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An Inside Look at the Chase Ink Lounge Club Benefit

by on September 11, 2013 · 34 comments

in Chase, Club Lounges

Update:  As of June 2013, Ink cards are now Visa Business Cards and are no longer World MasterCards.

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here

Although the Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus offer a plethora of valuable benefits including 50,000-point sign-up bonuses, category spending bonuses at office supply stores, gas stations and hotels, and all the perks of World Mastercards, one of the benefits I’m asked about most is the Lounge Club membership and two annual free lounge passes each card comes with. So I asked TPG contributor Jason Steele to take a detailed look at the benefit and how to maximize it.

UnknownOne of the most convenient benefits a credit card can offer is a free pass to an airport business lounge. The Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards offer an annual membership in the Lounge Club program and two free passes per cardmember year, while the Ink Classic offers free membership for the first year only. However, Lounge Club membership does not mean unlimited access to airport lounges, so cardholders need to use this benefit wisely in order to get the most value from it.

Membership

The Lounge Club does not own or operate lounges itself, but it contracts with lounges in airports throughout the world to provide access to its members. In some cases, these are lounges operated by airports or third parties, and in others, these lounges are run by airlines themselves. For example, the Alaska Airlines Board Rooms in airports such as Anchorage, Seattle, and Portland are part of the Lounge Club network, while members receive access to third party lounges in at airports like Raleigh, North Carolina and Dallas-Fort Worth. Until recently, Lounge Club didn’t even have a lounge at the Atlanta airport, the busiest in the world. Now, they offer a fantastic new facility at the new international Concourse F at Hartsfield.

The Lounge Club from Chase Ink

Chase Ink cardholders get two complimentary lounge visits per year.

Ink Plus and Bold cardholders receive automatic two free passes to the lounge each year you are a cardmember, while Ink Classic cardholders get them the first year of cardmembership. Each pass is good for one person, so two people entering at the same time uses both passes. At some clubs such as those operated by Alaska Airlines, children traveling over two must have a pass, while others offer free admission to guests under 12. Additional passes are $27 each, which are automatically billed to your linked credit card.

To get your free passes, first, you will need to obtain a separate Lounge Club card for each Ink Card you have. Call the customer service number on the back of your Ink card and ask for the access code for Lounge Club membership, then go to the Lounge Club Program Enrollment website and enter it then supply your credit card information to verify that you have a qualifying card (and so Lounge Club can bill you if you exceed your two free visits). Do so as soon as possible, because it can take 10 to 14 days to actually receive your card.

Then your card will come in the mail, and you can simply present it when traveling. You’ll get your two free visits automatically, and then will be charged after that.

Where Are Lounge Clubs?

Lounge Club offers access to over 350 airport lounges in dozens of countries, but the hardest place to find a lounge is actually right here in the United States, where there are only participating lounges at 19 airports. For instance, I have visited facilities in the Lounge Club network at airports in Cancun, London Heathrow, Tel Aviv, and Entebbe in Uganda, yet there are no lounges in Denver, Newark, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Detroit, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and other major hubs. Since this benefit is most useful overseas, don’t hesitate to check if there is a member lounge, even at some of the most remote airports.

Check out this post for TPG’s top Lounge Club picks around the world.

The Club at ATL is one of the newest Lounge Club additions.

The Club at ATL is one of the newest Lounge Club additions.

Lounge Club Locations in the US

That’s not to say that you won’t find any here in the US, and there are some great ones at major airports across the country – Los Angeles even has four! Here is the current list:

AnchorageAlaska Airlines Board Room, Concourse C

AtlantaThe Club at ATL, International Terminal/Concourse F

Baltimore Chesapeake Club Lounge International Terminal

BostonAir France Graf Lounge, Terminal E

Chicago O’HareAir France VIP Lounge, Terminal 5

Dallas-Ft. WorthThe Club at DFW, Terminal D

Honolulu

Houston IntercontinentalKLM Crown Lounge, Terminal D

Las Vegas – The Club at LAS, Terminal 1, and Terminal 3

Los Angeles

Miami

New York JFK

Orlando Sanford

Portland Oregon - Alaska Airlines Board Room, Concourse C

Raleigh Durham – The Club At RDU, Terminal 1

San Francisco – Alaska Airlines Board Room, Domestic Terminal 1

San Jose – The Club At SJC, Terminal A

Seattle – Alaska Airlines Board Room, Concourse D

Washington Dulles – British Airways Galleries Lounge, Midfield Terminal

Maximizing Lounge Club Membership

Before traveling, you will want research which airports on your itinerary have a participating lounge. You can find this information on the Lounge Club website, in this .pdf file, or by using one of their iPhone, iPad, Android or BlackBerry apps. Find out what food, beverage, shower, and WiFi options are offered. I recommend doing this before international travel, as you may encounter the Catch-22 of needing lounge access to get WiFi, but not being able to find out where the qualifying lounge is without Internet service.

Also, pay close attention to which terminal the lounges are in. For example, larger airports such as New York-JFK have more than one lounge, but they may as well have none if they are lot in the terminal you are departing from.

Next, you will want to keep track of how many passes you use each year for each card. Staff at the lounges will not know the answer, and after they have used up both free passes cardholders will simply find a $27 charge for each guest on their next statement. You should also check the lounge’s specific entry on the Lounge Club site to see its admission policies because as I mentioned above, some require children to have their own passes while others admit them for free. For example, the Club at ATL admits kids 12 and under free while the SkyTeam KAL Business Class Lounge at LAX only admits children under the age of two for free, and each cardholder is limited to two guests.

JFK locations include Oasis and Korean Airlines lounge

JFK locations include Oasis and Korean Airlines lounge

Finally, use the card as a last resort when you don’t have any other way to obtain free access. For example, those who have membership in Delta’s SkyClub can use the Alaska Board Rooms and Air France/KLM lounges, which are also part of the Lounge Club program. In addition, international travelers with business and first class tickets usually receive passes to a lounge, often one that is part of the Lounge Club network. Ticket agents are supposed to provide you with these passes, but may only do so unless you request it. Check out this post for the Top 10 Ways to Get Lounge Access for Free, and then if you have the personal, business or Mercedes-Benz Platinum cards from American Express, the lounge access benefit includes admittance to American, Delta and US Airways clubs as well as Priority Pass clubs.

There are lots of times that I redeem points and miles for coach tickets domestically and in Europe where short-haul business ticket use the same seats as coach, and it is on these occasions that having Lounge Club membership and getting those 2 free annual passes comes in handy since heading into a lounge is a great way to get some work done, recharge my electronics, surf the web and even grab a snack apart from the chaos of a terminal – and I don’t have to be flying in the front of the plane to do so. Although a lot of people are down on airline lounges, they can be great places to be productive and to relax from the rigors of travel, and Lounge Club membership is just one more reason the Chase Ink cards are such valuable travel tools.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • joeypore

    Love the Club at DFW terminal D. I always stop by if I have some extra time, no matter what terminal I’m out of. Skylink makes everything 10-ish minutes away.

  • Trup

    So i emailed chase asking them about this as I have both cards and my wife has the Bold. They told me that with the signups i had, the passes were not part of any perks, so i dont get them.

  • thepointsguy

    Bizarre- I’d call – sounds like a misinformed rep.

  • Joseph

    Is it necessary to renew membership each year? Do you need to contact Chase to get another Lounge card each year?

  • Uri Hadelsberg

    How much of a business do I have to have? On the application form it says a business, though I only sell stuff on eBay. It works for Amex, does it work for Chase too or are they stricter about that?
    Thanks!

  • http://lifelaidout.com/ Roger

    I got approved for the Ink Bold card in the beginning of July and submitted the online form for the Lounge Club card immediately. After two months of waiting and three calls with Chase, I finally got my membership card a couple of days ago. As a warning, if you applied over the last couple of months and forgot about it, make sure to call Chase – they said they have been having some problems with sending the membership cards (should only take 10-14 days to send).

  • Ed

    Great article. Just one note on using Delta Skyclub to access Alaska Boardrooms–if you normally access Skyclub by using your AMEX Reserve benefit, you don’t have a true “Membership” to Skyclubs, and Alaska’s Boardroom won’t admit you, even if holding an Alaska Air ticket. Found out the hard way in Seattle a few weeks back. The good news was that as a PM on Delta, I got upgraded both ways on Alaska’s non-stops from FLL-SEA-FLL. I even cleared more than 24 hours out, which rarely happens on Delta metal. Not sure how it would work if you are using your Platinum AMEX benefits, perhaps TPG can enlighten us despite it being slightly off topic for a Chase Ink entry.

  • Stils

    Do you have an article on the perks of World Mastercards? I don’t know of any specifically.

  • The Weekly Flyer

    Thanks for the mention on the Atlanta lounge. It has the best free booze option by far.

  • ff_lover

    good informative post. I recently visited Alaska Anchorage Lounge. I was disappointed. There was almost no food. Only some crackers and nachos. No extra bathroom or relaxing facilities except few sofas. The windows faced the “cargo” plane area.
    But the international lounges were good like the Singapore. They had good snacks that were replenished quickly.

  • Mike

    The Lounge Club membership cards expire in one year as indicated on the cards. Should we renew them each year or they will send us a new card annually? Anyone has any experience?

  • thepointsguy

    You have to renew each year, it’s not automatic.

  • Jonathan

    Is it 2 passes per calendar year or per sign-up date year?

  • Jason Steele

    The membership is valid for one year from the day you received the Lounge Club card. Once enrolled, you get a new card each year automatically.

  • Jason Steele

    You really don’t need any business. I used to have business cards when I was traveling on business for an employer. Also, any side activity you perform, such as selling items on eBay, counts as a business.

  • Jason Steele

    Since the Amex Platinum benefits are unlimited, I would use those first. In addition to Delta, AA, and US club memberships, it offers the Priority Pass, which is a division of the same company as Lounge Club.

  • Jason Steele

    Saw your post on that. Can’t wait to check it out on my next trip to ATL.

  • Jason Steele

    per sign up date for the Lounge Club card, not the Ink card.

  • Jason Steele

    You can also contact Lounge Club directly, they pick up their phone quickly and seem to be US based agents.

  • http://lifelaidout.com/ Roger

    I had actually called Lounge Club first and they referred me to Chase since they said they don’t service the Lounge Club access serviced by Chase Ink Bold.

  • Tiff

    If we have a Chase Ink Bold card where do we find our activation code?

  • Jason Steele

    Try applying to Lounge Club again, and then calling to them to follow up on your access. If you have to escalate to Chase, try a private message. Whoever answers those seem to be more knowledgeable than their standard CS line.

  • John K

    Actually….I’ve had mine renewed automatically. They sent me a new card near expiration, good for another year.

  • Sol

    My Lounge Club member card is valid till next year, but I cancelled my Ink Bold credit card. Does it mean that I can use free two passes till the card is valid, or with the cancellation of the credit card, the benefits of the Lounge Club card are lost?

  • Joe

    I assume that the requirement listed on the Priority Club website for entry into all of the Alaska Board Rooms that users have a boarding pass with confirmed same day travel, that the boarding pass be for travel on Alaska Airlines? Or if I’m flying Southwest, Delta, United, etc., could I use one of their boarding passes plus the Priority Club card and get in?

  • Jason Steele

    If you have the Lounge Club card, you get in. Doesn’t matter which airline you are traveling on.

  • Jason Steele

    Not sure what will happen. I think you might not receive entry once your two freebies are used up. Perhaps you might not even get the two freebies at all, post cancellation.

  • Jason Steele

    I got a new one as well without calling. Might not be consistent.

  • bhanik

    Can we take guests with us to the lounge with the Lounge Club Card .
    Also if I have an additional secondary Chase Ink card, do I get 2 lounge passes for that card as well ?

  • http://lifelaidout.com/ Roger

    Jason, I actually already got my card (two cards) – I was just warning others that the 10-14 day processing timeline may not be accurate.

  • J

    My renewal was not automatic either. Definitely inconsistent. Thanks for this article, Tpg + Jason.

  • daw4888

    Are you sure the Ink cards are now VISA cards? If so then cant people with the Mastercard Version Cancel them and reapply, and get the signup bonus’s again on the VISA version?

  • Uri Hadelsberg

    Thanks! Do appreciate it!

  • Leo Chuang

    is it really 2 free visits to the lounge every year? can anyone confirm this? I thought it’s only the first 2 visits for the lifetime of the membership.

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