Once upon a time, airport lounges were only for the select few. A private, quiet pre-departure experience was reserved for frequent flyers or elite members.
But the growing popularity of credit cards that offer lounge access means you can feel like a million bucks before departure … without spending a million bucks on your ticket.
First, consider a top-tier credit card from a bank. While airport lounges are becoming increasingly popular (and crowded), there remains a certain cachet and appeal to hiding in a somewhat exclusive space away from the masses.
There are three major 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 lounge space worldwide is the Platinum card from American Express. With this card, you are promised access to more than 1,400 airport lounges in 140 countries.
Plus, in 2013, American Express entered the business of owning and operating its own lounges. Centurion Lounges, with 14 locations in the US, are some of the most premium domestic airport spaces and include fine dining, spa services and shower suites.
Of course, the card comes with a cost of nearly $700 per year. But this pre-flight champagne looks different.
But maybe you are loyal to a specific airline but not loyal enough to get lounge access. This is where a premium airline credit card can come in.
Cards from carriers like United, American and Delta offer access to the airline’s club, but only when you fly that carrier. For example, if you’re a Delta loyalist who’s always stuck in economy, it might make sense to get access to the Delta Sky Club through a Delta premium credit card.
And a pro tip: You can use most airline-specific lounges upon arrival, in addition to pre-departure.