Which Credit Cards Offer Priority Pass & Airport Lounge Access?

February 13, 2017, Written By Jason Steele

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The modern airport is essentially a state of purgatory. We enter the airport, sometimes hours before our flight is scheduled, and we remain stranded in limbo until we board our aircraft. Other times, we arrive in a seemingly random hub airport where we are forced to endure time waiting around until our next flight departs. And that is when everything works smoothly.

When weather or mechanical delays occur, we might have to spend untold hours wandering the loud, crowded concourse of an enormous airport. But if you have a membership to an airport business lounge, everything is different. A typical airport business lounge is a quiet refuge complete with complimentary drinks and snacks. Guests relax in comfortable chairs, and can get work done while they wait for their flights to be called. And if the lounge is operated by the airline, staff can be readily available to help you with your reservations.

An annual membership to an airport business lounge usually costs over $500. In addition, you can purchase day passes to many airport lounges for $50+. For less than the cost of an annual membership, you can have a premium rewards credit card that offers unlimited complimentary access to one or more airport business lounge networks and numerous other cardholder benefits.

Here are four credit cards that can get you out of the concourse and into the business lounge on your next trip:

1. The American Express Platinum card

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The American Express Platinum card offers membership in three of the top airport business lounge programs. First, you receive a Priority Pass Select membership, which includes over 1,000 business lounges in airports around the world. Next, you get a Delta SkyClub membership, which is one of the largest domestic airport lounge programs. Finally, you access to the Centurion Clubs, a small but growing network of luxurious airport business lounges operated by American Express.

This card also offers one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent, and 5x points for airline purchases. Also, double points are received for reservations made through the American Express travel web site. You also get a $200 annual airline fee credit, and a $100 credit towards the application fee for the Global Entry program, which includes TSA Pre-Check. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

2. Citi Prestige card

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The Citi Prestige card offers you a Priority Pass Select membership that includes unlimited complimentary access for you and a guest. You receive $250 in air travel credit each year. It also offers 3X ThankYou Points for each dollar spent on air travel and hotels, 2x points for dining and entertainment expenses, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are earned in Citi’s ThankYou rewards program, which can be redeemed for travel reservations, gift cards and merchandise. Or, you can transfer your rewards to airline miles or hotel points. New cardholders earn 40,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

3. Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard®
The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite card has one of the most generous airport lounge memberships available. The primary cardholder and any other authorized cardholders receive access to the Admirals Club airport lounge network operated by American Airlines. In addition, both primary and authorized cardholders can enter the club with their immediate family or guests.

When traveling, this card offers priority service at check-in, screening, and boarding. The cardholder also receives a $100 credit toward the application fee for the Global Entry program, which includes TSA Pre-Check. And when you use this card to spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you will receive 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) to help you reach the next level of status in the AAdvantage program.

Other benefits include a 25% savings on in-flight purchases, a free checked bag, and Admirals Club airport lounge membership for yourself and any other authorized cardholders. This card also offers double miles on all American Airlines purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. In addition, new customers earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

4. Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve credit card offers a Delta SkyClub airport business lounge membership that includes unlimited visits to the lounges in their network. It also offers cardholders priority service  at check-in and boarding. Other benefits include your first bag free and a 20% savings on in-flight purchases such as food, beverages and entertainment.

With this card, you earn double miles on Delta purchases, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. You can also earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on purchases, and an additional 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Delta Reserve Card in a calendar year. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 13, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.

About Jason Steele

Jason Steele is freelance journalist and an expert on the credit card industry. He contributes to several of the top personal finance sites, and his work is syndicated to mainstream outlets such as MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, and Business Insider.
View all posts by Jason Steele