Nothing makes a trip or long layover better than getting airport lounge access. At the very least, you'll find comfortable seating with a place to charge your devices, high-speed Wi-Fi, and free food and drinks. Some lounges take it to the next level with over-the-top amenities and great designs.
These private spaces have a reputation as being only for first-class flyers or frequent travelers with top airline status. But that's wrong. While there are many ways to get airport lounge access, the easiest way boils down to what's in your wallet: Many top travel credit cards can get you into lounges.
These top-tier credit cards aren't free, of course. But along with other travel perks, getting into airport lounges – allowing you to skip the overpriced airport restaurants and bars – can easily outweigh the yearly cost of those cards. It's why we urge many travelers to do the math before ruling out credit cards with annual fees.
While some-top tier airline credit cards can get you into their own lounges, three other options stand out as the best credit cards for airport lounge access – both domestically and around the world. What are they?
Here are the best credit cards for lounge access in 2023.
The Best Credit Cards for Lounge Access in 2023
The Platinum Card® from American Express
When it comes to getting into airport lounges, one card stands far above the rest.
*amex platinum* is without question the top dog of premium travel cards offering complimentary airport lounge access. No card will get you into more airport lounges than the Amex Platinum Card, period.
Just for holding this card, you get access to a long list of lounges. Hold tight – like I said, it's a long list.
American Express Centurion Lounges
American Express’s signature collection of airport lounges scattered across the U.S. (and increasingly abroad) put most other lounges to shame. With more than a dozen locations around the U.S. and abroad, these lounges have set the bar high. Each and every Centurion Lounge offers food curated by local celebrity chefs; free beer, high-end wine, and cocktails; and even spa services in some locations. There’s comfortable seating, power outlets, quiet spaces to work, and more.
After paying the annual fee of $695 for the Platinum Card (see rates & fees) or $695 on the Business Platinum Card (see rates & fees), you can use your card to get into these lounges for free. But you can no longer bring guests in free: As of Feb. 1, 2023, guests cost $50 apiece (or $30 for minors) unless you charged a whopping $75,000 to your Platinum Card in the last year. Guests two years and younger are complimentary.
There are currently Centurion lounges in Seattle (SEA), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), San Francisco (SFO), Las Vegas (LAS), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL), New York City-LaGuardia (LGA), New York City (JFK), Hong Kong (HKG), Denver (DEN), Phoenix (PHX), Charlotte (CLT), Los Angeles (LAX), and London-Heathrow (LHR). New locations are underway in Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) and Atlanta (ATL).
If you frequently travel through any airport with a Centurion Lounge, the Platinum Card can be a slam dunk for that reason alone. Make sure to check out our YouTube video review of the Centurion Lounge in Denver (DEN).
Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge Access
The Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card from American Express also offer Priority Pass Select membership, a network of more than 1,200 lounges across the globe.
You'll find these lounges at many airports across the U.S. and abroad. Most are part of independent lounge operators that partner with Priority Pass for airport lounge access, though you will find some airline-operated lounges, too.
Just for holding the Platinum Card, you will get a complimentary Priority Pass membership which also allows you to bring in up to two guests with you on each visit.
Just what you’ll get in each lounge can vary widely in terms of size, food, beverages, and amenities. Some Priority Pass lounges are outstanding, while many are fairly simple. Still, even the worst Priority Pass lounge is generally better than sitting at the gate before your flight.
At a minimum, you can get some free water, drinks, and light snacks. Generally speaking, Priority Pass lounges abroad are much nicer than what you’ll find within the U.S. Enrollment is required.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Priority Pass Lounges
Delta Sky Clubs
Just for holding the card, you get complimentary access to any Delta Sky Club so long as you are flying Delta that day. You will not, however, be able to bring guests in for free – you can pay for up to two guests for $50 each. And Delta has imposed a handful of additional restrictions in the last year that could make it more difficult to get in.
Consider this: An individual Delta Sky Club membership costs at least $695 a year … and you need Delta Medallion Status in order to buy it. Meanwhile, you can get the same Sky Club access in addition to all the other Amex Platinum benefits for that same fee.
With over 200 locations & partner lounges worldwide, you don’t have to try terribly hard to find one if you are flying with the airline. Check out our full reviews of the Delta Sky Club lounges in Atlanta (ATL), Washington D.C. – Reagan (DCA), Phoenix (PHX), Seattle (SEA), Austin (AUS), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), San Francisco (SFO), and the incredible new Los Angeles (LAX) Sky Club to see what's in store.
Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium, Airspace Lounges & More
In addition to the top-notch lounges above, the Amex Global Lounge Collection will get you into a handful of other smaller lounge networks.
The Escape Lounge – Centurion Studio Partner lounges network is solid – in fact, it's a great alternative to the Delta Sky Club at our home airport, the Escape Lounge MSP at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). Like Priority Pass and the Centurion Lounges, you will be able to bring in up to two guests with you on each visit free of charge.
There are also domestic lounges at Oakland (OAK), two lounges in Phoenix (PHX), Reno-Tahoe (RNO), Sacramento (SMF), Cincinnati (CVG), Columbus (CMH), and others, as well as a few lounges in the U.K. in Manchester (MAN) and London Stansted (STN). See the full list of Escape Lounge locations in the U.S. here.
Plaza Premium Lounges are some of the best that you'll find in Europe and Asia – and two U.S. locations and counting at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Orlando (MCO). They even have an incredible Plaza Premium First Lounge at Hong Kong (HKG), a step above even the normal Plaza Premium lounges with made-to-order food which requires a small surcharge to get in.
Finally, you can also get into Airspace Lounges – actually, make that Airspace Lounge, as there's only one. The sole remaining Airspace Lounge is in San Diego (SAN). While simple, it's quite nice.
Full Benefits of the Platinum Card® from American Express
While *amex platinum* has an annual fee of $695, you could make up for that with its bonus points, money-saving credits, and travel benefits.
- Welcome offer bonus: bonus_miles_full But check to see if you can get 150,000 points via the CardMatch tool!
- 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent directly with airlines or at amextravel.com on up to $500,000 spent in this category each calendar year
- Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
- Up to a $189 annual CLEAR® Plus credit
- Up to $200 Annual Airline Credit
- Up to a $200 Annual Hotel Credit for Fine Hotels and Resorts and Hotel Collection Bookings (minimum two-night stay for Hotel Collection bookings)
- Up to a $300 Equinox Gym Credit
- Up to a $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases at Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
- Up to $200 in Annual Uber Cash: Up to $15 each month (and up to $35 in December)
- Up to $100 each year to be used at Saks Fifth Avenue (enrollment required).
- Hilton & Marriott Gold Elite Status (enrollment required).
- Annual Fee: $695 (see rates & fees)
Learn more about *amex platinum*.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The *venture x* is the new kid on the block.
Capital One made a huge splash by launching its first-ever premium travel credit card in November 2021. It's easily the most exciting new credit card to hit the market in years – if ever – and part of that comes down to its ability to get you into the brand-new Capital One Lounges.
After years of planning and months of building, Capital One finally has its own branded airport lounge back in 2021. There’s just one so far – an incredible new space in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), but the second and third locations are opening in Denver (DEN) and Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) sometime yet this year. The company also plans to open dedicated dining spaces for cardholders called Capital One Landings in Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) and New York City-LaGuardia (LGA).
Capital One Lounges
The first (and, to date, only) Capital One Lounge location in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) is an incredible space. In fact, it might just be one of the best lounges you'll find in the U.S.
In our opinion, these are going to be the first real competitor to the American Express Centurion Lounges. And the brand new *venture x* will get you and two guests into the Capital One lounge for free.
Incredibly, Capital One also does not charge for Venture X authorized users. You can add up to four authorized users to your account at no additional cost. Best of all? Those authorized users will get their own lounge access with the ability to bring up to two complimentary guests as well.
The Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) lounge itself clocks in around 10,000 square feet, but it feels much bigger than that. There’s an open and airy design, with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the tarmac below. Everything feels bright, fresh, and new. Once you enter the lounge, there’s plenty of seating, with armchairs, cafe-style tables, and long sofas.
Whether you’re at the bar, at a high-top table, or lounging somewhere else, there are power outlets and USB ports seemingly everywhere.
Capital One put a big emphasis on offering excellent food and drinks in this lounge. That holds up for every visitor. And once you’re in the door, it’s all free.
Priority Pass Lounges
Just like the Platinum Card from American Express, the Capital One Venture X will also get you a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that will get you complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges across the world. Even your authorized users will get their own Priority Pass membership.
But the Priority Pass membership you'll get with the Venture X is a bit stronger than what you'll get with the Platinum Card and the Sapphire Reserve. That's because you be allowed to bring an unlimited number of guests with you on each visit – assuming there is space available in the lounge.
It's not all good news. Much like the Platinum Card from American Express, you will not have access to the growing list of Priority Pass-affiliated airport restaurants. Capital One recently removed this benefit.
Plaza Premium Lounges
In June 2022, Capital One also added access to Plaza Premium Lounges, opening the doors to dozens more lounges abroad and at home. The Plaza Premium name also includes Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges in four U.S. airports like New York City (JFK) and Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD); several lounges at the Cancún (CUN) airport; and Avianca lounges throughout Colombia.
Here’s the full list of Plaza Premium lounges.
Full Benefits of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Welcome Offer Bonus: bonus_miles_full
- $300 Annual Travel Credit: Each year, cardholders will get a $300 travel credit to use through the Capital One Travel booking portal.
- Capital One Lounge & Priority Pass Select Lounge Access: Cardmembers will also be able to bring guests with them at no additional cost on each visit.
- Up to a $100 Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: Membership in either program is good for five years.
- 10,000 Mile Anniversary Bonus: Every year on your account anniversary, you’ll receive 10,000 bonus miles after paying your card’s annual fee. These miles are worth a minimum of $100 towards travel.
- Earn 2x Miles on every purchase & More: Cardholders will earn 2x miles on every dollar spent. Cardholders will also earn 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through the Capital One travel portal and 5x miles on flights booked via the portal.
- Complimentary Hertz President’s Circle Status
- $395 Annual Fee: Add up to four authorized users at no additional cost
Learn more about the *venture x*.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase rolled out the *chase sapphire reserve* at the end of 2016 and it was an immediate hit. Among many other premium benefits, the card offers access to the Chase Sapphire Lounges, and Priority Pass lounge access – making it one of the best options for airport lounge access.
Priority Pass Lounges
We've already gone through the ins and outs of Priority Pass airport lounge access, so we won't repeat ourselves here.
Unlike Priority Pass memberships issued from both Amex and Capital One, however, you can eat for free at a growing list of Priority Pass-affiliated airport restaurants at no cost. You'll get a credit of $28 for yourself or around $56 if you are dining with a guest. Just a couple of uses of this benefit each year can take a huge chunk out of the credit card's $550 annual fee.
On top of the free airport lounge access, the card earns 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for all travel expenses. It comes with a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and many other premium benefits.
Chase Sapphire Lounges
Chase has followed in the footsteps of both American Express and Capital One to launch their own Sapphire branded airport lounges. To date, the bank has only two lounges open: The new space in Boston (BOS) and an international outpost in Hong Kong (HKG).
Chase Sapphire Lounge locations are also planned in the following following airports:
- Dallas (DFW) in Terminal D by gage 35
- Las Vegas (LAS) in the C Concourse
- New York LaGuardia (LGA) in Terminal B
- Philadelphia (PHL) in Terminal D/E connector
- Phoenix (PHX) in Terminal 4
- San Diego (SAN) in Terminal 2
- Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) in Concourse A
Sapphire Reserve cardholders get unlimited complimentary access to the Sapphire Lounges. They can also 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.
Full Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Welcome Offer Bonus: bonus_miles_full
- Points are worth 50% more when redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal.
- 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 through March of 2025
- Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
- $300 annual travel credit
- Annual Fee: $550
Learn more about the *chase sapphire reserve*
Which Card is the Best Credit Card for Lounge Access?
There are other cards out there that will get you into airport lounges. But these three are clearly the best of the bunch in terms of the benefits – particularly lounge access.
Some top-tier airline co-branded credit cards will get you into their own lounges. But then you're tied to that one airline, often paying the same or a similar hefty annual fee as one of these cards that will open far more lounge doors.
But which one should you choose: The Amex Platinum, Capital One Venture X, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card? The answer will be different for everybody. All three cards earn you ultra-valuable flexible points currencies: American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, and Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. Travelers should weigh these cards based on a number of factors, including location, airline status, future travel plans, and more.
If you live in a Delta hub, the Platinum Card could be a no-brainer for Sky Club access before every Delta flight. But travelers based in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) might rather look at the Capital One Venture X Card to access the incredible Capital One Lounge. And travelers who would rather eat a full meal than relax in a lounge would be best served by the Chase Sapphire Reserve – the only card on this list that still receives dining credits at select airport restaurants.
Overall, there's no denying that the American Express Platinum Card is the most powerful among cards with airport lounge access. If that's your primary consideration for one of these top-tier cards, it's the clear winner. But the Capital One Venture X also provides great lounge access at a much cheaper annual fee cost of only $395.
If you spend a lot of time in airports, one of these three credit cards with airport lounge access will drastically improve your experience.
Whether you value Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, or American Express Membership Rewards (or all three), holding one of these credit cards can help you get the most out of your next trip through the airport.