2022’s Best Credit Cards That Provide Airport Lounge Access

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If you travel often and want to make life a bit more comfortable, consider getting a credit card with airport lounge access. Airport lounges have a variety of perks to help you relax and prepare for flights or unwind after a long haul.

There are many different lounge brands around the world, offering different amenities and levels of service. You’ll typically have a quiet space to relax or work, while some lounges also provide complimentary food and drinks or shower facilities.

We’ve collected all the credit cards that offer some type of airport lounge access, starting with the most valuable card offers in each category, followed by less valuable options.

What’s the Best Credit Card for Airport Lounge Access?

The best credit cards for airport lounge access are, without a doubt, this pair of American Express cards:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Most cards with lounge memberships only provide entry to one lounge brand, like Priority Pass; but these cards come with Amex’s Global Lounge Collection, which gives you access to a variety of lounge brands:

  • Priority PassLounges 
  • The Centurion® Network (includes Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges – The Centurion® Studio Partner)
  • International American Express Lounges
  • Delta Sky Club®
  • Lufthansa Business Lounges
  • Plaza Premium Lounges

Which Card Offers Lounge Access at the Lowest Annual Fee?

The least expensive card we’ve found that offers some form of complimentary, consistent airport lounge access is the UNFCU® Elite Visa® card.

For a $50 annual fee, it provides five complimentary visits to Priority Pass™ lounges every year. After that, each visit will cost $32 per person.

There aren’t really any other great perks with the UNFCU® Elite Visa®. And it only earns 2X points per dollar at grocery stores and restaurants. But if you want an inexpensive credit card to get into airport lounges, this $50 offer will be your cheapest option.

There’s also one other credit card without an annual fee that can provide lounge access, but with some restrictions. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students can provide a one-year Priority Pass Select membership for spending $1,000 in a specified period of time, but only some cardholders will get this offer. There are no free lounge visits included; however, each visit will cost $32 per person.

What Are Priority Pass Lounges and Which Credit Cards Provide Access?

Priority Pass is a network of over 1,200 lounges around the world, and it’s the most common lounge brand you’ll find associated with credit cards. Many cards provide a “Priority Pass Select” membership, but the terms of your membership (like entry fees) will depend on your specific card.

In most cases, your Priority Pass Select membership includes not just lounges but airport restaurant credits, too. You’ll typically get around $28 – $30 at participating restaurants, and the credit usually applies to one guest as well. But take note that American Express cards with Priority Pass memberships don’t come with restaurant credits.

You typically need to activate your Priority Pass membership through your credit card account online, then you’ll get your member card. The best credit cards with Priority Pass Select memberships include:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

What Are Centurion® Lounges and Which Credit Cards Provide Access?

American Express Centurion Lounges are high-end lounges located mostly in the U.S., providing a respite for weary travelers who want to relax in comfort.

With menus designed by celebrity chefs, workspaces, showers and even complimentary spa treatments, Centurion Lounges are a step above your typical airport lounge. There’s also a Centurion Suite at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which you can access with your card, and other pop-up lounges can sometimes be found at big events.

The following cards provide this coveted access to Centurion Lounges:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Centurion® card from American Express
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express card

How Do I Use a Credit Card to Access Airport Lounges?

Airport lounge access is available with many travel credit cards. Some cards provide as many free visits as you’d like. Others are more limited and will charge you and your guests a fee for every visit. Most are somewhere in between, offering a certain number of free day passes before making you pay.

To enter an airport lounge you’ll usually need to show a same-day boarding pass. In most cases, you’ll also need to show the card that provides access and a valid ID.

To enter airline-specific lounges, like Delta Sky Clubs®, you’ll typically need a same-day boarding pass for that airline.

In many cases, depending on the card, authorized users are granted the same lounge access as the primary cardholder.

Best for: Wide-Ranging Lounge Access

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best card for airport lounge access, providing cardholders with the American Express Global Lounge Collection®.

That includes the fairly common Priority Pass Select membership, along with access to the more exclusive Amex Centurion Lounges, plus Delta Sky Clubs® and a variety of others.

There’s a business version of this with the same lounge access, which is the runner-up here, along with the Centurion® card (but it’s invite only).

Runner-Up: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers the same excellent airport lounge access as the consumer Platinum Card®. At $695, this card isn’t cheap, but it provides some business-specific perks and features that aren’t available with the consumer counterpart.

Authorized users cost $300 each for the Business Platinum Card®, and they have the same lounge access for the most part. In some cases, authorized users may be limited, however. If you’re planning to use an authorized user card to get into a lounge you’ve never been to before, it might be wise to call and check before you go.

Best for: Premium Travel Credit Card

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of our favorite travel credit cards. It boasts a strong rewards program that’ll serve you well for domestic or foreign trips, whether you’re booking flights or dining out.

Along with your Priority Pass access, you’ll have a nice travel credit to help knock down the annual fee, plus an airport security credit and excellent travel insurance perks.

Runners-up

  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
  • City National Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card
  • HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® credit card

Best for: Capital One Lounges

  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card comes with complimentary access to the new Capital One Travel lounges. There aren’t many Capital One lounges yet, but you’ll also get access to the wide selection of Priority Pass airport lounges.

There are quite a few useful benefits to offset the annual fee, including an annual travel credit, bonus miles and fee credits for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck®.

Best for: Unlimited Priority Pass Guests

  • Mastercard® Black Card

The Mastercard® Black Card is expensive for what you get, and we wouldn’t typically recommend it, but it has one standout feature that sets it apart: It allows for unlimited guests at Priority Pass lounges. There are a few cards that allow for unlimited guests, and this is probably the easiest to get. 

The only other luxury card that provides this option has quite the annual fee and is an even harder pill to swallow – the City National Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card, It isn’t always available and requires you to be a City National Bank client (but it actually provides two full Priority Pass memberships!).

Unlike most cards, you don’t have to manually enroll in Priority Pass Select when you get either the Mastercard® Black Card or Mastercard® Gold Card; you’ll be automatically enrolled after you’re approved.

Authorized users cost $195 each, and they can use this lounge benefit as well.

Runners-up

  • Mastercard® Gold Card
  • City National Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card

Best for: Low Annual Fee Lounge Access

  • UNFCU® Elite Visa® Card

This card provides consistent Priority Pass lounge access at the lowest annual fee, though you’ll only get a handful of free visits per year. Some cards without annual fees can provide access through bonus offers, and you’ll find them in the runners-up here, but you’ll actually end up paying more for a more expensive lounge deal with them.

To get the UNFCU® Elite Visa® Card, you’ll need to be a UNFCU member. Employees of the United Nations are eligible to join the UNFCU, along with members of their families and some other individuals.

If you don’t meet the criteria, you can join the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) for $25. Then you’ll be eligible to join the UNFCU.

Runners-up

  • PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Best for: LoungeBuddy Access

  • American Express® Green Card

The American Express® Green Card has been newly upgraded and now includes credits with a popular lounge brand aggregator: LoungeBuddy.

Cardholders get $100 in annual credits to spend with LoungeBuddy, and that can get you into a variety of different lounges, from wide-ranging access brands like Priority Pass and DragonPass to airline-specific brands like Delta Sky Club® and Southwest Airlines Lounges.

A lot of cards provide a Priority Pass Select membership, but if you’re not enamored with those lounges you might want to check out what LoungeBuddy has to offer.

Your $100 in credits will apply to purchases of LoungeBuddy access made through the LoungeBuddy website or app. The credits will arrive two to four weeks after making purchases.

Depending on the lounge brands you want to enter, $100 could get you two to three visits per year or perhaps more. LoungeBuddy brands include Priority Pass, DragonPass, Delta Sky Club®, United Club Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge and more.

Purchases made by authorized users are eligible for the credits, but only $100 in credits in total will be available for any card account per calendar year.

Best for: Hilton Travelers

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Aspire is your premium Hilton credit card option, with a bevy of perks to help make your stays a bit cheaper and more pleasant. These include the highest elite hotel status, over $500 in annual credits, and at least one free weekend night per year.

You’ll enjoy unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges, but, since this is an Amex card, you won’t get any Priority Pass restaurant credits – an unfortunate update to the program.

Runners-up

  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Best for: Marriott Bonvoy Travelers

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card

The Brilliant card is one of the better premium hotel cards, with plenty of valuable credits and features to help offset its annual fee. There are a few other Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, but this is the only one with any kind of airport lounge access.

Like the Platinum and Hilton Aspire above, this is an Amex card, so you won’t get any restaurant credits to go along with your lounging.

Best for: Delta Sky Club® Access

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a premium card for traveling with Delta airlines, with a sizable annual fee.

Like most other airline cards, you’ll earn some rewards but most of the value comes from the extra benefits, like free checked bags, priority boarding and annual companion passes. Cardholders receive complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs® and Centurion Lounges, which helps make this card worth the fee.

Runners-up

  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

Best for: United Club Access

  • United Club℠ Infinite Card

The United Club℠ Infinite Card is one of several co-branded United cards. It’s a premium travel card designed for United devotees, but its perks include some decent hotel benefits as well.

This card can get you into the United Club for free every time you fly, but a different United card may be a better fit if you don’t fly as much or need to visit a lounge every trip. You’ll find some less expensive options in the runners-up, but those cards charge for every lounge visit.

Runners-up

  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • United Club℠ Business Card
  • United℠ Business Card

Best for: Lufthansa Business Lounge Access

  • Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®

The Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® is made for flying with the German airline Lufthansa and provides two free annual visits to its business lounges.

Its fee is $89 (waived for Senator and HON Circle Members), and it lacks some of the features you typically find on airline cards, like free checked bags and advance boarding. But it does come with an annual companion certificate – a rare find on a card at this level that could prove quite valuable.

Your first vouchers will be sent after the account is first used for a purchase. Every year after that, vouchers will be sent 45 days after payment of the annual fee. Vouchers may take four to six weeks to arrive after qualifications have been met.

Authorized users are free with this card, but they don’t get their own lounge vouchers. Only the primary cardholder will get the two vouchers per year.

Best for: Korean Air Airport Lounge Access

  • SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card

The SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card is affiliated with Korean Air and provides two free annual visits to Korean Air Airport Lounges.

This is a pretty simple card overall, without many airline perks beyond lounge access. But the annual fee is smaller than your typical airline card, so if Korean Air often finds its way onto your itinerary it could help you earn more miles more quickly.

You’ll receive your access coupons 8 to 10 weeks after paying the annual fee.

Authorized users for this card are free, but you won’t get any extra access coupons. Only two coupons are provided per account per year.

Runner-up

  • SKYPASS Visa® Business Card

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