It's official: Chase is officially opening its first Sapphire Lounge in the U.S. next week when the doors to its long-awaited space in Boston (BOS) swing open. And now we finally know who can get into the lounge – and, more importantly, who can't.
The bank behind the ultra-popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been working on getting into the airport lounge game for almost two years, planning a roster of 10 lounges and counting. But all the while, Chase has stayed tight-lipped about how travelers could get into these lounges once they open.
Surely top-paying Reserve cardholders can get in free, but what about their guests? Will travelers with the cheaper Sapphire Preferred Card have a way to get in? Or how about travelers who have Priority Pass lounge access from other non-Chase cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card? And will be there day passes for sale for everyone else?
The first-ever Chase Sapphire Lounge actually opened over in Hong Kong last fall, and entry is a free-for-all: A Priority Pass membership from any premium travel card will get you in the door, be it from Chase … or Amex … or Capital One or other banks. Copying that approach here in the states would certainly be an overcrowded disaster.
As the stunning new lounge in Boston prepares to open next week on May 16, we finally have some answers. Chase is doing things differently for its U.S. locations.
- How to Get Into Chase Sapphire Lounges
- Time Limits & Other Rules at Chase Sapphire Lounges
How to Get Into Chase Sapphire Lounges
Sapphire Reserve Cardholders Get In Free
Want to get in for free any time you head to a Chase Sapphire Lounge? Whether you go to the new outpost in Boston (BOS) or a future location in the U.S., only one card will do it: the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Sapphire Reserve cardholders get unlimited complimentary access to the Sapphire Lounges. They will also have the ability to bring up to two guests with them on each visit free of charge. Authorized users on the Reserve (which cost an extra $75 a year per card) should also get their own access and guests, too.
One small hitch: It's not the Reserve that gets you in but the Priority Pass membership you get from your Reserve card that gets you access. Just be sure to activate that account and you should be set.
Carving out special access for their top-paying cardholders was the entire point, a top Chase official said.
“Making sure Chase Sapphire Reserve customers have a priority entrance was key to the strategy. They will always have access to the lounge,” Dana Pouwels, Chase's Sapphire Lounge general manager and head of Chase partnerships, said in an interview with Thrifty Traveler.
Learn more about the *chase sapphire reserve*.
The Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $550, but with benefits like Chase Sapphire Lounge access, Priority Pass Select lounge access (including Priority Pass restaurants), up to a $300 annual travel credit, and many other premium benefits, it can easily be worth it.
Priority Pass Members Get One Free Visit Annually
You'll get one free visit to the Chase Sapphire Lounges (including upcoming U.S. locations) each calendar year. That's one complimentary visit across the entire network of Chase lounges – not a free pass into each of them. And if you're bringing guests, you'll have to pay for a full-price day pass – more on this later.
Plus, you might get turned away from Chase Sapphire Lounges during busy times. Pouwels, the Sapphire Lounge general manager, said Chase may occasionally restrict access to only Reserve cardholders as lounges fill up to ensure they can get in the door.
“They will always have access to the lounge,” she said of Reserve cardholders.
Buy Your Way In (But It's Not Cheap)
Don't have a Chase Sapphire Reserve or a Priority Pass membership? You can still get into the Chase Sapphire Lounge: You'll just have to pay for it – and the price is high.
Anyone can walk up to a Chase Sapphire Lounge and buy a day pass … for $100 at the soon-to-open Boston location. Day pass rates may vary at future locations.
That is a steep price. In contrast, Capital One charges everyday travelers $65 to get into their lounge in Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW).
Is Chase's Boston lounge worth $100? Only you can answer that. Just keep in mind: You can only get in three hours before your scheduled departure time. Unless if you have a long layover at an airport with a Chase Sapphire Lounge – the bank has looser rules for travelers making connections – you won't have all that long to get your money's worth.
And once again, Chase could stop selling day passes if the lounge is filling up to ensure that their top-tier Sapphire Reserve cardholders can enjoy the lounge.
Sorry, Sapphire Preferred Cardholders
Millions of travelers who have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in their wallets have probably been hoping they'll have a way to get into these new lounges. We've got bad news.
Sapphire Preferred cardholders won't receive complimentary entry, a few free passes, or even any special discounts to enter Chase's lounges. Even if you've got a Chase Sapphire Preferred (or other Chase cards) in your wallet, you'll still have to pay $100 for a day pass in Boston, just like any other traveler.
Once again, that's a major departure from Capital One. Much like Chase, only top-paying travelers with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (and their guests) can get into Capital One Lounges for free. But travelers who have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card get two free passes a year – and get discounted day pass rates after that.
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders don't get any special treatment whatsoever.
The Hong Kong Sapphire Lounge Access Rules Remain the Same
If you're traveling through Hong Kong (HKG) – the location of Chase's first Sapphire Lounge – it will be easier to get in.
Chase has confirmed that travelers with Chase's top-tier card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® get in free along with two free guests – the same access policy that will be in place for its U.S.-based lounges.
But if you have a Priority Pass Select membership from other, non-Chase cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card you'll still be able to get into the Hong Kong location along with two free guests. While Chase is tightening things up in the states, those policies aren't changing in Hong Kong.
Time Limits & Other Rules at Chase Sapphire Lounges
It's not just which credit card you've got. You'll also need to time your visit right – or risk getting turned away from Chase Sapphire Lounges.
There's a Three-Hour Entry Limit
No matter how you get into the Sapphire Lounge, you can only get in up to three hours before your scheduled departure.
That's more or less the same policy you'll find from Capital One at their Capital One Lounges, and from American Express at their Centurion Lounges. Even Delta Sky Clubs have adopted the same time limit.
Before Departure Only
Don't count on dropping by the Boston Sapphire Lounge or future locations after landing.
Pouwels confirmed that Chase Sapphire Lounges will only allow visitors boarding departing flights. Once again, that's consistent with how both Capital One and American Express handle things.
But Longer Layovers Are OK
Got time to kill between flights in Boston or future Chase Sapphire locations? Don't worry.
Chase confirmed that travelers making a connection are exempt from these rules, which means you should be able to get in more than three hours before your next flight. The bank hasn't spelled out a strict time limit on when travelers can get in.
That's much like how Amex Centurion Lounges handle access for travelers making connections at their airports. Capital One Lounges, meanwhile, do not have a layover exception.
Want to get access to Chase's new Sapphire Lounge in Boston or future Chase Sapphire Lounges? Your best bet is holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
That's the only credit card that will always get you (and two guests) into Sapphire Lounges for free, as Chase tries to limit overcrowding and do right by its top-paying cardholders. Travelers with other premium credit cards can only get in once a year free. And sorry, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders: You'll have to pay up just the same as everybody else.
Executive editor Kyle Potter contributed to this story