Advertiser Disclosure

RewardExpert.com is an independent, advertising-supported web site. RewardExpert.com receives compensation from many credit card issuers whose offers appear on our site. Compensation from our advertising partners impacts how and where their products appear on our site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within review lists. RewardExpert.com has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace.

Best Lounge Access Credit Cards of 2017

Jennifer Blocker
Updated on: 07/04/2017

Airport lounges can be an oasis for travelers who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of airports. Traveling on an airplane has become as familiar to many as riding a bus, train or other forms of mass transit. With the popularity of flying, where can someone seek refuge in an airport? In a lounge, of course! Lounge access isn’t only for elite and first-class travelers; with the best credit cards, you can be rubbing elbows with the airlines’ high-class clientele.

Top Rated Credit Cards for Lounge Access

With all the benefits and rewards that credit cards offer, one of the most sought after is lounge access. Some of the cards are so elite that they are invitation only, like the Amex Centurion card. Others have such rigorous bank-specific restrictions that most of us are out of the running, like the JP Morgan Palladium card (which requires you to be an account holder with at least $250,000). However, there are other options for credit cards that let you hobnob with the elite without buying a first-class ticket or a membership.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

Bonuses & Rewards
Annual Fee
Rewards Program
Rating
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xMiles on American Airlines Purchases
  • 1xMiles on Dining
  • 1xMiles on Gas
  • 1xMiles on All Other Purchases
Annual Fee
$450
AAdvantage®
Rating
81
  • 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $7,500 in the first 3 months
    • 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • %25% savings on purchases on American Airlines flights

Travel Benefits

Admirals Club Membership:

Lounge membership includes access for the cardholder and their immediate family or two guests. Authorized users, which can be added at no cost, also get full lounge access.

In-Flight Savings:

Receive a 25 percent discount in the form of a credit statement on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights.

Reduced Mileage Awards:

Save between 2,000 and 7,500 AAdvantage miles when booking one-way and round-trip flights on select routes.

Why should you get this card?

  • Sign-Up Bonus: You will earn 75,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. The bonus is enough to book two round-trip flights within the U.S. or to the Caribbean.
  • Free Checked Bags: Most co-branded airline cards offer this perk, and the Citi AA Executive Card is no exception. Check a bag for yourself and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation.
  • Admirals Club Membership: Escape the busy terminal and enjoy an adult beverage and free Wi-Fi while you relax in a quiet lounge.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Credit: Enroll in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and receive an application fee reimbursement once every five years.

Our Expert's Conclusion

If you live in an American Airlines’ hub city, such as Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, and fly with the airline often, then the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard could be a good option for you. If you’re looking for airline perks, the card has got you covered with free checked bags, priority boarding and complimentary lounge access.

The downside for many travelers is the card’s high annual fee and weak rewards earning structure. Unless you pay for airfare often, it might take a while to accumulate enough miles for an award ticket. However, frequent flyers can easily justify the $450 fee by using Admirals Club lounges every time they travel.

  • Earn 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $7,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Receive a 25% savings on eligible in–flight purchases on American Airlines flights.
  • Every year (January through December billing statement), when you reach $40,000 in spending on purchases, you will earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines.
  • Admirals Club® membership including access to more than 50 lounge locations worldwide. Up to two guests or immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age) may accompany the member.
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users even if you aren’t traveling with them.
  • Receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre√ ®.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases.
Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card® from American Express
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

Bonuses & Rewards
Annual Fee
Rewards Program
Rating
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 5xPoints on Airfare and Hotels
  • 2xPoints on Travel
  • 1xPoints on Gas
  • 1xPoints on All Other Purchases
Annual Fee
$550
Membership Rewards®
Rating
94
  • 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.
    • $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • $200 airline fee credit

Travel Benefits

Lounge Access:

Cardholders receive a Priority Pass Select Membership, which offers access more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries. You’ll also get free access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying with Delta and American Express Centurion Lounges.

Wi-Fi:

Get unlimited Wi-Fi at more than a million hotspots worldwide through Boingo.

No Foreign Transaction Fees:

Never pay a fee for making purchases while traveling abroad.

Why should you get this card?

  • Lounge Access: Experience the amazing American Express Centurion Lounges, plus Delta Sky Clubs and any of the over 1,000 Priority Pass lounges worldwide.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Recoup some of your annual fee with this credit that covers incidental fees charged by your selected airline. Includes everything from in-flight meals to baggage and change fees.
  • Great Flexibility: Membership Rewards points can be transferred to so many partners that you’ll have options for every trip you want to take.
  • Big Sign-Up Bonus:This card comes with a huge sign-up bonus of 60,000 points. That’s worth at least $1,086 in travel.

Our Expert's Conclusion

The American Express Platinum Card is a great premium rewards credit card despite its mediocre earning potential. That’ because it has fantastic perks and benefits. Therefore, it is really only a good credit card for people who can make use of those benefits, namely lounge access, the airline fee credit and the Uber credit.

Since the annual fee isn’t waived the first year, you should plan to use these benefits if you apply for the card, even considering the 60,000-point sign-up bonus. Without use of the additional card benefits, the bonus is probably not significant enough to justify the $550 annual fee. After the first year, it is even more important that you use the ongoing benefits because you won’t have a major point bonus to increase the value of the credit card.

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com
  • You will get 1 point for each dollar charged for an eligible purchase on your Platinum Card from American Express.
  • You will get 1 additional point (for a total of 2 points) for each dollar of eligible travel purchases made on amextravel.com.
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Platinum Card Members have unlimited complimentary access to American Express Lounge locations.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit.
  • Enjoy $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December, simply because you're a Platinum Card Member. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • $100 Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PRE✓™.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status without meeting any stay requirements.
  • With Hilton Honors Gold Status, you can enjoy benefits at over 4,800 hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio and earn reward stays faster with Hilton Honors Bonus Points.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • As a Card Member, you can be covered if your eligible rental car is damaged or stolen when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver at the rental car counter.
Citi Prestige® Card
Citi Prestige® Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

Bonuses & Rewards
Annual Fee
Rewards Program
Rating
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 3xPoints on Airfare and Hotels
  • 2xPoints on Dining and Entertainment
  • 1xPoints on Gas
  • 1xPoints on All Other Purchases
Annual Fee
$450
ThankYou®
Rating
92
  • 40,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
    • $100 Global Entry application fee credit.
    • Complimentary 4th night stay.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • $250 Air Travel Credit

Travel Benefits

$250 Airline Credit:

Get up to $250 worth of statement credits annually toward airfare, upgrades, incidental fees and more.

Complimentary Lounge Access:

A free Priority Pass Select membership gives you access about 1,000 airport lounges around the world.

Global Entry:

Get a $100 application credit every five years. Includes TSA PreCheck.

Why should you get this card?

  • Sign-Up Bonus: The 40,000-point sign-up bonus is worth at least $532 when redeemed for airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center, and potentially even more when transferred to travel partners. The value of the bonus is enough to wipe out the first year’s annual fee.
  • 4th Night Free: Each time you use the Citi Prestige Concierge service to book a stay that is four nights or longer, you get one night free. The more often you stay, the more money you save.
  • $250 Air Travel Credit: The air travel credit is easy to use and helps offset the annual fee substantially. Every time you pay for flights, upgrades, taxes on award tickets, checked baggage, seat assignments, and in-flight meals and entertainment, the statement credit applies automatically.
  • Great Earning Potential: You’ll get bonus points on airfare, hotels, dining and entertainment—all the categories in which frequent travelers spend the most money. The points add up for another redemption in no time!

Our Expert's Conclusion

If you’re looking for a premium travel rewards card that offers a decent sign-up bonus, flexible rewards and the ability to transfer to travel partners, then Citi Prestige makes for a good option.

Although the card’s annual fee of $450 is not waived for the first year, you can enjoy all the benefits, such as free lounge access and concierge service, essentially for free because the value of card’s 40,000-point bonus more than offsets the cost. In fact, you’ll easily be making money once you factor in the annual $250 air travel credit, the 4th Night Free benefit and the Global Entry enrollment fee credit.

  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • With Citi Prestige®, you'll earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels, 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Your points are worth 33% more on flights compared to non-air travel when booked through the Citi ThankYou® Travel Center.
  • With no points cap and no expiration of points, there's no limit to the points you can earn.
  • Transfer points to participating travel loyalty programs such as Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Flying Blue.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on Purchases.
  • Each year a $250 Air Travel Credit will automatically be applied to flight-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
  • Extend your trip with a complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4–consecutive night booking through the Citi Prestige® Concierge. For reservations made on or after July 23, 2017, the benefit will be calculated as the average nightly rate of your total stay, not including taxes.
  • Receive a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Once approved for Global Entry by the U.S. Government, you can bypass long lines and enjoy expedited entry into the U.S.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

Bonuses & Rewards
Annual Fee
Rewards Program
Rating
Bonuses & Rewards
  • 2xMiles on tickets purchased from United
  • 1xMiles on Dining
  • 1xMiles on Gas
  • 1xMiles on All Other Purchases
Annual Fee
$95
MileagePlus®
Rating
77
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
    • 5,000 bonus miles after you add the first authorized user to your account and make a purchase with your Card during the first 3 months
    • 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 on purchases on your Card each calendar year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • 2United Club℠ passes each year

Travel Benefits

Priority Boarding:

The primary cardmember and companions on the same reservation will be invited to board United-operated flights prior to general boarding.

Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection:

Cardholders receive the benefits of the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection (LHRC) program when booking through an LHRC travel specialist.

Complimentary United Club Passes:

Enjoy airport lounge access with two free United Club passes every year you have the card.

Why should you get this card?

  • Big Sign-Up Bonus: The 40,000-mile sign-up bonus can get you at least $750 in travel. If you are strategic with your miles, it could be worth over $1,500.
  • Free Checked Bags: Between you and your companion, you can save up to $100 in checked baggage fees per round-trip booking.
  • Extra Award Availability: Cardholders get access to extra saver level award space and guaranteed standard level award space when flights are available for purchase.

Our Expert's Conclusion

If you’re looking for a great sign-up bonus to help you book free flights with United or one of its Star Alliance partners, the MileagePlus Explorer card might be just what you need. With a 40,000-mile sign- up bonus, you’ll be well on your way.

Since the annual fee waived for the first year, you have time to see if the card is right for you before making a long-term decision. After the first year, the annual fee will be 95 .

  • Get 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus miles after you add the first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Each calendar year, you are eligible to receive one 10,000-mile bonus after you reach $25,000 in purchases on your Card.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Free first checked bag – a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip.
  • Priority boarding.
  • 2 United ClubSM passes each year for your travel.
  • Use miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight.
  • Enjoy luxury hotel & resort collection privileges.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Compare Credit Cards for Lounge Access

Compare all credit cards by RE® Value, which is an estimate of how much you will earn during first year of credit card use minus annual fees.

Credit Card
Bonuses & Rewards
First Year Rewards
FEES
RE® value
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 25,000 Starpoints® sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 Starpoints® for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$941
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$941
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

Miles & More® World Elite MasterCard®

Miles & More® World Elite MasterCard®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,709
FEES
-$89
RE® value
$1,620
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Barclaycard

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 75,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,694
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$1,244
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card

United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,249
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$1,249
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
Business Platinum Card®

Business Platinum Card®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,539
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$1,089
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

More Details
SKYPASS Visa Classic® Card

SKYPASS Visa Classic® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 5,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$394
FEES
-$50
RE® value
$344
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
U.S. Bank

Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®

Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 20,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$440
FEES
-$79
RE® value
$361
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Bank of America

Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 75,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 72,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$470
FEES
-$75
RE® value
$395
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 10,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$560
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$110
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

United MileagePlus® Club Card

United MileagePlus® Club Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 0 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 36,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$733
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$283
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 40,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,087
FEES
-$95
RE® value
$992
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 50,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,632
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$1,182
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 30,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$910
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$910
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

More Details
Citi Prestige® Card

Citi Prestige® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 40,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,165
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$715
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Citibank

More Details
SkyBlue SKYPASS Visa® Card

SkyBlue SKYPASS Visa® Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 5,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 12,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$231
FEES
-$0
RE® value
$231
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
U.S. Bank

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 0 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$660
FEES
-$450
RE® value
$210
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
Chase Bank

More Details
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 5,000 miles sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 miles for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$394
FEES
-$50
RE® value
$344
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
U.S. Bank

Platinum Card® from American Express

Platinum Card® from American Express

Bonuses & Rewards
  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus.
  • 24,000 points for everyday spend.
First Year Rewards
$1,720
FEES
-$550
RE® value
$1,170
How to Apply

To apply for this offer please contact
American Express

More Details

Best Credit Cards for Priority Pass Lounge Access

Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent network of airport lounges. They have more than 900 VIP lounge locations in over 400 cities that provide complimentary beverages, snacks, internet access and, more importantly, a place to unwind. There are no restrictions based on airline or class of ticket. To obtain these benefits, you must enroll in the program through your credit card (you will usually receive a link) and get a Priority Pass Select Membership card. You can also get the Priority Pass app, which has a digital membership card.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Cardholders can bring up to two guests for free. Authorized users can also obtain their own membership. You can add up to three users for $175. Each additional user thereafter will be $175 each.

Reward Rate: 5x rewards earned on flights and hotels booked through Amex Travel

Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 within the first three months

Annual Fee: $550

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN

This card allows for complimentary airport lounge access for the cardholder and two guests. Authorized users can be added for $300 each, which will give them their own memberships.

Reward Rate: 5x points on eligible flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1 point for every dollar spent on other eligible purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: Up to 75,000 Membership rewards points. Cardholders will receive 50,000 points after spending $10,000 and another 25,000 points after spending an additional $10,000 within the first three months of membership.

Annual Fee: $450

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

The Ritz card comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for the primary cardholder and any authorized users. This card does not charge a fee to add authorized users and the amount of traveling companions that may gain complimentary access to the lounges is unlimited. In the instance that you are at a destination and there is not a Priority Pass Lounge, you can be reimbursed for your entry fees to any other lounge. This card has up to a $300 per year credit for lounge access bought with the card. This credit can be used for other travel-related expenses, such as baggage fees and seat upgrades.

Reward Rate: 2 complimentary nights good at any participating tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.

Sign-Up Bonus: 5 points per dollar at participating Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG hotels, 2 points per dollar on airline tickets bought directly through an airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants, 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. This card also awards a $300 annual travel credit that can be used toward lounge access, baggage fees, seat upgrades and more.

Annual Fee: $450

Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card includes Priority Pass Select membership for the primary cardholder and authorized users. Authorized users can be added at $75 per person. The number of guests traveling with a cardholder that may have access to the lounge is unlimited.

Reward Rate: 3x points on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months

Annual Fee: $450

Citi Prestige

This card grants free access to Priority Pass Select lounges for cardholders plus immediate family members or up to two guests. Authorized users can be added at a rate of $50 each and will also get their own Priority Pass memberships.

Reward Rate: 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, 2x points per dollar on dining and entertainment, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus: 40,000 Thank You points after spending $4,000 within first three months

Annual Fee: $450

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN

This card allows for complimentary airport lounge access for the cardholder and two guests. Authorized users can be added for $300 each, which will give them their own memberships.

Reward Rate: 5x points on eligible flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1 point for every dollar spent on other eligible purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: Up to 75,000 Membership rewards points. Cardholders will receive 50,000 points after spending $10,000 and another 25,000 points after spending an additional $10,000 within the first three months of membership.

Annual Fee: $450

Best Credit Cards for Domestic and International Lounge Access

Now for some co-branded airline credit card lounge access basics. There are three major partnerships between domestic legacy carriers and credit card issuers that offer co-branded airline cards that include international lounge access through global airline alliances.

American Express works with Delta, which is part of the SkyTeam alliance that consists of 20 global airline partners. Citibank offers cards with American Airlines, which is part of the oneworld alliance that consists of 14 international airlines. Chase and United, which is part of the Star Alliance that is comprised of 27 carriers, put out a line of co-branded cards. Being a cardholder within one of these networks allows patrons to gain access to the lounges of partner airlines.

The Platinum Card and Business Platinum OPEN

These are some of the best cards for lounge access due to the array of options they hold. Cardholders have complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes over 1,000 lounges across 120 countries. The five distinct lounge networks included in the Collection are Centurion Lounges, International American Express Lounges, Priority Pass Select, Airspace Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs. Some Centurion Lounges rank among the best in domestic air travel.

You must enroll in Priority Pass through your Amex card to receive the rebate, and you must use your Priority Pass membership card to gain entry. These Amex Platinum cards are charge cards and not credit cards. That means you will not be extended a line of credit and your bill must be paid in full every month.

Annual Fee: $550 consumer/$450 business

Delta Reserve Credit Card

Lounge access with this card pales in comparison to the Amex Platinum cards. However, you will get Sky Club access when fly with Delta. The best part of this card is its ability to earn Medallion Qualifications Miles (MQMs) that count toward elite status without ever leaving the ground. This card gives you the ability to earn up to 30,000 MQMs per calendar year. You will receive 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000, and another 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000.

This is a good way to earn Gold status in SkyMiles, Delta’s frequent flyer program. You will need at least Gold status if you would like to receive complimentary access (for you and a guest) to most international SkyTeam lounges. You must present a same day ticket for an international or connecting SkyTeam flights. Delta is part of the SkyTeam global airline alliance, which consists of 20 carriers.

Annual Fee: $450

United MileagePlus Club Card

To gain lounge access you must have a United Club membership card, which is complimentary with the MileagePlus Club credit card. Some of the other card benefits rival those that come with top tier status in many frequent flier programs, like two checked bags each for up to two people traveling on the same reservation and priority boarding. United Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, which gives card members and their guests access to domestic and international business lounges operated by any of the 27 carriers in the network. This card also grants access to Amtrak Acela lounges.

Annual Fee: $450

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Starting in July 2017, the Citi Prestige card will no longer grant card members access to Admirals Club lounges. So aside from purchasing a membership or buying a first-class ticket, the only way to gain entry to American Airlines’ VIP lounges will be to hold the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard.

With this card you can also earn 10,000 EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) after spending $40,000 in a year. Having this card will grant lounge access for immediate family members or up to two guests. This card also grants membership for the cards authorized users. Delta is a part of the oneworld alliance, which grants access for cardholders and guests to over 50 Admirals Clubs and many more lounges around the world that are operated by any of its 14 airline partners.

Annual Fee: $450

FAQs

Need more info? Check out our FAQ. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

  • Credit cards with lounge access require at least good credit. Some require excellent credit. There are even credit cards for lounge access that are by invitation only. Some cards have bank-specific requirements that require you to be an account holder of substantial worth. If your credit is not in good shape, do not apply for these cards.

    Several of these cards have a version that does not come with lounge access but will provide some travel benefits are will be more lenient when it comes to credit score. However, none of these cards will be granted to someone with fair or bad credit.

  • For the most part, credit cards that offer lounge access come with high annual fees in the $450 range. But when you think about it, this fee can not only pay for itself, but actually save money. First, consider the sign-up bonus. Several of the best credit cards for lounge access have welcome bonuses that come close to, if not meet the cost of the annual fee. Then consider that a membership to the big domestic airlines’ lounges—the Admirals Club, United Club and Sky Club—will run about $500.

    Several of these cards, as they are really geared toward avid travelers, also come with annual travel credit of $200 or more. They come with a massive amount of other travel benefits too, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, credits for TSA PreCheck and more. And last but not least, most of these cards come with increased earning potential, sometimes as much as 5x miles for travel-related items.

    When you add up all these benefits, they can cover the annual fee several times over. However, these cards are not for those just seeking sign-up bonuses. These cards are geared toward avid travelers and have benefits that will have the most value to them.

  • Outside of the traditional things we think of when shopping for a credit card, such as welcome bonuses and reward rates, there are other things to consider that are more important, including the usefulness of the lounges that can be accessed with the card.

    Many of the top credit cards that offer free lounge access are aimed at those who travel often. When getting a travel card with lounge access you should consider your travel habits, as well as the airline alliances and the loyalty programs associated with them. You should think about where you often visit. You might be a world traveler, but you also might visit Denver several times a year because your parents live there. So you want an airline and lounges that service the regions you visit often, including your home base. Also, many times a lot of the value of these cards comes from the many other travel-related benefits that come with them.

  • Different credit cards may have different terms regarding lounge access. With some credit cards you can just present them and that gives you entry. In other cases you may have to present a lounge club card that you have to apply for separately, or you may have to present the frequent flyer membership that’s connected to your credit card.

    With Priority Pass Select, for instance, you need to enroll with a link given to you by your credit card. You will then be given a separate card for priority pass lounge access which you must present to gain admission. You can also download the Priority Pass app, which will give you a digital version of their card.

    Be aware of how many guests are permitted for free as well. You will usually be allowed around two guests at no extra charge with a Priority Pass (this can vary depending on your credit card), but additional guests will be charged $27. In some cases, you will not be presented a bill for additional guests. Charges will simply appear on your card at a later date.

    Rates and terms may be different when it comes to lounges outside of the Priority Pass network. Sometimes rates can vary, as well as the amenities and services. Some lounges in the network are privately run. Therefore owners reserve the right to make judgement calls about admission, especially during busy times.

  • The Platinum card from Amex offers access to a broad range of lounges, including admission to some of the top lounges. They have what they call the Global Lounge Collection which is comprised of Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club, the Priority Pass Select network, Airspace Lounges and International American Express Lounges. To have access to Delta Sky Clubs you must be on a Delta flight that day. Another thing that sets this card apart from the rest is the fact that it is a charge card and not a credit card. This means that the bill is due at the end of each.

    If you are looking for a traditional credit card that affords you a line of credit, the options are few since lounge access isn’t the most prevalent benefit when it comes to credit cards. As far as banks, look at Chase for the Sapphire Reserve or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards. Citi offers only one card with lounge access, the Citi Prestige.

    Most of the top co-branded airline cards will give you lounge access. Delta, United and American Airlines offer those cards. The cards are aimed at frequent travelers with excellent credit. Not only will you get access to airline lounges—Delta Sky Club, United Club and American Airlines Admirals Club—but you will also have global access to all of the carrier’s partners’ lounges within their respective network of international affiliates.

    There are also cards that are not branded by airlines that offer global lounge access through Priority Pass Select. These cards usually have high annual fees and are among the hardest cards to get, requiring the best credit.

  • With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will get a Priority Pass Select membership. You must enroll in Priority Pass and receive your membership card before your visit. You will need that card for admittance. Chase allows for an unlimited amount of complimentary guests.

    As for the amenities inside the lounges, they can vary wildly. Almost all of them will provide snacks, beverages and free Wi-Fi. Most locations serve alcohol, too. Some locations have spas and offer massages, but others provide amenities you never imagined. Each location is different. Some exceptional lounges under the Priority Pass umbrella include the Premier Lounge in Bali (DPS), Dilmun Lounge in Bahrain (BAH), the Almost@Home Lounge in Helsinki (HEL) and the Plaza Premium Flagship Lounge in Hong Kong (HKG).

    There are now over 1,000 lounges in the network, and it continues to expand. A restaurant in London was recently added, as well as the first in-airport distillery in Portland, Oregon, House Spirits Distillery in PDX’s Terminal C. Another great addition is Mini Suites, which are small rooms with a place to nap or work in silence. A stay would usually run about $42 an hour, but with Priority pass you can get the first hour free.

More Questions & AnswersLess Questions & Answers
Have A Question?
Ask our credit card expert!