CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison and financial education website. This website is made possible through financial relationships with card issuers and some of the products and services mentioned on this site. Advertiser Disclosure†

Updated October 16, 2016

Credit Cards with Airport Lounge Access

Read more about Airline Status

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
This article contains references to products from our partners. We receive compensation if you apply or shop through links in our content. You help support CreditDonkey by reading our website and using our links. (read more)


No one likes waiting for their flight to board. Uncomfortable chairs, crowded terminals, overpriced dining options, dying phone with no outlet for charging... you get the point.

How would you like wait in an airport lounge? Where you can relax in plush chairs in a quiet setting, nibble on snacks, and browse the Internet?

Unfortunately, this luxury doesn't come cheap. Entry into an airport lounge can be as much as $60 per person. If you travel frequently, these fees add up. One way to beat these costs is to get the right travel rewards card that offers complimentary lounge access on top of its regular travel rewards program.

The right card for you depends on how often you travel and which airline you use. Cards with lounge access usually come with a hefty annual fee, but travelers who fly a lot often say it's their favorite perk.

THE BENEFITS OF AIRPORT LOUNGES

The Centurion Lounge
The Centurion Lounge © TravelingOtter (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Why would someone pay so much for a lounge pass or for a credit card with lounge access? Here's what you can get in a lounge:

  • A quiet setting: Instead of waiting with the crowd at the gate, you can rest in a more peaceful setting on comfortable chairs or couches.

  • A place to work: Need to get some work done before your flight? Airport lounges generally provide free Internet access and charging stations, and some even have printers and fax machines.

  • Food and drink: Lounges usually offer complimentary snacks, soft drinks, and even alcoholic beverages. The American Express Centurion lounges even offer premium drinks and food in partnership with local renowned chefs.

  • Help from airline reps: If you have a sudden change of plans or something else comes up, lounges often have a customer service rep from the airline who can help sort out your problem.

  • Showers: Some lounges have shower amenities where you can freshen up during a layover.

There are a number of lounge networks around the world, but we're focusing on Delta, American, and United - the three big U.S. carriers with lounge clubs. Each carrier has a different credit card partnership.

Take a look at which airline you fly most often to see which card is right for you.

IF YOU FLY DELTA AIRLINES

Delta Sky Club at Hartsfield-Jackson International
Delta Sky Club at Hartsfield-Jackson International © Delta News Hub (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Delta Sky Club lounges are in over 50 locations in most major U.S. airports and some international airports in major cities. The lounges usually offer light refreshments, Wi-Fi, and entertainment materials. Some even have free self-service bars and showers.

A one-day access pass would cost $50 and a one-year membership starts at $450. If you fly Delta often, you can receive complimentary access with these cards from American Express:

American Express Platinum / Business Platinum:
The Platinum Card® from American Express has a hefty annual fee of $450, but we recommend it as one of our favorite cards for travel perks.

Not only do you get access to Delta Sky Club lounges, you also get access to 4 other airport lounge networks, including:

  • Priority Pass Select: You get free Priority Pass membership (enrollment required), where you can access over 900 participating airport lounges worldwide - no matter what class or airline you fly.

  • Airspace Lounges in New York (JFK), Cleveland (CLE) and the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airports: Learn more at Airspace Lounge.

  • Centurion Lounges: You get unlimited access into these special American Express lounges, which offer complimentary gourmet food, signature cocktails and curated wines, high speed Wi-Fi, a computer bar, and more. Centurion Lounges can be found in Dallas (DFW), Las Vegas (LAS), New York LaGuardia (LGA), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA), and San Francisco (SFO). Learn more at The Centurion Lounge.

Amex Platinum lounge access is one of the most extensive we've seen on CreditDonkey. The 5 airport lounge networks combined give American Express Platinum holders access to over 1,000 airport lounges.

Aside from airport lounge access, you also get a laundry list of other travel perks that include: a $200 airline fee credit for incidentals from the selected airline of your choice, $100 credit every 5 years toward either Global Entry or TSA Pre, platinum concierge service, and complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi. Not to mention a generous introductory bonus.

Other travel benefits frequent travelers could enjoy include:

  • SPG Gold Status: Get 4pm late checkout (when available) at Starwood properties and room upgrades based on availability, choice of welcome gifts, and complimentary premium in-room Internet.

  • HHonors Gold Status (if you prefer Hilton properties instead): With this, you get the 5th night free on stays of 5 or more nights and late check out (when available). Some properties will also offer additional perks like complimentary snacks or room upgrade, if available.

  • Fine Hotels and Resorts Program: This is AMEX's luxury hotel booking program, where you can receive perks such as guaranteed 4pm checkout, complimentary breakfast, and room upgrades, if available.

  • The Hotel Collection: With eligible bookings of 2 or more nights, get a $75 credit on qualifying charges, such as dining, spa, and resort activities.

  • Car rental privileges: You can also enroll in Avis Preferred Club, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Emerald Club Executive memberships. You'll earn perks like car upgrades (if available).

If used correctly, AMEX Platinum's perks can outweigh the steep annual fee.

Do you own a business? There is also a business version of this card - The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. It also has a $450 annual fee and has similar travel perks, but comes with 10 Gogo in-flight Internet passes per year. You can also get 50% of the points back when you Pay with Points for a flight with your selected airline. The other major difference is the annual fee for additional cards - $175 each for the personal Platinum (up to 3) and $300 for Business Platinum.

Delta Reserve / Delta Reserve Business:
The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card get you access into Delta Sky Clubs, but unlike the AMEX Platinum, you don't get access into the other lounge networks. Instead, you get other travel perks such as a free checked bag on Delta flights for you and 8 travel companions (on the same reservation), priority boarding, companion certificate each year upon renewal, and 20% savings on in-flight eligible Delta purchases. Terms and limitations apply.

Delta: Pricing information from published website as of 10/16/2016.

IF YOU FLY AMERICAN AIRLINES

JFK Admirals Club
JFK Admirals Club © cote (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

American Airlines operates the Admirals Club network of lounges, available in over 80 locations in major airports around the world. Admirals Club lounges offer light snacks, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), Wi-Fi, and workspaces. Some special locations even have small gyms and showers.

A one-day pass costs $59, or $550 for an annual membership. These cards from Citi include Admirals Club membership:

  • Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard:
    The Citi AAdvantage Executive card allows you, plus two guests, access into Admiral Clubs. Authorized users also get complimentary lounge access. Other travel benefits include $100 credit every 5 years for Global Entry or TSA Pre application, priority check-in and early boarding, first checked bag free for you and 8 companions on American Airlines flights, 25% off on in-flight purchases with American Airlines, and premium concierge service.

    The annual fee is steep at $450, but if you mainly travel on American Airlines, the lounge access could make it very worthwhile, especially as it includes access for guests and authorized users as well.

    Citi AAdvantage: Pricing information from published website as of 10/16/2016.

  • Citi Prestige*:
    The Citi Prestige also comes with a $450 annual fee, but it has always been a top contender for travelers because of its complimentary access to Admirals Club. But this will no longer be one of the benefits as of July 23, 2017. Instead, it will feature access into Citi Proprietary Lounges (more information to come).

    Is this card still worth considering? It still has an attractive list of benefits, including: Priority Pass Select membership into hundreds of lounges around the world, $250 yearly Air Travel Credit for flight-related expenses, $100 credit every 5 year for Global Entry or TSA Pre application, complimentary night after a 4-night eligible stay at any hotel, and premium concierge service. But the loss of Admirals Club access may be a turn-off for American Airline fans.

    Citi Prestige: Pricing information from published website as of 10/16/2016.

IF YOU FLY UNITED AIRLINES

United Club
United Club © Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

United Airlines operates United Clubs lounges, which have over 45 locations. Most are in the United States in major airports, but there are a few international locations in Hong Kong (HKG), London Heathrow (LHR), Mexico City (MEX), and Tokyo Narita (NRT). Lounges offer light food and drinks as well as Wi-Fi, and some provide shower amenities and family rooms.

A one-time pass would cost you $59 or a one-year membership costs $550. However, if United is your airline of choice, there is one card that offers complimentary access.

  • United MileagePlus Club:
    The United MileagePlus Club card from Chase gets you membership into United Clubs. As United is part of Star Alliance, this card will also unlock access to participating Star Alliance lounges when you fly with other Star Alliance carriers, but the options are not as extensive.

    Other travel perks are more limited too, mainly just consisting of the 1st and 2nd bag checked for free for you and one companion, priority check-in, and early boarding. The real value of this card and its $450 annual fee is in the United Clubs membership. However, as most of these lounges are in the U.S., we'd say only consider it if you fly United often on domestic flights.

    United MileagePlus Club: Pricing information from published website as of 10/16/2016.

Is Lounge Access Worth It?

Airport lounges are considered to be a luxury travel feature, and so the credit cards offering access have luxury price tags to match. However, if you frequently use one of these three major airlines, you may find that the lounge access is a very worthwhile perk to justify the steep annual fee.

Luxury travel cards aren't so much focused on rewards as they are on perks.

To find the card best suited for you, consider which airline you use the most and which airports you visit the most. Make sure that the airports you frequent have the lounge network you want, or else you won't be getting much value out of the card.

The information for Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card, Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, Citi Prestige, United MileagePlus Club have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Promotion: American Express Platinum Lounge

American Express Platinum
Apply for The Platinum Card from American Express
American Express Platinum offers 40,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $3,000 on purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account. You earn 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. This is a charge card so you will have to pay your balance in full each month. There is a $450 annual fee.

This card includes several benefits for travelers: This card offers up to a $200 airline fee credit per year to cover baggage fees and more at your selected qualifying airline. This card gives you access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select. There is no foreign transaction fees. This card also gives you access to Platinum Card® Concierge. You can enroll to get complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status and complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest® Gold Status. Terms and limitations apply.

David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to David R at davidr@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

More Articles in Reviews

Airline Status Cards


Comments about Credit Cards with Airport Lounge Access

  • Jacky Smith from Albay
    on January 10, 2013 7:47 AM said:

    A well-needed get away with airport lounge access on top of that makes for a winning combination. Don't stress yourself out before you even arrive at your destination, stay on top of things, put your feet up and keep relaxed in an airport lounge.

Comments may be filtered for language. CreditDonkey makes no guarantee of comments' factual accuracy. These responses are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. Visitors may report inappropriate content by clicking the Contact Us link.

Name (required)
Email (required; won't be published)
Website (optional)


Gold Delta SkyMiles Review

There are many airline credit cards to choose from, so how do you decide if the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is right for you? Read this review before you apply.

    Airline Rewards

    The best airline credit card racks up miles fast, has reasonable fees, and amazing rewards.

    Travel Rewards

    Looking for a new travel credit card?

    Credit Card Deals

    Signing up for a card with a sign-up bonus or an introductory offer can be a great way to get a head start on earning rewards or to get a handle on your debt.

    Credit Card Rewards

    So you've decided you want to earn rewards for your spending but aren’t sure how to pick the right card?

    American Express Platinum vs Visa Black vs Citi Prestige

    Congratulations you, the frequent traveler, on graduating to the next level of travel rewards cards. Since airports have basically become your second home, you’ve decided to get the most out of them by joining the elite club of premium cardholders. These cards promise plenty of perks, as long as you’re willing to pay hundreds of dollars a year in annual fees. Yes, being a premium cardholder will cost you, but if you pick the right card, then the benefits will be worth it.
    Credit Card Promotions

    American Express Credit Card Offers

    American Express now offer promotions for new credit card applicants. But how do you pick which deal is right for you? Read this in-depth 2016 guide.

    Earn Airline Miles Without Flying

    Do you want to travel more? There is an airline miles trick that airlines do not want you to know.

    23 Ways to Redeem AMEX Membership Rewards

    There are many ways to redeem American Express Membership Rewards points, so how do you decide? Read on for a list of transfer ideas to inspire you.

    American Express Membership Rewards: 2016 Value Review

    Earn and use American Express Membership Rewards wisely to get more mileage out of your card.

    Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Amex Platinum: Are the Rewards and Benefits Worth the Fee?

    Prestigious credit cards show the true power of plastic through benefits and generous reward programs. Read on for a comparison of Amex Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Preferred to see which one is better.

    AMEX Premier Rewards Gold vs Platinum: Rewards vs Benefits

    They come with prestige and a list of perks, but the differences between the Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Platinum Card are more stark than just two metallic colors. We took a look a deep look at these two cards from American Express, a CreditDonkey advertiser, so you can make sense of the differences and decide which one is right for you.
    W Hong Kong: We love SPG

    SPG Gold: How to Get SPG Gold Status

    While you could easily visit a travel site and book the cheapest room, that strategy could actually cost you money. You could be better off taking advantage of the many rewards programs offered by most major hotel chains. And of those programs, the Starwood Preferred Guest might just be the best of the bunch.
More Articles in Reviews







About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.