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The Two Best Credit Cards for Free Airport Lounge Access

Centurion Lounge Check-In

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There is nothing that will make travel and the time you spend in the airport more comfortable than airport lounge access. From the free food and drinks, more comfortable seating, high-speed wifi, and access to showers, you’ll wonder why you’ve waited so long.

In this post, we will break down our two favorite cards that will get you free airport lounge access both domestically and around the world.

 

The Platinum Card from American Express

The American Express Platinum Card is without question the top dog when it comes to airport lounge access. Just for holding the 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 (lead photo). You are allowed to bring in up to two guests on each visit. There are currently Centurion lounges in Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL), New York (LGA) & Hong Kong (HKG). Additionally, Amex is opening lounges in Denver (DEN), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) in 2019. If you frequent any of these airports with any regularity, the Platinum card is a no-brainer for this 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 will be losing the restaurant benefit.

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. Delta Sky Club lounge access is why I think the Platinum card is the best card for Delta Flyers.

The Escape Lounge: The Escape Lounge is a part of the Amex Global Lounge collection and is quickly becoming one of my favorite airport lounges. It offers a great alternative to the Delta Sky Club at 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) and Reno-Tahoe (RNO).

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 3 months
  • 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. You will receive $15 each month and $35 in December
  • Annual Fee: $550

Free Airport Lounge Access

 

Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express

 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase rolled out the Chase Sapphire Reserve card at the end of 2016 and it was an immediate hit. Among many other premium benefits, the card offers Priority Pass Lounge Access.

As mentioned above 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 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 3 months
  • 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel & dining worldwide after using the full $300 travel credit
  • Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Annual Fee: $450

 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Our Analysis

So which one should you choose? That answer will be different for everybody. Both cards earn two of our favorite flexible points currencies in American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Based on a number of factors, including location, airline status, etc. travelers will weigh these programs differently.

I hold both of these cards as I can easily get more than enough value out of them to justify the annual fees. However, I realize that won’t be the case for everybody.

Make sure to read our post comparing 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.

 

Bottom Line

If you spend a lot of time in airports one of these two cards will drastically improve your experience and make your travels more comfortable.  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.

 

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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.

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