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How to Make the Most of Your Priority Pass This Winter

Oct. 12, 2018
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Vacations & Trip Planning
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Traveling over the holidays doesn’t have to be an ordeal. In this series, we’re sharing expert advice to help you use your credit cards to travel smarter and focus on having fun.

Among the benefits of premium credit cards is an additional piece of plastic that unlocks thousands of airport lounges worldwide. By simply showing this black-and-gold card, travelers can find an area of rest and respite away from other tourists.

But are you truly getting the most out of your Priority Pass membership? With this winter forecast to be one of the busiest travel seasons, taking a break from the crowds and escaping to a semiprivate area is even more important.

Which cards come with Priority Pass Select membership?

Priority Pass Select is a common benefit among most premium credit cards. Two of the cards that include membership for the primary cardholder are:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Luxury travel perks (Uber credit, airline fee credit, lounge access, etc.)
    • High rewards rate in certain categories
    • No foreign transaction fees

    Cons

    • High annual fee
    • Airline fee credit is limited
    • Low rewards rate on most spending

    Annual Fees

    $550

    APR

    • Purchase: N/A

    Bonus Offers

    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.

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
    • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
    • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
    • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
    • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
    • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
    • $550 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • A large bonus
    • High rewards rate
    • High value benefits
    • Cool factor - metal card
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • High annual fee
    • Needs excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $450

    APR

    • APR: 17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    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®

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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®
    • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
    • Named a 'Best Travel Credit Card for 2017' by MONEY® Magazine
    • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
    • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
    • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
    • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
    • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card also have this benefit.

Keep in mind that these credit cards often come with a high annual fee of $450 to $550, and can feature other benefits like rewards points and travel insurance.

Once you’ve confirmed your Priority Pass membership and have received your card or downloaded it through the app, there are two easy ways to use it to escape the madness of holiday travel: to access airport lounges or for other perks like restaurant discounts.

Finding Priority Pass lounges at airports

Priority Pass Select membership allows cardholders entry into over 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including hundreds in North and South America. In most cases, cardholders just have to show their membership card and an airline boarding pass for entry.

» Learn more: How to maximize your Priority Pass membership

Unlike traditional airline lounge programs, members aren’t locked into visiting the locations of the airline they are flying on. Instead, Priority Pass Select membership is accepted at any participating lounge — even independent facilities — in the network. This allows members to find the right space for their needs, especially during peak travel times.

Finding a lounge is a surprisingly easy process, even when traveling. Go to the Priority Pass website or use the Priority Pass app (available for both iOS and Android phones) to find the nearest location. At large airports, it’s not uncommon to find multiple lounges within a short walk that accept Priority Pass.

Using Priority Pass elsewhere

While lounge access may be the most well-known benefit of Priority Pass, cardholders also can find perks on the website or app for other places, such as credits at participating restaurants and retailers, by using their pass when they arrive.

» Learn more: So you’ve got airport lounge access? You sure?

While the actual discount will vary based on the restaurant and location, members can expect to save at least $28 per visit when they present their Priority Pass membership card in person or through the app.

Another Priority Pass benefit is access at select U.S. airports to Minute Suites, mini-hotel rooms where travelers can rest between flights. Priority Pass holders can get access for one hour free (and a discount on extra time) when a room is available at select lounges.

Will my Priority Pass be denied?

Although Priority Pass is a great benefit to escape the chaos of holiday travel, it also comes with limitations. In some situations, your Priority Pass may not gain you lounge entry. Here’s when it could happen:

Nonparticipating airport lounges

Not every lounge is a member of the Priority Pass program. American Express Centurion Lounges, for example, are only open to holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Airport lounges at capacity

Lounges can refuse entry to Priority Pass holders if the location is already at capacity with their own members. Priority Pass members can visit a different lounge, so be sure to check the website for a backup plan.

Not carrying your Priority Pass card

Even if you have an active Priority Pass membership, your credit card may not be enough to get you into the lounge. Be sure to carry your physical Priority Pass card with you and download a virtual card to your smartphone app.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
8 pro tips for smart and cheap family travel
What every airline reservationist knows that you should, too
Plan my trip: Top websites for travel deals

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