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The coveted airport lounge: A place where the crowds disperse, comfortable seating is available, you don’t have to sit on the floor to charge your device and complimentary snacks and beverages are offered. As you step out of the loud and chaotic halls of an airport terminal, the relative quiet is the first thing that greets you.
Lounge entry comes at a price, but some of the best travel cards offer it as a perk. Here are some cards that can get you into airport club lounges.
1. The Platinum Card® from American Express
» Learn more: American Express Platinum review: Luxury isn’t cheap
You’ll get into more than 1,300 lounges in 130 countries, including the Centurion Lounge, the International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium and Priority Pass lounges. Enrollment required. Many of these lounges feature a premium bar, snacks, shower suites, power stations, Wi-Fi and large flat-screen TV’s.
Note: Starting Feb. 1, 2025, cardholders will only receive 10 visits to the Delta Sky Club per program year. Cardholders can earn unlimited access after spending $75,000 in a program year. Unlimited access remains through Jan. 31 of the following year. Spend tracking begins Jan. 1, 2024.
Cardholders can bring up to two guests free of charge, though the exact guest policy depends on the lounge. For the popular Centurion Lounge, cardmembers have to pay a $50 guest fee ($30 for children ages 2 to 17). The exception is for cardmembers who have spent $75,000 on their card in the prior calendar year; these members will maintain complimentary guest access. Terms apply.
The annual fee for The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is $695, which equates to about $58 per month for access to free food, drinks and space to work, in addition to the card's other benefits. Terms apply.
Enjoy: The Centurion Lounge at New York’s LaGuardia Airport is located between Concourse B and C. It features fresh seasonal fare created by Chef Cedric Vongerichten, one of Zagat’s top 30 under 30 chefs.
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
For $550 per year, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive access to more than 1,300 airport lounges in 500 cities worldwide through Priority Pass Select.
You can bring in two guests at no charge. This Priority Pass Select membership works with third party airport lounges, so you may find a lounge with a spa and another with just snacks. Taking the card’s annual fee into account, it works out to $37.50 per month for access to airport lounges, as well as some restaurants.
Enjoy: Priority Pass has several lounges at London’s Gatwick airport. Club Aspire provides cocktails and Wi-Fi in the North Terminal’s Lounge Pavilion.
3. Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Access to American Airlines’ Admirals Club is included for those with a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. Admirals Club membership can cost up to $850 per year, so the card’s $595 annual fee can be well worth it.
In addition to operating Admirals Club lounges, American partners with more than 50 lounges to expand its network.
Enjoy: Chicago-O'Hare airport features three Admirals Clubs. The club at Concourse H/K in Terminal 3 even offers showers and conference rooms.
» Learn more: Citi AAdvantage Executive review: Your key to the club
4. United Club℠ Infinite Card
Holders of the United Club℠ Infinite Card receive United Club membership, including access to participating Star Alliance lounges around the world. United Club membership can cost up to $650 per year or 85,000 miles. The United Club℠ Infinite Card’s $525 annual fee is a cheaper alternative.
If you do not travel often enough to justify the annual fee in exchange for lounge access, the United℠ Explorer Card has a lower annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95. The card offers two one-time passes every year, which are valued at over $100. Restrictions apply.
Enjoy: Tokyo’s United Club at Satellite 3, Airside, features family rooms for some privacy and quiet when traveling with the kids.
5. Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a solid lounge-access alternative. Cardholders get complimentary access to both the Delta Sky Club and American Express' Centurion Lounge network. Terms apply.
Starting Feb. 1, 2025, cardholders will only get 15 visits per program year. However, they will be able to earn unlimited access after spending $75,000 in a program year. Unlimited access remains through Jan. 31 of the following year. Spend tracking begins Jan. 1, 2024.
Enjoy: Some Delta lounges, like the one at LAX, have a Sky Deck. During warmer months, you can relax on an outdoor terrace. With runway views, sunshine and breezes, it’s a chance to feel less cooped up at the airport.
6. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
With the Priority Pass Select membership available through the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you and up to two guests receive free access to over 1,200 airport lounges. Enrollment required. Terms apply.
Hilton Honors members will enjoy more comfortable perks both as flyers and hoteliers with this credit card in their wallet.
7. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card includes unlimited access to all-inclusive amenities at Capital One Lounges, 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges (including select Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses) and at 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide — all for a much lower annual fee than its competitors. The annual fee is $395.
The card turns also offers plenty of opportunities to earn bonus points, which can be redeemed through Capital One Travel or transferred to 15 different airline or hotel loyalty programs. The sign-up bonus is: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
» Learn more: The best credit cards with airport lounge access
Airport lounge access credit cards recapped
For frequent flyers who make use of airport lounges often, paying a credit card annual fee in exchange for lounge access can be a win. But even if you don't travel every week, the various perks offered by these credit cards can help you get (almost) free flights and hotels. If travel rewards are important to you, picking a rewards card that includes complimentary lounge access can be smart.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card