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How to Get Free Priority Pass with a Credit Card

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

If you're looking to get free access to Priority Pass airport lounges, your best bet is to open a credit card that has Priority Pass Select as a benefit. Most cards with this perk are rewards cards that have a high annual fee but come with attractive benefits. To help you decide which option is best for you, we broke down the Priority Pass Select benefit for all eligible credit cards.

Credit Cards with Priority Pass Select

The Priority Pass Select program gives users of certain credit cards the ability to access more than 1,200 Priority Pass airport lounges across the world. There are currently several available rewards credit cards that include free or discounted Priority Pass membership in their benefits packages. Below, we've broken out these cards for you and examined the details of the best cards' airport lounge access benefit.

CardCardholder lounge accessGuest policy
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Free2 guests free, $27 per additional guest
Citi Prestige® CardFree2 guests free, $27 per additional guest
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card10 free visits, $27 per visit thereafter$27 per guest
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardFree2 guests free, $27 per additional guest
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardFree2 guests free, $27 per additional guest
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressFree2 guests free, $27 per additional guest
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve4 free visits per year1 guest free, $27 per additional guest

The information related to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information. These offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or are no longer available.

Nearly all credit cards with Priority Pass Select allow free access to lounges for cardholders, two free guests and $27 for additional guests. However, there are a few extra airport lounge benefits on a handful of credit cards. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Citi Prestige® Card allow cardholders to access lounges with a virtual card (on a mobile app) rather than a physical card.

Additionally, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers access to Amex's proprietary network of upscale airport lounges, most of which are in domestic airports. The list of locations currently includes Dallas (DFW), Hong Kong (HKG), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), New York (LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA) and San Francisco (SFO). The Platinum Card® from American Express also gives you access to Delta Sky Club lounges when you're traveling on a Delta itinerary.

The Best Credit Cards with Priority Pass Membership

More than a handful of cards have lounge access as an included benefit, but two stand out as the best options for free Priority Pass: The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Each of the cards comes with a hefty annual fee but substantial benefits. Choose The Platinum Card® from American Express if you're into premium perks and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you'd rather rack up rewards.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Lounge Access and Luxe Benefits

Our Thoughts

On top of the Priority Pass lounge access, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers Delta SkyClub access on Delta itineraries, American Express Centurion Lounge access, airline fee credits, Uber credits, Saks Fifth Avenue credits and 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on the Amex travel portal. Card membership certainly comes with a price at $550 per year (See Rates & Fees), but it's worth it for the traveler who values luxury.

One important thing to note is that the priority pass you get with The Platinum Card® from American Express no longer includes restaurant access. The way this would work in the past is that you'd forgo a priority pass lounge visit for a discount at a priority pass restaurant. If this idea sounds appealing to you, you can still access the priority pass restaurant discount with other cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Citi Prestige® Card.

For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Priority Pass and Points for Travel Purchases

Our Thoughts

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is competitive with the The Platinum Card® from American Express in the premium credit card market due to its rewards rate and flexible redemption options. You won't get as many perks with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, but you'll have a $300 annual travel credit and earn 3 points per dollar on Chase's generously broad category of travel purchases after the credit is used. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 50% more when you use them to book travel through the Chase portal, which boosts your potential rewards rate on travel purchases to 4.5% (3X points per dollar x 1.5 travel redemption bonus = 4.5% rewards rate).

Are Credit Cards with Priority Pass Select Worth It?

For travelers who frequently enjoy airport lounges, it's worth it to open a rewards credit card that has complimentary access to Priority Pass. Without the complimentary benefit, standard Priority Pass membership plans start at $99 per year plus $27 per visit. The top tier plan offered by Priority Pass costs $399 per year, with all visits free and guest passes costing $27. This is less than the cost of the annual fee for most of the credit cards with Priority Pass benefits.

Annual feeMember visit feeGuest visit fee
Standard$99$27$27
Standard Plus$24910 free, then $27$27
Prestige$399Free$27

On a credit card with a $450 annual fee, you'll need to visit a Priority Pass lounge 13 times over the course of a year to break even (versus a Standard plan, which is $99 plus $27 per visit). For those who don't anticipate using the lounges this much, the Priority Pass benefit may still be worth it if you tend to have long layovers. Additionally, opening a rewards credit card comes with a variety of other benefits, like spending rewards and travel credits, that can justify the annual fee.

If you're looking for lounge access in general, keep in mind that there are more ways to get this benefit for free than through Priority Pass. On a business class ticket, for example, lounge access is likely to be included in the fare. Alternatively, most airlines offer co-branded credit cards that give you free access to the airline's lounges. This can be a good option if you tend to travel with a major airline that has convenient lounge locations.

Priority Pass Lounges vs. Other Airport Lounges

The main benefit in choosing Priority Pass over other lounge access options is that Priority Pass has a vast lounge network, which currently tallies over 1,200 global locations across 500 cities. This is especially useful for the international traveler, as most of Priority Pass' locations are overseas. However, the quality of Priority Pass lounges is inconsistent across locations, and it's often lower than that of airline lounges or luxury options, like the Amex Centurion Lounge.

Most of the variation in the Priority Pass Select program exists because the lounges are operated by different management teams—which results in different access policies and amenities. Some lounges don't admit guests, for example, while others require that Priority Pass Select members younger than 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to gain access to a lounge. A portion of the lounges offer full bars and buffet-style spreads of food, while others have a limited selection of snacks and soft drinks. Certain lounges reserve the right to deny access to Priority Select members if the space is overcrowded.

As such, the value of the Priority Pass benefit will depend on which airport lounges you visit—and whether the airports you frequent have lounges in the Priority network. If you're considering getting a membership or opening a credit card with the benefit, you should consult the Priority Pass website and scope out their locations. For those curious about the quality of a specific lounge, your best bet is to search a forum or review site like Reddit or Yelp.

Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).