The Best Credit Cards That Get You Priority Pass™ Lounge Access

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Need a nap during a layover at Dubai International Airport (DXB), a free restaurant meal for 2 including wine at Tampa International Airport ((TPA), or a shower between flights at Heathrow Airport (LHR)? All this and more is at your disposal with complimentary Priority Pass™ membership.

Airport lounge access, while closer to a travel necessity than a travel convenience, is a major element of Priority Pass membership but benefits are edging toward an all-inclusive experience.

The airport lounge has typically been the go-to spot for business travelers meeting up with colleagues, getting some work done, and regrouping between flights. For families, the lounge has served as a place to grab a bite to eat, rest up, and entertain the kids between flights.

However you use the airport lounge, for business or for leisure travel, chances are you appreciate the value of having access when traveling.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to secure airport lounge access and the related benefits of a Priority Pass membership without having to purchase one. The membership is complimentary with several premium travel rewards credit cards.

In this article, you’re going to find all the information you need on the Priority Pass lounge, the amenities and services the membership includes, and which credit cards are best for getting complimentary or discounted access.

What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass has been around for over 25 years providing a network of worldwide airport lounges.

The founder of the program watched as business class passengers enjoyed lounge access while he endured the “chaos of the departure hall”. He then proceeded to create Priority Pass, a program that would offer airport lounge access, regardless to your class of travel or the airline you were flying.

More recently the Priority Pass network has expanded to include dining facilities, spa experiences, retail offers, and Minute Suites access.

The Priority Pass worldwide network of lounges and associated properties spans over 153 countries, 500 cities, and 1,200 facilities. This dominant global footprint means you’re sure to find a lounge throughout your travels.

You can purchase a Priority Pass membership directly or receive Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit on a travel rewards credit card.

Priority Pass Lounge banner
Image courtesy of Priority Pass.

The Benefits of a Priority Pass Membership

With a Priority Pass Select Membership, you can expect the following benefits:

  • Access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide
  • Complimentary beverages, snacks, and hot food where available
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Showers and conference rooms where available
  • Restaurant dining at specific airports – $28-$30 credit per person, limits apply depending on the card and/or restaurant
  • Minute Suite access – one hour free, discounted rate after that
  • Access to other facilities specific to individual airports – Example: Sleep’n Fly at DXB
  • Avis Preferred benefits
  • Access to over 800 dining, shopping, and spa discounts
  • Comfortable seating and quiet spaces
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Power outlets and USB ports

Additional locations and services are being added constantly. When you initiate a search for a lounge, all of the available facilities, including restaurants and sleeping options will be listed.

Bottom Line: Priority Pass Select includes more than just lounge access. You can find a place to take a nap, dine at a restaurant with your traveling companion, or catch a quick shower. While facilities vary by airport, with over 1,200 locations and growing, you’ll find Priority Pass locations widely available during your travels. 

The Value of Complimentary Priority Pass Lounge Access

To get an idea of how much the complimentary lounge access on a travel rewards credit card is worth, here is a look at what it costs for a Priority Pass membership and what it offers.

Priority Pass
The cost of Priority Pass membership when purchased directly. Image courtesy of Priority Pass.

There are 3 levels of Priority Pass membership you can purchase directly from Priority Pass. One key factor to notice is that even if you purchase the Prestige level membership, you must pay extra for any guests to have access.

With Priority Pass Select, the level of membership you receive on a travel rewards credit card, you can bring two additional guests into the lounge with you for no extra charge.

Since a single Prestige level membership costs $429 a year when purchased from Priority Pass, the complimentary membership that comes with your credit card and allows 2 guests, can be worth much more.

Hot Tip: The complimentary Priority Pass membership that comes with a travel rewards credit card can be worth more than a purchased membership as the complimentary membership can allow up to 2 additional guests for no charge. Paid membership charges $32 per guest per visit. 

Best Personal Credit Cards that Offer Priority Pass Lounge Access

Plaza Premium Lounge, Rome FCO - Priority Pass
The Plaza Premium Lounge at Rome Fiumicino (FCO) is just one of the many lounges you can access with Priority Pass. Image courtesy of plaza-network.com.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

When it comes to complimentary worldwide lounge access, the Platinum Card® is king.

While the Platinum Card does include access to other lounges such as the Centurion Lounges, Plaza Premium, Delta Sky Club, and Aspire Lounges, by far the largest network available is Priority Pass.

One of the best features of the Platinum Card® is that authorized users receive the same complimentary Priority Pass lounge membership as the primary cardholder. Up to 3 authorized users can be added to the card for a total of $175 in addition to the annual fee on the card.

Authorized users can each bring an additional 2 guests into the lounge for no charge. Additional guests beyond that will be charged at the Priority Pass Standard Program rate of $32 per person, per visit.

Credit CardCard Overview
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants.
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Annual Fee: $450

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium travel rewards card offering plenty of travel benefits including travel statement credits, elevated earnings on travel purchases, and complimentary lounge access to Priority Pass lounges.

Just like the Platinum Card®, authorized users receive the same Priority Pass Select membership as primary cardholders. This includes unlimited access plus 2 additional guests at no charge. Additional guests are then charged at the discounted rate of $27 per person, per visit.

It costs $75 for each authorized user you add to your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but that can be good value for unlimited Priority Pass lounge access and the ability to bring 2 guests.

Hot Tip: Adding an authorized user to the Platinum Card® or Chase Sapphire Reserve® can give the additional cardholder unlimited Priority Pass Select membership, which includes the option to bring 2 additional guests. 

Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige® Card has a lot going for it. With 5X ThankYou® points earned on airlines and dining, the 4th award hotel night free, and statement credits for travel purchases, the card is worth consideration even if it did not come with lounge access.

The Prestige Card does complimentary lounge access properly. The Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the card allows access for the primary cardholder and for the entire immediate family as well. Or, you can bring 2 additional guests.

Authorized users have the same level of Priority Pass membership including access for immediately family or 2 guests. Authorized users cost just $50 to add to the card.

The Prestige Card is a great choice if you’re traveling frequently with immediate family and want lounge access for everyone.

Timberline Steak and Grill Denver
Dine at one of the Priority Pass designated restaurants and receive up to $30 per person credit with your membership. Image courtesy of Timberline Steak and Grill.

Hilton Honors™ American Express Aspire® Card

With supercharged reward earnings on Hilton purchases, an annual free hotel night, and complimentary top-level Diamond elite status, the Hilton Honors™ American Express Aspire® card checks all the boxes for a premium hotel rewards card.

If Hilton is your hotel brand of choice, you’ll find a lot of reasons to have the Hilton Honors Aspire card, including complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.

Membership includes unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges for the cardholder and 2 additional guests. Authorized users do not receive Priority Pass Select membership.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

With a generous $300 statement credit for Marriott stays, complimentary elite status, and a free hotel night each card anniversary, the Marriott loyalist will enjoy all of the perks of the premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® card.

In addition, the primary cardholder receives complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that provides unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges. The primary cardholder can also bring 2 additional guests.

According to the terms and conditions on the card, any additional guests above the 2 complimentary guests are charged at the standard Priority Pass membership rate, which would be $32 per person, per visit.

Authorized users do not receive Priority Pass Select membership.

Minute Suites
Use your Priority Pass Select membership for complimentary access to Minute Suites. Image courtesy of Minute Suites.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

This premium travel rewards card comes well-equipped for the frequent traveler with a $325 statement credit for travel purchases, 3X earnings on travel purchases, and a Global Entry credit.

In addition, you’ll enjoy a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership with 4 free visits per membership year for the cardholder plus 4 guest visits. A charge of $27 per person, per visit, applies after the free passes are used up.

The card charges an annual fee of $400 and authorized users do not receive Priority Pass Select membership.

Hilton Honors™ American Express Ascend® Card

The Hilton Honors™ American Express Ascend® card is a great choice for securing complimentary Priority Pass lounge access. Your complimentary Priority Pass Select membership comes with 10 free lounge passes each membership year. Once those 10 passes are used, you will be charged $32 per visit, plus $32 per guest.

A membership year is defined as one year from the date you register for Priority Pass Select and every subsequent year from that date.

The Hilton Honors Ascend has a low annual fee, comes with a generous welcome bonus, Hilton Honors Gold status, and other valuable benefits.

Mastercard® Black Card™ and Mastercard® Gold Card™

Both the Mastercard® Black Card™ and Mastercard® Gold Card™ come with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that includes unlimited access for the primary cardholder, guests, and authorized users.

The cards charge annual fees of $495 and $995 respectively and come with air travel credits, Global Entry credits, luxury hotel benefits, and VIP concierge services. Another benefit is that points can be redeemed for double credit for air travel.

While the earning rates on these cards are not stellar as there are no bonus categories, the Priority Pass Select membership includes unlimited access for the cardholder and unlimited guests. For a large family that travels together and wants lounge access, or for a celebrity with an entourage, the cards are at least worthy of mention.

The Ritz-Carlton™ Rewards® Card

Although the card is not open to new applicants, the Ritz-Carlton™ Rewards® Card comes with unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges for the primary cardholder who can also bring unlimited guests. Authorized users receive the same lounge access benefits and there is no cost to add additional users to the card.

Woman Working in Airport Lounge
Having lounge access can provide a quiet place to relax between flights. Photo courtesy of Olena Yakobchuk via Shutterstock

Best Business Credit Cards that Offer Priority Pass Access

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express comes with the same access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection as the personal version of the card. Included in the Global Lounge Collection is the Priority Pass lounge network. Just like the personal version, the Business Platinum Card offers unlimited access for the primary cardholder and any authorized users.

The Business Platinum® allows access to 2 additional guests for both primary cardholders and authorized users. Additional guests beyond 2, according to the terms and conditions on the card, will be charged at the Priority Pass Standard Program rate of $32 per person, per visit.

Authorized users on the Business Platinum® Card can be added for $300 each.

Hilton Honors™ American Express Business Card

The Hilton Honors™ American Express Business Card has stellar earning potential without a high annual fee. You’ll earn 12 points per dollar spent on Hilton purchases, 6 points per dollar on a long list of business expenses, and 3 points on all other purchases. The card also comes with a generous welcome bonus and Hilton Honors Gold status.

Plus, you’ll receive 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visit passes each Priority Pass Select membership year. These passes can be used for friends and family as well.

Once you use your 10 passes, you will be charged the standard Priority Pass rate for $32 per person, per visit.

Bottom Line: Very few business credit cards come with complimentary lounge access. There are far more lounge access benefit options with personal credit cards. 

How to Use Your Priority Pass Membership

Priority Pass Activated
Image courtesy of Chase.

Activating Your Membership

The complimentary Priority Pass Membership that comes with your credit card is not activated automatically, so you will need to register for membership.

Log into your online credit card account, and under card benefits you’ll see the Priority Pass option. Once you’ve registered, you’ll clearly see the confirmation and the terms of your membership. The image above is from a Chase Sapphire Reserve® registration.

Once you’ve activated your membership, a membership card will be sent to you in the mail, and you’ll receive your card within 10 to 14 days.

You cannot use your credit card to gain access to a Priority Pass lounge. You must use either the physical Priority Pass membership card or a digital version of the card from the Priority Pass mobile app.

Download the App

The Priority Pass mobile app can be very helpful for locating lounges and accessing your digital membership card. You can download the app from Apple’s App Store or from Google Play.

Having the app on your smartphone allows you to do all of the following:

  • Locate Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Access your digital membership card
  • Access more than 800 dining, spa, and shopping discounts
  • Access major airport maps
  • Track your visit history
  • Save your favorite lounges for future visits
  • Find nearby lounges based on your current location

Not all credit cards have access to digital membership cards and not all Priority Pass lounges accept digital membership cards, but most do.

Final Thoughts

Having a Priority Pass Select Membership can be a real luxury when traveling. Having that membership provided complimentary with a credit card is even better.

Normally, you wouldn’t select a credit card based on just one benefit. However, with the addition of dining establishments, Minute Suite access, and over 1,200 locations worldwide, Priority Pass Select membership is a benefit that makes securing a card that has it very compelling.

The value of complimentary Priority Pass Select membership is clear. Lounge access alone can cost hundreds of dollars per year. If you use the complimentary access and consume a couple free meals per year at Priority Pass program restaurants, you’ve received more than enough value to offset any annual fee.

Plus, credit cards that come with Priority Pass Select membership normally offer other benefits that add even more value.


*Featured Image Credit: Priority Pass

FAQ

What is the best credit card for Priority Pass lounge access?

The best credit card for Priority Pass lounge access is the card that has other benefits you will use, has an annual fee you’re comfortable paying, and spending categories that match your expenses.

If you travel frequently and enjoy luxury travel perks, the Platinum Card® from American Express offers the broadest lounge access with its American Express Global Lounge Collection network.

If you travel occasionally but lounge access is important, you may select a card with a lower annual fee and just 10 free annual passes such as the Hilton Honors™ American Express Ascend® Card.

If you travel frequently with family, you may select a card such as the Citi Prestige® Card that allows lounge access for your entire immediate family that includes spouse/domestic partner and children under 18.

Is there a credit card with no annual fee that has lounge access?

While there isn’t a fee-free credit card that comes with complimentary airport lounge access, the Hilton Honors™ American Express Ascend® Card comes close with a lower annual fee and you receive 10 Priority Pass lounge passes per membership year. Plus the card comes with several other valuable benefits.

What is the difference between Priority Pass and Priority Pass Select?

Priority Pass is the name of the lounge membership program. The program is owned by the Collinson Group of companies. Priority Pass Select is the lounge membership product that comes with travel rewards credit cards.

To illustrate, you can purchase a Priority Pass membership directly from the Priority Pass program. You receive a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership with your credit card.

The term “Priority Pass Select” simply differentiates the card-provided membership from the paid “Priority Pass” membership.

How much do guests cost?

Most credit cards that offer the Priority Pass Select membership allows 2 additional guests at no cost.

Some cards have written in their terms and conditions that starting with the 3rd guest, the charge is based on the Standard Priority Plan rate, which is currently $32 per person, per visit.

Other cards have a discounted rate of $27 per person, per visit for the 3rd guest any beyond.

A few cards offer unlimited guests at no additional charge.

When you register for Priority Pass Membership with your card, the amount of guests you can bring and the amount you will be charged for guests will be fully disclosed.

You can also review the Priority Pass membership details in the information displayed before you select a card or check the terms and conditions in your card benefits guide when you receive your card.

Are drinks free with Priority Pass?

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are provided at no charge in Priority Pass lounges.

Additionally, if you dine at a Priority Pass designated restaurant, you can receive a credit for food and drink by showing your membership card, up to $30 per person.

Can I use my credit card to access a Priority Pass lounge?

You cannot use your credit card to access a Priority Pass lounge. You must present your physical Priority Pass Select membership card or your digital membership card, which can be found on the Priority Pass app. You will also need to present your boarding pass and ID.

Not all credit cards offer the digital form of the membership card. The majority of lounges accept digital membership cards but some do not.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

1 comment

  1. satish kumar Sahdev · April 26, 2019 · Reply

    Excellent offer of Priority Pass Membership.

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