Priority Pass, which offers access to airport lounges around the world, is a benefit offered by many travel credit cards such as Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum cards. But there are slight differences in benefits between these cards.
Differences in Priority Pass benefits among travel credit cards
Amex provides only lounge access, no restaurant credit
Amex Platinum offers lounge access but does not provide restaurant credit. Amex Platinum also does not offer non-lounge options such as the Be Relax Spas and Gameway Lounges. But Amex Platinum cardholders have access to American Express lounges, the Delta Sky Club, Escape lounges, and the Centurion lounge.
Most credit cards offer both – lounge access and restaurant credit
Chase Sapphire Reserve, US Altitude Reserve, Ritz-Carlton, and Capital One Venture X credit cards offer both lounge access and restaurant credits of $28 per person. You can typically bring 2 guests (Altitude Reserve allows only 1 guest). These cards also offer non-lounge options such as Be Relax Spas and Gameway Lounges.
Altitude Reserve limits you to 4 visits per year but Chase Sapphire Reserve and Capital One Venture X offer unlimited visits.
Access to lounges worldwide
Priority pass offers access to more than 1300 lounges globally (600+ cities and 148 countries). In general, Priority Pass lounges abroad are nicer than the ones in the US.
Many ways to get Priority Pass
- Travel credit cards are not the only way to access Priority Pass lounges. Memberships can be bought at the Priority Pass website. There are three levels of access – Standard ($69), Standard Plus ($239), and Prestige ($386). Unlike most travel credit cards where guest access is free, these memberships charge $32 for each guest. Note that travel credit cards offer Priority Pass Select, a membership which is not sold directly to consumers.
- Some airline tickets provide lounge access
- Day pass (paid)
Here are a few things you need to know if your credit card offers Priority Pass lounge access
- To get access to the lounges, you will need to show a physical or a digital Priority Pass card. Your credit card alone is not sufficient. Enrollment is required.
- Airport lounges are usually packed. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get into a lounge. Access is on a first-come, first-served basis.
- In most cases, children will be counted as guests
Best credit card for large groups that need lounge access
Ritz-Carlton credit card is the best card for Priority Pass benefits. The card gives you unlimited visits and unlimited guests. You can add authorized users for free and the authorized users can bring unlimited guests. The card gives you $28 person in restaurant credits for the card holder + one guest (and authorized user + 1 guest). That’s $112 total in restaurant credits if the card holder and the authorized user are traveling with two guests.
It’s not straightforward to get this credit card though. You need to open a Chase Marriott card (Marriott Bonvoy Boundless or Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card) and wait for one year. Then you can call Chase and change your Marriott card to a Ritz-Carlton card. Note that you will need $10,000 in credit line with Chase to get the Ritz-Carlton card. If you have high credit lines in other Chase cards, you can move them to the Marriott card before calling Chase.
Maximizing Priority Pass Benefits
Frequent travelers can to recoup the hefty annual fee on their travel credit cards simply by using their Priority Pass benefits effectively. If an airport that you visit frequently (such as your home airport) has a lounge covered by Priority Pass, you will get your biggest bang for the buck. If your commonly used airport has a restaurant that is covered by Priority Pass, you will you can get approximately $30 per person per visit. You can maximize your benefits even further by bringing guests.