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Which Credit Cards Offer Airport Lounge Access?

Feb. 13, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Cards
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For frequent travelers, the airport quickly loses its appeal with delays, squalling babies, crowded restaurants and the hunt for electrical outlets. All this while the comfort of an airport lounge is within walking distance.

You can ditch the chaos and get access to a lounge with the right travel credit card. Good drinks, much-needed personal space and decent travel perks are only a card away.

Travel cards for lounge access across airlines

These general travel cards offer lounge access regardless of the airline you use. Consider these options if you’re loyal to the best deals and not to specific airlines.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express gives you complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes AmEx’s own Centurion and International American Express lounges, Delta Air Lines’ Sky Clubs and the Priority Pass Select and Airspace networks of lounges. These programs span more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide.

To help you get to the airport, the card gives you up to $200 annually in Uber credits for rides in the U.S. Then, to speed you through airport security checkpoints, the card credits up to $100 of application fees for either the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry program.

This card awards 5 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines or at The website also offers 5 points on eligible hotels and 2 points on other travel purchases. All other eligible purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

There’s an annual fee of $550, but the perks offset the cost. Along with the Uber and security program credits and the purchase points, those perks include:

  • A $200 annual airline fee credit for checked bags, in-flight meals and other travel expenses
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

 The Business Platinum® Card from American Express also offers complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection — that’s more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries.

Earn 5 points for every dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Receive 1.5 points per dollar on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more and 1 point on all other eligible purchases.

There is a $595 annual fee, but the $200 annual airline credit puts a dent in it. Use it for travel expenses such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments.

Other benefits include:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Use membership rewards points on eligible airfare and get 35% of your points back
  • A $100 credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • Bonus points: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

» MORE: Which credit cards speed you through airport security?

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select. There’s a $450 annual fee, but you’ll get a $300 annual credit for airfare, hotels or other travel-related purchases.

Earn 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point on all other purchases. Points may be redeemed for cash, statement credit, gift cards or travel, but they’re worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

You also can take advantage of these extras:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A credit of $100 for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Travel cards for lounge access at specific airlines

Co-branded credit cards that offer lounge access for specific airlines are aplenty. They are best for frequent flyers who are loyal to specific airlines. Here’s an example of a credit card that makes up for the annual fee with a surplus of credits.

United℠ Explorer Card

The United℠ Explorer Card offers two one-time-use passes to United Club lounges, where you can sip complimentary beverages, munch on snacks and enjoy amenities like workspaces or free Wi-Fi.

The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95, and it’s best for frequent flyers who don’t constantly need a comfortable setting at airports. It earns 2 miles per dollar spent on hotel stays, restaurants and eligible United purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent elsewhere.

Other United Airlines incentives include:

  • Priority boarding
  • $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry; this benefit renews every four years
  • 25% back as statement credit on eligible in-flight purchases
  • One free checked bag apiece for up to two people
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Get more value out of your rewards

Travel rewards can often be redeemed for cash back, statement credits or gift cards, but you likely won’t get the best value. Redeem them for travel to get the best deal.

Look for a card that makes up for an annual fee with perks. The one that meets your personal needs will enhance your travel experience.

Melissa Lambarena is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @LissaLambarena. Anisha Sekar of NerdWallet contributed to this report.