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Best credit cards for airport lounge access 2024

Travel rewards credit cards typically include perks and benefits beyond just miles or points. Insurance coverage, reduced rates for car rentals, and 24-hour concierge service are all common benefits for rewards credit cards.

One of the most exclusive and sought after card perks is access to airport lounges. Below, we cover the benefits of lounge access, how it works, and which credit cards offer lounge access as complimentary benefits. 

Best featured credit cards for airport lounge access

Credit cards with lounge access in Canada

What are the benefits of airport lounges?

It’s simple: airline traffic is at an all-time high.

The hustle and bustle of the airport is not the quaint atmosphere that it was when the McCallister family went rushing through O’Hare in Home Alone almost 30 years ago, with some of the world’s busiest airports now serving well over 100,000 passengers every day.

In a nutshell, airports are busy, they are noisy, and downright stressful, especially if you’re stuck facing long wait times or a flight delay. Airport lounges are an oasis of calm in the chaos and offer: 

  • A private place of peace and quiet that’s secluded from the rest of the airport.
  • An abundance of plush leather or fabric chairs so you’ll never have to hunt for a comfortable place to sit. Even better, some lounges include reclining seats for added relaxation and designated quiet areas with day beds.
  • The majority of airport lounges are equipped with free Wi-fi, phone charging stations, and complimentary refreshments including coffee, tea, light appetizers — even alcohol. Some lounges even serve hot meals and full-fledged buffets.
  • Feel refreshed while in between flights by taking advantage of shower facilities, which can be found in most lounges.
  • Stay up to date on your departure times with flight monitors or catch up on the news with daily newspapers and magazines, along with televisions tuned to news stations.
  • Need to catch up on work? Along with free Wi-fi, several lounges provide their own computers linked up to the internet, access to printers and fax machines, telephones for making international calls, and semi-private conference room facilities (in some cases, you may have to pay an additional fee to use these perks).
  • They also have operating hours that are convenient for travellers, opening as early as 5 a.m. and staying open late.

Airport lounge programs

There are four popular lounge programs, offering lounge access at dozens or even hundreds of airports around the world.

  • Priority Pass and Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey both operate very similarly and offer access to many of the same lounges. The biggest advantage of these two programs is the sheer size of their lounge networks – Priority Pass grants access to 1,200 lounges worldwide while Mastercard Airport Experiences offers access to 1,000. Most of these lounges are associated with airlines, and while amenities can vary from one lounge to the next, they all provide a comfy place to relax. And with so many options, you’ll always find a lounge no matter which airport you’re at. 
  • Maple Leaf Lounges are operated by Air Canada. There are 23 Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada, the United States, and Europe, and access is reserved for paying Maple Leaf Lounge members, Air Canada or Star Alliance flyers with elite airline status, and people with the right credit card.
  • Centurion Lounges are run by American Express. These lounges are typically on the higher end of the spectrum and are often less crowded due to the fact they’re exclusive to AMEX cardholders. Eight lounges can be found south of the border and one is located in Hong Kong.

How to access airport lounges

These lounges aren’t free, but you have a few options to get your foot in the door.

First, you could pay as you go. But paying per pass is an expensive route, especially if you travel often. The second option is to enroll in the lounge program directly. For example, you could become a Priority Pass member through their website at a cost of around USD$99 per year. This membership cuts down your visit fee to USD$27 per visit, per visitor.

The third option is to choose one of the best travel credit cards in Canada that include lounge access as a perk. Below are the top three credit cards with lounge access. It’s important to note that the lounge access offered by these credit cards are not equal, they all have specific limitations, so if this is an important perk to you, make sure to choose the credit card that suits your needs.

FAQ

Which credit card gives airport lounge access in Canada?


What credit card gets you into the Air Canada lounge?


Best airport lounge access credit cards

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

featured

4.0 Ratehub rated

Best for Travel perks

First year reward
$715/yr

based on spending $2,200/mo after $150 annual fee

Earn rewards

1pt – 3pts / dollar earn rate

Welcome bonus

30,000 bonus points (a $300 value)

Annual fee

$150 $0 first year waived

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

featured

Best for Travel perks

First year reward
$809/yr

based on spending $2,200/mo after $150 annual fee

Earn rewards

1pt – 5pts / dollar earn rate

Welcome bonus

100,000 bonus points (a $667 value)

Annual fee

$150

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

featured

3.5 Ratehub rated

Best for Travel

First year reward
$629/yr

based on spending $2,200/mo after the annual fee

Earn rewards

1pt – 2pts / dollar earn rate

Welcome bonus

45,000 bonus points (a $450 value)

Annual fee

see Details

American Express Platinum Card

featured

5.0 Ratehub rated

Best for Premium perks

First year reward
$224/yr

based on spending $2,200/mo after $799 annual fee

Earn rewards

1pt – 2pts / dollar earn rate

Welcome bonus

70,000 bonus points (a $700 value)

Anniversary bonus

30,000 pts (a $300 value)

Annual fee

$799

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

featured

First year reward
$571/yr

based on spending $2,200/mo after $599 annual fee

Earn rewards

1.25pts – 2pts / dollar earn rate

Welcome bonus

45,000 bonus points (a $648 value)

Anniversary bonus

30,000 pts (a $432 value)

Annual fee

$599