style.

These perks don’t come cheap though, since the card has an annual fee of $550. But if you travel frequently, especially with guests, lounge benefits may make up for the cost.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

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If American Airlines is your preferred airline, then the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® could be a good fit for you. This card offers access to the Admirals Club®, which is the American Airlines–specific lounge.

At Admirals Club® lounges, members can enjoy snacks, drinks and personalized travel assistance. In some locations, there may be shower suites as well as a business center. Not only does this card give the primary cardholder access to the lounge, but it also gives any authorized users on your card access as well.

If you’re already an Admirals Club® member, you could be eligible for a prorated membership fee refund. The card has an annual fee of $450.

United MileagePlus® Club Card

If United is your airline of choice, then consider the United MileagePlus® Club Card to score access to United Club℠ lounges. The card has an annual fee of $450, but the United Club℠ membership could have a value of up to $550 annually.

At United Club℠ locations, you can enjoy complimentary beverages and snacks before your flight. Need a place to work? Or relax? You can do both at United Club℠ lounges.

In addition to food and beverages, United Club℠ locations may also offer printing services, Wi-Fi and travel assistance. In select locations, you’ll have access to a private phone booth for meetings or catching up with your family.

Using this card, not only do you gain entry to United Club℠ locations, but you may also be able to access certain Star Alliance™–affiliated lounges as well.


Bottom line

Airport lounge access can make a world of difference when you’re traveling. Having the right credit card can help you access these lounges so that you have a place to go before or during a long day of travel.

Though some of these cards don’t come cheap, the perks — like having airport lounge access — can go a long way if you know you’ll make use of them.