- Some luxury credit cards like the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve include access to airport lounges with free drinks, fast internet, and clean bathrooms, among other perks.
- American Express is known for its wide range of lounges, but other brands also give you lounge access through Priority Pass Select.
- After subtracting credits and other perks, the cost of getting into lounges might be less than you realized.
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Once you get a taste of premium airport travel lounges, you’ll never go back.
I got my first taste of lounge membership with the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, which included access to American’s Admiral’s Club lounges. But now, with my beloved Chase Sapphire Reserve in hand, I can go to any of over 1,200 lounges around the world through Priority Pass.
What is it about the lounges that lures me in? Complimentary drinks and snacks, though you can sometimes turn it into a meal. Free, fast internet and plentiful outlets. Clean bathrooms. A quiet place outside of the hustle-bustle of the terminal. It’s like a little oasis on the other side of those doors. Any of these luxury credit cards hold the key.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card came out with a splash about two years ago, and it remains among the top in the ultra-premium credit card category. The card charges a $450 annual fee but gives you a ton of value back. That includes a $300 annual statement credit, which wipes away the first $300 in eligible travel purchases from your statement balance each year and a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
Outside of the lounge, the card offers 3x points per dollar on travel and restaurant purchases, 1.5 cents per point when redeeming rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, and loads of benefits. I get a lot more than the $450 per year this card costs back from perks and rewards and recommend it to virtually anyone who can manage credit cards well and loves to travel.
If you’re willing to pay a bit more for even more luxury access, the American Express Platinum card may be calling your name. The card charges a steeper $550 per year in annual fees, but it also comes with a heap of credits and upgrade perks. Credits include up to $200 per year at Uber, $200 for incidental fees at a favorite airline, a credit for Global Entry or PreCheck, and a lot more.
For lounges, the card includes the American Express Global Lounge Collection. That includes American Express Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta), and other partners. Automatic Gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs can get you into hotel lounges with free drinks, food, and other benefits.
If you are loyal to Hilton’s hotel brands and want to pair it with lounge access, the Aspire card should be on your consideration list. The card charges $450 per year and includes big points, Diamond status, and $250 in annual credits at Hilton. Outside of the hotel, it has $250 in airline incidental credits for the airline of your choice, a swath of benefits, and of course, Priority Pass Select membership.
A comparable membership purchased directly from Priority Pass costs $429 per year. If you get good use out of this card and take advantage of the Hilton and airline fee credits, you could easily get over a thousand dollars in annual benefits from this card.
Marriott’s purchase of Starwood and combination of the Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz Carlton rewards programs led to the new Marriott Bonvoy program, which came out in February 2019. If you want a top-tier card that gives you access to the largest portfolio of hotel rooms in the world and Priority Pass lounges, this is your card.
Other perks include $300 in Marriott Bonvoy statement credits, a free annual night worth up to 50,000 points, complimentary Gold Elite status, a credit for Global Entry or PreCheck, and other travel goodies.
5. US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
US Bank doesn’t make a lot of lists for top travel credit cards, but the Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card is worth a serious look. It includes $325 in travel statement credits with a $400 annual fee. If you would have spent the $325 on travel anyway, that means the effective annual fee is just $75 for you. That’s a cheap way into Priority Pass lounges.
The card also includes 12 annual Gogo Wi-Fi passes and credit for Global Entry or PreCheck, among other perks. If you are looking for a path to airport lounges with a lower cost, or are loyal to US Bank, this card could be a perfect match for your needs.