BEST OF

Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access of December 2022

Nov 28, 2022

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Airport lounges are designed to be a respite from the more chaotic aspects of air travel. Sick of crowded, noisy terminals with no place to plug in your phone and outrageously overpriced food and drinks? Lounges can offer relative quiet, comfortable seating and complimentary refreshments. That's why access to airport lounges has become such a popular perk on travel credit cards.

This page lists the cards available on NerdWallet with the best airport lounge benefits. Below the featured cards, you'll find a longer list of cards that offer some amount of lounge access, as well as resources that can help you decide which lounge networks — and therefore which cards — make the most sense for you.

NerdWallet's Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access of December 2022

Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access From Our Partners

Our pick for

Overall access / wide variety

Apply now

on American Express' website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express' website

Annual fee

$695

Rewards rate

1x-5x

Points

Intro offer

80,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score

The Platinum Card® from American Express gets you access to more than 1,200 locations, starting with the issuer's own Centurion and International American Express lounges, as well as Delta Sky Clubs and lounges in the Priority Pass, Escape, Plaza Premium and Air Space networks.

Pros

  • This is a high-end card designed for high-end travelers. The ongoing rewards are decent: 5 points per dollar on airfare and hotels when booked the right way (terms apply) and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. But the real value lies in the perks — and the lounge access is just the start. There’s an annual credit of $200 for airline fees and up to $200 a year in Uber credit, for example. You’ll be reimbursed for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every five years and enough for a Clear membership. And don’t forget the big welcome offer for new cardholders.

Cons

  • The $695 annual fee is about as high as it gets for a mainstream card. If you don’t spend a lot on travel, the rewards are poor. And unlike with airline-branded cards, you don't get free checked bags, priority boarding or other carrier-specific benefits.

Read full review
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.

  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.

  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.

  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.

  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.

  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.

  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.

  • $695 annual fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Frequent American Airlines flyers

Apply now

on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$450

Rewards rate

1x-4x

Miles

Intro offer

80,000

Miles

Recommended Credit Score

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® gets you and your immediate family (or up to two guests) into the airline's Admirals Club lounges.

Pros

  • Unlike with other airlines' club cards, authorized users also get lounge access even without the primary cardholder being present, as long as they have a same-day boarding pass. You get a checked-bag benefit, priority boarding and reimbursement for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. There's a solid sign-up bonus, and every purchase not only earns miles to be used for future travel but also accrues points toward elite status in the AAdvantage program.

Cons

  • The ongoing spending rewards are somewhat underwhelming: 2 miles per dollar spent with American and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. As with any club card, it has a high annual fee, although that fee ($450) is less than the cost of a stand-alone lounge membership.

Read full review
  • Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® Bonus Miles after spending $5,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases.

  • For a limited time, earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases.

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

  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation.

Our pick for

Frequent Delta Air Lines flyers

Apply now

on American Express' website

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express' website

Annual fee

$550

Rewards rate

1x-3x

Miles

Intro offer

50,000

Miles

Recommended Credit Score

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card gets you into Delta's Sky Clubs, as you would expect. But because of the airline's partnership with American Express, you also get access to AmEx's Centurion Lounges when traveling on Delta.

Pros

  • You earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. While the lounge access is the most prominent perk of the card, you also get a companion certificate each year upon renewal (and it's good even in first class), a checked-bag benefit, reimbursement for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, concierge service and more. There's also a solid welcome offer for new cardholders. Terms apply.

Cons

  • As with any airline club card, the annual fee can make you pause $550. However, that's roughly what you'd pay for a lounge membership alone.

Read full review
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

  • Earn up to 60,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) With Status Boost® per year. You can earn 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to four times per year getting you closer to Medallion® Status.

  • Receive a domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or domestic Main Cabin round trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.

  • Complimentary access into the Delta Sky Club® for you when travelling on a Delta flight.

  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.

  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.

  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.

  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.

  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

  • $550 annual fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Frequent United Airlines flyers

Apply now

on Chase's website

United Club℠ Infinite Card

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$525

Rewards rate

1x-4x

Miles

Intro offer

100,000

Miles

Recommended Credit Score

The United Club℠ Infinite Card gives you unlimited access to the airline's airport lounges for less than the price of a stand-alone membership.

Pros

  • The defining perk of this card is that it gets you into United Club airport lounges. You earn 4 miles per dollar spent with United; 2 miles per dollar on other travel and at restaurants; and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. You and a companion can each get two checked bags free. There's a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, a terrific bonus offer and more.

Cons

  • The $525 annual fee can be tough to swallow, even if it's less than the $650 cash cost of a lounge membership.

Read full review
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles.

  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases including tickets, Economy Plus®, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges.

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services

  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit

  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply

  • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.

Our pick for

Priority Pass access

Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$550

Rewards rate

1x-10x

Points

Intro offer

80,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® isn't unique in giving cardholders a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, but it's the most flexible and cost-effective card that does so.

Pros

  • This card offers strong rewards on travel and dining — 3 to 10 points per dollar spent, depending on the circumstances. Points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them to a dozen hotel and airline partners. Beyond lounge access, the perks include $300 a year in credit for travel expenses (effectively making up for more than half the annual fee) and reimbursement for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. And don't forget the big sign-up bonus.

Cons

  • The $550 fee is a significant out-of-pocket expense, and much of the value of the card is tied up in the $300 travel credit. Get this card only if you are a dedicated traveler.

Read full review
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.

  • 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

  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel

  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority PassTM Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®

  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Our pick for

A taste of the lounge life

Apply now

on Chase's website

United℠ Explorer Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Rewards rate

1x-2x

Miles

Intro offer

60,000

Miles

Recommended Credit Score

The United℠ Explorer Card can easily pay for itself even if you're only an occasional traveler, thanks to some of the best perks in its class. Among them: two one-time passes to the United Club each year.

Pros

  • Day passes to the United Club cost $59 apiece, so the two free passes with this card have real value. You and a companion on your reservation each get a free checked bag. There's also reimbursement for the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, primary rental car insurance and a good sign-up bonus.

Cons

  • The annual fee is lower than on United's lounge card, but it's still a cost to keep in mind. Spending rewards are unspectacular: 2 miles per dollar spent with United, at restaurants and on certain hotel accommodations, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.

Read full review
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases

  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit

  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card

  • Free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.

  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary

  • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.

Our pick for

Limited access for a lower fee

Apply now

on American Express' website

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express' website

Annual fee

$95

Rewards rate

3x-12x

Points

Intro offer

130,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that entitles you to 10 free lounge visits per year.

Pros

  • Lounge access is an unusual perk on a hotel credit card, but it makes sense for heavy travelers. This card earns 12 points per $1 spent with Hilton; 6 points per $1 on all eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3 points per $1 on all other qualifying purchases. Hilton points have a relatively low individual value, but this card makes up for it by giving you a lot of them. There's a pretty good bonus offer, too. Terms apply.

Cons

  • If you're not a regular Hilton customer, and don't have the option to be, this card's value is limited. After your 10 free lounge visits each year, you have to pay. The per-visit fee as of 2022 was $32. There's a $95.

Read full review
  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.

  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.

  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.

  • $95 annual fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

• • •

LOUNGE ACCESS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Credit cards with airport lounge access

This table shows airport lounge benefits on popular consumer credit cards as of October 2022. Benefits can change, so verify with the issuer before applying.

CARD NAME

LOUNGE ACCESS DETAILS

Receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for LoungeBuddy.

Unlimited access to Capital One Lounges (as of October 2022, there is only one such lounge, at Dallas-Fort Worth) and complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

Full membership access to Admirals Club lounges, plus access for up to 2 guests or immediate family members traveling with you.

Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

Complimentary Delta SkyClub access, plus access to American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta.

10 free visits per year to Priority Pass Select lounges.

Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

HSBC Elite Credit Card

You and 1 guest get free access to over 1,000 airport lounges provided by LoungeKey.

2 free annual Lufthansa Business lounge vouchers.

Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network.

Complimentary access to lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection.

SkyPass Visa Signature credit card

2 free annual KAL lounge coupons.

The UNFCU Visa Elite credit card

5 free annual Priority Pass lounge visits.

2 single-use United Club passes annually.

Complimentary United Club membership offers access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges.

Priority Pass Select membership allows 4 free visits per year.

Guide to airport lounge networks

There are thousands of lounges in airports around the world, but no single credit card gets you into them all. Some lounges are operated by airlines, some by credit card issuers, and others by restaurant or hospitality companies. Some can be accessed only by purchasing an expensive membership (or carrying a credit card that gives you such a membership), while others are open to anyone who buys a day pass. Lounges can have different membership tiers, different rules about bringing in kids or guests and different policies on who can get in when things get crowded.

Airline-operated lounges

Each of the three big domestic airlines operates a network of lounges. Lounges are typically located at airports in the airline's hub cities as well as at major travel destinations. With the exception of Alaska Airlines, smaller carriers don't have lounges.

Carrying the right credit card or purchasing a membership aren't the only ways to get into these lounges. Airlines established airport lounges as a way to provide VIP treatment for their most valuable customers — the frequent flyers who spend a lot of money with the airline. Depending on the airline, your elite status alone may get you in, or you may gain access if you have a ticket in a premium cabin, like first class or business class.

  • American Admirals Clubs have locations in more than 30 airports in the U.S. and overseas. Admirals Club members also have access to more than 60 partner lounges worldwide, including Alaska Airlines lounges on the West Coast. American also operates a handful of Flagship Lounges exclusively for premium class passengers.

  • Delta Sky Clubs are located in more than 35 airports. Delta's lounge network also includes sites operated by its partners in the SkyTeam Alliance, including Air France/KLM and Korean Air.

  • United Clubs can be found in more than 30 airports. United also operates Polaris Lounges, but those are only for premium class travelers on international flights.

  • Alaska Lounges have a smaller footprint — five airports on the West Coast, plus New York JFK. An upgraded "Lounge+" membership can also get you into American Admirals Clubs and more than 90 partner lounges worldwide. You have to buy the membership, though — there's no credit card shortcut.

American Express lounges

American Express operates Centurion Lounges at 13 airports in the United States and 11 elsewhere in the world (as of October 2022). You can get in with the right credit card, including the AmEx consumer or business Platinum card, the consumer or business Delta Reserve card, or the AmEx Centurion card.

Holders of Platinum cards also have access to hundreds of other lounges in a variety of partner networks that American Express calls the Global Lounge Collection. In addition to the Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs, the collection includes Lufthansa lounges and those in the Priority Pass, Escape, Plaza Premium and Air Space networks.

Other card issuer lounges

Both Chase and Capital One are pursuing plans to establish lounge networks of their own, although these facilities don't appear to be as exclusive as American Express' Centurion Lounges.

  • Capital One opened its first lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth and is planning at least two others — one in Denver and one at Washington Dulles. Anyone can buy a pass to a Capital One Lounge (for $65), but holders of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card get unlimited free access, and those with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card get two free visits a year.

  • Chase has announced plans to open "Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club" at six airports: Boston, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, New York (La Guardia), Phoenix and San Diego. You won't need a Chase Sapphire-branded card to get into these lounges. They'll be part of the Priority Pass network.

Priority Pass

Lounges in the Priority Pass network are independent enterprises not affiliated with an airline. There are more than 1,300 of them worldwide, although only a few dozen in the United States. Priority Pass has three membership tiers with differing levels of access. Priority Pass membership is a common perk on premium credit cards. If you have it, you'll typically need to enroll through your credit card account before trying to visit a lounge.

🤓Nerdy Tip

At some airports, select restaurants are part of the Priority Pass network. At these restaurants, you can order a meal and get a dining credit of up to $28, or up to $56 for you and a guest. The exact rules vary depending on your membership level or which credit card you hold. (Priority Pass memberships obtained through American Express cards do not include restaurant benefits, for example.) Learn more about Priority Pass restaurants.

Escape Lounges

There are about a dozen Escape Lounges in the U.S. What's noteworthy about them is that you don't need a membership. Regardless of what airline you're flying or what credit card you're carrying, you can buy a day pass. (The cost as of October 2022 was $45, or $40 if purchased online at least 24 hours ahead of time.) However, American Express cardholders with access to the Global Lounge Collection can get in for free.

Plaza Premium

The Plaza Premium network includes lounges at more than 50 airports worldwide. Only a handful are in the United States, mostly under the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse name. Plaza Premium lounges are included in the American Express Global Lounge Collection and the Capital One Partner Lounge Network.

Air Space

These lounges — located at Cleveland, San Diego and New York (JFK) — sell day passes, with the price tied to availability, and are included in AmEx's Global Lounge Collection.

LoungeBuddy

This service, owned by American Express, allows you to buy one-time passes to lounges at more than 150 airports all over the world, including more than 30 in the United States. LoungeBuddy itself doesn't require a membership to use, but at least one card offers a LoungeBuddy perk: The American Express® Green Card provides $100 a year in credit for the service.

What's next?

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page.

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. 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.

Last updated on November 28, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best credit cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen as among the "best" in multiple categories. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

Frequently asked questions