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During Air travel, there are instances beyond our control where we end up with a long layover or the flight gets delayed at the last moment and we end up having to wait for a long duration at the gate.
To ease the discomfort, Lounge access could come to the rescue. While US domestic Airline lounges may not offer huge value, there are several lounges that offer attractive amenities including complimentary drinks, snacks, food, showers etc..
Unless we are an elite member or flying in business/first class, access to lounges is not complimentary and the cost multiplies when we are traveling as a group. Fortunately, there are several credit cards that offer complimentary lounge access as one of the benefit. This benefit is often offered through Priority Pass membership. For starters, Priority Pass does not own lounges, but is affiliated with over 1,000+ lounges across the globe and provides you complimentary access or negotiated rates depending on your plan.
If you were purchase Priority Pass membership on your own dime, here is what it would cost you. There are several types of membership you could get with Priority Pass depending on your requirements.
Standard membership costs you $99 per year, then you could enjoy a flat fee of $27 for every visit, while the Prestige membership costs $399 per year and would get you unlimited free visits to its affiliated lounges. Note that none of the plans offer complimentary visits for our guest.
The cost effective option would be to get the lounge access through these credit cards. There are several cards that offer premium membership plan Priority Pass Select as one of the benefit. We will discuss the details and the weigh the cost of the card membership fees when compared to the Priority Pass Membership fees. A few airport restaurants recently got added to Priority Club – Corona Beach between Gates D23 and D24 at Miami Airport, Timberland Steaks and Grill at Denver Airport , Capers Cafe Le Bar, Capers Market , House Spirits Distillery and Alaska Lounge at Portland Airport.
Citi Prestige Card:
Citi Prestige card is one of the premium travel credit card in the market with several benefits and one of the key benefit is the Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that offers unlimited access to its affiliated lounges including 2 guests or immediate family members.
Other key benefits of the card include $250 travel credit every year and 4th Night free. This card comes with an annual fee of $450 and each authorized user card will be an additional $50. If any of your friends, family member needs lounge access, you could add them as an authorized user and simply share the Priority Pass Select card only. The lounge access benefit for the authorized user would be same as the primary card holder, which means one could get lounge access at $50 per year.
American Express Platinum Card:
American Express Platinum card revamped its benefits recently and one of the key change is the enhancement to lounge access benefit. You now get Priority Pass Select membership which gives unlimited lounge access to the primary card holder and 2 additional guests.
The other feature of this card is the access to Amex centurion lounges that are probably one of the best domestic lounges you could find in the US. You get great food, drinks and facilities.
As of today, Centurion Lounges are currently at the following US Airports
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Houston (IAH)
- New York (LGA)
- Miami (MIA)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
You could find Centurion Lounges outside of US as well,
- Mumbai (BOM)
- Delhi (DEL)
- Buenos Aires (EZE)
- Mexico City (MEX-3)
- Monterrey (MTY-2)
- Sydney (SYD)
- Toluca (TLC)
The next upcoming locations are Hong Kong (HKG) and Philadelphia (PHL)
You also get access to the Delta sky club lounges when flying with Delta. The annual fee for the card is $550 as it offers several other benefits like $100 incidental travel expenses like Baggage fees, seat selection fees etc. and $200 in Uber credits and more…
Chase Sapphire Reserve:
In the past, Chase used to offer co-branded premium credit cards only. About a year ago, this has changed with the introduction of Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The annual fee for this card is $450 and one of the key benefit of the card is the $300 in travel credit.
This card also offers Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit, which grants lounge access to you and your guests. As per the terms, there seems to be no set limit on the number of guests that could accompany you.
Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card:
Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card also offers Priority pass select membership that grants complimentary lounge access to you and its guests. The annual fee of this card is $450 and offers $300 towards incidental travel credits like baggage fees, seat selection fees. You could even purchase lounge access passes towards this travel credit.
US bank Altitude Reserve card:
This card is probably the newest card in the premium cards segment. Currently, this card is available for the current US bank customers only. This card offers priority pass select membership which gets you 4 complimentary visits and an additional 4 visits for your guests at participating lounges.
Given that this card comes with a $400 fee, Lounge access benefits is mediocre. But there are other card benefits like up to $325 annual travel credit that may be interest a few.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard:
This card is for someone, who primarily travels with American Airlines and have access to more than 50 Admirals clubs across the globe.
This card comes with an annual fee of $450 and gives unlimited access to Admirals club to the primary card holder and up to 2 guests or immediate family members. Authorized users also get unlimited access to the Admirals club.
United MileagePlus Club card
This card offers United MileagePlus club membership as the key benefit that lets you , as the primary card member, and your eligible travel companions will enjoy access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges worldwide.
Annual fee for this card is $450.
This is probably the least known credit card issued by City National Bank. getting this card is through a paper application and may not be straight forward, you may check this flyertalk thread for more data points. Annual fee for the card is zero for first year and $400 from the second year of membership
This card offers lounge access through Priority Pass Select Membership. Card holder can choose up to 2 members that can get Priority Pass Select membership and there seems to be no restriction on the number of guests each member can take as long as the specific lounge accepts.
There are several premium cards in the market that offer lounges access as one of the key benefit through the Priority Pass Select membership or membership to the respective lounge club.
It may be tough to rank the best card with respect to the lounge access benefit as the individual circumstances may vary. Which card would you like to hold for the lounge access?