Best Credit Cards For Lounge Access feature image

Best Credit Cards For Lounge Access

Whether you’re a frequent or occasional traveler, having a credit card that offers lounge access is a great way to get the best bang for your buck and enjoy every perk airports have to offer.

Certain credit cards grant access to exclusive airport lounges around the world that provide added comfort that turns travel from a tedious task into an enjoyable journey. Because airports are loud, busy, and expensive, airline lounges, which are typically free of charge when you own a certain credit card, can be a real sweetener.

They offer tons of perks that will help save money on food and drinks, and also provide you with a quiet space to relax before boarding your flight. There’s nothing better than flying after a calming and rejuvenating hangout at an airport lounge.

Here, we take a look at which are the best credit cards for lounge access, the lounge locations, and the rewards that make your travel even more exciting.

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Want to add some luxury, class, and calm ahead of your flight? There are some dazzling lounges available with a credit card to gain you full access. Which card you have and the airport you’re in will make all the difference.

Some credit cards, like Chase Sapphire, Capital One, and American Express Centurion grant access to their collections of lounges around the world. Airline-specific lounges include Delta Air Lines Sky Clubs and the American Airlines Admirals Clubs, which only give you access to lounges associated with that airline.

Here are the top three credit cards you should consider for airport lounges (although the Centurion Black is invite-only):

Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Most Prestigious: American Express Centurion Black Card
Excellent Value: American Express Platinum Card
Less Frequent Travel: United Explorer Card

Choosing the right credit card for you will depend on how much you travel, how much you want to spend on an annual fee, and how much use you’ll make of their rewards and benefits, which you’ll discover as you read on.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

If you’re a frequent Delta flyer, then getting a Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is the best way to enjoy all the perks that come with flying Delta. With this credit card, you’ll get 3X miles on Delta purchases and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases.

The only downside that may deter most people from getting this credit card is the $650 annual fee. But if you travel with Delta frequently, then this fee is well worth the access to the Delta Sky Club.

While Delta doesn’t have lounge access everywhere in the world, they do in more than 50 locations. For example, you’ll find lounges in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Austin, Texas, Beijing, China, Copenhagen, Lima, Peru, Denmark, Da Nang, Vietnam, and Miami Florida, to name a few. 

The current bonus point rate is 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases. This isn’t a typical offer, so when this offer ends, you’ll get 60,000 bonus points instead.

As for the lounges themselves? Delta Club lounges have free high-speed Wi-Fi, which is ideal if you’re a remote worker or want to keep the kids entertained. They also serve fresh and healthy food and complimentary cocktails.

And here’s another little sweetener – you’ll also get four one-time guest passes throughout the year, so you can enjoy the perks of a lounge with a companion. 

Another perk of being a member of the Delta Sky Club is Wi-Fi on flights. When I flew from JFK to Denver Airport, I had fast Wi-Fi the entire flight simply by signing into my new SkyMiles account. The Wi-Fi was even better than some cafes I go to! 

With Delta, you can also access lounges with partner flights. The only caveat is that you need to pay $50 per visit. Partner lounges that this credit card has access to are The Centurion Lounge and Escape Lounge. 

Other benefits include a first class, Delta Comfort, or Main Cabin round trip companion certificate for Central America, the Caribbean, or domestic destinations around the USA. You’ll also save 15% when booking Award Travel on Delta flights using your miles. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve® 

Chase Sapphire Reserve® card

You’ll have a couple of options with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card when it comes to lounge access. The Chase Ultimate Rewards will get you a Priority Pass Select Membership, which provides Priority Pass lounge access. You can sign up online and get your card in the mail. 

You’ll also get 10x points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase through Chase Ultimate Rewards. I’ve considered getting this card solely because of the included free membership to the Priority Pass lounges. 

Even though there’s a $550 annual fee, it’s easy to put it to good use, especially if you’re a frequent flyer. The Priority Pass Select membership grants access to 1,400 lounges around the world.

Some airports that you’ll have access to include London Heathrow (LHR), San Francisco International (SFO), Dubai (DXB), and Tokyo Narita (NRT). 

Another standout benefit of this credit card and the priority pass is that it gives access to over 30 restaurants at certain airports, where you’ll get a $28 dining credit plus a guest! Popular Priority Pass restaurants include the Yankee Pier in San Francisco, Landry’s Seafood in Houston, and Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in New York. 

You’ll also have access to the Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club locations, which offer something a little different from the Priority Pass lounges.

There are three Chase Sapphire Lounge locations around the world, including Hong Kong International (HKG), Boston Logan Airport (BOS), and NYC LaGuardia Airport. There’s also a Sapphire Terrace at Austin-Bergstrom (AUS). 

At these lounges, you’ll get chef-curated meals and complimentary drinks. These special lounges are still a new concept and are slowly expanding around the world, which is why there aren’t many yet.

This credit card is a well-rounded choice, since you have access to both Chase and Priority pass lounges. Also, Sapphire Reserve cardholders have access to dining credits at select restaurants. Besides the Citi Prestige Card, this is the only card out there that has access to dining credits. 

Other perks include having 5X points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3X points on other travel and dining.

American Express Centurion Black Card

American Express Centurion Black Card

This is one of the most exclusive credit cards out there because you need a special invitation to join. It’s like the Red Carpet of credit cards. The eligibility requirements are never publicized – but we know it’s for the high-net-worth individuals amongst us.

The only downside to this credit card is that they’ve dropped their dining credits at specific restaurants, not to mention the hefty annual fee of $5,000, plus $10,000 initiation fee. But you get a lot for it on top of status and a Prada-designed card…

With the Amex Centurion Card, you have access to lounges with high-speed Wi-Fi, locally inspired cuisine, barista coffee, signature cocktails, and premium wines. There is no welcome bonus, although you do get an automatic Delta Air Lines Platinum Medallion status. 

On top of the tons of travel perks you get with this card (including 24/7 concierge service), you’ll have even more perks when it comes to lounge access. Amex has rebranded its lounges worldwide and now calls them Centurion lounges.

Airports with Centurion lounges include Denver International Airport, Melbourne Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Stockholm Arlanda Airport, to name a few. 

Many of these lounges offer seasonally inspired food, local-specific cocktails, premium spirits, and curated wine lists. Some Centurion lounges even have wine tasting, family rooms, and spa services. Talk about luxury!

American Express Platinum Card

American Express Platinum Card

This card might seem similar to the Centurion Black card, but it has tons of differences and may even be a better option for most of you at a much lower fee.

With this credit card, you’ll have access to 1,400 airport lounges with the Priority Pass Lounge Access and the Amex Centurion Lounges. You’ll also have access to Delta Sky Club Lounges when you fly on Delta and several Virgin Clubhouse and Escape Lounges. 

The annual fee is $695, but you’ll get thousands of dollars in added value every year, especially if you’re a frequent flyer. For example, you’ll get 80,000 membership rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on the card during the first 6 months. 

You’ll have access to Centurion lounges if you have either a Centurion or Platinum-branded card, like The Business Platinum Card. To take it a step further, authorized users with a Centurion or Amex Platinum card also have access and can add up to three authorized users per year.

Keep in mind that to have access to these lounges, you must have a Centurion or Platinum card. The Amex Gold Card and the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex Card do not grant you access.

If you’re deciding between the two cards, the Platinum Card offers way better value and access to the same lounges, for a way cheaper price. So if you’re not invited to apply for a Centurion Card, don’t feel so bad – you get plenty of benefits for a great annual fee with the Platinum!

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard

You’ll get tons of perks with the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. For starters, it gives you JetBlue Admirals Club access.

You can also purchase an Admirals Club one-day pass for $59, or 59,000 points. To use the lounges, you must be an Admirals Club member. You’ll find Admirals Clubs in 32 airports around the world. Luckily, JetBlue operates out of 23 of the 32 airports. 

Other benefits include a sign-up bonus, where you’ll get 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after you spend $7,000 in the first 3 months.

Every five years, you’ll get a $100 reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. It even takes it a step further by offering a $120 Avis or Budget car rental credit every year, and $120 Grubhub credits

Other perks include getting 10 miles for every $1 spent on car rentals and hotels booked through the American Airlines website. You’ll also get 4 miles for every $1 spent on American purchases, and one Loyalty Point for every $1 spent, which counts towards your elite status. 

This is a great credit card to have for cheaper access to the Admiral Clubs. The credit card has an annual fee of $595, but it’s cheaper than the annual Admirals Club membership. So, you’re getting two-for-one with this card: Admiral Club lounge access and other travel perks. 

For example, an annual Admiral Club membership costs $850 for a non-elite AAdvantage member. For AAdvantage Gold members, it costs $825, and for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members, it costs $750. But if you have a credit card, that membership is only $595!

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

With this credit card, you’ll have access to the Capital One Partner Lounge Network. This encompasses the Priority Pass Lounges, Capital One Lounges, and Plaza Premium Lounges – a recently developed lounge that’s taking airports by storm. 

The Plaza Premium’s debut lounge was in Dallas-Fort Worth, and offers tons of fresh and cold food, in addition to a craft cocktail bar. In this particular location, there’s also cold-pressed juice, sandwiches, and snacks.

It also has shower suites, an exercise room, a nursing room, restrooms, and a relaxation room. There are now locations at the Denver International Airport and Washington Dulles. 

With this credit card, you’ll also get a $300 Capital One Travel credit and an anniversary bonus of 10,000 miles. You’ll get 10 miles per dollar on rental cars and hotels, 5 miles per dollar on flights, and 2 miles per dollar on every purchase you make every day. 

One more perk of this credit card is you can have a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which allows you to bring 2 guests free of charge. As we’ve mentioned above, with the Priority Pass membership, you’ll have access to 1,400 airport lounges in 150 countries.

United Club℠ Infinite Card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

For less than the price of the United Club membership, you’ll have unlimited access to lounges around the world with this card. You’ll get 4 miles per every dollar you spend with United.

Other perks include getting 2 miles per dollar on other travel and restaurants, and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. You might feel deterred from the $525 annual fee, but keep in mind that an annual lounge membership is $650, so it’s well worth the price. 

With the 80,000 bonus miles reward after qualifying purchases, you’ll be able to maximize this card’s many travel perks, including free flights. 

The most impressive benefit of the United Club Infinite Card is having access to the United lounges around the world. The only downside is having a low return on your spending, which typically isn’t the case with the other cards.

There are 45 United clubs around the world, including London, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. If you’re a frequent United Airlines flyer, then this card is a great choice.  

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

This is an excellent starter card with a low annual fee.

While many of these cards are great for frequent flyers, if you still want the perks without having to travel often to make the most of your card, consider getting the United Explorer Card. This card gives two one-time passes to the United Club each year

Because day passes to the United Club cost $59 per use, the two free passes with this card have real value. It offers 60,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

For the first year, there’s a $0 fee, and then a $95 annual fee following that year. If you go to two United Clubs per year, you’re already making that annual fee back.

The only downside is this credit card has fewer rewards than most other cards, with 2 miles per dollar spent at United and 1 mile per dollar everywhere else. But at a lower annual fee, this could be perfect for you to add a little luxury to the odd journey and save some money.

HSBC Elite Credit Card

HSBC Elite Credit Card

This credit card works with LoungeKey and grants you and 1 guest free access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world

You’ll get 50,000 reward bonus points, which are worth $750 in airfare if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. This bonus of benefits includes 2x dining points for new dining purchases and 1x point on all other purchases

The annual fee is $395, but you’ll have access to more than a thousand airport lounges around the world, though there is a $32 access fee for each visit. In all honesty, that’s less than two beers at the airport!

Verdict

Whether you’re a frequent traveler or someone who only travels a couple of times per year, these are the best credit cards on the market that’ll provide access to airport lounges around the world.

Overall, the best credit card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which grants access to 1,400 lounges, offers the best rewards system, and has its very own up-and-coming Chase Sapphire Lounges.

If you’re a less frequent traveler, the United Explorer Card credit card is the best choice, though it offers the least amount of benefits. 

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card offers access to more than 50 lounges worldwide, and tons of rewards. This is especially beneficial if you travel often with Delta. The bonus points are also worth it. 

The Capital One Venture X Rewards gives access to Captial One lounges around the world, in addition to the Priority Pass membership. The HSBC Elite Credit Card gives access to 1,000 lounges, while the United Explorer Card grants access to the United Lounges.

For access to the Admiral Clubs, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard is your best bet.

Picking the right card depends on the type of lounges you want to have access to, the rewards and points system you’re looking for, and how often you travel. Which one has made your eyes twinkle?

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