7 best credit cards for premium airport ounge access

7 Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access

Frequent fliers need a comfortable environment to unwind after long hours of traveling between countries and cities. Airport lounges vary with the services offered and comfort level. We’re not talking about the common open space waiting areas here.

If you prefer a bit of privacy, comfort, and quietness to relax or work in between flights, consider getting first-class airport lounge access with your credit card- not just any credit card, but a premium/platinum card.

The credit card works like a special pass to access the best lounges in the world every time you travel to help you grab a bite, have some fresh coffee, and stretch your tired legs in between long flights.

Why you need Lounge Access

There are many lounge brands around the world, with different levels of services and amenities like food drinks, working space, or shower facilities. You require a credit card to access some of these lounges, some give you a free pass, with as many visits as you travel while others need you to part with a small fee when you bring along a guest or two.

To access any airport lounge, you’ll need proof of flight details, usually a same-day boarding pass, your credit card with airport lounge access, and a valid identification card.

We have compiled a list of credit cards that offer all the levels of airport lounge access to make your traveling less tedious and even less arduous as you connect flights amid your long journey.

Many top premium credit cards give lounge access services that vary significantly from card to card.

Top credit cards for airport lounge access in 2020  

Below is a summarized table showing credit card features and the welcome bonus on offer with points and miles you can earn from as a first-time credit card owner.

Credit Card Annual fee Welcome bonus
The American Express Platinum Card* $550 Earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases within 90 days of your card membership. 
The American Express Business Platinum Card*$595 Earn 75,000 bonus points: First 50,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 and 25,000 bonus points after spending an additional $10,000 all select items within 90 days of account opening. 
Chase Sapphire Reserve* $550 Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within 90 days of your card membership.
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard*$450 Earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening.
United Club Card*$450 Earn 75,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the 90 days from account opening. Terms apply.
Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card*$550 Earn 80,000 miles and an extra 20,000 MQMs after spending $5,000 in purchases within 90 days. Get an additional 20,000 miles after 12 months of card membership. Terms apply. 

Here’s a breakdown of why these are seven of the best cards for lounge access.

The American Express Platinum Card®: Best for Airport Lounge

The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup>

Features/Rewards

  • Get the Amex Platinum American Express Card for $550 a year.
  • Best travel card for lounge access – Has access to thousands of premium airport lounges
  • Access to 10 Amex Centurion Lounges across America
  • Variety of services include free drinks, food, and limitless amenities
  • Provide an ID and same-day flight boarding pass to access the lounge (up to 3 hours of flight departure)
  • Allows up to two guests, and two children under two years at no extra charge
  • Does not allow access upon arrival
  • Access to Delta Sky Clubs (For Delta flights only)
  • Select membership for a Priority Pass with up to 2 guests allowed
  • American Express Platinum Cardholders can also access other lounges such as Plaza Premium Lounges, Airspace Lounges, and International lounges with American Express authorization.

Additional benefits on the Amex Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum Card offers five reward points for every dollar spent on airfare booked through American Express Travel. You also earn five points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through the same channel.

Other attractive perks include:

  • $200 worth of credit to book airfare with an airline of your choice – valid for one year
  • $ 200 worth of Uber credits annually
  • $100 shopping credits with Saks Fifth Avenue, Gold status with Hilton and Gold Elite with Marriott

The American Express Business Platinum® Card: Best for Business Class Airport Lounge

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Features/Rewards

  • Slightly higher annual fee – $595 yearly fee
  • Specially tailor-made for business travelers
  • Access to major Airport lounges mainly Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (Flying with Delta Airlines)
  • Lounges admit travelers flying within 3 hours to departure
  • Allows two guests
  • No access on destination arrival
  • Other benefits on Amex the Business Platinum Card
  • Members earn 5 points per dollar on airfare and hotels booked through the American Express Credit Card.
  • Earn 1.5 points for each dollar you spend on selected dealers for $5,000 and above per year
  • Get airline credit up to $200 every year
  • Gold Elite Status with Marriot
  • Gold Status – Hilton
  • 35% rebate for first-class booked flights when you pay with American Express Travel Points (Max 500,000 points per year)

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card: Best for lounge and restaurant Priority Pass Access

Chase Sapphire Reserve (Registered Trademark) credit card

Features/Rewards

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers the best overall Priority Pass lounge access
  • Annual fees now $550 up from $450
  • Lounge access to select airports, cafes, restaurants, and markets within the Priority Pass network
  • Card members allowed max two guests

Other benefits

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft
  • 3 points per dollar spent on worldwide travel and dining
  • 1 point per dollar spent on any other purchases
  • Provides a $300 annual travel credit and Insurance protection such as trip delay or lost/delayed baggage

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® : Best for American Airlines Travel

Citi(R) / AAdvantage(R) Platinum Select(R) World Elite(TM) Mastercard(R) - Citi's Best Airline Credit Card with American Airlines AAdvantage(R) miles

Features/Rewards

  • $450 annual fee
  • This credit card includes up to 10 authorized users
  • The yearly price is lower than the cost to buy or renew an Admirals Club membership
  • Access to an Admirals Club Membership for cardholders
  • Access to American Airlines Lounge access
  • Allows two guests to the Lounge Area
  • Travelers must show a boarding pass with Alaska Airlines or American Airlines

Other benefits

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on purchases eligible on American Airlines
  • Earn 1 mile per dollar on any additional purchase.
  • Group 4 priority boarding on domestic American Airlines routes
  • Allows up to eight companions on the same reservation
  • Earn up to 10,000 elite miles for purchases worth $40,000 annually

United Club Card: Best for United Flyers

Clickable card art links to United Club(Service Mark) Infinite Card product page

Features/Rewards

The United Club Card goes for $450, and a tailor-made United Club membership goes to the authorized cardholder

The Annual fee for club membership ranges from $550-$650 per annum

Lounge access – allowed to United Club members with a same-day boarding pass on United Airlines, Star Alliance, or any other partnering flights.

To enjoy lounge facilities, members must show valid Identification cards

Allows up to 2 guests in the lounge area.

Other benefits

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar when you spend with the United Club Card
  • Earn 1.5 United miles per dollar when you pay on any other purchases.
  • You’re allowed one companion traveling on the same ticket reservation
  • Free standard check bags for the 1st and 2nd checks free on United-operated flights – but there’s a catch, you have to buy the flight tickets with your United Club Card.
  • Free access to priority check-in and Group 2 boarding pass
  • Enroll in Hertz Gold+ Rewards – for Presidents’ circle tier programs
  • Enjoy travel Insurance coverage with your United Club Membership
  • Coverage includes flight delays, baggage delay protection, lost luggage, trip cancellation, flight interruption and so much more
  • United credit card also offers an extended warranty cover, purchase, and price protection for items purchased with your credit card.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Best for Delta Fliers

Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Reserve Card

Features/Rewards

  • Annual fee – $550. Members have exclusive access to Delta Sky Club lounge access
  • DeltaReserve credit cardholders enjoy complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when they fly with the Delta Brand purchases, inclusive of flight tickets and hotels stay.
  • Access Delta Sky Clubs when flying on a Delta partner airline – pay $39 per lounge access
  • Delta allows two guests max and children under 21, pay $39 per guest at the lounge
  • Reserve cardholders can bring two guests for a one-time pass at Delta Sky Club lounge each year.
  • Delta Reserve members can access American Express Centurion Lounges when traveling on the Delta brand airlines paid for with an Amex Card. You can access Centurion lounges 3 hours before departure and pay an extra $50 per guest

Other benefits

  • Earn 3 Delta miles for each dollar spent with Delta
  • Earn 1 mile for each dollar spent on any additional purchases
  • Get a Delta flight Priority boarding pass with up to 8 companions’ and a free first –time bag check on the same reservation.
  • You get domestic first-class comfort or the Main Cabin return trip with a companion certificate on the anniversary of card membership renewal every year.
  • Get a Medal Qualification cash waiver every year for annual purchases up to $25,000 on your card for Platinum, Gold, or Silver Medal Status. The Diamond status requires purchases up to $250,000 per year.
  • Get extended warranty protection, ticket return protection, and expenses protection for items bought with your Delta Reserve Credit Card.
  • Trip delay and trip cancellation protection when you buy Delta return trip tickets with your Delta Reserve Credit card.

Delta One : Best for Delta Business Class Fliers

Image result for delta one card

Features/Rewards

  • $550 annual fee (terms apply).
  • The Delta Reserve for Business Card offers access to Delta Sky Club for frequent business travelers on Delta flights.
  • Lounge access – Delta Reserve for Business members have complete access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on Delta flights
  • Delta Partner flights require you to pay $39 for lounge access per visit with the same fees applicable per person if you bring along two guests.
  • Delta card allows two guests for a one-time complimentary pass on each renewal year.
  • Full access at Centurion Lounges when traveling on Delta flights, or Delta partner flights paid for using your Amex Credit Card
  • access the lounge 3 hours to your flight takeoff or during flight connections
  • Bring along two guests max and pay $50 per guest.

Other benefits 

  • Earn 3 miles for each dollar spent with your Delta Reserve for Business Card and 1 mile on any additional purchases for $150,000 you pay annually.
  • Get a Delta flight Priority boarding pass with up to 8 companions’ and a first – free bag check on the same reservation.
  • You get domestic first-class comfort or a local Main Cabin return trip with a companion certificate on the anniversary of card membership renewal every year.
  • Get a Medal Qualification cash waiver every year for annual purchases up to $25,000 on your card for Platinum, Gold, or Silver Medal Status. The Diamond status requires purchases up to $250,000 per year.
  • Get extended warranty protection, ticket return protection, and expenses protection for items bought with your Delta Reserve Credit Card.
  • Trip delay and trip cancellation protection when you buy Delta return trip tickets with your Delta Reserve Credit card.

Low Annual Fee Options 

The cards outlined in this article are a bit high for ordinary folks, but they carry tons of tangible benefits and can earn you numerous points for you to recoup every time you travel.

We have an alternative list for cards with reasonable annual fees that you can still access complimentary lounge access each year:

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
  • Get ten free accesses for Priority Pass airport Lounge visits every year
  • Annual fee $95 (terms apply)

American Express® Green Card

American Express<sup>®</sup> Green Card
  • Get $100 credits for lounge access acquired through LoungeBuddy annually
  • Annual fees $150 (conditions apply)

United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

Image result for mileageplus explorer card
  • Get 2 United Club one-time passes after signing up and on every anniversary at card renewal
  • Annual fee $95

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Priority Pass? How does it work?

Priority Pass is an airport membership that provides access to lounge facilities for credit cardholders with premium membership. Travelers get to enjoy access to nearly 1,400 airport lounges restaurants around the world.

What are the Requirements of Priority Pass? 

Priority Pass membership allows fliers to gain entry into these lounges regardless of the carrier or your ticket class. Priority Pass access requires credit card enrollment in Priority Pass Select through different credit cards available in financial institutions. However, credit cards with lower annual fees do not offer exclusive lounge access throughout the year. You only get a couple of free lounge visits at card registration or yearly account renewal.

What are Centurion Lounges, and how do they work? 

Centurion Lounges are high-end lounges accessible for American Express credit card members. Currently, there are only 10 Centurion Lounges with plans to open up five more by close of 2020. Services to enjoy at the luxury lounges include dinner, drinks, and select locations offering complimentary spa services.

You can access Centurion Lounges by enrolling for an America Express Platinum credit card or the Business Platinum American Express Credit Card.

You can also gain access through the Delta Business Reserve cards and fly with Delta airlines with a ticket purchased through the US American Express Credit Card.

Can I have multiple cards with lounge access?

Yes, you can. You can access a lounge at a time, depending on your travel habits, the airports you visit, and airlines you fly. You can however, visit one lounge at a go, depending on the airline you fly, in this case, Delta, America, and United Airlines.

It’s essential to carry all your credit cards with lounge access and use the appropriate credit card based on the airline you fly and airports you stop at.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *