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Which Credit Cards to Use for Complimentary Airport Lounge Access

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Do you have hours to kill while waiting for your flight? Tired of going to the same stores and cafes every 20 minutes or so? Do crowded terminals give you nightmares?

Well, we’ve all been there.

If only you could relax and unwind at an airport lounge and feast on some scrumptious (free) food while using (free) wifi. Or even take a refreshing shower before getting on to your flight!

What if we told you that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy access to airport lounges? All you need is a credit card that comes with complimentary access to airport lounges across the globe!

Read: [Infographic] Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Credit Card

We tell you exactly which cards to use for complimentary access to airport lounges.

A quick note about the different types of lounges:

Priority Pass

Priority Pass was created to help regular travellers (and not just business class travellers) enjoy all the benefits that come with accessing airport lounges across the globe. Depending on the services offered at the lounge you are at, you get to enjoy complimentary wifi, food and beverage, as well as pre-flight spa treatments!

Number of lounges: Over 1,200 airport lounges across the globe.

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Source: Priority Pass website

In general, Priority Pass holders can access more lounges than other types of pass holders.

Credit cards that offer complimentary Priority Pass access actually help you save money since applying for a pass on your own could set you back anywhere from USD99 to USD399 per year, depending on the type of plan you decide to purchase.

Dragon Pass

Based out of China, Dragon Pass holders not only get access to airport lounges but they also get discounts at hundreds of dining locations in airports across the globe.

Not as popular as Priority Pass, Dragon Pass is growing and currently has around 12 million users worldwide.

Number of lounges: Over 900 lounges across 450 airports.

Some Visa credit cards issued in the APEC region come with complimentary Dragon Pass membership when you pay the annual fee, which is great because access to these lounges can range from USD99 to USD 399.

Here’s what each plan gives you:

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Source: Dragon Pass website

Plaza Premium Lounges

While travelling in the Asia-Pacific region, you are bound to come across more than 1 Plaza Premium Lounge no matter which airport you are at. Unlike Priority Pass and Dragon Pass, walk-in rates at Plaza premium lounges are the same as their advance booking rates. However, with an advance booking, you are guaranteed access!

But it isn’t just lounge access, you also get to enjoy other airport services such as VIP Meet and Greet, a hotel transit if your connecting flight is the next day, and access to a dedicated concierge service.

Add to this, spa treatments at the airport and you have the perfect recipe to unwind.

Number of lounges: Over 160 lounges in 41 airports across the globe.

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Carol singers at the Plaza Premium Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport.
Photo courtesy of @plazapremiumlounge

Related: The Top VIP Lounges in the World and How You Can Get Access

So, which lounge programme is better?

With each lounge access programme offering so many benefits, which one do you choose?

Well, it all depends on where you are travelling to.

If you travel in and around Asia, then we would recommend Dragon Pass or Plaza Premium lounges since they have access to lounges in Asian airports that are not covered by Priority Pass.

If you are travelling in Europe or Africa, then Priority Pass currently, seems to have the upper hand when it comes to lounges at various airports in these continents.

While the food discount at airport dining establishments available with Dragon pass may excite you, keep in mind that most of their partners are fast food outlets in airports. Moreover, any halfway decent airport lounge will offer complimentary food and beverage. So, this discount isn’t all that attractive.

That still doesn’t tell you which one to choose, does it?

A good rule of thumb would be to check the participating lounge programme that comes with your credit card and use the one that suits your travel destination the best!

Read also: Guide to the Best Miles Credit Cards in Singapore + When to Use Which Card

Now, that you know what lounge programmes you can access, here are the credit cards you can use:

For the infrequent traveller: Up to 2/3 complimentary visits each year

So you don’t travel extensively. You usually travel two to three times a year and usually for vacations. In this case, getting cards that offer unlimited access to airport lounges doesn’t make much sense because you know that you’re never really going to use it.

Related: Compare Air Miles Credit Cards

These credit cards should suit you just fine!

Card Name Airport Lounge Access Redemption Method Additional Visit Cost Card Annual Fee
DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card Up to 2 free visits each year. This consists of either:

– 2 separate visits by the cardholder.

– 1 visit by the cardholder and accompanying guest.

Apply for Priority Pass (complimentary for cardholders). USD27 per person for visits that exceed the 2 free visits per year. S$192.60 (1-year fee waiver)
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card Up to 2 complimentary visits per year. Thes visits can be defined as:

– 2 visits made by the cardholder.

– 1 visit made by the cardholder and an accompanying guest.

Principal cardholders need to apply for Priority Pass, which is complimentary. For more than 1 guest or visits that exceed 2 per year, you will be charged USD27 per visit per person. S$192.60 (1-year fee waiver)
BOC Visa Infinite Card 2 free visits to all (as of 15 September 2017) Plaza Premium Lounges per year.

– 2 individual visits by the principal cardholder

– 1 visit by the cardholder and accompanying guest

Make a booking online and present your BOC Visa Infinite Card and boarding pass at the lounge entrance. Different lounges have different rates. You can make a booking on the Plaza Premium Lounge website. S$350 (1-year fee waiver)
CIMB Visa Infinite Up to 3 free visits per year with Dragon Pass for a period of 2 hours per visit. Download the Dragon Pass mobile application and register (complimentary for cardholders). USD25 per guest and for additional visits.

For the average traveller: Up to 4/6 complimentary visits per year

Card Name Airport Lounge Access Redemption Method Additional Visit Cost Card Annual Fee
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card Up to 4 visits per year.

– 4 separate visits by the cardholder.

– Cardholder and guest(s) should have a voucher each.

Present the printed voucher and your boarding pass at selected SATS Premier and Plaza Premium Lounges. Entry cost as charged by the lounge at the gate. S$337.05
BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard Up to 4 visits per year.

– 4 visits made by the cardholder.

– Each guest will count as one visit.

All lounge bookings made at any Plaza Premium Lounge will be updated via the Arrture App. The amount is to be charged to the card registered with Plaza Premium Lounges. S$190 (1-year waiver)
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card Up to 6 complimentary visits per year.

– Each guest is counted as an additional visit.

Apply for a Priority Pass by following these instructions. USD27 per person. S$588.50

For the frequent flyer: Unlimited access to airport lounges across the globe

Card Name Airport Lounge Access Redemption Method Guest Charges Card Annual Fee
HSBC Visa Infinite Card Unlimited access for both principal and supplementary cardholders. Present your Priority Pass at the airport lounge. No prior reservation is required. S$38 per guest per visit. S$488 (for HSBC Premier customers).

S$650 (for other customers).

OCBC VOYAGE Card Unlimited access to over 80 VIP airport lounges (until 31 December 2018) Present your OCBC VOYAGE Card at Plaza Premium Lounges. As per the price charged at the Plaza Premium Lounge. S$488 – S$3,210
Citi Prestige Card Unlimited access for the principal cardholder and 1 guest to over 100 VIP airport lounges across the globe. Present your Priority Pass membership card at the lounge of your choice. Entry for 1 guest per entry is free. The cost for each additional guest will be charged to your Citi Prestige Card. S$535

So, there you have it! Based on the kind of traveller you are, you know which credit card to use for complimentary airport lounge access!

In fact, all of these credit cards also come with other travel benefits such as complimentary travel insurance, great rewards per dollar spent, and hotel benefits among others. All this to ensure that your travels are hassle-free!

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