The Guide to Priority Pass Select — Plus How to Maximize Your Membership

With a little strategic planning, you can maximize your Priority Pass Select membership and offset your card's annual fee.
Elina Geller
Claire Tsosie
By Claire Tsosie and  Elina Geller 
Updated
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
How to Maximize Your Priority Pass Select Membership

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Airport layovers can be a nice experience when they're spent in an exclusive club, enjoying tasty snacks, sipping wine and reclining in a comfy armchair — all without paying a dime.

That's why getting a premium credit card with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership is so valuable for avid travelers. Until lounge membership programs came along, only those who had elite status or a first- or business-class ticket were able to access lounges for free. The Priority Pass membership, included on many credit cards with annual fees of $400 or more, can get you through the door at more than 1,500 airport lounges worldwide at no additional charge.

Used strategically, the benefits of a Priority Pass membership can far surpass the cost of a high credit card annual fee. Here’s how you can make the most of your membership.

What is Priority Pass Select?

When you get your Priority Pass membership through a credit card, the type of membership you receive is called Priority Pass Select. If you purchase a membership through Priority Pass directly, you have a choice of a Standard, Standard Plus or Prestige plan. These paid memberships include benefits that are slightly different from those provided by Priority Pass Select.

In this article, "Priority Pass" refers to the network of airport lounges, while "Priority Pass Select" refers to the membership included with your credit card.

To enter a Priority Pass lounge, you'll need to show your membership card (or digital card) and your boarding pass.

Priority Pass benefits

When you visit a Priority Pass lounge, you can take advantage of a multitude of benefits, such as:

  • Free Wi-Fi.

  • Complimentary food.

  • Alcoholic beverages.

  • Newspapers.

  • Magazines.

  • TVs.

  • Air conditioning.

  • Flight information.

  • Some lounges even have conference rooms, fax machines, free spa treatments, private rooms to sleep, and showers.

Considering how expensive airport food can be, a place to eat and drink for free can be a money saver, especially if you’re traveling with companions.

Here’s a little-known perk of the Priority Pass program: Aside from free access to lounges, members with eligible credit cards can also score free meals and drinks at select restaurants and bars in airports by receiving a discount off their bill (usually $28 per person).

To take advantage of the credits, visit the restaurant locations and let the server or cashier know that you’ll be paying with your Priority Pass Select membership. Keep in mind that you might not be able to use credits for certain items (like to-go meals) and that you can’t use the credit as a gratuity.

Priority Pass lounge locations

Priority Pass has plenty of lounges — over 1,500 internationally. As of this time, the lounges are available in 44 U.S. cities. Some airports may have several Priority Pass lounges.

  1. Atlanta.

  2. Baltimore.

  3. Boston.

  4. Buffalo, N.Y.

  5. Charleston, S.C.

  6. Charlotte Douglas, N.C.

  7. Chicago.

  8. Cleveland.

  9. Colorado Springs, Colo.

  10. Dallas.

  11. Detroit.

  12. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  13. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.

  14. Hebron, Ky.

  15. Honolulu.

  16. Houston.

  17. Indianapolis.

  18. Jacksonville, Fla.

  19. Kahului, Hawaii.

  20. Las Vegas.

  21. Lexington, Ky.

  22. Little Rock, Ark.

  23. Los Angeles.

  24. Miami.

  25. Minneapolis/St. Paul.

  26. New Orleans.

  27. Newark, N.J.

  28. New York.

  29. Oakland, Calif.

  30. Orlando, Fla.

  31. Philadelphia.

  32. Pittsburgh.

  33. Portland, Ore.

  34. Providence, R.I.

  35. Salt Lake City.

  36. San Diego.

  37. San Francisco.

  38. San Jose, Calif.

  39. Seattle.

  40. St. Louis.

  41. Syracuse, N.Y.

  42. Tampa, Fla.

  43. Tucson, Ariz.

  44. Washington, D.C.

That means you might not be able to count on a lounge visit at every airport, so plan ahead. Find out whether the airports you're flying to and from offer Priority Pass lounges. Before arriving, consider these factors:

  • Cost of bringing kids: Many lounges allow you to bring your kids along for free if they’re under a certain age.

  • Hours: Make sure the lounge will be open while you’re at the airport.

  • Food and drinks: Check the amenities available on the Priority Pass website before visiting, although generally, snacks and alcoholic beverages are usually included for free.

Suites, spa treatments and more

Although the majority of Priority Pass locations include basic lounge comforts, some lounges offer enhanced amenities, such as showers and/or private sleeping areas.

Minute Suites in Dallas-Fort Worth

There are two Minute Suites at DFW airport, one in Terminal A and the other in Terminal D (both after security).

Minute Suites include a private room with a daybed that could fit up to two people and the facility is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Your Priority Pass membership includes one hour of complimentary access to the private suite and is a great option for anyone who needs a quiet space to lay down, even if it's only for an hour. After that first hour, each hour is $34. If you and a traveling companion both have Priority Pass memberships, you can stack both to get two hours.

The Club in Las Vegas

If you’ve got some time before your flight departs from Las Vegas, The Club LAS has two locations. Both are located after security with one location in Terminal 1 and the other in Terminal 3. Both lounges include free Wi-Fi, printers, food, alcohol and showers. The location in Terminal 3 offers premium food.

Air France Lounge in New York-JFK

This lounge has extended hours (open from 10 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. daily), which is especially helpful for passengers traveling on late flights. In addition to hot and cold meal counters that are open at night, the lounge provides showers and a La Prairie Beauty Treatment Center, which offers spa treatments and high-end beauty products.

The Priority Pass Air France lounge is located in Terminal 1 by Gate 1.

The Chase Sapphie Lounge in New York-LGA

This massive, two-level lounge has all sorts of extra amenities, including an arcade, photo booth and spa treatments. It is located in Terminal B and is open from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Lounge.

Different Priority Pass membership levels

You could either purchase Priority Pass membership or get it for free with your premium credit card. If you’re interested in purchasing a membership, these are the current prices for U.S. residents:

Standard

Standard Plus

Prestige

Annual Fee

$99.

$329.

$469.

Member Fee

$35.

10 free visits, then $35.

All visits free.

Guest Fee

$35.

$35.

$35.

If you’re an infrequent traveler but would like to have the choice of visiting a Priority Pass lounge, the Standard membership is the cheapest option. However, this plan is a terrible value since (due to the annual fee that comes with no access) you would pay $134 for one lounge visit and $169 for two, $204 for three and so on.

The Standard Plus membership's break-even point (10 visits) equates each lounge visit to $32.90. The Prestige membership offers unlimited visits for an annual cost of $469. However, at this price, you’d be better off considering a premium travel credit card that offers a Priority Pass membership, especially since the cards offer free guest access.

Credit cards with Priority Pass Select

Travel rewards credit cards offer a lot of perks and Priority Pass access is a big draw for frequent flyers. Chase, American Express, U.S. Bank, Citi and Barclays are some of the financial institutions issuing these cards.

Depending on the card issuer, authorized users may also receive complimentary access to lounges. As with general membership access, lounge visits beyond any free allowances provided as a part of a Priority Pass credit card benefit cost $35 per person, per visit.

Here’s the list of cards that offer a Priority Pass membership, which can include unlimited visits for the cardmember and a guest policy that offers a varying number of free guest visits:

Unlimited cardmember visits plus unlimited guests

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card includes Priority Pass Select, Capital One lounges (three lounges open so far) and more than 100 Plaza Premium lounges (including select Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses) — all for an annual fee of $395. That's more access to airport lounges for a lower cost than most other premium travel cards.

Mastercard® Gold Card™ and the Mastercard® Black Card™

Issued by Barclays, both of these luxury cards offer Priority Pass Select and have hefty annual fees ($495 for the Mastercard® Black Card™ and $995 for the Mastercard® Gold Card™).

Unlimited cardmember visits plus two free guests, thereafter $27-$35 guest fee

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an annual fee of $550, but the $300 in offsetting travel credits effectively reduces the fee to $250. Given the complimentary guest passes (two free, $27 each thereafter), the Priority Pass benefits included with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card are much better than those offered on the Standard, Standard Plus or Prestige memberships.

This solid travel card has the following welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Citi Prestige® Card

Although the annual fee on the Citi Prestige® Card is $495, travel statement credits worth $250 effectively reduce the fee to $245, which again makes the card a better option than the paid Priority Pass Standard Plus or Prestige memberships. After the two free guest passes, the guest fee is $27.

The current welcome offer is: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
NerdWallet rating 

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a great choice for Marriott loyalists and includes up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, which help offset the $650 annual fee down to $350. After the two complimentary guest visits, each additional guest is charged the same as the guest fee on the Standard Plus membership (currently $35).

Again, this is another perfect example that the Priority Pass membership included surpasses the Standard, Standard Plus or Prestige paid plans. Enrollment required. Terms apply.

Unlimited cardmember visits, no complimentary guests

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
NerdWallet rating 

Despite the hefty annual fees on The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, both cards include several offsetting credits that effectively reduce the fee. Although both cards offer access to their own network of lounges, their Priority Pass Select membership doesn’t include any complimentary guest visits or provide access to Priority Pass airport restaurants. Enrollment required.

The cards include the American Express Global Lounge Collection which, in addition to Priority Pass, provides access to AmEx’s Centurion Lounges, International American Express Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs. Terms apply. Enrollment required.

The Platinum Card® from American Express has an annual fee of $695 and the current offer is: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has an annual fee of $695 and the current offer is: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Varying cardmember visit and guest policy

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card includes 10 free visits to Priority Pass lounges. After the 10 visits, you will be charged a guest fee equal to the guest fee on the Standard Plus membership (currently $35). Enrollment required.

The card has an annual fee of $95 and the current offer is: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first three months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
NerdWallet rating 

The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card offers an incredibly lackluster Priority Pass Select membership. Cardmembers receive eight complimentary visits (guest visits count toward the eight passes) per year and thereafter each visit is $35.

The card provides annual statement credits totaling $325 for eligible travel, dining, restaurant and takeout purchases, which reduce the $400 annual fee to $75. However, even for a net $75 annual fee, the limit of eight lounge visits per year is pretty paltry.

Many premium travel cards offer a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, so if you’re undecided and several of the products look appealing, pick the one with the strongest credit card offer with perks that are most relevant to you.

How to activate your Priority Pass Select membership

When you receive complimentary membership through a credit card, you aren’t automatically enrolled as a Priority Pass Select member the moment you’re approved.

Instead, you have to activate your benefits separately and wait for your membership card — which is separate from your credit card — to arrive in the mail. Do this as soon as possible, so you can start maximizing those benefits sooner.

Enrolling is generally a simple process. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, just navigate to your "Card Benefits" page and select "Activate" under the section marked "Airport Lounge Access." Or if you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, log on to your account on AmEx’s Priority Pass page and check the box to confirm your enrollment. Having trouble? Call the number on the back of your card for help.

Get the Priority Pass app

A Priority Pass digital card is a convenient option if you don't feel like carrying your physical card with you, or you want to protect yourself in case it gets misplaced.

Some credit cards give you the option of adding a digital membership card, which you can access by downloading the Priority Pass app through Google Play or the Apple App Store and logging into your Priority Pass account. Today, digital membership cards are accepted by most Priority Pass lounges.

How to get the most out of your Priority Pass Membership

Plan your departure or layover strategically

Suppose you could choose between two equally priced flights out of nearby airports (e.g., New York-JFK and New York-LaGuardia). Find out which terminal the airline flies out of in each airport and then check the Priority Pass website to see if there is a lounge in that terminal.

In New York-JFK, there are lounges in Terminals 1, 4, 5 and 8, so if you’re flying out of one of the terminals, you could visit a lounge before your flight. New York-LGA’s only Priority Pass offering is a spa in Terminal B, so although there isn't any food or drinks to enjoy, you could take advantage of one of the complimentary spa treatments.

Show up early

The key to maximizing any airport lounge experience is simple: Arrive early. That gives you plenty of time to relax and take advantage of the lounge's amenities, which can go far beyond food and drinks.

In one St. Paul, Minnesota, lounge, you can test out the indoor putting green. In a Dubai lounge, you can nap in a sleep pod while your phone charges. The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX offers panoramic views of the iconic Hollywood hills. And in a London lounge, you can get a massage or manicure before your flight at the Bliss Spa — though you’ll have to pay for those services separately.

Just keep in mind that some of these lounges limit how much time visitors can spend there, ranging from one to four hours. If you can spend only two hours at a lounge, don’t show up six hours before your flight.

Final thoughts on Priority Pass Select

When you have a Priority Pass membership, a walk through the airport concourse to a lounge makes the preflight experience more enjoyable.

Whether you’re going for complimentary food and drinks or just want a quiet place to relax or get some work done, an airport lounge can be a great place to unwind.

If you don’t already have a card that provides Priority Pass lounge access, consider which one has the highest bonus point offer and evaluate if the other perks (e.g., travel statement credits, Global Entry credits, etc.) are relevant to you before applying.

To view rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

The information related to Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.


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 2024, including those best for:

Airport Lounge Cards from our Partners
Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
4.6
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x

Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

Miles

Intro offer

70,000

Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Miles
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-10x

Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
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