There is nothing that will make travel – and long waits at the airport – more comfortable than airport lounge access. From the free food and drinks, more comfortable seating, high-speed Wi-Fi, and access to showers, you’ll wonder why you’ve waited so long.
Stop pining after travelers who get to spend their layovers in the lounge and join them. While there are many ways to access airport lounges, the best way is to pick up one of several credit cards with lounge access.
These are the best options to get into airport lounges – domestically and around the world.
The Platinum Card from American Express
The American Express Platinum Card is without question the top dog of credit cards with lounge access. No card will get you into more lounges than the Platinum Card.
Just for holding this credit card, you get access to the following lounges:
Amex Centurion Lounges: These are American Expresses flagship lounges and can only be accessed by Amex Platinum cardholders. You are allowed to bring in up to two guests on each visit. There are currently Centurion lounges in Seattle (SEA), Dallas (DFW), San Francisco (SFO), Las Vegas (LAS), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL), New York City-LaGuardia (LGA), and Hong Kong (HKG).
And more are on the way! Amex is opening Centurion lounges in Denver (DEN), New York City (JFK), Phoenix (PHX), Charlotte (CLT), Los Angeles (LAX), and even London-Heathrow (LHR) over the coming months.
These lounges all have great free meals, an excellent cocktail list, and many other amenities. If you travel through these airports at all, the Platinum card can be a no-brainer for that reason alone.
Priority Pass: The Platinum Card from American Express also offers Priority Pass Select membership. If you are not familiar with Priority Pass, it is a network of airport lounges all over the world that are typically not affiliated with any airline. Just for holding the Platinum card, you will get free membership and be able to bring in up to two guests with you on each visit. However, starting on August 1, 2019, Priority Pass memberships issued from American Express cards lost the restaurant benefit. This allowed you to get free meals at a growing list of Priority Pass airport restaurants.
Delta Sky Clubs: If you often fly Delta, the Platinum Card from American Express is a no-brainer. Just for holding the card, you will receive complimentary access to any Delta Sky Club when you are flying Delta. You will not receive any free guesting privileges with this lounge access, but you will be able to bring guests in with you for a reduced rate of $29. Delta Sky Club lounge access is one of the big reasons why I think the Platinum card is the best card for Delta Flyers.
The Escape Lounge: Escape Lounges is a part of the Amex Global Lounge collection and is quickly becoming one of my favorite airport lounges. It’s a great alternative to the Delta Sky Club at our home airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). Like Priority Pass, you will be able to bring in up to two guests with you on each visit. There are also domestic lounges at Oakland (OAK), Reno-Tahoe (RNO), Sacramento (SMF), Cincinnati (CVG), and others.
While the Amex Platinum card does carry an annual fee of $550, you can easily make up for that with all of the benefits it provides.
- Welcome Offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months (but check to see if you can get 100,000 points via the CardMatch tool!)
- 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent directly with airlines or at amextravel.com
- Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
- $200 Annual Airline Credit
- Up to $200 in Annual Uber Credits: Up to $15 each month (and up to $35 in December)
- Annual Fee: $550
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express
The Chase Sapphire Reserve
As we spelled out with the Amex Platinum card, Priority Pass is a network of airport lounges all over the world that are typically not affiliated with any airline. Just for holding the Sapphire Reserve card, you will get free membership and be able to bring in up to two guests with you on each visit an unlimited number of times each year. Priority Pass memberships issued from the Chase Sapphire Reserve will even allow you to eat at a growing list of airport restaurants at no cost.
On top of the free airport lounge access, the card earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points for all travel expenses after using the full $300 travel credit (airfare, hotels, parking, Uber, etc.). It comes with a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and many other premium benefits.
- Welcome Offer of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months
- 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel & dining worldwide after using the full $300 travel credit
- 10x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent at Lyft
- Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
- $60 Annual DoorDash food delivery credit
- Complimentary Lyft Pink Membership
- $300 annual travel credit
- Annual Fee: $550
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Which Card is Best?
There are other cards out there that will get you into airport lounges. But these two are the clearly the best of the bunch.
Some top-tier airline co-branded credit cards like the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card will get you into their own lounges. But then you’re tied to that one airline, often paying the same hefty annual fee as one of these cards that will open far more lounge doors.
But which one should you choose: The Platinum or Reserve card? The answer will be different for everybody. Both cards earn two of our favorite flexible points currencies: American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Travelers should weigh these cards based on a number of factors, including location, airline status, future travel plans, and more.
There’s no denying that the American Express Platinum Card is the most powerful among the credit cards with lounge access. If that’s your primary consideration for one of these top-tier cards, it’s the clear winner. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve has other advantages like a lower annual fee and an easy-to-use travel credit that makes it even cheaper.
Make sure to compare both the Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum Card. We put these cards head to head in what we call our Premium Card Showdown to help you make the decision.
If you spend a lot of time in airports, one of these two credit cards with lounge access will drastically improve your experience. Whether you value Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards (or both), holding one of these two credit cards can help you get the most out of your next trip through the airport.
Lead Photo credit of American Express
Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.