We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Do you want the secret for how to get into airport lounges?
Airport lounges can save you money and make your airport experience more enjoyable. Because many lounges have comfy seats, free Wi-Fi, drinks (including alcohol), and sometimes even proper meals!
Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access
- Credit Card With Access to the Most Lounges: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
- Best Overall Travel Credit Card With Lounge Access: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best Credit Card for United Airlines Flights: United MileagePlus® Club Card
- Best Credit Card for Folks Who Want to Try Airport Lounges: United Explorer Card
To access most airport lounges, you’ll either need to:
- Have elite status with an airline
- Have a Business or First Class ticket
- Purchase a day pass
- Have a super amazing credit card that gives you free airport lounge access
Several cards, like The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and Chase Sapphire Reserve, come with memberships that give you access to 1,200+ lounges around the world! So you’ll have a good chance of having access to a lounge, no matter which airport you’re in.
I’ll give you a review of each of the top cards for airport lounge access!
|Best Cards for Airport Lounge Access||Accessible Lounges & Guest Policy||Annual Fee||Review|
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN||- Centurion Lounge - 2 guests|
- Priority Pass - 2 guests
- Airspace Lounge - 2 guests
- Delta Sky Club Lounge - Only accessible with same-day Delta boarding pass - Up to 2 guests for $29 each
- Escape Lounge - 2 guests
|$450||My Review of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||- Priority Pass - 2 guests||$450||Chase Sapphire Reserve Review|
|Chase United Club Card||- United Airlines Club Lounge - 2 guests OR 1 adult and dependent children under age 21|
- Star Alliance Lounge - Only accessible when flying Star Alliance airline - 1 guest
|$450||Chase United MileagePlus Club Review|
Best Cards for Airport Lounges
1. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, along with the other AMEX Platinum cards, has the most comprehensive lounge access of all. Folks who have the AMEX Business Platinum will get membership to the AMEX Global Lounge Collection, which includes:
- The Centurion Lounge network
- The International American Express Lounges
- Delta Sky Club (when you’re flying Delta that day)
- Priority Pass Select lounges
- Airspace Lounge
- Escape Lounge
- Plaza Premium Lounge
You’ll find most of these programs have the bulk of their lounges outside of the US. So if you’re an international traveler, you’ll REALLY get good use from this card.
But depending on which airports you regularly visit, this could be an excellent option for domestic flights, too. That’s because the Centurion Lounge network has locations in many US airports, including:
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
- Denver (DEN) – coming soon
- Houston Intercontinental (IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – coming soon
- New York-La Guardia (LGA)
- New York (JFK) – coming soon
- Miami (MIA)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
Lots of folks consider Centurion Lounges to be the best lounges in the US. That’s because they offer tasty buffet-style meals, premium alcoholic beverages, showers, conference spaces, and speedy Wi-Fi. If you find yourself in these airports, your AMEX Business Platinum card is worth more than gold. You’ll also get to bring 2 guests into the lounge with you for free.
Plus, whenever you have a same-day Delta flight, you’ll have access to Delta lounges, too! And there are 50 Delta lounges in North America alone.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll benefit from this card, head to the AMEX Global Lounge Collection, and type the airports you travel to!
Is This Card Worth Opening?
- 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months
- An extra 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months
AMEX Membership Rewards points are a great way to get Big Travel with Small Money. For example, you can fly round-trip from the West Coast to Hawaii in coach by transferring 24,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines! So this 75,000-point welcome offer is enough for 3 round-trip tickets to Hawaii (24,000 points per round-trip X 3 tickets = 72,000 points)
The card also has solid ongoing benefits, like:
- 5X AMEX Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
- Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year on a selected airline for incidentals such as baggage fees, lounge day passes, & more
- 1.5X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1, on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more
- Statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) with the Card
- Terms apply
The AMEX Business Platinum has a $450 annual fee. But you can easily offset that with the other benefits of the card. The lounge benefit alone is worth MUCH more than that, if you use it often. For example, a Priority Pass Select membership is worth $400+ per year. And the money you’ll save on food and drinks can add up quickly, too!
If you fly Delta often, or if you travel to airports that have a Centurion Lounge, this is the card for you.
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
The best Priority Pass membership you can purchase costs $399 per year, and gives you unlimited access to all 1,200+ Priority Pass lounges around the world. But you’ll have to pay $27 per guest.
The membership that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you and an unlimited amount of guests (subject to lounge capacity) access to Priority Pass lounges worldwide. So if you travel with a large family, you won’t have to shell out $27 per person!
There are rumored changes coming to this guest policy in August 2018. Chase may restrict you to bringing a maximum of 2 guests.
Priority Pass lounges are not plentiful in the US. You won’t find them in smaller airports. But if you travel to hub airports, you’ll get a good use from Priority Pass membership.
My home airport is Dayton, which does NOT have a Priority Pass lounge. The nearby Cincinnati airport does have a lounge, but it’s extremely small, with very limited food options.
If I didn’t often travel internationally and to hub airports, the lounge access would NOT be meaningful to me. But just last year I used Priority pass 5+ times in 1 trip! I enjoyed lounges in Miami, Trinidad, Panama, and Lima. And each time I brought 2 guests!
Is This Card Worth Opening?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best travel credit cards out there. It comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which is worth $750 in travel. But you can get a lot more value from the points by transferring them to valuable travel partners.
For example, you can transfer 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for 2 nights at a 5-star hotel, like the Park Hyatt Vienna. Rooms here can easily sell for $500+ per night! That would give you ~$1,000 in value from this sign-up bonus.
The card also comes with:
- 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel & dining worldwide
- 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point on all other purchases
- Up to $300 annual credit every cardmember anniversary for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry
- NO foreign transaction fees
- Primary Rental Car Insurance
The card comes with a $450 annual fee. But because of the $300 annual credit , you’re effectively paying a $150 annual fee ($450 annual fee – $300 travel credit). So you’re paying $150 per year for this card’s other valuable benefits, like primary rental car insurance, 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel, and an amazing airport lounge membership!
Folks who fly internationally will get the best use from the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s lounge access benefit. Because of the 1,200+ lounges you have access to, few of them are in the US. However, if you travel to hub airports, like Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc., you’ll certainly benefit from this card’s lounge access perk.
Check here to see which airports have Priority Pass lounges, and decide whether your travel habits will benefit from it!
3. Chase United MileagePlus Club Card
If you fly United Airlines often, the Chase United Club card might be the best option for you. You’ll get access to United Airlines lounges whenever you have a same-day boarding pass. However, you will NOT have access to United Airlines Polaris lounges.
If you live near a United Airlines hub, like San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, or Washington, DC, you’ll have plenty of lounges to choose from. You’ll also have access to any Star Alliance Business Class lounge, which means you’ll have a lot of options when traveling abroad.
For example, if you’re traveling to London, you’ll have access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Lufthansa Business Lounge, and Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, in addition to the United Club Lounge.
To see which Star Alliance lounges you can visit, you can search here, and filter your results by “Paid Membership Card“.
Is This Card Worth Opening?
The Chase United Club comes with 50,000 United Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You’ll also get:
- 2X United Airlines miles per $1 on tickets purchased from United
- 1.5X United Airlines miles per $1 on all other eligible purchases
- 1st and 2nd bags checked free when you pay for your ticket with the card (save up to $240 per round-trip flight)
- NO close-in booking fees on United Airlines award tickets
- Hyatt Discoverist elite status when you register (bonus points, late check-out)
- Hertz President’s Circle elite status when you register (upgrades, bonus points)
You can do a lot with 50,000 United Airlines miles! For example, you could book 2 round-trip coach flights between the East Coast and Portland. So you and a travel partner can visit the stunning Pacific Northwest for practically free!
This card has a $450 annual fee. But a United Club membership costs $550 per year (or $450 if you have Premier 1K elite status). So the lounge access benefit alone makes up for this card’s annual fee.
However, I don’t think the card offers enough for the annual fee (unless you value Hertz elite status and low-level Hyatt elite status). I personally wouldn’t visit United Airlines lounges enough to justify paying this card’s $450 annual fee. I get more use from a card that comes with Priority Pass.
The information for the United MileagePlus® Club Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you frequent United Airlines hubs, the Chase United Club card’s lounge access will come in handy for you. But keep in mind that you can usually find Priority Pass lounges at major airports where you’ll find United Airlines lounges (though there are several airports where this is NOT the case, like Austin, Fort Lauderdale, and San Diego).
You’ll also have access to lots of Star Alliance lounges, which is helpful when you’re traveling internationally.
4. United℠ Explorer Card
Each lounge pass is valid for 1 admission. So if you and your travel partner want to try out an airport lounge, this is a cheap way to do it!
All other cards on this list have a $450 annual fee. Lots of folks might not want to pay that kind of money before experiencing what lounges are like. The Chase United Explorer has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year. So you’ll essentially get 2 free passes (and a bunch of other cool benefits)!
Is This Card Worth Opening?
When you sign-up for the Chase United Explorer, you’ll earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That’s enough for a round-trip coach flight from the US to Colombia!
The card also comes with:
- 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend at restaurants, hotel stays, and United Airlines
- 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100)
- 25% back on United Airlines in-flight purchases (food, Wi-Fi, etc.)
- Free first checked bag for the cardholder and 1 companion – but you MUST use your card to pay for your ticket
- Priority boarding
- Access to an increased number of award seats
- NO foreign transaction fees
If you fly United Airlines, this card is definitely worth the annual fee. One unique benefit is its access to an increased number of award seats. This perk has helped me tremendously in the past, when booking flights to South Africa and Europe.
If you’re timid to dive head-first into an airport lounge membership, try them for free by opening the Chase United Explorer card. It’s a great card to have anyway, because of benefits like free checked bags on United Airlines (when you pay with your card), increased available award seats, and a healthy sign-up bonus.
The best credit cards offering airport lounge access are:
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN – Credit Card With Access to the Most Lounges
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Best Overall Travel Credit Card With Lounge Access
- Chase United Club Card – Best Credit Card for United Airlines Flights
- United Explorer Card – Best Credit Card for Folks Who Want to Try Airport Lounges
If you want the most comprehensive lounge access, the AMEX Business Platinum is the no-brainer choice. Especially if you visit airports that have top-notch Centurion Lounges. Or if you fly Delta regularly.
Let me know your favorite card for getting airport lounge access!