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Best credit cards with airport lounge access

Airport lounge access and other valuable travel perks help these cards rise to the top. CardRatings editors compare the best credit cards for airport lounge access.
Brooklyn Lowery, CardRatings Senior Manager Last Updated, September 16, 2021
Best credit cards for airport lounge access of 2021

TOP CREDIT CARDS OFFERING AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

Let's face it: Airports are not generally the most pleasant of environments, what with their fluorescent lights, blaring intercoms, screaming children and harried travelers. Enter the airport lounge. It's an oasis in the midst of an otherwise chaotic landscape and experience, but getting in isn't cheap, so take a look at our picks for the best airport lounge credit cards from our partners and get even more than a great lounge experience.

Access to these lounges, as you may know, can be pricey. An annual pass could set you back more than $550 and a day pass is likely to cost you at least $50 (do that a few times, and it adds up quickly). The fee may be worth it given the complimentary drinks and food many lounges offer as well as the calm away from the storm while you await your flight, but there's a better way: How about paying a lesser annual fee for a credit card that both grants you lounge access and provides you with a host of other benefits that stretch well beyond your time in an airport?

There are a number of luxury credit cards out there that offer complimentary airport lounge access as one of the many perks offered to their members. These cards also offer travel fee reimbursements, concierge services and so much more, making those hefty annual fees all worth it.

Here are our picks for the best cards for airport lounge access.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR PRIORITY PASS AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Super flexible and valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards® points along with fee credits, a solid rewards-earning structure and that airport lounge access – what's not to like? (Actually, we're not the only ones who like it: MONEY® Magazine named this card the "Best Premium Travel Credit Card".)

Lounge Access Details: Cardholders enjoy complimentary access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (worth up to $900 in travel) after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $550

The Rewards: When you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, earn five points per $1 on air travel and 10 points per $1 on car rentals and hotels (after earning your $300 annual travel reimbursement). Earn three points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants worldwide and on travel after your reimbursement (more on that below) and one point per $1 spent on all your other purchases. Redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and they're worth 50% more. You can also transfer your points 1:1 to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Other Perks: Take advantage of up to a $300 reimbursement each account anniversary year to cover travel purchases charged on your card. Furthermore, cardholders are eligible for a reimbursement to cover their Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.

PROS:

  • You just need to use your card to make $4,000 in purchases in the first three months to earn a bonus worth up to $900 in travel. This is one of the most valuable bonuses available.
  • Besides airport lounge access, this card also includes a statement credit worth up to $300 per year, which can help a great deal in covering the annual fee.
  • You can earn triple points not just on travel but also on dining, so you have another way to rack up your points. Plus, there's that extra earning available when you make certain travel bookings through the Ultimate Rewards® portal.

CONS:

  • This card has one of the highest annual fees of any widely available card out there and could become expensive to carry if you don’t use the benefits or perks.
  • You only earn bonus points on travel and dining purchases. If you spend a great deal in other categories such as groceries, you’ll earn more with a different card.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 79.6 85.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.9 8.7
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES FLYERS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This card is all about loyalty. If you're a regular American Airlines traveler, you could very well offset the annual fee on this card plus enjoy the nice extra perks. (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)

Lounge Access Details: As a cardholder, you'll have membership in the American Airlines Admirals Club®, which provides you access to Admirals Club® lounges at airports around the globe as well as access to a number of partner lounges. You can bring your guests traveling with you as well. Additionally, authorized users on your card can also access the lounges even if they are traveling without the primary cardholder.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus American Airlines AAdvantage® miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Annual Fee: $450

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and one mile per $1 spent on all your other purchases.

Other Perks: Check your first bag, and those of up to eight traveling companions, for free on domestic itineraries. You can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after spending $40,000 on your card in a calendar year. There's also a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee reimbursement available every five years.

PROS:

  • You can earn a bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in your first three months, which could cover a couple award flights later.
  • This card include access to the American Airlines Admirals Club as wells as several partner lounges.
  • Also get first checked bag free for yourself and up to eight companions on domestic itineraries.

CONS:

  • Although this card is good for airport lounge access, it charges a high annual fee. You’ll need to consider whether you can take advantage of other benefits and rewards, especially if you don’t use the lounge access perks.
  • This card only awards American Airlines purchases. All other purchases earn only one mile per dollar spent.

Read our full Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.3 83.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.1 8.3
Customer Service 8.3 8.6
Website/App Usability 7.8 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.6
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.1

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST LUXURY CARD FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
The complimentary airport lounge access will come in handy since this card offers among the highest point redemption values for airfare.

Lounge Access Details: Cardholders receive complimentary Priority Pass™ Select benefits, which provides access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world for the cardholder and their guests.

Annual Fee: $495

The Rewards: You earn one point per $1 spent on every purchases, which isn't a huge earning rate; however, the points with this card are valued more highly than the typical $.01 per point. Redeem your points for airfare, and they're worth 2 percent. That means that 50,000 points are worth $1,000 in airfare. Or, if you prefer, redeem your points for statement credit cash back and those points are worth 1.5 percent.

Other Perks: Enjoy benefits and perks that just might offset that annual fee such as a $100 annual airline credit to offset qualifying fees/charges, a $100 statement credit to cover your Global Entry application fee and, of course, access to 24/7 concierge services among other travel luxuries.

PROS:

  • This card includes Priority Pass Select benefits such as access to more than 1,300 airport lounges.
  • Besides airport lounge access, this card includes travel benefits such as an annual airline credit and a statement credit for your Global Entry application fee.
  • The points you earn with this card have a higher than normal redemption value. One point can be worth as much as 2%.

CONS:

  • Like most of the cards with lounge access, this card has a high annual fee.
  • There aren’t any bonus purchase categories for rewards. All purchases earn one point per dollar spent.

Read our full Mastercard® Black Card™ review..

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 85.6 77.9
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.6 7.5
Customer Service 8.7 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.6 7.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 7.9

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST OVERALL CARD FOR ACCESS INTO MULTIPLE AIRPORT LOUNGES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Yes, the annual fee is hefty but given the extra perks that come with this card, there are ample opportunities to offset the annual fee – there are benefits worth more than $1,400 for your first year alone! – and then you'll just have a card that opens doors to luxury when you travel. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

Lounge Access Details: Relax at the airport in peace and quiet with complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection® worldwide. The collection includes a number of network lounges such as The Centurion® Lounge and Delta SkyClub® lounges as well as the full range of Priority Pass™ Select lounges (you must enroll separately for access to Priority Pass™ Select lounges, but membership is complimentary). Each lounge group has different rules for the number of guests you can bring, but most allow at least two guests at no charge.

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $695

Rewards: Earn 5X the points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with the airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) as well as on eligible hotels booked through amextravel.com. Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card, up to $25,000 in combined spending, at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. during your first six months of card membership. Earn one Membership Rewards® point per $1 spent on all your other purchases.

Other Perks: Receive up to $200 annually in Uber Cash for your rides or Uber Eats orders and up $200 credit for airline incidental fees annually with a pre-selected airline.

Enrollment required for select benefits. 

PROS:

  • This card is well-known for its many valuable perks and benefits.
  • Cardholders can earn 100,000 points after spending $6,000 with the card in the first six months.
  • Airport lounge access includes Global Lounge Collection® as well as the Centurion Lounge and Delta SkyClub and Priority Pass Select Lounges.

CONS:

  • This card charges one of the highest annual fees of any card on the market.
  • Most purchases will only earn one point per $1 spent – it's particular flight and hotel purchases that earn more (in addition the bonus 10x points on restaurant and Shop Small purchases in the U.S. during your first six months (up to $25,000 in combined spending)).

Read our full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.8 88.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 9.1
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 9.1 8.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST HOTEL CREDIT CARD FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Keep reading this list and you'll notice a trend toward higher-than-average annual fees for credit cards that offer airport lounge access – this card is an exception.

Lounge Access Details: Cardholders enjoy 10 complimentary lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select. Visits after your 10th in a year will incur a $27 fee each time, which will be billed directly to your card.

The Bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you use your new card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Additionally, receive a weekend night stay reward when you spend at least $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, an excellent ongoing perk.

Annual Fee: $95

The Rewards: Earn 12 points per $1 spent directly with participating properties within the Hilton portfolio. In addition, you'll earn six points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations as well as three points per $1 on all your other eligible purchases.

Other Perks: Enjoy a weekend night stay reward after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year.

PROS:

  • Cardholders get 10 complimentary lounge passes when you enroll in Priority Pass Select.
  • The annual fee with this card is much lower than the fee with other cards offering lounge access.
  • New cardholders can earn 130,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months plus a weekend night stay if you spend $15,000 with your card in a calendar year.

CONS:

  • You only get 10 lounge passes and then it’ll cost you at least $27 per pass. If you use airport lounges frequently, it might be worth looking into a card that offers access free.
  • This card doesn’t offer as many travel benefits as the other cards with airport lounge access.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 85.7 83.9
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.5 8.4
Customer Service 8.6 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.7
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.8 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

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BEST BUSINESS CARD FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This is the business version of this card discussed elsewhere in this article and, as such, offers similar perks to what is discussed there, and then some. It's an ideal card for business owners whose work finds them frequently on the road or in the air and who are generally big spenders when it comes to their business needs.

Lounge Access Details: This card allows you access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection® of airport lounges, which includes a number of branded lounges as well as the full Priority Pass™ Select lounge network. Enrollment required for select benefits

The Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after spending $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months.

Annual Fee: $595.

Rewards: Earn five times the points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked at amextravel.com. Earn an extra half-point (so, 1.5 points) per $1 on each purchase of $5,000 or more (otherwise, earn one point per $1 spent). You'll receive 35% of your Membership Rewards® points back (up to 500,000 points per year) each time you Pay with Points for all or part of your flight on a pre-selected airline booked through American Express Travel. Earn 35% of your points back on business and first-class flights booked with any airline through American Express Travel.

Other Perks: Enjoy a $200 annual airline fee credit with one qualifying airline as well as a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee credit for the primary cardholder as well as for each additional cardholder. Additionally, you'll enjoy Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold status with this card. Enrollment required for select benefits

PROS:

  • This card includes access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection®, which is extensive and could be a welcome respite for the weary business traveler.
  • Besides lounge access you get a bunch of other travel benefits such as a $200 annual airline fee credit and elevated status with Marriott and Hilton programs. Enrollment required for select benefits
  • New cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months.

CONS:

  • This card has one of the highest annual fees of any business or consumer card.
  • The spend requirement for the initial bonus is high at $15,000, so make sure that's within your company's budget to meet.

Read our full review of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Current Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 87.0 81.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.5 8.3
Customer Service 8.7 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.7 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.1 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.8 7.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS FOR DELTA FLYERS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
It's another card that rewards your loyalty, in this case to Delta Airlines. As with most branded airline cards, that loyalty gets you things like priority boarding and in-flight discounts, which are nice to have if you frequently find yourself taking to the skies with the same airline.

Lounge Access Details: You'll enjoy access to the The Centurion® Lounge and The Escape Lounge - The Centurion ® Lounge partner when book your Delta flight with your Reserve card. Guest access varies depending on the lounge and, honestly, the access options aren't fantastic, but there are other perks with this card that make it worthwhile and the lounge access for the cardholder is a nice added bonus.

The Bonus: For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months (offer ends 11/10/21). With Status Boost™, earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your new card in a calendar year, up to four times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Additionally, throughout 2021, earn another 3,750 MQMs when you spend $30,000 on your card, up to four times. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different from the miles you earn toward flights.

Annual Fee: $550

The Rewards: Earn three miles on every $1 spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. After you spend $150,000 on your card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 miles per $1 (that's an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year.

Other Perks: You'll receive a round-trip companion certificate each year when you renew your card, which could go a long way to offsetting the annual fee. Furthermore, you'll check your first bag for free and enjoy a 20% savings on in-flight purchases.

PROS:

  • This card includes access a couple of airport lounge networks as well as a reduced rate for some of your guests (depending on network).
  • The welcome offer for new cardholders offers a nice supply of bonus miles and MQMS as well as a statement credit (see full terms in the Card Details tab).
  • This card includes other valuable benefits like a round-trip companion certificate each year you renew and first checked bag free.

CONS:

  • This card has a high annual fee which could be expensive if you aren’t a frequent Delta flyer.
  • Most of the benefits and perks are related to Delta so you might find it difficult to get much value out of the card unless you are a Delta fan.

Read our full Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card review..

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

BEST HOTEL CREDIT CARD WITH AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Perhaps the only thing better than a small business credit card with some airport lounge access is one that charges a typical annual fee to carry. Well, here is that card.

Lounge Access Details:  For an annual fee of just $95, cardholders receive all the perks of a Hilton-branded credit card as well as 10 complimentary visits to Priority Pass Select™ airport lounges around the globe each year (enrollment required). True, it isn't unlimited, but 10 visits is nothing to sneeze at when you figure a single day pass will set you back $27 and that's after you pay the annual membership fee, which starts at $99. As a cardholder, you don't have to worry about a membership fee and you can pay the $27 to access the lounges after your exhaust your 10 visits each year.

The Bonus: Earn up to 180,000 Hilton Honors bonus points – spend $2,000 on your new card in the first three months to earn 130,000 points and spend $10,000 total in six months to earn another 50,000 points.

Annual Fee: $95.

The Rewards: Earn 12 points per $1 spent at hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio. Earn six points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations as well as on airfare booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. You also earn six points per $1 on purchases with select car rental companies; on U.S. purchases for shipping; and on monthly wireless telephone services purchased directly with U.S. providers. Earn three points per $1 on everything else.

Other Perks: Spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year and enjoy a free weekend night reward from Hilton Honors. You can earn a second free weekend night reward by spending an additional $45,000 on your card in a calendar year.

PROS:

  • This card has one of the lower annual fees.
  • The welcome offer provides a opportunity to rack up a serious bank of points right off the bat. Just make sure you can meet the $10,000 spent in six months to earn the full bonus (details under "card details")
  • You get 10 passes to use each year at Priority Pass Select airport lounges (enrollment required).

CONS:

  • You only get 10 passes for lounge access. Unlike the other cards, this one does not include unlimited access.
  • The rewards and benefits are specific to Hilton hotels so you’ll want to make sure you frequent these properties enough to get all of the benefits.

Read our full review of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.


WHAT'S INCLUDED IN FREE AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS?

Free airport lounge access can offer weary travelers many different amenities to help make travel more enjoyable. Depending on the lounge and network (we'll talk more about those specifics below), lounge access can include free entry for not only yourself but also a certain number of guests with you.

Amenities in lounges vary widely but can include free food and drinks (including alcohol), free WiFi, spacious seating, showers and free entertainment (televisions, newspapers, magazines, etc.) among many other benefits. Some lounges have extremely luxurious amenities like some Centurion lounges having spa treatments available to travelers and Michelin-starred chef food experiences.

HOW DO I GET FREE AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS?

One of easiest ways that travelers can get free airport lounge access is with certain credit card ownership.

Excluding the annual fee that most credit cards with these benefits have, certain lounges can be accessed for free with card benefits like Priority Pass lounges for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders and United Club lounge access with a United Club℠ Infinite Card.

Other ways to get free lounge access include having status with a specific airline (for example Delta Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members have access to SkyTeam lounges and any Delta Sky Club when traveling in on a same-day, international flights) or flying in first/ business class with certain airlines.

    WHAT IS THE BEST CARD FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS?

    Many travelers agree that the best card for airport lounge access is the The Platinum Card® from American Express. That’s because this card gives you complimentary access to the most airport lounges covering more than just a single brand or airline. This means that no matter which airline you happen to be flying with, you’ll likely find an airport lounge to visit. Cardholders on the go can relax in Amex Centurion Lounges as well as Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re flying Delta), Priority Pass with two guests and lounges that are part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection. No other card offers complimentary access to this variety of high-quality airport lounges. Enrollment required for select benefits

    If you are a business owner, the best card for airport lounge access is the business version, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express which also offers complimentary airport lounge access.

    HOW TO CHOOSE A CREDIT CARD FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

    It's important to note that not all airport lounges are created equal and access to the various lounge networks varies widely. Chances are you are considering one of the cards above for reason far beyond its airport lounge access perks, but you should still think about the specific lounges a card grants access to and whether that's going to be the best option for you. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you consider a credit card that grants you lounge access:

    Consider your loyalty. When it comes to airline-specific lounges, such as the American Airlines Admirals Club or the United Club with United Airlines, you can purchase reduced cost memberships depending upon your loyalty tier. Now, those memberships are still going to cost you in the range of the annual fees for some of the cards above (without all the rewards and more that the cards offer, of course), but if you really are just interested in airport lounge access and you have a particular airline loyalty, you can consider day or annual passes instead. That said, if you find yourself in one of these airline-branded lounges often, the additional perks of carrying one of the airline-specific cards above could very well make sense for you.

    Hours/access might be restricted. This is particularly true for Priority Pass™ Select membership. Be aware that lounges do fill to capacity and sometimes limit the open hours or overall hours you're allowed to stay for Priority Pass Select™ members.

    What about your traveling companions? Some of the cards above include lounge access for the primary cardholder (or even an authorized user traveling without the primary cardholder) as well as a certain number of traveling companions, but not all of them do. Make sure you read the fine print so you know whether you'll need to pay for day passes in order to bring companions into the lounge with you.

    SHOULD I HAVE MULTIPLE CARDS WITH LOUNGE ACCESS?

    This depends on individual circumstances. Like most travel perks, having lounge access in general is not absolutely necessary but can make traveling a lot more enjoyable. Having any lounge access will be a huge improvement over waiting in overcrowded terminals, paying for spotty WiFi, and generally not being able to get work done or relax, but not every airport has lounges for every network, so having multiple options could come in handy.

    That said, many of the credit cards that include lounge access also have high annual fees (for example, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express). For some, having the premier travel rewards credit cards from multiple issuers that include lounge access makes sense if they have high annual spends in rewarded categories, are able to take advantage of other card benefits to offset annual fees, or want to maximize their access to different lounges at different airports.

    Another reason why it may make sense to have multiple lounge access cards is if you typically fly a particular airline and want to have access to their lounges while also having access to a more general lounge network like Priority Pass. An example of this would be if you want to have access to American Airlines Admirals club lounges you could get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®; however, that card does not have Priority Pass™ membership included so you would need to have a second card that includes that benefit.

    ARE CARDS WITH LOUNGE ACCESS WORTH IT DURING THE PANDEMIC?

    If you have a credit card that includes lounge access then your lounge access membership may have gathered dust during the pandemic from lack of air travel. Even for those that have braved airport travel during the pandemic, some travelers have found that certain lounges have had amenities scaled back or temporarily inaccessible.

    While closures and limited amenities haven't been the case across the board, if these cards' only benefit was lounge access then they may not be worth it during the pandemic; however, most of the cards with lounge access have a number of other benefits that make them more than worth keeping during the pandemic. And, in some cases, card issuers have even ADDED benefits during the pandemic in an effort to still bring value to cardholders who primarily used their cards for travel.

    For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash and up to $60 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases, a $300 annual travel credit that can be redeemed for purchases at gas stations and grocery stores through the end of 2021, and earns 10x points on Peloton equipment in addition to rewards-earning opportunities and other perks and features. Even if you didn’t use the Priority Pass™ Select membership included with the Sapphire Reserve, the other benefits of the card make it more than worth keeping it around even if you aren't back to regular traveling just yet.

    WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF AIRPORT LOUNGE NETWORKS?

    There are several distinct types of lounge networks, including

    • Airline specific lounges
    • Credit card issuer lounges
    • Independent lounge networks
    Airline specific lounges include the American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges, and United ClubSM lounges, among others. Access to these lounges differs between the programs, but they are usually reserved for travelers in first or business class, elite airline members, those with paid memberships to the lounge network, or access through certain credit card ownership (such as American Express Platinum cardholders having access to Delta Sky Club lounges while traveling on Delta flights).

    Credit card issuer lounges include the American Express Centurion Lounges and newly introduced Sapphire Lounges by the Club. These lounges are accessible with ownership of certain credit cards like the Platinum card from American Express for access to the Centurion Lounges, or, in the case of the Sapphire Lounges by the Club, sometimes with Priority Pass membership.

    Independent network lounges include Priority Pass™ lounges, Loungebuddy and the Global Lounge Network. These networks are made up of lots of different types of lounges with varying amenities. Travelers can access these lounges through credit card benefits like Priority Pass™ Select membership or Loungebuddy reimbursement through American Express® Green Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) ownership, memberships purchased directly through the networks, or, for Loungebuddy, with purchase of individual entry to a specific lounge. Independent lounges are often the ones credit cards will provide you access to, the exception being that some airline branded credit cards provide access to the airline's specific lounges.

    With many of these lounges, you can purchases day passes or even annual memberships for access. Annual memberships will run in the hundreds of dollars and day passes will quickly add up as well. If you're a frequent airport lounge visitor, even paying a high annual fee for a credit card that grants you access will likely pay off over the course of the year. 

    WHAT IS PRIORITY PASS™ AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

    Priority Pass™ is a worldwide network of lounges, restaurants and suites available to members while traveling through their 600+ affiliate airports. With over 1,300 airport lounge locations (as of this writing), there is a large number of domestic and international airports that have one or several Priority Pass™ lounges.

    Lounge amenities vary widely but can include free refreshments, shower access and dedicated work areas. Membership can be purchased directly from Priority Pass for as little as $99 (with additional fees for each visit), but it's also commonly included as a Priority Pass™ Select membership with credit cards that offer lounge access and, with those, will not require fees for each visit.

    Card that offer Priority Pass™ Select membership include, among others:

    Once enrolled, members can present their Priority Pass™ membership to affiliate lounge locations with other travel documents to gain access for themselves and guests while traveling. The rules for credit card issuers differ slightly when it comes to which lounges can be accessed as well as how many guests can enter with the cardholder, so it is important to understand the particular rules of the membership.

    WHAT ARE CENTURION LOUNGES AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

    The Centurion Lounges are a part of the Centurion Network of 40+ lounges across the world accessible to certain American Express cardmembers and are often considered a premier airport lounge experience.

    The Centurion Lounges have curated luxury amenities including regionally inspired dishes from award winning chefs with locally sourced ingredients, cocktails created by renowned mixologist Jim Meehan, and designed spaces for work or relaxation. Some unique amenities include spa treatments at the Dallas-Fort Worth Centurion Lounge Exhale spa, self care at the Equinox Body Lab at the John F. Kennedy Centurion Lounge, and the Napa Valley wine tasting area in the San Francisco International Centurion lounge.

    Access to the Centurion Network lounges is available to American Express Platinum Card members, Delta SkyMiles Reserve® carddholders (consumer and business), American Express Centurion Members and eligible guests. Members with qualifying cards will have to present their valid Card, a same-day boarding pass, and a government-issued I.D. for lounge access. The Centurion Lounge is a day of departure lounge that gives members access within 3 hours of the departure time on a same-day, confirmed boarding pass.

    WHAT ARE THE SAPPHIRE LOUNGES BY THE CLUB AND HOW DO THEY WORK

    The Sapphire Lounges by the Club are a collection of lounges currently under development by Chase with assistance from Airport Dimensions.

    The first Sapphire lounges are scheduled to open in the next year in New York’s LaGuardia Airport in Terminal B, Boston Logan International Airport Terminal B to C Connector, and Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1, with more locations to be unveiled at major airports. The still-in-development lounges will incorporate inspiration from their host cities, and will include food, drink, art, entertainment and wellness amenities.

    Once open, the Sapphire lounges will be accessible to Sapphire Reserve cardmembers as well as Priority Pass™ Select members.


    Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted. 

    Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

    To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured in this post, please visit the following links: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply)

    Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

    This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

    Comment
    2 Comments

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    1. JR
      July 12, 2015 - 10:50 pm
      What are the prerequisites for the AMEX black card and is it only by invitation?
        Reply »  
      1. Amber Stubbs
        July 13, 2015 - 6:09 pm
        Yes, it is by invitation only and it seems invitations are only extended to existing American Express cardholders who meet certain spending criteria. Check out this interview with a Black cardholder for more information: http://www.cardratings.com/inside-the-life-of-centurion-cardholder-taysha-valez.html.
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