Updated: 6 days ago
Most people think of airports as loud, crowded, and miserable places to avoid spending any more time in than strictly necessary. Savvy travelers, however, know that access to an airport lounge can transform the terminal into a relatively relaxing space (or at least one with more abundant outlets!). Flying as many hundreds of thousands miles per year as we do means we value airport lounges tremendously — they give us a quieter place to work, usually with functional Wifi, and ideally a space to shower between long-haul flights. If you’re feeling peckish, airport lounges can be so much more than a place to avoid overpriced coffee stands. The best airport lounges in the world offer comfortable seating, friendly customer service agents, complimentary drinks, and quiet workplaces.
In the U.S., having the right credit card from American, Delta, or United can give you access to Admiral’s Clubs, Delta SkyClubs or United Clubs, respectively. You’ll have to get a premium card (with a correspondingly higher annual fee), but that’s almost always cheaper than paying outright for a lounge membership, even if you use none of the other card benefits.
If you’re not loyal to a specific airline domestically, our overall best pick for airport lounge benefits is the American Express Platinum or the American Express Business Platinum. The Amex Platinum cards offer the user access to three competitive lounge networks worldwide, including Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs and Priority Pass. And apart from Delta SkyClubs, it doesn’t matter which airline you are flying — your credit card and a confirmed same-day boarding pass on any airline will get you access.
Overall, gaining entry to airport lounges is much easier than you may think because a variety of credit cards offer airport lounge benefits. Before you know it, you may actually schedule that later flight, just to give yourself a couple extra hours in the airport! Here are the best credit cards available that offer airport lounge access:
The card has a great sign-up bonus, and on top of that has lots of perks that make it valuable long term. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me the 50,000 points are worth $850, and that's before factoring in the travel credit and other great perks.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Earn 100,000 Bonus Miles.
- New Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges.
- New Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
- New Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
- New Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck™ Fee Credit
- Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip
- 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flight when you pay with your Club Card.
This card gives you a full Admirals Club Membership for you and access for guests traveling with you, in addition to complimentary Admirals Club® Lounge access for authorized users.
• Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
• Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
• Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
• No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
• First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
• The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
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You can use the 4th night benefit multiple times per year, which keeps this card front-of-wallet for us, and more than makes up for the annual fee. Points can be transferred to a variety of programs, and ThankYou continues to increase their transfer partners, making points earned with this card more and more valuable.
• Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening
• 5x Points on Travel + Dining
• 3x Points on Hotels + Cruises
• 1x Points on all other purchases
• Up to $250 Travel Credit Every Calendar Year
• Complimentary 4th Night at a hotel of your choice after a minimum 4 consecutive night booking through ThankYou.com (based on your average night stay, exclusive of taxes and fees)
• Get a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Application Fee Credit on your statement, up to $100 every 5 years, as a reimbursement of your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
• Enjoy access to Priority Pass™ Lounges for you and your authorized users
This card is great if you fly on United quite often as you receive United Club membership, earn 1.5 United miles on everyday transactions, and receive Premier Access® benefits when traveling on United-operated flights.
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
Get United Club Access -- up to a $550 value per year; 2X miles per $1 spent on United purchases; 1.5X miles per $1 spent on all other purchases; Free first and second checked bags
This card is great for United flyers, as you get an included United Club membership, earn 1.5-2 miles per $1 on all transactions, and receive Premier Access® benefits when traveling on United-operated flights.
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
United ClubSM membership – up to a $550 value per year; Earn rewards faster with 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases; Earn even more miles on tickets purchased from United – 2 miles per $1 spent; Free first and second checked bags
The Best Airport Lounges in the World
We’ve not only compiled a guide to credit cards with lounge access, we’ve also actually visited most of the best (and worst) airport lounges in the world. When flying first or business class internationally, you’ll get complimentary lounge access at your departure airport, and sometimes on arrival. Over the years we’ve found some of the most spectacular lounges in the world that are true oases, and some of the worst that we’d actively avoid in the future. If you’re new to OMAAT, it’s worth pointing out that every flight or airport lounge review has been paid for independently (either through miles or cash).
On one end of the spectrum, are domestic lounges here in the United States, which primarily feature simple finger foods and house wines. But there are some more premium domestic lounges, many of which are accessible via credit cards with lounge access. One of our favorite domestic airline lounges is the Delta SkyClub in Seattle, with a stunning physical space, premium drinks, food by local chefs, and friendly staff. Across the board, Amex Centurion lounges are really hard to beat, especially the newly renovated spaces in Dallas and Miami.
On the other hand, the best airport lounges in the world rival some luxury hotels and restaurants, and offer guests a truly premium airport experience. Believe it or not, most of these lounges (and the airline you have to be flying to gain access) are available using points and miles. Here are the best airport lounges in the world:
- 1. Air France First Class Lounge Paris (CDG)
- 2. Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt (FRA)
- 3. Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich (ZRH)
- 4. Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong (HKG)
- 5. Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney (SYD)
- 6. Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha (DOH)
- 7. Thai First Class Lounge Bangkok (BKK)
- 8. Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi (AUH)
- 9. Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (DXB)
- 10. Singapore Airlines Private Room Singapore (SIN)
- 11. Oman Air First Class Lounge Muscat (MCT)
- Honorable Mention: Etihad Residence Lounge Abu Dhabi (AUH)
As a reminder, some of the best lounges in the world, including the favorites above, can’t be accessed directly by holding any specific credit card. You have to be flying in a premium cabin or be a top-tier elite in a frequent flier program to gain access. Thankfully, the right portfolio of credit cards to maximize your spending can push you towards a huge first step in the right direction thanks to transferable point currencies and shortcuts to elite status.
What Are The Main Airport Lounge Benefits?
Whether you need to get work done or are just looking for a peaceful spot to recharge your devices on a layover, here are some of our favorite benefits of airport lounges:
The best airport lounges in the world actually encourage travelers to get to the airport early. At minimum, an airport lounge is an escape from the hustle of the terminal and can be an oasis to relax before a flight. Whether you travel for work or for leisure, the best way to access airport lounges is through your credit card. In almost every circumstance, this offers a better overall value than outright purchasing a membership to a specific airline club lounge or Priority Pass Network. The best credit card for lounge access ultimately comes down to your individual travel patterns and should be determined by the lounge network at the airports you frequent the most.