Get Free Airport Lounge Access With These Credit Cards

Free booze! And snacks! There are so many outlets! It’s no exaggeration to say that Chase Sapphire Sanctuary ruined me.

But while it may be the most popular card on the market right now, it is not the only one offering free airport lounge access to its holders.

“The premium credit card market has grown dramatically over the past year,” says Ben Schlappig, founder of travel promotion blog One Mile at a Time . “Lounge access has become an advantage all cards offer to justify an annual fee of $ 450 to $ 550.”

Before we dive into the details, there are three things you need to know:

  1. Airport lounges are not always what dreams are born out of. Sometimes they are crowded and sometimes they offer a rather poor choice of food; This means that it is not necessary to apply for a high annual fee credit card just as a means of access. All in all, though, it’s better than fighting over charging stations and expensive coffee in a typical waiting room.
  2. If you are loyal to a particular airline, co-op cards like United MileagePlus Club, Delta Reserve and Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard can be smart choices as you are guaranteed access to that airline’s lounges whenever you fly with it. If you have a card with regular lounge access, you will sometimes be at airports without additional lounges.
  3. As with any other credit card, you shouldn’t get a bonus credit card unless you plan to use it as a debit card – and pay off the balance in full monthly. If you can’t trust yourself to do this, the benefits aren’t worth the risk.

Cool with these caveats? Here are three credit cards that give you free access to airport lounges.

1. Chase Sapphire Sanctuary

With this card, you will receive membership in the Priority Pass Select program, which has over 1,000 lounges in 500 cities around the world. You can bring guests with you free of charge, although some lounges have restrictions on the number of guests.

Membership does not include lounges for big players like American, Delta or United, so Schlappig suggests making sure that the airports you visit most have Priority Pass lounges for you to use.

Schlappig also notes that as Priority Pass lounges become more and more crowded, memberships now provide some additional perks to keep customers happy – like one hour of free sleep room access at PHL or up to $ 28 of free food at PDX Café .

In addition to lounges, Chase Sapphire Reserve earns Ultimate Rewards points, which are redeemable to 11 different airline and hotel partners . You will receive a 50,000 Sign Up Bonus by spending $ 4,000 in the first three months.

Here’s what else he suggests:

Although the annual fee is $ 450, it is significantly offset by a $ 300 annual travel credit that can be used to pay for taxis, plane tickets, car rentals, hotels, and more.

Schlappig calls the card “incredibly versatile” and says it has “excellent travel insurance.”

2. American Express Platinum

This payment card gives you access to the extensive collection of American Express Global Lounge ; These include nine Centurion lounges, high-end options that include hot food, premium cocktails and, in some cases, complimentary massage and manicure.

You will also have access to Priority Pass Select, International American Express, Delta (if flying on the same day), Escape and Airspace lounges. You can bring two guests with you for free, with the exception of Sky Clubs Delta, where they cost $ 29 each.

Platinum earns American Express Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer to 20 partner hotels and airlines . You will earn 60,000 points by spending $ 5,000 in the first three months.

As Schlappig explains, this card has “tons of benefits,” including …

  • 5 points per dollar for flights / 1 point per dollar for everything else
  • 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through
  • Automatic Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors Gold
  • Access to Amex Platinum Concierge for travel and restaurant bookings
  • Free WiFi Boingo
  • $ 100 Registration Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • No commission for foreign transactions

His fee in the amount of 550 dollars a year is mitigated by the annual credit for $ 200 with a carrier of your choice (in case of unforeseen expenses, such as fees for luggage or food, but not airfare), and up to $ 200 in the form of Uber credit each year …

Stephanie Zito, the travel rewards expert who wrote the guide to hacking your honeymoon , wears both Chase Sapphire Reserve and AmEx Platinum. The latter she calls her “favorite” to access the lounge because it “best suits” her travel needs.

“At my home airport in Portland, Oregon (PDX), there are not only famous carpets, but also four excellent Priority Pass lounges that I can use during departure,” she explains. “Domestically, I fly mostly on an American plane with transit through Dallas or Miami, where I did enough manicures at the free Centurion Lounge this year to offset the high annual fees. And if I fly Delta, I can still get into the Sky Club. “

3. Citi Prestige

Like Reserve, Citi Prestige offers Priority Pass Select membership with one important difference: you can only bring two guests with you.

ThankYou points on the card are transferred to 14 hotels and partner airlines, and its other characteristics include:

  • 3 points per dollar for flights and hotels / 2 points per dollar for food and entertainment / 1 point per dollar for everything else
  • $ 100 Registration Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Missed Event Ticket Protection, which refunds up to $ 500 per ticket if you miss an event.
  • No commission for foreign transactions

Although the annual fee is $ 450, the card gives you $ 250 credit for flights, baggage fees, upgrades, and more.

The card also offers the unique benefit of a 4th night free: book your hotel stay for a minimum of four nights and you will receive a refund of the cost of one night as a credit.

“You can get a fourth night for free at almost any hotel using this program, and you can take advantage of the benefit as often as you like,” says Schlappig. “It saves some people thousands of dollars a year.”

While the cards above offer varied lounge access and some startling perks, domestic travelers shouldn’t forget the co-branded credit cards mentioned in the introduction.

“With the exception of Sky Club access for AmEx Platinum owners with Delta flights on the same day, these three large cards no longer give you easy access to airline lounges in the US,” notes Zito. “If you are traveling mostly within United or American countries, or your home airport does not have a Priority Pass option, then one of the airline’s other club cards will probably be better.”

What is the most important thing to remember? As Zito says, “The best card for you is that the lounge service offered matches your travel style and needs.”


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