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There are many travel rewards cards that offer some form of access to the Priority Pass network of airport lounges, but it’s sometimes unclear what that means and what’s included in your membership. In today’s post, I want to take a closer look at the levels of Priority Pass membership and discuss which credit cards offer this benefit and how to use it.

Priority Pass Basics

Priority Pass is a rapidly expanding network of airport lounges, mini-suites and restaurants. As of this writing, it boasts 1,220 eligible locations in 629 airports in more than 140 countries. The company was created in 1992 and it claims to be the largest airport lounge network in the world. Although these numbers sound impressive, the vast majority of lounges are outside of the US, and many are in small airports.

As of publish time, your Priority Pass will be accepted at facilities at 34 US airports, and some have multiple lounges:

  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Baltimore Washington International (BWI)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Cincinnati (CVG)
  • Cleveland {CLE)
  • Colorado Springs (COS)
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Houston Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Lexington (LEX)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • New York-JFK (JFK)
  • New York-LaGuardia (LGA)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Orlando International (MCO)
  • Orlando-Sanford (SFB)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • San Juan (SJU)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Syracuse (SYR)
  • Washington-Dulles (IAD)

This leaves out some pretty large hub airports like Fort Lauderdale, Detroit and Salt Lake City, not to mention busy secondary airports like Chicago Midway, Dallas Love and Houston Hobby. The upside is that many smaller airports in foreign countries have a lounge in the Priority Pass network, so membership can come in handy around the globe. For example, I’ve visited lounges in small airports like Liberia, Costa Rica and Entebbe, Uganda.

The facilities in the Priority Pass network also vary by owner. Some lounges are independent facilities like The Club at ATL in Atlanta, while others are affiliated with airlines, such as the Air France Lounge and Korean Airlines-run KAL Business Lounge at New York-JFK, or the British Airways Galleries Lounge at Washington-Dulles. Lounges can also vary quite a bit in terms of quality, with some very spartan facilities like the one in Honolulu, to some pretty nice ones like The Club at MCO in Orlando.

Restaurants and Mini-Suites

(Photo courtesy of The Grain Store Cafe & Bar)
(Photo courtesy of The Grain Store Cafe & Bar)

More recently, Priority Pass added the Corona Beach House at Miami Airport (MIA), offering members $30 worth of food and drink. Five restaurants at the Sydney Airport (SYD) are part of the program as well — read Senior Points & Miles Contributor Richard Kerr’s post on getting $53 worth of food and booze at SYD through Priority Pass.

Beyond adding restaurants where members can get free food and drink, Priority Pass has expanded its network of lounges to include some less-conventional options. For example, the PGA MSP Lounge at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport (MSP) offers free access to a putting green, along with golf lessons and a golf simulator available for a fee. This lounge also offers a $15 credit that can be applied toward food or drink, or toward a golf experience. We’ll likely see more restaurant and experiential options added to the Priority Pass network in the future.

Minute Suites at ATL.
Minute Suites at ATL.

Finally, Priority Pass is starting to add Minute Suites at locations like Charlotte and Philadelphia. At these facilities, Priority Pass members can use a suite for one hour, which represents a single visit. Additional hours can be rented at a discounted rate of $28, and a shower can be had for an extra $20 for 30 minutes.

Priority Pass vs. Priority Pass Select

The terms Priority Pass and Priority Pass Select are used in such a way that it can create some confusion. Priority Pass is the name of the company that offers memberships to lounges in its network. You can purchase Priority Pass memberships directly from the site, with annual fees starting at $99. Here’s a breakdown of the membership options:

  • Standard membership: $99 per year; includes visits for $27 each
  • Standard Plus membership: $249 per year; includes 10 free visits, with subsequent visits for $27 each
  • Prestige membership: $399 per year; includes unlimited complimentary visits (guests cost $27 each)

Meanwhile, many US credit cards offer club access benefits called Priority Pass Select. It used to be that Priority Pass memberships included United Club lounges and the Priority Pass Select membership didn’t. But now that the United Clubs aren’t part of either program, there’s little distinction between the benefits of a Priority Pass membership purchased directly and the Priority Pass Select benefit offered by credit cards.

However, some credit cards offer Priority Pass Select benefits for just one person, while others include guests. In either case, Priority Pass and Priority Pass Select members can pay for additional guests beyond their benefit’s allowance at a rate of $27 per person.

Credit Cards That Offer Priority Pass Select Memberships

Here are the cards that you can currently apply for and get Priority Pass Select membership. Note that this list doesn’t include cards that are no longer available to new applicants, or are invitation-only.

Chase Sapphire Reserve — This wildly popular card travel offers a Priority Pass Select membership. Originally, the Priority Pass Select benefit offered an unlimited number of guests for free. But starting on August 26, 2018, you will only receive free access for up to two guests. New applicants can currently receive a 50,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, and each additional authorized user costs $75 per year (authorized users receive a Priority Pass Select membership of their own).

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN — The primary cardholder and authorized users receive a Priority Pass Select membership good for themselves and two guests. Platinum cardmembers can also access Delta Sky Club lounges when they’re traveling on a Delta flight the same day, with guest access at a reduced fee ($29 per person for up to two guests). Both cards also offer free access to Airspace lounges (with two guests) such as the ones  at Cleveland (CLE), New York-JFK (T5) and San Diego (SAN). Finally, personal and business Platinum cardmembers can access American Express Centurion Lounge locations, with up to two guests.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card — This card offers Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit, and there’s currently no official limit to the number of free guests, although individual lounges can impose limits. Authorized users will also receive their own Priority Pass Select card, and there’s no fee to add these cards to your account. New applicants earn two complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card.

Citi Prestige — The Citi Prestige Card offers a Priority Pass Select membership for both the primary and authorized cardholders that includes complimentary lounge access for both the cardholder and immediate family members (defined as your spouse/domestic partner and/or children under the age of 18), or up to two guests.There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, and it costs $50 for each authorized user.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express — This card includes a Priority Pass Select membership that includes yourself and up to two guests. It currently offers new applicants 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card.

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card — This card includes a Priority Pass membership, however it offers just 10 free visits with no free guests. You can visit by yourself ten times, or visit once with nine guests. After that, you’ll have to pay a $27 fee per person, per visit. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card, and you can currently earn 125,000 Honors points when you spend $2,000 on the card in the first three months.

Starwood Preferred Guest Amex Luxury Card — This card, which isn’t available yet as of publish time, will offer a Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited complimentary access for the cardholders and two guests. There’s will be a $450 annual fee for this card.  For more information, see our post, Amex Details New ‘Luxury’ SPG Card, Changes to Existing Products.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card — This card comes with a limited Priority Pass Select membership for one cardmember per account, including authorized users. The member will receive complimentary access to participating lounges for the first four visits as well as four individual guest visits. After the free visits are used, the discounted $27 entry fee will apply to cardholders and guests. There’s a $400 annual fee for this card.

How to Utilize Your Priority Pass Select Benefits

Once you have a card that includes a Priority Pass Select membership, you can’t simply present your credit card at a participating lounge, restaurant or Minute Suite to receive complimentary access. First, you must enroll in the program through a link that you receive with your card in order to receive a Priority Pass Select membership card.

Since it can take a week or two to receive your membership card in the mail, it’s best to enroll as soon as you receive your credit card. Alternatively, you can download the Priority Pass app, which includes a digital membership card that you can use to access most, but not all, facilities.

Make sure to know if guests are permitted — and how many — ahead of your visit, because the representatives accepting your card will not know. For example, if you have Priority Pass Select access through your Amex Platinum, you receive guest access for up two guests, so your card will be automatically charged $27 for each additional guest. Since you’re never asked to present your credit card at the lounge, you might not know that you were charged until you see your statement.

Bottom Line

Several cards offer Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit, which can help improve your travel experience with goodies like free food and drinks, not to mention a comfortable place to relax or get some work done. Just make sure you know the specific details of your membership, since the guest policies vary quite a bit from card to card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Annual Fee
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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