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Airport Lounges Are for Everyone With the Right Credit Card

Author: Jacob Davis

Anyone that spends a lot of time in airports understands just how important it is to feel comfortable and be able to relax during a layover. One of the best ways to kick your feet up and make it to your connecting flight with ease is by having access to an airport lounge.

When a lot of people think of airport lounges the first things that come to mind are business executives and the ultra-wealthy. While most lounges definitely attract this demographic, it's nowhere near the majority anymore. The reason for that is because of credit cards. Some of the best credit cards available to the everyday consumer now give anyone access to some of the world's most luxurious airport lounges. (For more, see: Top Credit Cards for Airline Miles Travel.)

Here are a few of the best credit cards that offer their cardholders free access to airport lounges.

Platinum Card From American Express

Anyone that holds the Platinum Card from American Express Co. (AXP) will have access to the Delta SkyClub lounges, which have some of the nicest lounges in the U.S. Card members will also receive access to the Priority Pass Select program and Airspace Lounges. American Express has also started opening up Centurion lounges throughout the US.

The only downside to this card is that it has a $450 annual fee that is not waived the first year. On the bright side, this fee is mostly offset by a $200 airline fee credit, which can be used for any fee including baggage fees. You will also receive up to a $100 credit when you apply for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry programs.

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Anyone that loves to fly with American Airlines Inc. (AAL) will love carrying the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard in their wallet. This card provides the cardholder and his or her family (or up to two traveling companions) access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs. The standard signup bonus for this card is 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 within the first three months. For a limited time the bonus has been increased to 75,000 miles after you spend $7,500 within the first three months.

Cardholders will also be able to check into their flight and pass through airport security through priority lanes. The card has a $450 annual fee that is not waived the first year, however it also awards cardholders up to a $100 statement credit when applying for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Citi Prestige Card

Citi Prestige (C) cardholders and their family (or two traveling companions) will receive access to any American Airlines Admirals Clubs if they are flying on American Airlines. Cardholders will also receive a Priority Club Select membership.

In addition to lounge access, cardholders will receive a $250 annual credit for air travel, plus a $100 statement credit when signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Currently the signup bonus for the Citi Prestige is 50,000 ThankYou points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of having your account open. A big plus for this card is that it offers bonus ThankYou points for different category spending. You will receive 3-times the points for all travel purchases, 2-times the points on dining and entertainment, and 1-times the point on every other purchase.

This credit card does have a high $450 annual fee, however a lot of that is offset by the statement credits that you will receive. (For more, see: Credit Card Review: Citi Prestige Card.)

United MileagePlus Club Card

With the United MileagePlus Club card you will receive access to all United Club locations and also Star Alliance affiliated lounges. This benefit is also extended to any eligible travel companion that might be with you.

When you sign up for this card you will receive a $100 statement credit after your first purchase. In addition you will receive two United miles per dollar spent on all United Airlines purchases. For all other purchases you will receive 1.5 points.

This card does have a $450 annual fee. Because it doesn't come with quite as many extra benefits it isn't quite as valuable as the other cards mentioned.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

Ritz-Carlton Rewards cardholders will receive a free membership to Lounge Club. This will provide access to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide.

After you sign up for the card and spend $3,000 within the first three months you will receive two free nights at any category 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel. In addition to that you will receive three complementary upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club level every year that you are a card member.

Each anniversary date you will receive a 10% bonus on all points that you earned during the previous year.

The card comes with a pretty steep $395 annual fee, however there are a couple statement credits that will help to offset this amount. Each year you will receive a $300 annual travel credit, which can be used for baggage fees, Global Entry fees, seat upgrades and more. You will also receive a $100 hotel credit when you pay for two or more nights.

Diners Club Premier Card

The Diners Club Premier card is a credit card that is often overlooked by travel reward enthusiasts, but it shouldn't be. Cardholders will receive free access to over 500 Diners Club lounges worldwide.

The earning potential for this credit card isn't all that high because you will only receive one point for every dollar spent using the card. Not ideal, but it also only has a $95 annual fee, which is much lower than the rest of the cards mentioned. (For more, see: Credit Card Rewards: Cash Back Vs. Airline Miles.)

The Bottom Line

If you are a frequent traveler then you know just how nice it is to spend time in an airport lounge when you have a long layover. Each of these credit cards will offer their cardholders free lounge access.

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