Once upon a time, airport lounges were only for the select few. A private, tranquil preflight experience was reserved for the most frequent fliers or elite members.
But the rise in popularity of credit cards that provide lounge access means you can feel like a million bucks before takeoff … without spending a million bucks on your ticket.
First, consider a high-end credit card from a bank. While airport lounges are getting increasingly popular (and crowded), there remains a certain cache and appeal to be hidden in a somewhat-exclusive space away from the masses.
There are three mainstream premium bank cards — with an annual fee of $400 or more — from Chase, Capital One and American Express — all with airport lounge access.
The card that comes with the widest swath of lounges worldwide is the Platinum Card from American Express. With this card, you’re promised access to more than 1,400 airport lounges in 140 countries.
Plus, back in 2013, American Express entered the business of owning and operating its own lounges. The Centurion Lounges, with 14 U.S. locations, are some of the most premium airport spaces domestically, and include fine dining, spa services and shower suites.
Of course, the card comes at a cost of nearly $700 per year. But that preflight champagne just hits different.
But maybe you are loyal to a specific airline but not loyal enough to get lounge access. There’s where a high-end airline credit card can come in.
Cards from carriers like United, American and Delta provide airline club access, but only when you fly on that carrier. For instance, if you’re a Delta loyalist that’s always stuck in economy, it may make sense to get access to the Delta Sky Club through a premium Delta credit card.
And a pro-tip: You can access most airline-specific lounges on arrival in addition to before departure.