BEST CREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDS FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS OF JULY 2024
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Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access of July 2024

Updated: Jul 19, 2024
Erin Hurd
Written by
Assigning Editor
Caitlin Mims
Reviewed by
Content Management Specialist
Paul Soucy
Edited by
Fact Checked
Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
Erin Hurd
Written by
Assigning Editor
Caitlin Mims
Reviewed by
Content Management Specialist
Paul Soucy
Edited by
Fact Checked
Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
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NerdWallet's Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access of July 2024

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Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

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Our pick for

Overall access / wide variety

Our pick for

Frequent American Airlines flyers

Our pick for

Frequent Delta Air Lines flyers

Our pick for

Frequent United Airlines flyers

Our pick for

Priority Pass access

Our pick for

A taste of the lounge life

• • •

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 November 2023, there are lounges at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport and Dulles International Airport) 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.

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 has since opened lounges at Washington Dulles and Denver International Airport. 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.

  • 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.

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?

• • •

NerdWallet's Melissa Lambarena and Gregory Karp contributed to this article.

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 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 July 19, 2024

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

The "best" credit card for airport lounge access depends on who will be carrying that card. There isn't a single card that gets you into every lounge at every airport. So the best way to identify the right card for you is to first identify which lounges you want to get into — who operates them and where they are — and then find a card that gives you access to those places.

If you're going by the sheer number of lounges a card can get you into, the obvious choice is The Platinum Card® from American Express. It provides access (subject to certain requirements) to lounges operated by American Express and Delta, as well as lounge networks such as Escape, Priority Pass and Air Space. If you travel primarily on one airline, your best bet may just be the club card offered by that airline (assuming it has one), such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the United Club℠ Infinite Card.

Keep in mind that most credit cards that offer airline access charge annual fees in the hundreds of dollars. If you're traveling only a few times a year, the access is unlikely to be worth the cost by itself.

American Express says people who carry its Platinum cards have access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide in what it calls the "Global Lounge Collection." About two dozen of these are operated by American Express itself, while others are operated by airlines or other partners.

As of October 2022, American Express had Centurion Lounges at these airports:

  • In the U.S.: Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston (Bush Intercontinental), Las Vegas, Los Angeles (LAX), Miami, New York (JFK and LaGuardia), Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle. Lounges were also planned for Atlanta and Washington (Reagan National).

  • Outside the U.S.: Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Monterrey, Mumbai, São Paulo, Stockholm and Sydney.

As of October 2022, American had nearly 50 Admirals Club locations in 32 airports:

  • In the U.S.: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago (O'Hare), Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Honolulu, Houston (Bush Intercontinental), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami, Nashville, New York (JFK and LaGuardia), Newark, Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa and Washington (Reagan National).

  • Outside the U.S.: Buenos Aires, London (Healthrow), Mexico City, Paris (Charles de Gaulle), Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Toronto.

American also operates Flagship Lounges for premium class passengers at a few airports, including Chicago (O'Hare), Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles (LAX), Miami and New York (JFK). Another is planned for Philadelphia.

As of October 2022, Delta had more than 50 Sky Club locations in 36 airports:

  • In the U.S.: Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago (O'Hare), Cincinnati, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Los Angeles (LAX), Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York (JFK and LaGuardia), Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, Tampa, Washington (Reagan National) and West Palm Beach.

  • Outside the U.S.: Tokyo (Haneda).

As of October 2022, United Airlines operated about 50 United Club lounges at 33 airports:

  • In the U.S.: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago (O'Hare), Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston (Bush Intercontinental), Las Vegas, Los Angeles (LAX), Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, Newark, New York (LaGuardia), Orange County, Orlando, Portland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington (Dulles and Reagan National).

  • Outside the U.S.: Guam, Hong Kong, London (Heathrow), Mexico City and Tokyo (Narita).

United also operates Polaris clubs for premium class passengers on international flights, including at Chicago (O'Hare), Houston (Bush Intercontinental), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark, San Francisco and Washington (Dulles).

Southwest Airlines does not operate airport lounges. However, many of the airports in Southwest's focus cities have independent lounges that may be accessed with a Priority Pass membership or through a service like LoungeBuddy.

About the author

Portrait of author

Erin Hurd

Erin Hurd is a credit card and travel rewards expert at NerdWallet. Her work has been featured in Yahoo, Nasdaq, TheStreet, International Living, the Daily Reckoning, Personal Finance and FinanceBuzz. Previously the director of strategic growth at a large financial publishing company, Erin is passionate about harnessing the power of credit card and loyalty rewards to travel the world. When she's not writing, she's planning the next adventure for her family of four using points and miles. Twitter: @ErinHurd1. Read more
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