Access to airport lounges is no longer limited to the frequent flying elite. After all anyone able and willing to pay for a credit card can get lounge access. If you’re loyal to one airline, you could access the Admirals Club, SkyClub or United Club by getting a top-tier co-brand card.
If you’re not as avid of a traveler, you can get a card that gives access to many different clubs. The American Express Platinum cards and the Capital One Venture X provide access to several lounge networks.
Both cards provide access to a large number of lounges through their partnership with Priority Pass. The Priority Pass program is a network of airport lounges (and, more recently, restaurants, bars, and even day suites) that allow access to program members. They can be airline lounges or locations with no airline affiliation.
Here’s a description of Priority Pass from their website:
Over 30 years ago our founder watched premium-class airline ticket holders enjoying the exclusivity and tranquillity of their airport lounges, as he endured the chaos of the departure hall.
His answer was to create Priority Pass – a club that is simultaneously inclusive (affordable to all) and exclusively for those who value a little piece of civilization on their journey. In short, a place where you are always treated like No. 1, rather than part of the herd.
Since 1992, several have tried to follow our lead. But our determination to remain the No.1 choice has driven unrivaled investment in lounges, resources, processes, technology, and partnerships.
The result is that today Priority Pass still offers more lounges, in more cities, in more countries than any other programme. And it’s why every visit is defined by faster, easier access.
So it’s little wonder that Priority Pass remains the programme of choice for the most discerning independent Travellers, corporate customers and global loyalty schemes.
Today, millions of Members across more than 148 countries are enjoying that No 1. experience envisaged by our founder over two decades ago.
While it’s easy to get a Priority Pass membership when you lay down $500+ for a premium travel credit card. It’s almost a prerequisite for a luxury card to include a membership (we have 5 Priority Pass cards in our house.)
But what if you don’t want to pay for a premium card? There is one sub-$100 personal card that provides access to Priority Pass lounges.
One of the perks of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is a Priority Pass membership that includes 10 free visits per year.
If you have another card with unlimited visits, that doesn’t sound great. But if this is the only hotel credit card you own, it’s a neat thing to stop in a lounge on your way to a well-deserved vacation, probably at a Hilton resort.
Since the card’s annual fee is $95, that means you’re buying entry into the lounge for $9.50. Not bad.
One nice thing is that you get 10 entrance fees. This provides flexibility as you can have ten solo visits, two visits with yourself and four guests, or just one visit with yourself and nine of your best friends. Additional visits will cost $32 per person. Other cards limit how many guests you can bring on each visit.
Since this Priority Pass is offered through American Express, it does have some limitations. American Express (AMEX) cards no longer provide credit when visiting airport restaurant locations like Bobby Van’s at JFK. They still do include other airport experiences like the Minute Suites at Charlotte Airport.
When I first saw this benefit on the Hilton Surpass card, I automatically dismissed it. I already have unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges including restaurants from other cards.
But when I took a step back, I can see how this card is a way for people to tiptoe into the world of airport lounges. Sure, there’s a great variety in the quality of Priority Pass lounges. You could end up going to the disappointing Wingtips Lounge at JFK (which got a small upgrade since it moved into the vacated Swiss lounge space.) However, there are plenty of nice Priority Pass lounges, including the new Club at MSY in New Orleans.
Once you visit a few clubs, maybe you’ll decide to upgrade to a card with better club access.
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