“You have to fly business or first class to get airport lounge access”
In fact, you can be traveling on the cheapest hand-baggage only ticket and still enjoy lounge access all the same. And I’m not talking about getting in via elite airline status either.
Credit card companies love throwing in extras that help offset the annual fee(s) that they charge for their more premium card products. Airport lounge access is a prime example.
Here are the UK credit cards – with a few current accounts sprinkled in too – that offer airport lounge access:
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card is technically the only card that offers ‘free airport lounge access’. With no annual fee in the first year, the card comes with two free airport lounge passes that can be used worldwide at any lounge in the Lounge Club network.
Further visits can be purchased for £15. Click here to view a full list of Lounge Club lounges.
The Priority Pass that accompanies the Platinum card is the best version there is and can’t actually be purchased otherwise, not even from Priority Pass themselves!
The £450-a-year Platinum card offers free and unlimited entries for the main cardholder + a guest to over 1,000 Priority Pass lounges worldwide.
Cardholders can also add one free supplementary Platinum card. The nominated person will receive their own Priority Pass, which gives the same unlimited entries for the cardholder + a guest.
If you can’t quite stomach the fee on the Amex Platinum card, you can still purchase Priority Pass membership directly.
This link gives Tricks of the Trade readers 20% off Standard plans and 10% off Standard Plus and Prestige packages. I’ve listed the discounted Priority Pass prices below:
Standard Plus =
Unlike the Priority Pass that comes with the Amex Platinum card, there’s no free guest included. Although bear in mind, at £195 a year, the fee on the World Elite Mastercard is less than half of the Amex Platinum annual fee.
Supplementary cards cost £60 per year (you can add up to three). Additional cards do come with their own free LoungeKey access.
This is a bit of a sneaky entry because technically speaking the HSBC Premier Mastercard – which I reviewed here – doesn’t offer free airport lounge access. However, by showing your Premier Mastercard, you can access any lounge in the LoungeKey network for £15 per person.
It’s worth noting that the Santander World Elite Mastercard, available to Santander Select and Private customers, also offers access to the LoungeKey network for £15 per visit.
A quick mention for various current accounts:
The Travel Plus Pack is an add-on available on most Barclays current accounts. It currently costs £15.50 per month. The Travel Plus Pack comes with six free lounge passes each year that can be used across the 800 lounges in the DragonPass Lounge network.
NatWest Premier customers who take out a Reward Black account will receive DragonPass Premier membership. As this page explains, DragonPass Premier customers receive unlimited free access to all participating lounges.
The Reward Black account costs a hefty-looking £28 per month. Guests cost £20 per person.
Knowing that these cards offer airport lounge access can be a key factor in how you assess whether it’s worth paying a card’s annual fee not.
For example, I was chatting with a colleague a couple of weeks ago who told me that she quite happily purchases lounge passes for herself and her partner at £20 per person, numerous times each year, at both ends of their holiday.
For her, the Amex Platinum card is worth a serious look. While the £450 yearly fee may seem significant, she is currently paying north of £300 just for lounge access each year. In that case, are the other Amex Platinum benefits worth at least £150? Without a doubt. Suddenly, the once substantial Platinum fee looks like quite a reasonable proposition.
Are there other card products offering lounge access that I’ve missed?
Header image credit: Sorbis / Shutterstock.com