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Sunday, February 25, 2024

5 Best Travel Credit Cards With Lounge Access (Feb. 2024)

Best Travel Credit Cards With Lounge Access
Choncé Maddox

Written by: Choncé Maddox

Choncé Maddox
Choncé Maddox

Choncé is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and a nationally recognized personal finance and budgeting expert. She's paid off $50,000+ of personal debt and her debt story has been highlighted in Essence Magazine and on "Good Morning America" as part of its 2020 Debt-Free Decade series. Her work has been featured on sites, including Business Insider, LendingTree, Credit Sesame, Barclaycard, and The New York Post. Choncé was named one of the top financial experts to follow on Instagram by Black Enterprise.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Spending time at the airport can be hectic and a little stressful. Airport lounges provide somewhere to rest and access special amenities that enhance the overall travel experience. Several travel credit cards include airport lounge access with comfortable seating, various food options, and an overall more secluded environment at the airport.

If you tend to have more flight layovers or are simply looking for these additional travel perks, consider the best travel credit cards with lounge access.

Best Travel Cards With Lounge Access

To get airport lounge access, you’ll need to either buy a first-class ticket on an international flight, be a high-tier member of a frequent flyer program, buy a day pass, or use a travel card that offers free lounge access. Travel credit cards provide rewards and several other benefits. 

Airport lounge access is a card benefit that makes sense if you’re going to be flying throughout the year anyway. Below are the best travel cards with lounge access you should consider. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review

at Chase’ssecure website

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 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.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 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, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™; Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
22.49%-29.49% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides users with a free Priority Pass Select membership which gives you access to more than 1,300 airport lounges in more than 500 cities. Card users can also bring up to two guests per visit to airport lounges the user has access to. 

To access the lounge, all you need is a valid Priority Pass Select membership card or a digital version of the pass. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card also provides an annual travel credit and tiered points on various purchases in categories like travel, dining, hotels, and car rentals. 

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
$395
Excellent

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card provides complimentary access to Capital One airport lounges for you and two other guests per visit. Capital One airport lounges offer visitors coffee, WiFi, grab-and-go food, chef-inspired meals, cocktails, and wellness rooms. 

You also get an annual travel credit, a Global TSA precheck credit, and anniversary bonus miles. This card is a solid option if you have excellent credit and are looking for a variety of travel perks, including lounge access and a signup bonus. 

The Platinum Card® Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly through airlines or American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Also earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.
  • $200 annual hotel credit, $200 annual airline fee credit, $25 monthly Equinox credit, $15 monthly Uber cash credit, $50 bi-annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, and more.
  • Platinum Card Members have unlimited complimentary access to all locations of The Global Lounge Collection, including 1,400 airport lounges across 650 cities.
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status. Enrollment required.
  • Choose among three card designs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.49% – 27.49% Pay Over Time
$695
Excellent

The Platinum Card® provides access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes more than 1,400 airport lounges in 650 cities and 140 countries and counting. Cardholders can find participating airport lounges for an upcoming trip using the American Express app. 

The Platinum Card includes access to Priority Pass airport lounges as well as the Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Club, Studio Partner, and Lufthansa Lounges. This card also pays annual and monthly credits for airline fees, Walmart+, hotels, digital entertainment, and more.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of ownership
  • Earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your card, up to 4 times/year
  • Earn 3X miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta — all other purchases earn 1 mile per $1
  • Complimentary access to The Centurion Lounge and the Delta Sky Club® plus two Delta Sky Club One-Time Guest Passes each year
  • Receive a domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+®, or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express card
  • As a benefit of Card Membership, you can check your first bag free on Delta flights booked with your card. You can save up to $60 on a round-trip Delta flight per person.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.24% – 29.24% (Variable)
$550
Excellent

If you frequently fly on Delta Airlines, you may want to consider the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. This is a business card that provides free access to Delta Sky Club Lounges. You can bring up to two guests with you per visit, but you must pay a fixed-rate fee per person per visit. However, you do get two Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes per year. 

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card also provides complimentary access to any Centurion Lounge, free upgrades, a free checked bag, and rewards points for purchases.

United℠ Business Card Review

at Chase’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★

4.2

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Receive a 5,000-mile “better together” bonus each anniversary when you have both the United℠ Business Card and a personal Chase United® credit card.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining including eligible delivery services, at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, employee cards at no additional cost – miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account so you can earn rewards faster.
  • Enjoy a free first checked bag – a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply), 2 United Club℠ one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges.
  • $100 United® travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.99% – 28.99% Variable
$99
Good/Excellent

The United℠ Business Card is offered through Chase and provides two free United Club lounge passes each year. United Club airport lounges provide free WiFi, drinks, personalized travel assistance, breakfast, and snacks.

While this card doesn’t provide unlimited access to airport lounges throughout the year, it does offer priority boarding, a free checked bag, and an annual travel credit, among other benefits. There are several versions of this card available with varying benefits and annual fees, including a non-business version.

Benefits of Travel Credit Cards With Lounge Access

Airport lounges are highly-sought after places of respite that travelers can take advantage of. One of the easiest ways to get lounge access without paying a fee is by using a travel rewards card that offers this benefit. 

Here are three key reasons why you may want to consider using one of these travel credit cards with lounge access. 

  • Calm during the storm: Traveling can be stressful, and if you’re stuck at a busy airport for several hours, access to a lounge can be a calming place to relax. Lounges are often family-friendly places that give you your own space to relax before your next flight. Many lounges are also open 24/7 and have comfortable seating, making it easier for you to take a nap or watch television in a quiet environment.
  • Free food, drinks, and amenities: Most lounges have free foods, snacks, and even drinks that can help you save money on expensive airport meals. Additionally, you can take advantage of other amenities such as wellness rooms, showers, and other perks.
  • Quiet place to work: If you’re traveling for business or just need a quiet place to focus on some work, airport lounges are the best options for this. These locations allow you to temporarily escape the chaos of the airport when you have to think. 

How Do Cards With Airport Lounge Access Work?

Cards with airport lounge access work in a variety of ways. To start, you’ll want to check to see which airport lounges your card provides access to and how to locate the lounge in the airport. You may need to obtain a physical membership card to access the lounge. 

You may also be able to enter the lounge just by showing your credit card and a form of identification. Lounge access terms vary by card, and you may need to activate this benefit (as is the case with Priority Pass benefits) to enter airport lounges. 

There are some exceptions, though, such as with the United℠ Business Card, which only allows you two free lounge visits per year before you have to pay. Be mindful to carefully review each card’s benefits and guidelines, which will be mailed to you with the card.

Which Card Is Best For Airport Lounge Access?

One of the best travel credit cards with lounge access is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Even though this card comes with a higher annual fee, you get lots of travel perks that help justify that fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review

Cardholders have access to a wide variety of airport lounges in hundreds of cities so you can get a lot of use out of this benefit depending on how often you travel. 

When considering the best card for airport lounge access, determine what would be best for your unique situation. Are you okay with paying a higher annual fee? Which other travel benefits would you like and which airports do you frequent?

Overall, considering a card that provides free access to a wide variety of airport lounges is a wise place to start.

Should I Have More Than One Travel Card With Airport Lounge Access?

Cards that provide lounge access typically have high annual fees. So whether you want to have multiple cards with this benefit depends on how much you’re willing to pay for the cards. But if you travel a lot, having access to several airport lounges can be beneficial. 

For example, only the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card can get you into Capital One lounges, and Amex Platinum cards can get you into Centurion lounges. If you regularly fly all over the world, broadening your lounge access may be worth having multiple cards with this benefit. 

Also, realize that some cards provide access to several partner lounges, so be sure to compare other travel-related benefits when considering how many cards you should hold.

What Type Of Credit Score Do I Need To Qualify For A Travel Card?

Typically, you’ll need very good to excellent credit to qualify for a travel credit card. This means your credit score should be about 740 or higher. If you have negative marks on your credit report or if any of your accounts are in collections, it will be difficult to qualify for a travel credit card. 

FICO and VantageScore Credit Score Ranges
You generally need a very good to excellent credit score to qualify for travel cards with lounge access.

Instead, focus on improving your credit by paying bills on time and keeping your total utilization below 30%. Starting with a secured credit card can also help. You can check your credit score online for free using sites like Credit Karma to see where you stand before applying for a card that offers free airport lounge access.

What Is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is one of the world’s largest networks of airport lounges. You can sign up to become a Priority Pass member online by paying an annual fee ranging from $99 to $469. 

Priority Pass membership can also be obtained by getting certain travel cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. Instead of buying a lounge visit each time you’re at the airport, you’ll get free access to more than 1,300 lounges along with the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus when you meet the spending requirement within the first few months of account opening.

Are Travel Cards Worth It?

Yes, travel cards can definitely be worth it, even if you don’t fly often. Travel cards provide several benefits including rewards like points or cash back, no foreign transaction fees, and travel insurance. You can use your rewards to pay for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises, among other travel accommodations. 

Some travel cards, including all cards that offer free lounge access, charge an annual fee, so you’ll need to factor this in when determining whether a card is right for you. The annual fees for the cards we reviewed are:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: $550
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: $395
The Platinum Card®: $695
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: $550
United℠ Business Card: $99

As with any credit card, there is a risk of overspending and carrying a balance. This can defeat the purpose of any of your rewards and perks since you’ll end up spending more money on interest payments. 

Maximize Travel Benefits With Free Lounge Access

Airport lounges can be a great benefit when traveling and you can get free access with the right card. Cards like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and The Platinum Card® from American Express are top options to consider when looking for the best travel credit cards with lounge access. 

If you’re going to use a travel card, consider narrowing down the benefits you’re looking for as well as any fees or potential drawbacks.

Advertiser Disclosure

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