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What’s the Best Way to Get Free Hotel Club Lounge Access?

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TPG reader Adam tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy– “What are some of the best ways to get club lounge access at hotels without paying for it?”

We always talk about airline lounge access, but to be honest, hotel lounges can be even better, including much nicer spreads and open bars.

Some of my personal favorite hotel lounges are the Ritz-Carlton lounges because they’re typically open all day (you might be able to get several meals in if needed) and have very high end alcohol. The easiest way to end up in these lounges is by getting the Ritz-Carlton Visa card from Chase. The annual fee for is $395, but one of the benefits is a $300 annual reimbursement for airline incidentals, which effectively brings the annual fee down to $95. You also get three upgrades to club lounges each year, and each of those can apply to stays of up to seven nights. So for just $95 you can upgrade up to 21 nights in a beautiful Club room.

Lounge access can be amazing--and even better when it's free
Hotel lounge access can be amazing–and even better when it’s free. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Another way you can get lounge access is through Hilton Diamond status, which gives you Club room access. I got my status by spending $40,000 annually on the Citi Hilton Reserve card; alternately, you can always ask about upgrades at check-in, or you can use your miles and points to get upgraded to a Club room. For example, Hyatt has one of the best suite upgrade options out there at 3,000 Gold Passport points per night.

Remember to do the math and make sure the lounge is nice enough to warrant the expense. I value Hyatt points at about 1.8 cents apiece, so the upgrade comes out to $54 per night. Is lounge access worth it? In my experience some of the Hyatt lounges are incredible, but  ultimately it’s for you to decide.

As you can see, there are several ways to get into hotel lounges without paying full price, so figure out which method works best for you.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

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  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Portfolio*
  • Earn 5 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
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Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 15.49% (Variable) $95 0% Excellent Credit