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Traveling today is stressful. Load factors are at an all-time high in the US, and airports always seem to be crowded. It’s important to keep your blood pressure down by taking advantage of every option available to make the preflight experience more enjoyable. For me at least, knowing that I have complimentary airport lounge access goes a long way in keeping me calm. Today, I’ll cover five top cards that offer complimentary airport lounge access among their benefits.

The Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access

Welcome Bonuses

Let’s take a look at how many points or miles you can earn from the welcome bonuses on these cards.

Card Annual Fee Welcome Bonus
The Platinum Card from American Express $550
(see rates & fees)
60,000 points after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard $450 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express $450
(see rates & fees)
40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card $450
(see rates & fees)
40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
United Club Card $450 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

The information for the United Club Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Continue reading for a breakdown of why these are five of the best cards for lounge access.

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Amex Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL). (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)
The Amex Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL). (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

Lounge access: This card earns the top spot because it gives you access to Centurion Lounges, which are among the best you’ll find at any airport. Visit them at Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH)LaGuardia (LGA), Las Vegas (LAS), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL)Seattle (SEA) and San Francisco (SFO). There’s an international location in Hong Kong (HKG) as well. Centurion Lounges boast free drinks, a great selection of hot and cold food, amenities and more. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of this lounge network, Amex will no longer let you purchase day passes for $50 unless you have an Amex Platinum, a Business Platinum® Card from American Express or a Centurion Card.

The Platinum Card also gets you Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta — you can even add your Amex Platinum to your Delta Wallet so you don’t even need to show the card at the lounge to gain access. The Amex Platinum also offers a Priority Pass Select membership with two guests included (but it won’t include restaurants in the Priority Pass network after August 1, 2019). Make sure you read about all of the benefits of the card, which can more than make up for the annual fee. I’ve used the Priority Pass membership more times than I can count, as there’s been a lounge at almost every airport I visited in the past three years. The Amex Platinum gives you access to so many lounges — high-quality lounges — that it’s a no-brainer for this list.

Other benefits: The American Express Platinum Card also earns 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (along with 5x on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel), making it one of your best options when you need to buy a flight. You also get a $200 airline fee credit to use toward fees like checked baggage and inflight meals on one airline of your choice each calendar year, and up to $200 in annual Uber credits.

Annual fee: $550

Further Reading:

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Lounge access: The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard comes with Admirals Club membership, along with access for immediate family members or up to two traveling guests. Even better, Citi updated the card’s perks to include membership for authorized users of this card — and you can add up to 10 AUs for free. Since they get up to two guests for lounge access as well, you’re looking at Admirals Club access for up to 33 people with just this one card. It currently has a 50,000-mile sign-up offer after $5,000 spent within the first 3 months.

Other benefits: You’ll earn 10,000 elite-qualifying miles after making $40,000 in purchases each calendar year, and there are no foreign transaction fees on purchases. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Plus, enjoy priority boarding and the first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation.

Annual fee: $450

Further Reading:

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

The Delta Sky Club PHX. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

Lounge access: With these cards — both the personal and business versions — you get Sky Club access when flying Delta. Unfortunately, you no longer get complimentary guest access, although you can bring in up to two guests (and children under the age of 21) at the discounted rate of $29 each.

Other benefits: Both these cards offer the ability to earn 30,000 MQMs per calendar year (15,000 after you spend $30,000, and another 15,000 when you spend $60,000). As a card holder you also get a free checked bag, priority boarding and 20% inflight savings. Plus, you get an annual Reserve companion certificate for first/business (or economy) travel within the 48 contiguous United States.

Annual fee: $450

Further Reading:

United Club Card

Holders of the United Club Card can enjoy United Club access. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

Lounge access: The final card on this list offers access to United Clubs, Star Alliance-branded business lounges around the world and Amtrak Acela lounges. Just make sure you have your United Club membership card that comes with the welcome package in hand, not the credit card.

Other benefits: The other big draw is that this card earns 1.5 United miles per dollar spent everywhere and 2x miles on United purchases. You’ll receive two free checked bags each for two people, waived close-in ticketing fees and elite-like benefits such as priority boarding. This card’s currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, a big step up from the previous offer, which didn’t include a sign-up bonus.

Annual fee: $450

Further Reading:

The information for the United Club Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Here is a Comparison of the Best Credit Cards with Airport Lounge Access:

Card Annual Fee Lounge Access Other Benefits
The Platinum Card from American Express $550 Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges and Delta Sky Club when flying Delta 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines and Amex Travel hotel bookings
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard $450 Admirals Club with access for immediate family and up to 2 guests 10,000 elite miles after making $40,000 in purchases per year
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express $450 Delta Sky Club when flying Delta Up to 30,000 Medallion® Qualifying Miles per calendar year when you spend $60,000
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card $450 Delta Sky Club when flying Delta Up to 30,000 Medallion® Qualifying Miles per calendar year when you spend $60,000
United Club Card $450 United Clubs, Star Alliance-branded business lounges and Amtrak Acela lounges 1.5 United miles per dollar spent everywhere

Find Your Own Oasis

You don’t have to be an elite flyer to relax in the lounge instead of at the gate — where the chairs and recharging outlets quickly fill up hours before departure time. The annual fees on these cards appear high at first glance, but they carry enough benefits and have the ability to earn you enough points to recoup the fee many times over.

If you’re new to the points and miles game, check out our Beginner’s Guide to learn more.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve, please click here
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Business, please click here.

Featured photo of the Turkish Airlines IST lounge by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
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Regular APR
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Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
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Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.