What Credit Cards Can Get Me Into the United Polaris Lounge?

Unfortunately, the only way into the Polaris lounge is with a Polaris class or qualifying Star Alliance ticket.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Meg Lee

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United Polaris lounges are the envy of many airport travelers. These award-winning facilities provide more than the average airport lounge, with sit-down meals, high-end drinks and calming reflection spaces.

But how do you get into these luxurious lounges? And is there a way to use a credit card to gain entry? Here's a look at United Polaris lounge access, United’s Club lounges and other methods to get airport lounge access.

United Polaris lounge locations

While there are plenty of different United Clubs, there are only a handful of United Polaris lounges across the U.S., including:

  • Chicago-O’Hare (ORD).

  • Houston Intercontinental (IAH).

  • Los Angeles (LAX).

  • New York-Newark (EWR).

  • San Francisco (SFO).

  • Washington-Dulles (IAD).

In other words, United Polaris lounges are exclusive to large airports at which United has a presence.

How to get access to United Polaris lounges

What credit cards allow access to United Polaris lounges? The unhappy answer (at this time): The only way to get into the Polaris lounge is by flying as a business class customer on specific long-haul international flights. It’s not possible to access United Polaris lounges with a credit card alone.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Those flying in United Polaris class can access the namesake lounge at departure, during connections and upon arrival. Other passengers with eligible access have entry to the lounge at departure only.

To get entry to a United Polaris lounge, you must be flying United Polaris, or international first or business class on a Star Alliance airline. It doesn’t matter whether you’re flying on a paid ticket or have redeemed miles for your flight.

While there are credit cards that grant you access to United Club lounges, at this time, these cards don't provide entry to United Polaris lounges.

What credit cards allow access to United Club lounges?

All is not lost if you’re looking to get into a United lounge. Although Polaris lounges are accessible to eligible Polaris class passengers only, there are credit cards you can use to enter other United lounges.

The United Club℠ Infinite Card offers a complimentary United Club membership for cardholders, which means that you’ll be able to use the lounge whenever you’re flying on United or a Star Alliance airline.

The card charges a $525 annual fee, which is less than the cost of a United Club lounge membership.

The United℠ Explorer Card, meanwhile, has a $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee but provides two one-time United Club lounge passes each year. This grants you entry twice yearly to a United Club lounge when you’re flying with United or a Star Alliance partner.

Other ways to gain airport lounge access

You don’t have to stick with United Club lounges if you’re looking to take advantage of airport lounges. There are many options to choose for airport lounge access, including a Priority Pass membership, other airport lounge memberships and the Global Lounge Collection from American Express.

Priority Pass lounges

Priority Pass offers upward of 1,300 airport options around the world. This includes a variety of airport lounges, restaurants, massages and even sleep pods.

Terms apply.

Airport lounge membership

You may want to consider purchasing an airport lounge membership if you’re loyal to any one airline. These aren’t limited to United; Delta Air Lines and American Airlines offer airport lounge memberships for purchase.

Like United, both Delta and American offer credit cards that provide complimentary airport lounge membership; these include the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. Terms apply.

Otherwise, the $300 annual travel credit provided by the Chase Sapphire Reserve® will help offset the fee for purchasing a membership separately.

The same can be said of the $200 annual airline fee credit offered by cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Terms apply.

American Express Global Lounge Collection

If you hold The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Centurion Card, you’ll also have access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which provides access to thousands of lounges across the world due to its Priority Pass Select membership and the following additional partners:

  • Centurion Lounges.

  • Plaza Premium.

  • Aspire lounge.

  • Select Lufthansa lounges (when flying on a same-day Lufthansa flight).

  • Delta SkyClub lounges when flying on a same-day Delta Air Lines flight.

As a Platinum cardholder, you can bring two guests to the Centurion Lounge without paying a guest fee until February 2023; after this, you’ll pay $50 per guest for entry. This fee is waived if you’ve spent $75,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card during a calendar year. Terms apply.

If you want to use a credit card for United lounges

There aren’t any credit cards that’ll grant you access to United Polaris lounges; to gain entry, you’ll need to be an eligible business or first class passenger. United Polaris class flyers get more access than international first and business class passengers on eligible Star Alliance flights.

Even if United Polaris lounge access is out of reach for credit cardholders, it’s still possible to use a credit card for access to United Clubs.

Even better, there are many different ways to get into airport lounges. These include acquiring a card that provides a Priority Pass Select membership, buying an airport lounge membership or taking advantage of the Global Lounge Collection offered by certain AmEx credit cards.

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 2023, including those best for:

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