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Traveling over the holidays doesn’t have to be an ordeal. In this series, we’re sharing expert advice to help you use your credit cards to travel smarter and focus on having fun.
Among the benefits of premium credit cards is an additional piece of plastic that unlocks thousands of airport lounges worldwide. By simply showing this black-and-gold card, travelers can find an area of rest and respite away from other tourists.
But are you truly getting the most out of your Priority Pass membership? With this winter forecast to be one of the busiest travel seasons, taking a break from the crowds and escaping to a semiprivate area is even more important.
Which cards come with Priority Pass Select membership?
Priority Pass Select is a common benefit among most premium credit cards. Two of the cards that include membership for the primary cardholder are:
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also have this benefit.
Keep in mind that these credit cards often come with a high annual fee of $450 to $550, and can feature other benefits like rewards points and travel insurance.
Once you've confirmed your Priority Pass membership and have received your card or downloaded it through the app, there are two easy ways to use it to escape the madness of holiday travel: to access airport lounges or for other perks like restaurant discounts.
Finding Priority Pass lounges at airports
Priority Pass Select membership allows cardholders entry into over 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including hundreds in North and South America. In most cases, cardholders just have to show their membership card and an airline boarding pass for entry.
» Learn more: How to maximize your Priority Pass membership
Unlike traditional airline lounge programs, members aren't locked into visiting the locations of the airline they are flying on. Instead, Priority Pass Select membership is accepted at any participating lounge — even independent facilities — in the network. This allows members to find the right space for their needs, especially during peak travel times.
Finding a lounge is a surprisingly easy process, even when traveling. Go to the Priority Pass website or use the Priority Pass app (available for both iOS and Android phones) to find the nearest location. At large airports, it’s not uncommon to find multiple lounges within a short walk that accept Priority Pass.
Using Priority Pass elsewhere
While lounge access may be the most well-known benefit of Priority Pass, cardholders also can find perks on the website or app for other places, such as credits at participating restaurants and retailers, by using their pass when they arrive.
» Learn more: So you’ve got airport lounge access? You sure?
While the actual discount will vary based on the restaurant and location, members can expect to save at least $28 per visit when they present their Priority Pass membership card in person or through the app.
Another Priority Pass benefit is access at select U.S. airports to Minute Suites, mini-hotel rooms where travelers can rest between flights. Priority Pass holders can get access for one hour free (and a discount on extra time) when a room is available at select lounges.
Will my Priority Pass be denied?
Although Priority Pass is a great benefit to escape the chaos of holiday travel, it also comes with limitations. In some situations, your Priority Pass may not gain you lounge entry. Here's when it could happen:
Nonparticipating airport lounges
Not every lounge is a member of the Priority Pass program. American Express Centurion Lounges, for example, are only open to holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Airport lounges at capacity
Lounges can refuse entry to Priority Pass holders if the location is already at capacity with their own members. Priority Pass members can visit a different lounge, so be sure to check the website for a backup plan.
Not carrying your Priority Pass card
Even if you have an active Priority Pass membership, your credit card may not be enough to get you into the lounge. Be sure to carry your physical Priority Pass card with you and download a virtual card to your smartphone app.
To view rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.
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.
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 2021, 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