Best Credit Cards for Free Airport Lounge Access

Best Credit Cards for Free Airport Lounge Access


Which credit cards will get you free airport lounge access? To be honest, the airport lounges that are most worth gaining access to are international first class lounges, such as Lufthansa First Class Lounges, Qatar's Premium Terminal, Cathay Pacific's First Class and Business Class Lounges in Hong Kong, British Airways Concorde Room, the Etihad First Class Lounge, etc. Just book a first class or business class award ticket to gain access (and if you need assistance, check out my Award Booking Service).

But what about for domestic trips, when all you want is to have a slightly upgraded airport experience while waiting for your flight, with easy access to power outlets, WiFi and some snacks and drinks? If you travel a lot domestically, then holding one of the credit cards below could come in handy for airport lounge access.


1. AMEX Platinum Card: Priority Pass Select

While the AMEX Platinum Card's Priority Pass Select airport lounge club membership no longer includes access to the United Club, Priority Pass Select does include access to over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide, including American Airlines Admirals Clubs, Delta Sky Clubs, and US Airways Clubs.

For American Admirals Clubs and Delta Sky Clubs you need to present your AMEX Platinum card, ID and ticket valid for same day travel on the respective airlines. For the US Airways Clubs, you do not need a same day ticket on US Airways to use the lounge.

In addition to the AMEX Platinum cardholder, the cardholder's spouse and children under age 21, or up to two traveling companions, may be admitted. All tickets (except for US Airways clubs and independent airport lounges) must be on the club's corresponding airline.


2. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card: Lounge Club Select

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card comes with Lounge Club Select, which is a subset of Priority Pass. It includes ~350 independent airline lounges worldwide, so it does NOT include US Airlines' lounges, such as American Admirals Clubs, Delta Sky Clubs and US Airways Clubs. This makes it a lot less useful in the U.S., although many of the independent international airport lounges are the same as in Priority Pass. 

The cardmember and spouse are admitted free of charge; some lounges may also permit a non-spouse guest.


3. United Club Card: United Club Lounge Access

If you fly United often domestically, it could be worth getting the United Club Card as it grants access to the United Club Card. That's because, even if you're a United elite or hold Star Alliance Gold status, you're only admitted to the United Club when you also hold a same day international ticket on a Star Alliance carrier.

If you're a United Club cardholder, you, your spouse and children under 21 are admitted to the United Club.


4. Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard: Admirals Club Lounge Access

The Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard, which I highlighted in Citi Executive 60,000 Card: Buy AA Miles at Less Than 1 Cent Each includes access to American Admirals Clubs.

Access is for the Citi Executive AAdvantage cardholder and immediate family, or up to two traveling guests traveling with you.

5. United MileagePlus Explorer: 2 Free United Club Passes

While the main reason to get the United MileagePlus Explorer is for the up to 55,000 United miles bonus, a nice side benefit is receiving 2 complimentary United Club passes. Note that each pass is only good for one person, so even if you have a small child, you'll have to use a pass for him or her.

What are your favorite credit cards for getting free airport lounge access?

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