Which Cards Offer Lounge Access to Secondary Cardholders?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View other current offers here.
TPG reader Tom wrote in to ask about using a partner's lounge access even when traveling alone:
"Are there any credit cards that allow a secondary cardholder to access lounges for no charge when the primary cardholder is not present?"
The short answer? No — at least none that do it for free.
Credit card companies pay the airlines a lot of money for that lounge access, so in order to give access to secondary cardholders as well, there's going to be some sort of fee.
One of the best deals out there for additional cardholder lounge access is the Platinum Card® from American Express. For $175 total you can get three additional cards, each of which comes with full lounge access (including Delta Sky Clubs, Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass Select) and the up to $100 Global Entry rebate. At roughly $58 per each additional card (if you get three), that's a pretty good value for all of those perks.
There are other options, such as the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express, which charges $175 for an additional card that gains access to SkyClub lounges. For a $50 fee, Citi Prestige authorized users can get Priority Pass.
I think the key takeaway here is that you should get your own card. You'll have to shell out a bit up front, but these options are still cheaper than paying outright for lounge access. With the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, for example, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles (after spending $5,000 in the first three months), along with lounge access and other perks. All that can help offset the $450 annual fee.
For more info, check out TPG Contributor Richard Kerr's post on cards that offer airport lounge access.