Getting Airport Lounge Access with Credit Cards
Airport lounges offer a relaxing oasis from the chaos of crowded terminals. As a lounge member, you can enjoy free food, drinks, WiFi, and other amenities before your flight. Some credit cards provide complimentary airport lounge access as a key cardholder perk.
In this guide, we’ll look at the top travel rewards credit cards that offer airport lounge access through Priority Pass and other networks. We’ll compare lounge benefits across premium travel cards to help you find the right one for your needs.
Credit Cards with Priority Pass Lounge Access
Priority Pass is one of the largest independent airport lounge networks. Here are credit cards that offer free Priority Pass memberships:
Chase Sapphire Reserve – Free Priority Pass Select membership allowing access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide. You can bring unlimited guests.
Capital One Venture X – Free Priority Pass Select membership with access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide. Authorized users get lounge access too.
Platinum Card from American Express – Free Priority Pass Select giving access to over 1,300 airport lounges. Gold card members can access as well.
Citi Prestige – Free Priority Pass Select membership. Allows access to over 1,300 airport lounges globally.
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa – Free Priority Pass Select giving access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. Authorized users included.
Check individual Priority Pass lounge restrictions in terms of maximum guests, premium lounge access fees, etc. Some allow free food and drink while others offer credit-based amenities.
Credit Cards with LoungeBuddy Access
LoungeBuddy is an airport lounge network that lets cardholders pre-purchase day passes for access.
Capital One Venture X – Up to $30 back in statement credits per visit with LoungeBuddy (max 10 visits per year, per card)
Capital One Spark Miles – Up to $29 back per visit via LoungeBuddy (max 10 visits per year, per card)
Brex Corporate Card – Reimbursement for LoungeBuddy day passes (up to $50 per visit)
While most lounges cost $25-$50 for a one-day pass, eligible cardholders can get full or partial statement reimbursement when booking with LoungeBuddy.
Credit Cards with Delta Sky Club Access
For Delta loyalists, these credit cards offer Sky Club airport lounge access when flying Delta:
Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express : Individual membership with access to Delta Sky Club airport lounges
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express : Individual membership with access to Delta Sky Club airport lounges
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express : Complimentary one-time guest access to the Delta Sky Club
You must be flying Delta or a partner airline on a Delta-marketed ticket and show your Delta boarding pass to access the Sky Club before your flight.
Credit Cards with American Airlines Admirals Club Access
These cards allow entry to Admirals Club lounges at over 50 airports worldwide:
AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard – Full Admirals Club membership
AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard – One day pass for Admirals Club membership
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard – Complimentary Admirals Club day passes
Cardmembers must be ticketed on an American Airlines itinerary (same day of travel) to access the clubs before flights. $50 per guest fee may apply for non-members.
Credit Cards with United Club Airport Lounge Access
For United loyalty, these cards provide United Club lounge access:
United Club Infinite Card : Full United Club membership with access to over 50 airport lounges
United Club Business Card : Full United Club membership including access for authorized users
United Gateway Card : Two one-time United Club day passes per year
United Explorer Card : Two one-time United Club day passes per year
You must be flying United or a Star Alliance partner airline to use the day passes at United Club locations before departure.
Credit Cards with Centurion Lounge Access
The premium Centurion Lounges are open to:
The Platinum Card from American Express – Free unlimited access to all U.S. Centurion Lounges for cardholder only
Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express – Complimentary access when flying Delta same day (up to two guests at $50 fee per person)
Locations include most major U.S. airports as well as international destinations like Hong Kong and London. These lounges offer premium food, drinks, and amenities.
Factors to Consider in Lounge Access Credit Cards
Key factors when reviewing credit cards with lounge access:
- Guest policies – Some allow free guests while others charge per guest
- Locations – More premium lounges in your home airport means more value
- Priority Pass restrictions – Review regular lounge access policies for changes
- Qualifying itineraries – Cardholder must often be ticketed on affiliated airline that day
- Annual fees – Lounge access can offset high annual fees with regular usage
Also consider the card’s other rewards rates and benefits beyond the lounges to determine if the annual fee is justified.
Ways to Maximize Airport Lounge Access
Follow these tips to maximize value from lounge access benefits:
- Use lounge visits as opportunities to dine before flights and avoid airport restaurants
- Bring guests when allowed to share the experience and amenities
- Arrive early to fully utilize lounge time before flights
- Review lounge ratings on LoungeBuddy to find highly rated locations
- Download the Priority Pass app for easy digital card access when entering lounges
- Avoid excessive drinking that could lead to denied boarding – know your limits
- Dress appropriately – some lounges enforce dress codes banning shorts, flip flops, etc
- Be polite to staff – lounges can revoke entry to unruly guests
Are Lounge Access Credit Cards Worth It?
Airport lounge access credit cards provide the best value for:
- Frequent travelers who fly often through major domestic airports
- Those with long layovers who want to maximize comfort between flights
- Groups and families that can benefit from guest access to share the amenities
- Premium cabin flyers who want to extend elite travel experiences on the ground
However, infrequent travelers may find limited value from paying a high annual fee solely for lounge access they rarely use. But as a key business travel or frequent flyer perk, lounge access can elevate the airport experience.
Closing Thoughts on Credit Cards Offering Lounge Access
The right premium travel credit card can unlock VIP airport lounge access to elevate your pre-flight experience. But be sure to evaluate the lounge network coverage in your home airport and common travel destinations.
For frequent flyers with long airport dwell times, unlimited lounge visits can make travel days significantly more enjoyable. Take advantage of complimentary food, snacks, drinks, clean bathrooms, strong WiFi, quiet work spaces, and more.
Yet for occasional travelers, the annual fee may outweigh the value received from scarce lounge visits. Find ways to maximize visits and lounge guest access if you do invest in a lounge access credit card.