[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, Citi Prestige and American Express Platinum. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Have you ever wondered how billions of dollars can be spent building an airport, yet it can end up being such a loud and uncomfortable place? Passengers are often forced to spend hours waiting around the terminal during delays or between connecting flights, often in gate areas that are noisy, cramped and unpleasant.
But just around the corner, there may be an airport lounge that it is an oasis of comfort and amenities, if only you could get in. These lounges are available to international business class fliers, those who pay around $500 for an annual membership, and to guests who pay $50 for a day pass. But if you pick the right credit card, you can access these airport lounges as much as you want, for no additional fee. And while these premium credit cards do not come cheap, they also provide a range of valuable benefits while having annual fees that are still less than the price of a lounge membership by itself.
Here are six cards that can get you out of the gate areas and into the airport business lounges.
1. Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card From American Express
Delta’s top-of-the-line SkyMiles card offers unlimited access to the Delta SkyClub lounges, but only for the primary cardholder. Unfortunately, guests must pay an additional fee per person to accompany the primary cardholder, though it is a discounted rate. Other benefits of this credit card include priority boarding, a free checked bag, savings on in-flight purchases, and the ability to earn elite qualifying miles. There is also a companion flight certificate at renewal. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.
2. United Club Card From Chase
This card offers unlimited free access to United Club locations for cardholders, their spouse, and all dependent children under 21, or up to two guests. Other benefits include two free checked bags for the primary cardholder and one companion as well as priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage handling. In addition, cardholders receive 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, and double miles on United purchases. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.
3. Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
This card offers a membership to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges for primary cardholders and their immediate family, or up to two guests. Other perks include priority check-in, security and boarding, as well as discounts on in-flight services. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.
4. Citi Prestige
Citi’s top travel rewards card offers an American Airlines Admirals Club membership that is valid for cardholders and their immediate family or up to two other guests. In addition, cardholders also receive access to the lounges in the Priority Pass Select network for themselves and up to two guests. In addition, this card offers three ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels, two points per dollar spent on entertainment and dining out, and one point per dollar spent on other purchases. Points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners, or used to book travel directly. In addition, this card offers a $250 annual air travel credit and a free fourth night on hotel stays. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.
5. American Express Platinum
This card actually offers access to three different lounge programs. First, there is a a Delta SkyClub Membership, which is only valid for the primary cardholder. Cardholders also receive access to the Priority Pass Select network. Finally, American Express also offers its own small, but growing network of Centurion Lounges, to which cardholders can bring their immediate family or up to two other guests at no additional cost. This card also offers a range of perks including a $200 annual airline fee credit. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.
6. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card From Chase
This card offers a membership in the Lounge Club program for the cardmember only. In addition, it offers an annual $300 annual travel credit. Other benefits include three upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club level each year, and a $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer. There is a $395 annual fee for this card.
All of these cards are available to consumers who have excellent credit. It’s smart to know what your credit profile looks like before you apply, and to be reasonably confident you will be approved, because every application causes a small, temporary drop in your credit score. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com, updated every 30 day. If you decide a travel rewards card is a good fit for you, you can narrow your choices with the winners of the Best Airline Mile Credit Cards in America and the Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards in America.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, Citi Prestige and American Express Platinum are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.