The Best Credit Cards With Lounge Access for 2022

**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

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, overpriced food and noisy/busy areas.

To escape this chaotic environment, you can head into airport lounges which are private, have 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
American Express Aeroplan ReserveUnlimited$599
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite6$139
American Express Gold Rewards Card4 Plaza Premium$250
BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®*4$150 - FYF
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card4$120

Plaza Premium – Think of Plaza Premium as a brand of airport lounges. They have a ton of lounges around the world and operate most of the lounges found in Canadian Airports. It’s important to note that Plaza Premium lounges are no longer part of the Priority Pass or Mastercard Airport Experience by LoungeKey programs. That means if your lounge access is provided by one of those networks, you won’t be able to access Plaza Premium lounges. If you have an American Express Credit Card that gives you lounge access, you can still get into Plaza Premium lounges.

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 at airports. Note that American Express Priority Pass members do not get the restaurant discount. Read my Priority Pass review now for the full details.

DragonPass – DragonPass is similar to Priority Pass in the sense that it’s a bigger club that gives you access to many different lounges. Mastercard and Visa have recently partnered with DragonPass for Canadian cardholders since DragonPass has Plaza Premium lounges in their netowrk.

Mastercard Airport Experience by LoungeKey – Very similar to Priority Pass, the Master Card Airport Experience grants access to about 1,000 airport lounges. Honestly, there 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. You also don’t get access to Plaza Premium lounges.

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. Note that if you’re flying business on a Star Alliance partner, you can access any of their lounges with your boarding pass.

American Express Centurion Lounges – Exclusive to American Express Platinum cardholders and Centurion members, the Centurion Lounges are among the best in the world with showers, upscale cuisine and family rooms. Generally speaking, if you have access to an American Express airport lounge, you should choose it as it’s almost guaranteed to be better than the Priority Pass lounge.

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 card has its 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 and can be ideal for those travelling as a family. 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 Platinum Card

  • $699 annual fee
  • Up to 115,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when using a referral link
  • Earn 95,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $6,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 10X the points on eats & drinks for the first 3 months of Cardmembership (up to 20,000 points)
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points on travel, and 1 point on all other purchases
  • $200 annual travel credit
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Hotel status upgrades

If you’re a frequent traveller then the American Express Platinum Card is the best credit card with lounge access for you since it gives unlimited free visits for you and one guest to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. 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.

Don’t forget about the massive sign up bonus which can easily be worth more than the annual fee. Since you earn Membership Rewards points with this card, your points are incredibly valuable. Note that this card also ranks as one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada.

American Express Business Platinum Card

  • $499 annual fee
  • Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $10,000 in the first 3 months. Must use a referral link
  • Earn 1.25 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

As the name implies, the American Express Business Platinum is the business card version of the Platinum card. The differences are minor, but they 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 other card purchases.

What will likely interest people is the crazy sign up bonus which is the largest welcome bonus in Canada. That said, you need to charge $7,000 to your card in the first three months of cardmembership. to get your bonus.

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 American Express Fixed Travel Program. if you want to know the differences between the Amex Platinum and the Business Platinum Cards, I wrote a detailed post.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

  • $599 annual fee
  • Up to 115,000 Aeroplan points welcome offer
  • Earn 65,000 points when spending $6,000 within 3 months
  • Earn 5,000 points per month when spending $1,000 for 12 months
  • Earn 10X the points on eats & drinks for the first 3 months of Cardmembership (up to 20,000 points)
  • Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on Air Canada, 2 points on dining and food delivery, and 1.25 points on all other purchases
  • Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
  • Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding on Air Canada

If you’re looking for a card that gives you access to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges, then you’ll want the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card (or the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card). With this Amex card, you and a guest get unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges. You also get a PriorityPass membership, but no free annual passes are provided.

Besides lounge access, you get some sweer Air Canada perks with this card such as priority check-in and boarding. In addition, the welcome bonus points are usually worth at least 90,000 Aeroplan points. You also get comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancellation.

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

  • $139 annual fee
  • 25,000 Scene+ points welcome bonus
  • Earn 2 Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment, and daily transit purchases
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases
  • Priority Pass / DragonPass Membership + 6 passes per year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Despite the fact that there are tons of 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 are 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.

American Express Gold Rewards Card

  • $250 annual fee
  • Up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when using a referral link
  • Earn 55,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 10X the points on eats & drinks for the first 3 months of Cardmembership (up to 20,000 points)
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Membership + 4 annual Plaza Premium passes

I recently added the American Express Gold Rewards Card to my list of the best credit cards with lounge access in Canada. What sets them apart from some of the other cards on the list is the four lounge passes provided are specifically for Plaza Premium lounges. American Express was smart to make this change as Plaza Premium lounges are no longer included with Priority Pass or Mastercard Airport Experience by LoungeKey. Essentially, American Express is giving people a good reason to switch their credit cards if they want to use their lounge passes in Canada.

BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®*

  • $150 Annual fee – First year free*
  • Get 30,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, and 2,500 points for each subsequent month in which you make at least $2,000 in purchases on your card, for 12 months
  • Earn 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, and recurring bills
  • Earn 1 BMO Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass, plus 4 annual passes

The BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* comes with 4 free airport lounge passes and the annual fee is waived for the first year so you check out some lounges for free. Your earn rate is 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on travel; 2 points on dining, entertainment, and recurring bills; and 1 point for all other purchases. While that may seem appealing, 1 BMO Rewards point is worth just .67 cents, so the overall earn rate is just average.

One little known fact about this card is that the car rental insurance includes a personal effects benefit which means if your 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. In addition, for the travel insurance to apply, you only need to charge any amount of your travel purchases to your card which is fantastic since other cards require you to charge 75-100% of your travel purchases. Check out my full thoughts on the BMO Ascend World Elite™* Mastercard®* and find out why it’s one of the best BMO credit cards.

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

  • $139 annual fee – First year free
  • 20,000 Aventura points when you make your first purchase
  • 15,000 Aventura points when you spend $1,000 in your first year
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on CIBC travel
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on gas, grocery, and drug store purchases
  • Earn 1 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Priority Pass / DragonPass Membership and 4 complimentary visits per year

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 of 20,000  CIBC Rewards points and comprehensive travel insurance. You can read my CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite review to find out how CIBC travel rewards work.

Is an airport lounge access credit card worth it?

If you’re wondering if an airport lounge access credit card is worth it, the simple answer is yes. The credit cards on this list give you access to Priority Pass or Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey. If you were to buy an annual membership with Priority Pass, it would cost you US $99 and you would still have to pay a fee of US $32 every time you visit. You could get the Standard Plus membership which costs $299 but gives you 10 free annual passes. There’s also the Prestige membership that comes with unlimited free visits for US $429. When you do the simple math, comparing the annual fee that comes with an airport lounge access credit card to the actual cost of a lounge visit is of good value.

Price aside, the next question is if airport lounge access is worth it? As in, is it worth paying a fee to get access to better seating, drinks and food? Admittedly, some airport lounges are of poor quality, but I think it beats sitting in the common areas of airports. There are some airports that have great public areas, but those same airports typically have exceptional lounges. The value of airport lounge access may be relative, but you definitely get value out of it when using an airport lounge access credit card.

Final thoughts

If you like to travel, getting one of the best credit cards with lounge access can make your airport experience a lot better. You may not think it’s that much of an improvement, but once you’ve been in a good lounge, you won’t want to go back. Your vacation starts at the airport and credit cards with lounge access will make you enjoy your trip more.

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The Best Credit Cards With Lounge Access for 2022

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. […] Priority Pass Membership with unlimited free entries […]

  2. Ryan on February 26, 2019 at 1:20 AM

    Awesome info…. very useful. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I just made up my mind!

  3. Navi on March 18, 2019 at 9:21 AM

    Thanks for the info. Does the MBNA world Elite also offer this?

    • Barry Choi on March 18, 2019 at 9:29 AM


      No, the MBNA world Elite cards do not give you free lounge access.

  4. Zanne on April 13, 2019 at 12:35 PM

    BMO World Elite is down to 2 passes a year as of March 1, 2019. They keep whittling down the benefits.

    • Barry Choi on April 13, 2019 at 5:27 PM


      You might be mixing up the two BMO World Elite cards. The BMO World Elite card comes with 4 annual lounge passes whereas the BMO Air Miles World Elite card has just 2 annual passes.

  5. Victor on April 27, 2019 at 11:02 AM

    Which one would you recommend? I currently have the BMO World Elite Mastercard and am happy with it till I heard of the Scotiabank Passport VISA. We are a party of three that travels twice a year. 6 passes versus 4 seems a no brainer but am anxious about value of the rewards. BMO is 3 points = $1 versus Scotiabank 1 point = $1 as we don’t usually use our credit cards abroad. If possible, we usually pay with cash except for things that needs extra protection like local tours, airline tickets etc.

    • Barry Choi on April 27, 2019 at 7:33 PM


      The BMO World elite Mastercard is decent but keep in mind that 3 ponts per $1 spent is only 2.4% return since it takes 140 BMO points to claim $1 in travel. I personally prefer the Scotiabank card because it comes with more passes and has no forex fees.

      Using the Scotiabank card abroad as opposed to cash would save you money on the exchange rate. The BMO card charges a 2.5% fee for anything charged in a foreign currency.

    • bgates on March 10, 2020 at 10:49 AM

      get the amex hilton @ 95 year, 10 free passes including guests.

      • Dyanne on April 29, 2022 at 10:38 AM

        I think you have to have an American address for the Hilton card?

        • Barry Choi on April 29, 2022 at 10:48 AM


          That’s right, the Hilton Card is an American Card so it’s not easy for Canadians to get.

  6. Victor on April 27, 2019 at 9:03 PM

    Thanks Barry!

  7. Manny on June 5, 2019 at 12:36 PM

    Hey Barry,

    When you mention things like “Priority Pass + 4 annual passes”.. What do you mean by 4 annual passes?
    Does that mean you are just allowed to enter a lounge worldwide 4 times a year? Lets say If I travel from Canada-London-Dubai & I gain access to the Lounge in Canada, and London. Does that mean I can only do that 1 more time during the entire year?

    Please clear this up, Thanks!

    • Barry Choi on June 5, 2019 at 12:40 PM


      That’s correct, each lounge visit would use up one of your passes.

  8. Will on June 26, 2019 at 4:03 PM

    You’re wrong about the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa being the only credit card that comes with no foreign exchange fees. The Home Trust Preferred Visa offers this, and it comes with no annual fee.

    • Barry Choi on June 26, 2019 at 4:06 PM


      The Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa card is the only credit card with no forex fees AND lounge access.

  9. Mako on June 28, 2019 at 4:42 AM

    Hey Barry I seriously appreciate all the info about each card. this is sooo great and soo useful to know and refer to. quick question. My Credit Card is with Vancity right now and I am almost done paying it. i was thinking of closing the account as soon as its paid off. what credit card would you recommend i go with? we’re a family of 3 and me and my wife also have a joint Credit card with RBC. we usually travel 1-2 times a year but next year were traveling 3 times. Thanks again.

    • Barry Choi on June 28, 2019 at 1:26 PM

      Hi Mako,

      Picking the right credit card has so many variables. You need to ask yourself the following first.

      Do you want a cash back or travel rewards credit card?
      How much do you charge to your credit card on average each month?
      Where do you do the majority of your spending? e.g. which grocery store?

      Once you’ve answered the above, I can try to help you narrow down your choices.

      With credit cards, you should never be holding a balance as the interest charges you pay will not be worth the rewards you get.
      When you travel, do you use one specific airline or hotel chain?

  10. Andrew on August 10, 2019 at 9:45 AM

    with the BMO World Elite, do you have to book your flight on the card to be able to use the lounge access? I have an AMEX Marriot Bonvoy that does not come with lounge access, leaving next month for my honeymoon and would really love to be able to access a lounge prior to departure.

    • Barry Choi on August 10, 2019 at 10:52 AM


      No, you don’t need to pay for your flights with the BMOWEMC to get access to the lounges.

  11. Amisha Patel on August 13, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    what is the difference between mastercard loungekey access / to the passes? I am looking for a new card- i already have the TD visa travel- and therefore looking for a mastercard now.

    • Barry Choi on August 13, 2019 at 4:56 PM


      Mastercard loungekey access is your membership whereas the passes are when get you in for free. Mastercard loungekey access is similar to having a PriorityPass memberhsip as most of the lounges are the same.

      If you want a Mastercard with lounge access, take a look at the BMO World Elite Mastercard.

  12. Amisha Patel on August 14, 2019 at 12:26 PM

    the priority pass membership is a fee- and also comes with passes- or do we get a discounted rate to buy the passes as we have the membership?

    • Barry Choi on August 14, 2019 at 7:54 PM


      The cards listed on this post give you a free PriorityPass Membership as well as as a few lounge passes (The Amex Platinum gives you unlimited access). Once you run out of lounge passes, you pay the “discounted” price of $32USD per visit.

  13. Dicky on September 8, 2019 at 6:38 AM

    Does TD Visa Infinite card give free access to any airport lounges, especially the airport lounges at European and Asian international airports?

    • Barry Choi on September 8, 2019 at 7:19 AM


      That card doesn’t have any lounge access.

  14. Angela on October 6, 2019 at 9:35 PM

    Hi, thanks for all your research. I will be traveling with my husband and two children overseas with long layovers and want to know if we can each use one of the 6 priority passes from the Scotia Bank Passport Infinite Visa or if the passes are just for the cardholder?

    • Barry Choi on October 9, 2019 at 7:46 AM


      You can use one pass per person but the primary cardholder with the PriotiyPass membership must be present.

  15. Adrien Faucher on January 5, 2020 at 8:39 AM


    Does the RBC Avion visa infinite provide any lounge access?

  16. smayer97 on February 24, 2020 at 4:47 PM

    You did not mention the Rogers Bank World Elite Mastercard. It includes a LoungeKey membership. No free visits included so have to pay $32/visit/person and allows one guest. Best feature is that there is NO annual fee.

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