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One of the worst things about travelling is the airport experience before a flight or during a layover. Think about the uncomfortable seating (when available), crowded bathrooms, overprice food, and noisy/busy areas.

To escape this chaotic environment, you can head into airport lounges which are private, offer food, and comfortable seating. Each lounge is different and offers different amenities, but there’s no denying how comfortable they are. The problem is, normally you need to pay a yearly membership fee of $99 USD and then $32 USD for each visit which is not exactly cheap.

However, if you have credit cards with lounge access, then you could end up paying nothing at all which is the ideal scenario. Before you get to my full list of free airport lounge access credit cards, it’s important to know the different lounge programs that you’ll typically encounter.

CardLounge visitsAnnual Fee
American Express Platinum CardUnlimited$699
American Express Business PlatinumUnlimited$499
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite6$139
BMO World Elite Mastercard4$150 - FYF
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card4$120
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card1$120 - FYF

Airport lounge programs

Priority Pass – Priority Pass is a club that gives its members access to airport lounges all over the world. Members pay an annual fee for membership and depending on membership level, they get a number of free entrances or pay a reduced fee for each entrance. Priority Pass gives access to over 1,200 lounges and even restaurants. Read my Priority Pass review now for the full details

Mastercard Airport Experience by LoungeKey – Very similar to Priority Pass, the Master Card Airport Experience grants access to about 1,000 airport lounges, most of it are the same as Priority Pass. There honestly isn’t much difference compared to Priority Pass, the only real difference is that your credit cards with lounge access must be a World Elite Mastercard to get access to Airport Experience by LoungeKey

Maple Leaf lounges and airlines specific lounges – Most major international airlines have their own lounges in their hubs and most frequented destinations. Air Canada owns the Maple Leaf lounges that you can visit in 11 Canadian cities as well as New York, Paris, London, Frankfurt and Los Angeles.

American Express Centurion Lounges – Exclusive to American Express Platinum cardholders and Centurion members, the Centurion Lounges are among the best in the world with upscale cuisine and family rooms.

The best credit cards with lounge access

While there are more than 20 airport lounge access credit cards, I’ve selected the best and most popular ones in the list below. Keep in mind that each individual card has their own individual benefits, so I’ve also provided a link to my reviews if you’re looking for more details. Also note that you can always apply for multiple credit cards with lounge access which essentially gives you more free passes. Best of all, the credit cards I’ve featured below also make my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada so you know you’ll have a winner with any of these cards.

American Express Personal Platinum

  • $699 annual fee
  • 60,000 Sign up bonus (when using a referral link)
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $200 Annual travel credit
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Special benefits at Toronto Pearson
  • Hotel status upgrades
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits
  • Exclusive dining experiences with the Global Dining Collection
  • Emergency medical, flight delay/cancellation, lost/delayed luggage insurance

If you’re a frequent traveller then the American Express Personal Platinum card is the best credit card with lounge access for you since it gives you unlimited visits. Yes, the fee is steep at $699 per year, but keep in mind that you also get an annual travel credit of $200 so it brings down the fee to $499 which is pretty reasonable when you factor in the unlimited airport lounge visits, travel insurance, and the upgraded loyalty tier you get at many hotels. Oh, the 60,000 Membership Rewards points you get when you use my referral link isn’t too bad either. Read my American Express Personal Platinum card review now for the full details. Note that this card also ranks as one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada.

Apply now for the Amex Personal Platinum

 

American Express Business Platinum

  • $499 Annual fee
  • 75,000 Signup points (with my referral link) after charging $7,000 in purchases
  • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent
  • Earn 15,000 points per referral
  • Priority Pass Membership with unlimited free entries
  • Premium Hotel Program Membership
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

As the name implies, the American Express Business Platinum is the business card version of the Platinum card. The differences are minor, but it can make a huge difference. With the business card, the annual fee is just $499 but you don’t get the annual $200 travel credit as the personal Platinum card has. You also won’t get hotel status upgrades with the business card, but you do get an earn rate of 1.25 points per $1 spent on all purchases. What will likely interest people is the crazy sign up bonus of 75,000 points when you charge $7,000 to your card in the first three months of cardmembership. That’s the largest sign up bonus in Canada! Using those points will be easy since you have multiple ways to redeem your points including transferring them to Marriott Bonvoy or booking a flight via the Amex Fixed Travel Program.

Apply now for the Amex Business Platinum

 

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

  • $139 Annual fee
  • 25,000 signup points ($250 value) after charging $1,000 in purchases
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on grocery, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Priority Pass Membership with 6 free annual passes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

Despite the fact that there are 10+ free lounge access credit cards, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card is the only credit card that also comes with no foreign exchange fees which can help you save if you make a lot of purchases in a foreign currency. Right now, new applicants who apply for this card get 25,000 Scotia Rewards points as a signup bonus which has a value of $250. You also get 6 free annual airport lounge passes which is the most from any credit card with an annual fee of $150 or less. To find out the full details of the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card, you can read my full review here.

Apply Now for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

 

BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • $150 Annual fee (first year free)
  • 35,000 Signup points ($250 value) after charging $3,000 in purchases
  • Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, and travel purchases
  • Earn 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences membership provided by LoungeKey, plus four annual complimentary passes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

The BMO World Elite Mastercard comes with 4 free airport lounge passes, but you’ll earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, and travel purchases. That works out to a 2.1% return in those categories which is the highest you’ll get of the cards on this list. One little known fact about this card is that the car rental insurance includes a personal effects benefit which means if you’re personal property is stolen from your rental car, you’re insured up to $1,000 per person with a maximum of $2,000 per vehicle. Check out my full thoughts of the BMO World Elite Mastercard now.

Apply Now for the BMO World Elite Mastercard

 

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

  • $120 Annual fee 
  • 15,000 Signup points ($150 value) after your first purchase
  • 5,000 additional points when you charge $1,000 to your card in the first 4 statements.
  • $120 travel credit
  • Priority Pass membership plus 4 annual free passes
  • Mobile device insurance
  • NEXUS rebate
  • Earn 2 Aventura points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • Earn 1.5 Aventura points per $1 spent on other travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Aventura point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

Of the best credit cards with lounge access, the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite is the only card to give you mobile device insurance and a rebate on your NEXUS membership. Those are some incredibly unique benefits that will appeal to travellers. Your card gives you 4 annual airport lounge passes, but it also comes with a generous sign up bonus and comprehensive travel insurance. You can read my CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite review to find out how CIBC travel rewards work.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

  • $120 Annual fee – first year free 
  • 15,000 Aeroplan miles sign up bonus after your first purchase
  • 5,000 additional miles when you add an authorized user
  • Earn 2X the Aeroplan miles (up to 20,000 Miles) for the first three months
  • Earn 1.5 Aeroplan miles per $1 spent on grocery, gas, drugstore and aircanada.com purchases
  • Earn 1 Aeroplan mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • One annual pass to an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge when travelling on an Aeroplan reward flight

Rounding out my list of credit cards with lounge access is the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card which is the official co-branded Aeroplan credit card. When it comes to lounge access, this card is a bit disappointing since you only get one annual pass to an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and it must be on Aeroplan reward flight. That means that if you paid for an Air Canada flight with cash, you wouldn’t be able to use your lounge pass. On a positive note, Air Canada recently bought Aeroplan so hopefully, the benefits with this card will increase in the new year.

Apply Now for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card