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If you’re looking to get free access to Priority Pass airport lounges, your best bet is to open a credit card with a Priority Pass membership. Most cards with Priority Pass access are travel rewards cards that have a high annual fee, but come with valuable benefits that can easily justify their fees. To help you decide which Priority Pass credit card is best for you, we dive into the details for all eligible credit cards below.
Credit Cards with Priority Pass Select
The Priority Pass Select program gives users of certain credit cards the ability to access more than 1,300 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:
|Card||Cardholder lounge access||Guest policy|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Free||2 guests free, $27 per additional guest|
|Citi Prestige® Credit Card||Free||2 guests free, $27 per additional guest|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||10 free visits, $27 per visit thereafter||$27 per guest|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||Free||2 guests free, $27 per additional guest|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||Free||2 guests free, $27 per additional guest|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Free||2 guests free, $27 per additional guest|
|U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve||4 free visits and 4 guest visits||$32 per additional guest|
Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here.
Additionally, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers access to Amex’s proprietary network of upscale Centurion 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), Phoenix (PHX), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA) and San Francisco (SFO). The card 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 offer complimentary lounge access, but two stand out as the best options for Priority Pass membership: The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Each of these cards comes with a hefty annual fee, but substantial benefits.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Lounge Access and Luxe Benefits
The Platinum Card® from American Express
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- Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties . Learn More.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
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 comes with an annual fee of $550 per year, but it’s worth it for the traveler who values luxury.
One important thing to note is that your Priority Pass membership with The Platinum Card® from American Express no longer includes restaurant access. With most Priority Pass memberships, you’re entitled to a discount of $28 to $30 for yourself and your guests when you dine at a participating airport restaurant. If this idea sounds appealing to you, you can still access the restaurant discount with other cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Citi Prestige® Credit Card.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Priority Pass and Points for Travel Purchases
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is competitive with 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 will 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 Ultimate Rewards portal, which gives your potential rewards rate more value 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.
Priority Pass membership cost
|Annual fee||Member visit fee||Guest visit fee|
|Standard Plus||$249||10 free, then $27||$27|
On a credit card with a $550 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.
Benefits of Priority Pass
So how beneficial is having Priority Pass? Well, you’ll have access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. While airport lounges are designed to escape the buzz of loud airports, each lounge has unique amenities to allow travelers to have an enjoyable experience. Here are a few complimentary few perks offered by many Priority Pass lounges:
- Office areas
- Fax machines
Each lounge will vary in its amenities, so be sure to check ahead before you arrive.
In addition, Priority Pass members can save money on their airport shopping through retail offers. The simplest way to find these offers is in the Priority Pass app, available for iOS and Android. Here is an example of a few offers available at the Las Vegas International Airport (LAS) at the time of publishing:
Lastly, as mentioned above, most Priority Pass membership offer dining discounts at select airport restaurants. At the time of publishing, American Express is the only card issuer that does not include restaurants in its Priority Pass membership program.
Since the perks vary by airports, you should check which perks are available at a particular airport prior to your trip. The easiest way to do this is in the Priority Pass app.
How to use Priority Pass
If you decide to get a credit card with Priority Pass, there are a few small steps to take before you visit your first lounge.
First, you’ll need to activate the Priority Pass benefit. This can be done in your credit card’s customer portal. If you have Priority Pass through an American Express credit card, for example, you can activate your membership under the benefits section.
Next, your Priority Pass card and membership information will come in the mail. Once you receive your card, you are ready to visit Priority Pass lounges. Be sure to activate your membership well in advance of your next trip, since it may take a few days for your card to arrive and you won’t be able to access some lounges without a physical card.
Lastly, download the Priority Pass app. It allows you to quickly search an airport to see what shopping, lounges and restaurants are available there. In addition, you will have a digital Priority Pass card to show when you arrive in lounges rather than digging for your physical Priority Pass card. The app can make finding and visiting Priority Pass lounges a seamless experience.
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, currently tallying over 1,300 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 Amex Centurion lounges.
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 Pass 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, you could consider searching a forum or review site like Reddit or Yelp (please note that the veracity of these reviews cannot be confirmed by ValuePenguin).
The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express has been independently 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.