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With over 1,000 lounges in over 500 cities (representing 130 countries) worldwide, The Priority Pass™ lounge network is the largest independent airport lounge access program in the world. What’s so great about the Priority Pass™ network is that entry is not dependent on the airline flown. The bad part is that all airport lounges are not created equal. Some lounges may be dire third-party lounges (e.g., The Lounge at Boston’s Logan International Airport), others are more inspiring third-party lounges with full meal presentations (e.g., Bidvest Premier Lounge and Bidvest Sky Lounge at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport), and still others are swoon-worthy legacy airline lounges (e.g., Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington, D.C., at Washington Dulles or the Air China First Class Lounge at Beijing Capital International Airport).

Regardless, a Priority Pass™ card represents access to snacks and meals, libations, Wi-Fi, power outlets, and comfy seating all around the world. Here’s how to gain membership and how to get your friends and family into the lounge, too!

How can I get a Priority Pass™ card?

You can buy into this membership-based network as a Prestige member for $399 per year (plus $27 per guest) through the company website, but why would you do so when you can get the card for free? Turns out that almost every high-end credit card comes with a complimentary version, called Priority Pass Select membership, with the same benefits and lounge access choices as Prestige membership. Note, however, that while this membership may be complimentary, enrollment is not always automatic. Call the 800 number on the back of your credit card to ensure your Priority Passmembership is activated (or click the link, if available, on your credit card benefits page of your online account) and your Priority PassSelect card is on its way.

Is there a downside to having a Priority Pass™ card through a direct membership versus a Select card through a financial institution?

There are two principal disadvantages of the Select card (neither of which justifies paying $399/year, in our opinion). First, you must carry around the physical Priority Pass™ Select card and present it at the lounges (versus the luxury of using a digital card from your smart phone). Second, there are some lounges that restrict entrance of Priority Pass™ Select members during peak hours while regular members can enter at all times. (Note: In eight years of having the Select card, I have been turned away just once.)

Which credit cards offer complimentary membership, does the benefit carry over to authorized users, and who can join me in the lounge?

Priority Pass Select membership will be given in the name of the cardholder and provides that cardholder access to all lounges within the network. Some credit cards also grant membership to authorized users. And guest policies vary by credit card. Find out the details below.


Citi Prestige® Card

Primary cardholder:
Complimentary membership

Authorized users:
Complimentary membership

Guest policy:
Two guests for no charge (and $27 for any  additional guests)

Enrollment:
One-time activation required


Chase Sapphire Reserve

Primary cardholder:
Complimentary membership

Authorized users:
Complimentary membership

Guest policy:
Unlimited guests

Enrollment:
One-time activation required


MasterCard® Black Card™, MasterCard® Gold Card™

Primary cardholder:
Complimentary membership

Authorized users:
Complimentary membership

Guest policy:
Unlimited guests

Enrollment:
Automatic (no activation required)

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Primary cardholder:
Complimentary membership

Authorized users:
Complimentary membership

Guest policy:
Two guests for no charge (and $27 for any additional guests)

Special note:  
This credit card also grants access to all American Express’ Centurion® Lounges and The International American Express lounges around the world as well as the Delta Sky Club® for the credit card holder when flying Delta. In summary, it provides the widest range of complimentary lounge access of any credit card on the market.

Enrollment:  
One-time activation required

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card


Primary cardholder:
Complimentary membership for primary OR one authorized user

Authorized users:
Complimentary membership for primary OR one authorized user

Guest policy:
First four visits and four individual accompanying guest visits are waived each Priority Pass Select membership year (not Cardmember year). Following this, it is $27 per person per visit (including visit of cardholder).

Enrollment:
One-time activation required

Note that the following luxury credit cards DO NOT offer Priority Pass Select membership:
* Chase Sapphire Preferred®
* Gold Card from American Express
* MasterCard® Titanium Card™
* Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

 

 

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 132 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Florida Design, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, and Robb Report.