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Which Credit Cards Offer Airport Lounge Access?

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Which Credit Cards Offer Airport Lounge Access?

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 amextravel.com. 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 sign-up 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 OPEN

 The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN 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 amextravel.com. 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 $450 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 50% 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?

Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige® Card offers complimentary access for you and two guests to hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select.

You’ll earn 3 ThankYou points for every dollar spent on airfare and hotels, 2 ThankYou points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment, and 1 ThankYou point for every dollar spent elsewhere.

The annual fee is $450, but there’s an annual $250 air travel credit that can be applied to fees, plane tickets and other flight-related expenses.

The card also provides these perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A credit of up to $100 for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • Bonus points: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening* (This offer is no longer valid on our site)

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. The following credit cards make up the annual fee with a surplus of credits.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

The United MileagePlus® 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 $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 tickets bought from United and 1 mile per dollar spent elsewhere.

Other United Airlines incentives include:

  • Priority boarding
  • One free checked bag apiece for up to two people
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A one-time annual bonus of 10,000 miles for spending $25,000 in purchases
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® gets you and any authorized users into American Airlines’ Admirals Club — that’s more than 50 locations worldwide. Take advantage of shower suites, business centers, drinks and made-to-order specialties at select locations.

The annual fee is $450, but you won’t pay foreign transaction fees. You also get a $100 statement credit for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.

The card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines and 1 mile per dollar spent elsewhere.

This card also offers other benefits:

  • Priority boarding
  • One free checked bag for you and up to eight people on your reservation
  • Earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles every year you spend $40,000
  • A signup bonus: For a limited time, earn 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*

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.

Information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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

This article has been updated. It was originally published Jan. 8, 2015.