How to Get Free Airport Lounge Access With Your Credit Card

An airport lounge is a great place to relax before waiting for your flight. You can purchase an airport lounge membership through programs like Priority Pass or Lounge Buddy. But you might not have to. Because one or more of your credit cards may offer it for free. | airport lounge | airport lounge access credit cards | which credit cards give you free lounge access | https://www.travelingwellforless.com

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You’ve seen the frosted glass doors. Caught glimpses of the large soft leather chairs. Seen frazzled travelers walk in and come out relaxed and smiling.

Those frosted glass doors are the gates to the kingdom. In other words, entrance to the airport lounge.

How to Get Free Airport Lounge Access with Your Credit Card

An airport lounge is a great place to relax before waiting for your flight. You can purchase an airport lounge membership through programs like Priority Pass or Lounge Buddy. But you might not have to. Because one or more of your credit cards may offer it for free. | airport lounge | airport lounge access credit cards | which credit cards give you free lounge access | https://www.travelingwellforless.com
Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha

 

I’ve shared all the tips and tricks on how to get into every airport lounge. One of those tricks is something you may already have in your wallet.

Nope, not cash. Something else, something that you might not realize.

You can get free airport lounge access with your credit card. Keep reading to find out which credit cards come with lounge access.

Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access

Airport lounges are a haven from the insanity of the terminal. A quiet retreat with free Wi-Fi, food, drinks, and showers. And in some lounges, you can get massages, manicures, and pedicures!

But an airport lounge membership can cost up to $550 a year. Some lounges like the Centurion Lounges are so exclusive you can’t buy a membership.

You have to be a member of the club or have the right credit card.

Why pay for an airport lounge membership when you can get it for free?

Several credit cards give you free airport lounge membership as part of the card benefits. These are the best credit cards for airport lounge access.

The Platinum Card from American Express

My favorite credit cards for airport lounge access are the American Express Platinum cards: personal card and the business card.

The Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express give you access to more lounges through the American Express Global Lounge Collection.

With the Global Lounge Collection, you get access to over 1,260 airport lounges worldwide. Part of this network includes American Express’s Centurion Lounges.

You get free food from award-winning chefs, free drinks (including alcohol), free Wi-Fi, and a spa.

The spa offers free massages, manicures, and pedicures! You can book an unlimited number of treatments if space is available. 🙂

The Centurion Lounge is open only to Amex Platinum Card (personal or business) and Centurion Cardholders and their guests. Because of space limits, you can no longer buy a $50 day pass if you have a different American Express card.

Your Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express also give you a Priority Pass Select membership and a $10 credit for food or drinks at Airspace Lounges.

Pro-tip: You can bring in two guests for free. Each additional guest at Priority Pass lounges costs $32 and $20 or more at Airspace lounges.

If you’re flying Delta, you can use the Delta Sky Club lounges for free. There are so many lounge options with the Amex Platinum cards, that’s why they are one of the 5 cards I always keep it in my wallet.

You also get 5x points on airfare purchases, 1x point on all purchases, a $200 annual airline fee credit, a $100 credit for Global Entry application (or renewal), free Hilton Honors Gold status, and $200 Uber discounts (Amex personal card).

There are no foreign transaction fees so you can use your card when traveling internationally. The $550 annual fee is easily offset by all the credits.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is another best travel rewards card that includes airport lounge access.

You get a free Priority Pass Select membership with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Authorized users also get a free membership.

Pro-tip: There’s no fee or limit on how many guests you can bring to the lounge.

When you use your card to pay for travel or dining, you earn 3X points. On everything else, you earn one point per dollar spent.

You also get a yearly $300 travel credit which is automatically applied. No need to call or submit any paperwork.

Other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve include a $100 Global Entry application fee credit and rental car discounts from Avis, National Car Rental, and Silvercar. When you book a hotel with the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection you get free breakfast, in-room Wi-Fi, and other special perks.

You pay no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $550. With the $300 travel credit, it’s more like $250.

Citi Prestige

Like the Amex Platinum cards and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Citi Prestige Card gives you a free Priority Pass Select membership ($399 value).

Pro-tip: Your immediate family or two guests can join you for free in the lounge.

Other benefits of this card include a $250 yearly air travel credit and $100 reimbursement for Global Entry application/renewal.

But the most valuable perk is the 4th-night free hotel. When you stay four nights, you get the 4th night free. You only pay taxes and fees.

When using the Citi Prestige you earn 3x points on airline tickets and hotels, 2x points at restaurants and entertainment, and 1 point on everything else.

There are no foreign transaction fees. You’ll pay a $450 annual fee but it’s offset by the travel benefits.

Ritz-Carlton

Another card that gives you a Priority Pass Select membership ($399 value) is the Ritz-Carlton card.

With the Ritz-Carlton card, you can bring your immediate family or two guests into the airport lounge.

You also get a $300 travel credit, a $100 Global Entry credit, a $100 airline discount, and a $100 hotel credit. Plus you get Ritz Carlton Gold status your first year.

This card gives you 5x points at Ritz Carlton and Starwood hotels, 2x points on airline tickets, car rentals, and restaurants. You’ll earn 1 point on all other charges.

You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees and an annual fee of $450.

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard gets you free American Airlines Admirals Club membership ($450 to $550 value). You can invite your immediate family or two guests to the Club.

Pro-tip: Authorized users can get their own free membership

This card also offers priority boarding, a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions, and 2 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile on everything else.

Plus you can earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles when you spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year with the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. This is great if you a lot on American Airlines like I do.

There are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $450 which is offset by the Club membership and checked bag fee savings.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

You get a free entry to the Delta Sky Club with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card.

Pro-tip: You’ll pay $39 per guest for up to two guests.

One nice benefit of these cards is the annual companion certificate. Your companion flies for free (including First Class) in the continental US when they travel with you.

Both cards give you 3 miles for every dollar spent on Delta purchases, 1 mile on other purchases, priority boarding, and a free checked bag.

The Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card participates in the OPEN Savings program. So you’ll save 3% to 10% on purchases at businesses like FedEx, Hertz, and OfficeMax.

There are no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee on these cards is $550.

United Mileage Plus Club Card

The United MileagePlus Card and United MileagePlus Club Business Card give you a free membership to the United Club ($450 to $550 value).

When flying on a Star Alliance flight, you get free access for your and a guest to any Star Alliance Business Class lounge worldwide.

Pro-tip: In Singapore, you can only get into the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Gold Lounge.

You earn 2 miles per dollar spent on United and 1.5 miles per dollar spent on everything else, priority boarding, and waived ticket fees.

This card gives you and a travel companion free first and second checked bags ($120 value). You also get World of Hyatt Discoverist status and Hertz Gold Rewards President’s Circle Elite status.

You get free breakfast, in-room Wi-Fi, and other perks when you book a hotel with the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.

There are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee on both cards is $450.

Pro-tip: Save on annual fees: you get 2 free United Club passes from the United Explorer card.

Conclusion

An airport lounge is a great place to relax before waiting for your flight. And it’s the best place to go if your flight is canceled, especially if you need to get on another flight.

You can purchase an airport lounge membership through programs like Priority Pass or Lounge Buddy. But you might not have to. Because one or more of your credit cards may offer it for free.

Cards like the American Express Platinum: personal and business give you free entry to over 1,260 lounges worldwide. While cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve give you a free Priority Pass Select membership. It’s a good idea to check the benefits of your travel rewards cards.

Which is your favorite credit card for airport lounge access?

Pin this to your travel, travel tips, or vacation board:

Airport lounges are a quiet retreat with free Wi-Fi, food, drinks, and showers. Some lounges offer free massages, manicures, and pedicures! Membership can cost up to $550 a year. But you’re in luck. Because several credit cards give you free airport lounge membership as part of the card benefits. These are the best credit cards for airport lounge access. | airport lounge | airport lounge access credit cards | which credit cards give you free lounge access | https://www.travelingwellforless.com

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 

Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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13 Comments

  • The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Jeff Kinsel January 31, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    We visited several lounges over the last year with our Chase Sapphire Reserved card and the Priority Pass, and it was absolutely worth it. Especially with international travel, the best perk was just that it was quiet. All of the lounges (good and bad) that we visited were mercifully quiet.

  • sherianne March 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

    I’m super bummed, my Travel Rewards is through Bank of America. I think I will look into the United Mileage Plus Club Card before my next annual fee

  • Carrie March 4, 2018 at 7:05 am

    Huh, I never knew you could get access to lounges with a credit card. Those $450 annual fees are brutal, though. As a budget traveler who is more than used to sleeping in airports, I can’t imagine the benefits of airport lounge access would outweigh those fees. Even the $100 fee on my current travel card barely seems worth it — you have to spend so much money on your card for the travel rewards to even it out, and whenever I’ve done the calculation, it always seems like I’m spending about the same as I’m saving — i.e. just paying for travel a different way. Am I totally doing this wrong?

    • Debra Schroeder March 9, 2018 at 6:19 am

      Hi Carrie,

      It really depends on your card. Some cards offer a 1 for 1 ratio. Meaning you earn 1 point or mile for every dollar you spend. But there are lots of cards that give you bonus points for specific categories. For example, the Amex Platinum gives you 5x points on airfare. So when you use a card that earns more points/miles you earn more travel rewards without the extra work or having to spend extra money. 🙂

      • Liz @ Yes/No Detroit April 28, 2018 at 7:41 am

        I wonder that too sometimes … I pay $95/year for my Delta AmEx (gold, not platinum) and $99/year for my Southwest card. Southwest gives me 6 or 7,000 bonus miles per year which is nice. I definitely make my money’s worth on Delta just with baggage fees alone … tried going to one of their lounges once, though, in the Minneapolis airport (layover) and it would have cost $30-50 I believe.

  • Linda de Beer March 4, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    This is a great detailed post about all the airport lounge access options provided by the different credit card providers. We must look into it again. My husband used to have a credit card that gave him access to the lounges of Star Alliance partners. I only had the privilege once when I “accidentally” flew first class from Malta to Munich.

  • Chris Bloomfield March 5, 2018 at 7:43 am

    I have always wanted to go behind those closed doors at the airport. Now I know a trick to access the lounges. I like the Citi Prestige because it lets you bring in your immediate family. It sounds like this is a perfect trick for if the flight is canceled.

  • Rosemary March 5, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Love the detail in this post with all the benefits of the different credit cards. Happy to see the only card that I have on this list – United Mileage Plus is great for the lounge benefits. Took advantage of this benefit in Singapore and really like the lounge there. We should really look into an American Express next. Great post.

  • Ash March 5, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Very detailed post on how to enjoy some of the benefits of having credit cards. However, I guess all or most of the featured cards in this post are American ones. As someone from the UK, most of the credit cards we have are Visa and Mastercard and I’m not even sure if we can use them for free airport lounge access.

  • Efthimis Kragaris March 6, 2018 at 7:50 am

    I had no idea that I could have access to the lounges simply by having a credit card. The annual fee of the card is not that much if you consider all the benefits and the extras you can get by..spending money! Thank you for the info!

  • Megan Jerrard March 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    I have the Platinum Card from American Express and it’s fabulous for lounge access – in Australia it gets me into Virgin lounges which is fabulous, because I have Qantas status but not Virgin, and they’re pretty much the two mainstream airlines here so you usually fly one or another. The last time I used it for a Delta lounge though I had to pay for a guest to join me, I haven’t checked if they’ve changed that in the last few years though.

  • Himanshu March 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    This was a true information giving article for a frequent traveler like me and there is no better place than a lounge to relax and rejuvenate before the take off. I have Priority pass and AmEx and both give me an access to best of the lounges. Thanks for this post.

  • Vicky and Buddy March 6, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve never used an airport lounge. Always figured there was no way I could get in. I had no idea certain credit cards let you in though. I’ll definitely keep that in mind if I apply for any new credit cards.

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