The Best Credit Cards For Airport Lounges
You know how it goes. You're walking through the airport, and you see the frosted doors and the beautifully crafted wood frame that adorns an airport lounge. You get a glimpse inside when somebody opens the door and what you see is breathtaking by airport standards: couches, TVs, work areas, and people offering food and drinks.
Unless you're an elite frequent flyer – or always travel first or business class – you aren't going to get into most lounges through the airlines. However, some elite credit cards will give you access. These aren't your normal cards. Be prepared for a hefty annual fee if you're able to qualify. Here are some of our favorites.
Citi Executive® /AAdvantage® World Elite
This card, offered by Citi, gives you and your immediate family (or up to two traveling guests) access to the American Airlines Admirals club. With more than 50 clubs worldwide, you will receive complimentary beer, wine, spirits and other drinks, light snacks, free Wi-Fi, PCs, and personal travel assistance.
The card also awards you 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines and US Airways purchases. There's no foreign transaction fee and your first checked bag is free.
The card has an APR of 15.24% and a $450 annual fee.
Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card was made with travelers in mind. Not only do you gain access to The CenturionSM Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and Airspace Lounges, you get a $200 airline fee credit each year, no foreign transaction fees, and a fee credit when you apply for TSA Pre.
Because it's a charge card, there is no interest rate because the card balance has to be paid at the end of the month. The annual fee is $450 and there are no foreign transaction fees. Certain purchases are eligible for double Membership Rewards Points; the rest get 1 point/dollar spent.
United MileagePlus Club Card
Offered by Chase, this card comes with access to the United Club, United Airlines' airport lounges. Like all airline lounges, travelers receive beverages, breakfast and afternoon snacks, free Wi-Fi and travel assistance.
Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent and an extra 0.5 miles on purchases from United; the first and second checked bags are free.
The card has a 15.99% APR and no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee of $395 is lower than many other cards in this category.
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
If you're loyal to Delta, this might be the card for you. Offered by American Express, the Delta Reserve Credit Card gives you access to the Delta Sky Club, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and double miles on Delta purchases. The card has an APR between 15.24% and 19.24% based on creditworthiness, and charges no foreign transaction fees. Its annual fee is $450.
The Bottom Line
The perks that come with cards at this level are definitely attractive, but costly. The annual fee will easily wipe out the benefits if you don't travel regularly – and you'll miss out on many of the most desirable plusses, such as getting into airport lounges or having free checked bags or priority boarding. (For more, read Credit Cards: Should You Ever Pay An Annual Fee?)
What's more, the rewards programs and perks aren't a good value if you're paying monthly interest. Pay the card in full each month or use a card like the American Express Platinum card that doesn't allow you to carry a balance. For more credit card travel advice, read Top Airline Miles Credit Cards and Do Your Card's Travel Benefits Make The Grade?