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      Best Credit Cards for Complimentary Airport Lounge Access (September 2022)

      Josh Patoka
      Best Credit Cards Airport Lounge Access

      Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

      Airport lounge access is a desirable benefit if you spend a lot of time at the airport. Some travelers purposely choose a longer layover or arrive at the airport early to enjoy their favorite lounge spot.

      An annual membership with unlimited visits can easily cost at least $400 per network. Thankfully, several credit cards are offering free airport lounge access. 

      How Do Credit Card Airport Lounge Benefits Work?

      Premium travel credit cards and airline credit cards are the most likely to offer complimentary airport lounge access to participating networks. 

      Typically, the primary cardholder receives access and may bring up to two guests in for free or at a discounted rate. Some cards only provide a limited number of one-time passes.

      In many cases, additional cards for flexible premium cards with $400+ annual fees can receive their own lounge benefits. However, most co-branded premium airline credit cards are only for individuals.

      Complimentary authorized user access also doesn’t extend to consumer cards where the primary card yearly fee is typically $100 or less. 

      You can apply for complimentary membership after opening your credit card account through your card benefits dashboard. However, you may need to wait up to two weeks before applying after opening your account.

      Independent Airport Lounges

      Membership in independent lounge networks is most common. This is good news as you can visit regardless of the airline you’re flying. 

      Priority Pass is the most popular airport lounge partner. This is the world’s largest lounge network and you can visit a lounge or restaurant location no matter which airline you’re flying.

      A Priority Pass Select credit card membership offers unlimited visits for the primary cardmember and up to two additional guests. In comparison, you pay $429 per year for a Priority Pass Premier membership granting unlimited individual visits but $32 per guest.

      The Centurion Lounge is another popular contender. However, membership is only available with select American Express credit cards and a standalone pass isn’t available. 

      Other independent networks include:

      • Airspace
      • Escape
      • LoungeBuddy

      Airline Lounges

      Airline-operated lounges are more exclusive as you must be flying with that airline to visit. You almost always need a co-brand airline credit card for that carrier to enter for free or at a discount.  

      An annual membership with unlimited visits per individual can cost:

      • Admirals Club: Up to $650
      • Delta Sky Club: $545 (individual membership)
      • United Club: Up to $650

      If you’re an existing lounge member, the airline may refund your remaining membership fee.

      Best Credit Cards with Airport Lounge Access 

      These credit cards offer complimentary and unlimited lounge visits.

      The Platinum Card® from American Express

      American Express Global Lounge Collection

      The Platinum Card® from American Express – (Learn How to Apply Here) is the best consumer credit card for airport lounges. You can visit these lounge networks:

      • The Centurion Lounge
      • International American Express
      • Priority Pass (enrollment required)
      • Escape Lounges
      • Delta Sky Club
      • Plaza Premium
      • Airspace
      • Lufthansa

      Entry requirements vary by program but the basic account member can usually bring two free guests. Unfortunately, starting in February 2023, each additional guest to the Centurion Lounge costs $50 each. This fee is waived if the cardholder spends at least $75,000 in a calendar year.

      Basic and secondary cardmembers can enjoy lounge access.

      The lounge benefits are just one of the many travel and lifestyle perks you can enjoy.

      Some of the other featured benefits include:

      • Up to $200 airline fee credit per calendar year (via statement credits at one select airline)
      • Up to $200 in Uber Cash per year
      • Free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Credit (up to $100 every 4.5 years)
      • CLEAR® application fee credit (Up to $189 per year)
      • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
      • Equinox, Saks, Walmart+, and digital entertainment credits (enrollment required)

      The annual fee is $695 (see Rates & Fees) for a primary card but these benefits can be worth thousands of dollars in savings. Secondary cards cost $175 for up to three and then $175 each for the 4th or more.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the Amex Platinum Card.

      Best Credit Cards Centurion Lounge Access

      Photo: Phil Dengler of The Vacationer – Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport

      The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

      Global Lounge Collection

      Few business credit cards offer airport lounge benefits and frequent business travelers should consider The Business Platinum Card® from American Express – (Learn How to Apply Here). 

      It provides access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection (Centurion Lounge, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, etc.). Similar to the consumer American Express Platinum Card, two additional guests are free until February 2023 before a $50 per-visit charge applies per head. This fee is waived if the cardholder spends at least $75,000 in a calendar year.

      Other complimentary air travel benefits include:

      • Up to $200 airline fee credit per calendar year (via statement credits at one select airline)
      • 35% points back on select award flights booked via Amex Travel using the Pay With Points feature (up to 1 million points per calendar year; )
      • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
      • Up to $189 per year CLEAR® membership credit
      • Earn up to 5x Membership Rewards on flights and prepaid hotels through AmexTravel.com
      • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers

      You can also earn up to 1.5x points on purchases exceeding $5,000 (on up to $2 million in these purchases per calendar year) plus enjoy over $1,000 in business statement credits.

      The annual fee is $695 (see Rates & Fees) for the primary card and $350 per additional employee card. 

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the Amex Business Platinum Card

      Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

      Priority Pass Select and Capital One Lounge

      The Capital One Venture X Rewards – (Learn How to Apply Here) is your most affordable option for getting complimentary airport lounge benefits. 

      You only pay $395 for the primary card and up to four additional cards are free. Despite being free, authorized users can visit lounges too.

      This card provides access to the Priority Pass Select, Capital One Lounge (a competitor to the Amex Centurion Lounge) networks, and 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges worldwide.

      Additional travel benefits include:

      • Up to Annual $300 Travel statement credit (bookings through Capital One Travel)
      • Earn up to 10x miles on travel purchases
      • 1:1 airline and hotel mile transfers
      • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
      • 10,000 miles anniversary bonus
      • Hertz President’s Circle status

      Runner-Up: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – (Learn How to Apply Here) offers two one-time Capital One Lounge visits per year and has an affordable $95 annual fee. Read our Capital One Venture X vs. Capital One Venture comparison for more information regarding lounge benefits for each card.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

      Chase Sapphire Reserve®

      Priority Pass Select

      The Chase Sapphire Reserve – (Learn How to Apply Here) makes the cut as the primary card to get complimentary unlimited Priority Pass visits. Up to two additional guests can also enter for free. 

      Authorized users can also apply for Priority Pass Select membership which provides additional value. Cardholders may be eligible for a food credit (around $25 to $30 for the cardholder and 1 or 2 guests) at select Priority Pass airport restaurant locations.

      This card offers additional travel benefits:

      • Annual $300 travel credit
      • 50% redemption bonus for award travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
      • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
      • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement
      • Up to 10x points on travel (after earning the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases

      While the airport lounge visits aren’t as generous as several competitors, it has the most valuable credit card travel insurance.

      For example, you can be eligible for up to $100,000 in emergency evacuation and transportation (very few cards offer this perk). Its rental car, trip cancellation/interruption, and trip delay reimbursement coverages are some of the most robust.

      The annual fee for this card is $550 and $75 per authorized user. Additional cards can also qualify for their own benefits.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve

      Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

      Delta Sky Club, Escape, and The Centurion Lounge

      Best Credit Cards Delta Sky Club Lounge Access

      Photo: news.delta.com

      The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card – (Learn How to Apply Here) provides access to these networks:

      • Delta Sky Club: Unlimited individual access and two one-time guest passes per year. Additional visits cost $39 per person.
      • Centurion Lounge: Unlimited individual access and $50 per guest (up to two guests per visit)
      • Escape Lounge: Unlimited access for primary and additional cardholders.

      The only caveat to qualify for a lounge visit is having a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated itinerary.

      Some of the Delta Air Lines benefits include:

      • Upgrade priority on flights
      • First checked bag is free
      • Earn up to 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on purchases made with Delta
      • Qualify for SkyMiles Medallion status quicker
      • 20% back on in-flight purchases
      • Delta Reserve annual companion certificate

      You can also receive up to $100 in application fee credits every 4.5 years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

      The annual fee is $550 (see Rates & Fees) and $175 per additional card.

      Small business alternative: Business travelers can apply for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card – (Learn How to Apply Here). Its lounge perks, travel benefits, and annual fee – (See Rates & Fees) are similar.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Amex Card

      Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

      American Airlines Admirals Club

      The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard – (Learn How to Apply Here) provides complimentary Admirals Club access to the primary and additional cardholders at least 18 years old.

      An annual Admirals Club membership costs up to $650 but the credit card yearly fee is only $450. Cardholders can add up to 10 authorized user cards for free. Each authorized user can bring two guests of their own, which means you can effectively get yourself and 32 other people in the lounge! (you + two guests of your own + 10 additional cardholders + 20 of their guests).

      Citigold members can receive an annual $145 annual fee statement credit, making lounge access even more affordable.

      Additional American Airlines benefits include:

      • Earn up to 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on purchases
      • Earn 1 Loyalty Point per mile on purchases
      • Receive 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 in a status year
      • First checked bag free for you and up to 8 companions
      • 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage
      • Enhanced Airport Experience (priority check-in, airport security, and boarding)
      • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every five years

      This is the only co-brand American Airlines credit card to offer Admirals Club lounge access.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

      United Club℠ Infinite Card

      United Club

      The United Club Infinite Card – (Learn How to Apply Here) provides unlimited individual access plus two guests. Unfortunately, authorized users cannot obtain their own membership.

      This card has a $525 annual fee and $0 for authorized users.

      Other benefits include:

      • First and second free checked bag for the primary card and one companion (terms apply)
      • Premier Access travel services (where available)
      • 25% savings on in-flight United purchases and on Club premium drinks (via a statement credit)
      • Earn up to 4x per United miles per dollar spent on purchases
      • 10% discount on United Saver Awards 
      • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS Application Credit (every four years)
      • Avis President’s Club status
      • IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status 
      • Primary auto rental car insurance (see: best credit cards offering rental car insurance)

      The United Club Infinite Card is one of the best credit cards for rental cars as you get primary collision damage waiver benefits and Avis President’s Club loyalty status.

      Consider this: If you don’t need unlimited United Club membership, consider the United℠ Explorer Card – (Learn How to Apply Here) instead. You get two one-time lounge passes at account opening and each card anniversary. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year and $95 per renewal.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the United Club Infinite Card

      The United℠ Business Card

      United Club

      Small business travelers may enjoy the The United℠ Business Card – (Learn How to Apply Here) for two one-time passes at account opening and each renewal to the United Club network.

      Other travel benefits include:

      • Earn up to 2x miles per dollar spent on purchases
      • Up to 1,000 Premier qualifying points (PQPs) per year (500 PQPs per $12,000 in annual spend)
      • 25% back on in-flight purchases and Club premium purchases
      • Free first checked bags for the primary cardmember and one companion
      • Ability to earn a $100 United Flight Credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary.

      The annual fee is $99.

      Click Here to Learn How to Apply for the United Business Card

      Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

      Priority Pass Select

      You might not expect the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to offer airport lounge access. However, the Aspire Card does precisely that.

      The primary cardmember and up to two guests can visit Priority Pass lounges and bars free of charge. Additional card members cannot apply for membership.

      Featured travel benefits include:

      • $250 airline fee credit
      • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
      • $100 property credit (on select Waldorf Astoria or Conrad stays)
      • Earn up to 14x Hilton Honors points on purchases 
      • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
      • Up to two Weekend Night Rewards each year

      The annual fee is $450 for the primary card and $0 for secondary cards.

      Learn more: Read our in-depth Hilton Honors benefits guide to maximize your hotel loyalty benefits.

      The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

      The complimentary airport lounge benefits are worth more than the annual credit card fee in many instances. So if you’re currently paying for lounge access, adding one of these airport lounge credit cards to your wallet can be a win-win. 

      You get unlimited lounge visits (possibly for your travel companions too!). You also enjoy the many benefits of the best travel credit cards when you’re not grabbing a hot meal or chilling in the lounge spa.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

      All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Vacationer. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through The Vacationer.

      Josh Patoka The Vacationer Bio

      By Josh Patoka

      Josh Patoka writes about maximizing travel rewards for The Vacationer. As well, he contributes to several personal finance sites specializing in making money, paying off debt, and investing.