How to Get Free Airport Lounge Access With Your Credit Card
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You’ve seen the frosted glass doors. Caught glimpses of the large soft leather chairs. Seen frazzled travelers walk in and come out relaxed and smiling.
Those frosted glass doors are the gates to the kingdom. In other words, entrance to the airport lounge.
You can get free airport lounge access from your credit card.
Originally published on January 29, 2018. Updated on February 26, 2021.
How to Get Free Airport Lounge Access with Your Credit Card
I’ve shared all the tips and tricks on how to get into every airport lounge. One of those tricks is something you may already have in your wallet.
Nope, not cash. Something else, something that you might not realize.
You can get free airport lounge access with your credit card. Keep reading to find out which credit cards come with lounge access.
Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access
Airport lounges are a haven from the insanity of the terminal. A quiet retreat with free Wi-Fi, food, drinks, and showers. And in some lounges, you can get massages, manicures, and pedicures!
But an airport lounge membership can cost up to $550 a year. Some lounges like the Centurion Lounges are so exclusive you can’t buy a membership.
You have to be a member of the club or have the right credit card.
Why pay for an airport lounge membership when you can get it for free?
Several credit cards give you free airport lounge membership as part of the card benefits. These are the best credit cards for airport lounge access.
The Platinum Card from American Express
With the Global Lounge Collection, you get access to over 1,260 airport lounges worldwide. Part of this network includes American Express’s Centurion Lounges.
You get free food from award-winning chefs, free drinks (including alcohol), free Wi-Fi, and a spa.
The spa offers free massages, manicures, and pedicures! You can book an unlimited number of treatments if space is available. 🙂
The Centurion Lounge is open only to Amex Platinum Card (personal or business) and Centurion Cardholders and their guests. Because of space limits, you can no longer buy a $50 day pass if you have a different American Express card.
Your Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express also give you a Priority Pass Select membership and a $10 credit for food or drinks at Airspace Lounges.
Pro-tip: You can bring in two guests for free. Each additional guest at Priority Pass lounges costs $32 and $20 or more at Airspace lounges.
If you’re flying Delta, you can use the Delta Sky Club lounges for free. There are so many lounge options with the Amex Platinum cards, that’s why they are one of the 5 cards I always keep it in my wallet.
You also get 5x points on airfare purchases, 1x point on all purchases, a $200 annual airline fee credit, a $100 credit for Global Entry application (or renewal), free Hilton Honors Gold status, and $200 Uber discounts (Amex personal card).
There are no foreign transaction fees so you can use your card when traveling internationally. The $550 annual fee is easily offset by all the credits.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
You get a free Priority Pass Select membership with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Authorized users also get a free membership.
Pro-tip: There’s no fee or limit on how many guests you can bring to the lounge.
When you use your card to pay for travel or dining, you earn 3X points. On everything else, you earn one point per dollar spent.
You also get a yearly $300 travel credit which is automatically applied. No need to call or submit any paperwork.
Other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve include a $100 Global Entry application fee credit and rental car discounts from Avis, National Car Rental, and Silvercar. When you book a hotel with the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection you get free breakfast, in-room Wi-Fi, and other special perks.
You pay no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $550. With the $300 travel credit, it’s more like $250.
United Mileage Club Infinite Card
When flying on a Star Alliance flight, you get free access for your and a guest to any Star Alliance Business Class lounge worldwide.
Pro-tip: In Singapore, you can only get into the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Gold Lounge.
You earn 4 miles per dollar spent on United and 2 miles per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, including certain delivery services. You earn 1 mile on everything else.
This card gives you and a travel companion free first and second checked bags ($320 value). You also get Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle Elite status.
You get free breakfast, room upgrade, in-room Wi-Fi, and other perks when you book a hotel with the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
There are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $525.
Pro-tip: Save on annual fees: you get 2 free United Club passes from the United Explorer card
Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card
You get a free entry to the Delta Sky Club with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card.
Pro-tip: You’ll pay $39 per guest for up to two guests.
One nice benefit of these cards is the annual companion certificate. Your companion flies for free (including First Class) in the continental US when they travel with you.
Both cards give you 3 miles for every dollar spent on Delta purchases, 1 mile on other purchases, priority boarding, and a free checked bag.
The Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card participates in the OPEN Savings program. So you’ll save 3% to 10% on purchases at businesses like FedEx, Hertz, and OfficeMax.
There are no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee on these cards is $550.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard gets you free American Airlines Admirals Club membership ($650 value). You can invite your immediate family or two guests to the Club.
Pro-tip: Authorized users can get their own free membership
This card also offers priority boarding, a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions, and 2 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile on everything else.
You get $100 credit for Global Entry or TSAPreCheck and a 25% discount on inflight purchases.
Plus you can earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles when you spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year with the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. This is great if you fly a lot on American Airlines as I do.
There are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $450 which is offset by the Club membership and checked bag fee savings.
Like the Amex Platinum cards and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Citi Prestige Card gives you a free Priority Pass Select membership ($429 value).
Pro-tip: Your immediate family or two guests can join you for free in the lounge.
Other benefits of this card include a $250 yearly air travel credit and $100 reimbursement for Global Entry application/renewal.
But the most valuable perk is the 4th-night free hotel. When you stay four nights, you get the 4th night free. You only pay taxes and fees.
When using the Citi Prestige you earn 5x points on airline tickets and restaurants, 3x points on hotels, 2x points at restaurants, and 1 point on everything else.
There are no foreign transaction fees. You’ll pay a $495 annual fee but it’s offset by the travel benefits.
Another card that gives you a Priority Pass Select membership ($399 value) is the Ritz-Carlton card.
With the Ritz-Carlton card, you can bring your immediate family or two guests into the airport lounge.
You also get a $300 travel credit and $100 Global Entry credit. Plus you get Ritz Carlton Gold status your first year.
This card gives you 6x points at Ritz Carlton and Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x points on airline tickets, car rentals, and restaurants. You’ll earn 2 points on all other charges.
You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees and an annual fee of $450.
An airport lounge is a great place to relax before waiting for your flight. And it’s the best place to go if your flight is canceled, especially if you need to get on another flight.
You can purchase an airport lounge membership through programs like Priority Pass. But you might not have to. Because one or more of your credit cards may offer it for free.
Cards like the American Express Platinum: personal and business give you free entry to over 1,260 lounges worldwide. While cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve give you a free Priority Pass Select membership. It’s a good idea to check the benefits of your travel rewards cards.
Which is your favorite credit card for airport lounge access?
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of $200 (after spending $500 in the first three months).
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back at grocery stores the first 12 months (up to $12k), unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use your points to travel for free.
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