Want to get access to airport lounges with your credit card as you travel?
Although many credit cards offer you exclusive access to airport lounges, there may be limits to this perk, and some cards simply offer you better benefits than others.
Here’s a look at whether 5 of the most popular travel cards on the market include an airport lounge access program, as well as an explanation of any limitations you should expect.
American Express Platinum: $450 Annual Fee = Awesome Airport Lounge Access
It’s probably not a surprise that American Express Platinum cardholders gain complimentary access to a range of participating airport lounges and clubs throughout the world through their Airport Club Access Program. Note, however, that access to Continental Airlines Presidential Club lounges has been discontinued.
To gain admission, you’ll need to present your Platinum card, ID and a ticket for same-day travel on the club’s corresponding airline. Your spouse and children under 21 can join you, or two traveling companions.
AmEx Platinum cardholders gain access to:
- American Airlines Admirals Clubs
- US Airways Clubs (no ticket required)
- Airspace Lounges
- Delta Sky Clubs (You don’t even get access to these with Amex Gold or Platinum Delta Skymiles)
You can also enroll in the Priority Pass Select program, which is an independent airport lounge access program.
This program gives you more international access in 100 countries and you may use lounges regardless of which carrier you are flying with. You can also bring along guests for a $27 fee per person.
With the AmEx Platinum card you can also take advantage of their new offer for a $200 annual airline free credit, which may be applied to airport lounge day passes and annual memberships, as well as checked baggage fees, phone reservation fees and pet flight fees, among other things.
American Express Platinum card actually has two airport lounge programs…
With Platinum card access, you are automatically enrolled, use your Platinum card to gain access, have the privilege of bringing along free guests and usually need a ticket for same-day travel on the lounge’s corresponding airline to gain access.
With Priority Pass Select, you must enroll (It’s free) after you have a Platinum card. You then get a card to gain access to over 600 lounges in 100 countries, with free access regardless of which airline carrier you are flying with. You can bring guests along, but there’s an additional fee of $27 per guest.
Important Note: Now that American Express has discontinued access to Continental Airlines Presidential Club lounges, the United Mileage Plus card is the only credit card available that gives you access to these lounges.
The brand new Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers similar airport lounge access to the Platinum card. To read a full review of the Sapphire Reserve card, click here.
To see how it compares to the Platinum Card, check out this article.
Another Solid Option: United MileagePlus Cards
There are four MileagePlus credit cards available from United: the Club card, the Explorer Card, the Club Business Card and the Explorer Business card. All United MileagePlus credit cards include United Club membership with access:
- Over 50 United Club lounges
- US Airways Club lounges
- Participating Star Alliance-affiliated lounges
To gain access to US Airways and United lounges you’ll need your United Club card and a valid ID, while access to a Star Alliance lounge requires a boarding pass for travel on a Star Alliance flight.
At United and US Airways lounges you’re allowed two guests or family, which includes your spouse and any children under the age of 21. However, Star Alliance lounges will only allow 1 guest, who must also be traveling on a Star Alliance flight.
This credit card is now the only one on the market that offers access to United lounges as American Express discontinued access in 2011.
Travel Cards that DON’T offer lounge access
Gold & Platinum Delta Skymiles:
Trying to figure out if you get complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs lounges with the Gold and Platinum Delta SkyMiles card? The answer is no, these cards DO NOT include airport lounge access.
The only card Delta offers that include airport lounge access is the Delta Reserve SkyMiles card, which has a $450 annual fee (not a typo). Delta should be able to do much better than this, since Platinum Delta Skymiles cardholders are still paying a substantial annual fee!
Chase Sapphire Preferred:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another popular travel credit card that does not offer access to airport lounges.
Chase Ink Bold card, on the other hand, does include complimentary access to over 350 lounges around the world with two free passes each year. After the first two visits, cardholders pay $27 per person for themselves and any guests.
British Airways Visa:
The British Airways Signature Visa also surprisingly does not offer access to airport lounges.
While qualifying for this credit card automatically enrolls you in the British Airways Executive Club, any Avios points you earn with your card will not count toward your club tier level progression or retention.
While Executive Club Gold members gain access to 170 lounges around the world, the British Airways credit card will never help you achieve Gold membership status.
In the end you really get what you pay for with the American Express Platinum card. While their two separate programs can make things a little confusing, both airport lounge access programs are complimentary and give you access to AA Admirals Clubs, US Airways Clubs, Airspace Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and over 600 other lounges once you enroll.