Advertiser Disclosure

Credit Cards With Airport Lounge Access

This benefit is generally found on cards with annual fees, but it can easily pay for itself. Here are cards that offer the perk.
Oct. 2, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Sure, traveling is fun — but the airport itself can quickly lose its appeal thanks to delays, squalling babies, crowded restaurants and the hunt for electrical outlets.

The right travel credit card can help you ditch the chaos and get access to a lounge with things like complimentary food and drinks, much-needed personal space, and even sometimes a bed or shower.

First, though, it helps to know your options.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards

Types of airport lounge networks

Different credit cards unlock the door to different kinds of airport lounges for you — and maybe even for your guests. These cards typically charge an annual fee, but they can save you several hundreds of dollars on an airport lounge membership plan.

Here are some types of airport lounge networks that allow access with a credit card:

  • Priority Pass lounges: Priority Pass is a network that offers members access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. You can access these lounges by purchasing a membership plan through the Priority Pass network or by applying for a credit card that offers complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
  • Airline-specific lounges: Some airlines have their own exclusive airport lounges. You can sometimes get in for free if you purchase a business-class or first-class ticket. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for membership, and the cost generally varies according to your frequent flyer status with the airline. But a co-branded airline credit card can offer free visits to these lounges.
  • Exclusive membership: Some airport lounges are even more exclusive. The American Express Global Lounge Collection, for example, is available only to cardholders of The Platinum Card® from American Express and to Centurion members. Terms apply. The American Express Global Lounge Collection includes AmEx’s Centurion and International American Express lounges, Delta Air Lines Sky Clubs, Priority Pass Select, Plaza Premium and Airspace lounges. Combined, the network offers access to more than 1,200 lounges across 130 counties.

» MORE: When an airport lounge day pass is worth the splurge

Credit cards with airport lounge access

(Note: This table does not include cards designed for small businesses.)

CARD NAME LOUNGE ACCESS DETAILS
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge when you pay with the card
Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®2 free annual Lufthansa Business lounge vouchers
Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit cardComplimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®Full membership access to Admirals Club lounges
Citi Prestige® Card Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express Complimentary Delta SkyClub access
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card10 free annual Priority Pass lounge visits
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire credit card Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard Credit Card Mastercard Airport Experiences offers complimentary membership to a network of over 1,000 lounges, plus 2 free lounge visits per year
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network
Mastercard Black Card Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network
Mastercard Gold Card Complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass Select network
The Platinum Card® from American Express 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 card5 free annual Priority Pass lounge visits
United℠ Explorer Card2 single-use United Club passes annually
United MileagePlus Club Card Complimentary United Club membership offers access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite CardPriority Pass Select membership allows 4 free visits per year
As of March 1, 2019

» MORE: How to get started with frequent flyer programs

NerdWallet’s top credit cards that offer airport lounge access

For overall lounge access: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express gives you access to lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection. It offers 5 points per $1 spent on airfare purchased directly from airlines or booked through American Express Travel; 5 points per $1 spent on hotels booked on amextravel.com; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Terms apply.

It has a $550 annual fee, but the long list of perks can help offset the cost. Here are a few that merit a glance:

  • 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.
  • A $200 annual airline fee credit for checked bags, in-flight meals and other travel expenses.
  • Up to $200 annually in Uber credits for rides in the U.S.
  • Up to $100 in application fee credit for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Terms apply.

» MORE: Credit cards with TSA Precheck or Global Entry credits

For airline lounge access: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® gets you and immediate family or guests into Admirals Clubs that have over 50 locations worldwide. You’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per $1 on everything else.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has a $450 annual fee, but its perks and features can offset the cost. And if you’re eyeing it for the airport lounge access, consider that the cost of an annual Admirals Club membership is valued at $650.

Perks include:

  • A free first checked bag for you and up to eight companions on your reservation when you have a domestic American Airlines itinerary.
  • 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 in purchases annually.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening and boarding when flying with American Airlines.
  • Up to $100 in statement credit every five years when you use your card to pay a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee.
  • 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card.

If you’re not loyal to any brand, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can also offer access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select. This card, too, packs a lot of value for frequent travelers in the form of perks and rewards. It has a $450 annual fee.

For limited access: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

You don’t have to pay an excessive annual fee to get your foot in the door. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, for example, offers complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership and 10 free lounge visits per year. It has a $95 annual fee.

This card gives you 12 points per $1 spent with a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio; 6 points per $1 spent on all eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3 points per $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases. Terms apply.

Other key incentives include:

  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
  • A Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Terms apply.

About the author