Priority Pass Review

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One of the main reasons I applied for the American Express Platinum Canada credit card was due to the large signup bonus, but I quickly realized that the included Priority Pass was a huge perk. I had never been to an airport lounge, and since I was travelling more, I figured it would be handy.

Having airport lounge access is much better than you expect. Most people can handle sitting and waiting to board their planes, but with lounge access, it becomes a totally different experience. As far as I’m concerned, my travels begin as soon as I arrive at the airport and having lounge access just enhances the journey since I start off relaxed. Here’s my Priority Pass review:

What is Priority Pass?  

If you’re unfamiliar with Priority Pass, it’s a network of airport lounges that aren’t associated with major airlines. These lounges are independently operated, but are partnered with many airlines. What makes Priority Pass appealing is the fact that anyone can join. You don’t need to have status with certain airlines, but you do need to be a member to access the lounges. Here’s what your membership gets you access to:

  • 1,300+ lounges
  • 500+ cities
  • New lounges added every month

As you can imagine, every lounge experience is different which makes this Priority Pass review a bit tricky. I’ve personally used Priority Pass lounges in Toronto, Orlando, Miami, and Lisbon. You’ll need to refer to the website to find out what each lounge offers.

Priority Pass benefits

To be perfectly honest, the priority pass benefits and lounges can be hit and miss. Some airports have exceptional lounges while others may not be worth entering (unless you already have a full membership). I think it’s fair to say major airlines with their own independent lounges are better, but as stated, Priority Pass is for those who don’t have access to those nicer lounges.

  • Spacious seating
  • Hot and cold meals
  • Snacks
  • Open bar
  • Free WiFi in most lounges
  • Business center
  • Showers
  • Spa services

I’ve personally used Priority Pass lounges in Toronto, Orlando, Miami, and Lisbon. Lisbon was an exceptional lounge which I didn’t even want to leave while my home airport of Toronto has just an okay lounge. It’s worth downloading the app LoungeBuddy if you’re travelling in an airport with multiple lounges since the app has user reviews.

How much does Priority Pass cost?

Priority Pass offers three memberships levels which is great if you’re on a budget or don’t need unlimited access:

Standard (USD $99) – Members and guests each pay USD $32 per visit

Standard Plus (USD $249) – Members get 10 free visits per year, then USD $32 per visit. Guest pay $32 per person, per visit.

Prestige (USD $399) – Members get unlimited access to any Priority Pass lounge for the entire year. Guest pay $32 per person, per visit.

Priority Pass Review

After finding how much does Priority Pass cost, some people will not be interested. Paying for a membership and then having to pay again to access the lounges is a steep price to pay. However, I still think there’s a lot of value here.

The Standard Plus membership is great if you’re a frequent traveller. Remember, lounge access is meant to make you comfortable before your journey. I have purposely shown up at the airport early just so I can grab a bite to eat and get some work done at the lounge. Sure I may have been able to eat for less in the general waiting area, but I find lounges to be quite relaxing.

Here’s one hack that makes Priority Pass worthwhile. Sign up for a credit card such as the American Express Platinum Canada card that gives you the Prestige membership. The reason you want to do this is because the American Express Platinum card includes one free guest per visit with your membership. Even though the card comes with an annual fee of $699 ($499 after the annual travel credit), it’s worth it due to the Priority Pass membership alone.

Final thoughts

Despite the fact that every lounge is different, my Priority Pass review is positive. For some people, the cost may be too much, but I think it’s worth it due to the overall experience. Your journey starts as soon as you arrive at the airport, you should make the best out of every minute which is why lounge access is great.

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. Christina W on December 2, 2017 at 9:50 PM

    The Priority Pass has been an absolute godsend this year while traveling – for wifi, food and lounging during delays. The only place we’ve been that hasn’t had any amenity was KEF in Iceland. Some lounges in Europe also have an inbound lounge so you can shower, eat, rest up after an overnight flight. If you find yourself in SFO, highly reco the Centurion lounge.

  2. Raul on January 29, 2018 at 5:04 PM

    I;m not agree with this positive review. I also accepted a new credit card because they offered me Priority Pass as a great perk. I’m a very frequent traveler and I know the benefits to wait in the VIP longes when travels leave me exhausted.

    The issue with Priority Pass is that in many airports, they have the service blocked out for Priority Pass users during the rush hours, when most of the flight departures happen.
    As an example, let’s say you reach to the airport at 5 pm and your flight will be at 8 pm…. you go the the Priority Pass lounge, and they just say: “From 4 to 8 pm, the lounge is closed for Priority Pass users. Only for Airline Business or First class passengers”

    So NO LOUNGE !! Priority Pass some times is totally useless. This happened to me at least 5 times the last year, in different airports. I would NOT recommend Priority Pass at all, is a trap.

  3. The other Barry on February 19, 2018 at 5:36 PM

    We have this through wealth simple but haven’t activated jf yet. Not sure if paying $54 USD is worth it for a travelling couple but I can see the value when our flight is delayed or you have a serious layover (which we try to avoid)

  4. Ann on August 17, 2019 at 7:13 PM

    My priority pass only gives 4 visits per year. That is nothing if you’re traveling and doing several stop-overs. If you are taking a guest, that’s only 2 airports. Once you’ve used your 4 visits, it’s $27.00 per person after that. Definitely not worthwhile. Sometimes you just want a cup of coffee and some peace and quiet and don’t want to eat and drink. For $27.00 this is not worthwhile. This was issued by CIBC Aventura. Does anyone have ideas for a better credit card pass (Canadian) ???

    • Barry Choi on August 17, 2019 at 8:07 PM


      The American Express Platinum card and American Express Platinum Business card give you unlimited access for you and a guest but it also comes with an annual fee of $699 and $499 respectively. I personally travel a lot and get good use out of the lounges.

  5. Ann on August 17, 2019 at 8:19 PM

    thanks – unfortunately I don’t qualify for the Amex cards as I’m retired and have only an investment income which they don’t seem to like. Also (I used to have a Gold Amex card) I find many merchants don’t like the Amex card as their fees are too high. So I’m stuck with my Priority Pass and 4 visits per year, which is pretty well useless, unless there is any other option! I also checked with the RBC Westjet World Elite Card but don’t seem to qualify for that either.

    • Barry Choi on August 17, 2019 at 8:25 PM


      The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card offers 6 passes per year, but if you’re retired, you may not qualify for that card either. You’re likely best bet is to talk to your main bank to see what cards are available to you.

  6. Ann on August 17, 2019 at 8:30 PM

    yes I am with CIBC who gives me the 4-visit Priority Pass card, which I’m trying to improve upon. I’m especially annoyed because my investment income/net worth is well within the parameters of the RBC Elite card, yet they give you no option to give details of your “assets”.

    • Barry Choi on August 18, 2019 at 6:50 AM


      You could still try applying and under income, you could put above the minimum requirement if that’s what you make from investment income.

  7. […] right away is the fact that this card comes with six free annual airport lounge access passes with Priority Pass. No other Canadian credit card with an annual fee of less than $150 currently offers more than four […]

  8. Liane Tackaberry on October 19, 2021 at 8:37 PM

    I just looked up Lester B. Pearson lounges and there are none listed on Priority Pass. They just give you the option to use one of your passes for $37 towards a restaurant bill at 3 restaurants. Very disappointed in this Pass.

    • Barry Choi on October 20, 2021 at 10:12 AM


      Yes, this is a recent change as Plaza Premium (which operates most lounges in Canada) is no longer a member of Priority Pass. That said, if you have lounge access via an American Express credit card, you can still get into Plaza Premium lounges.

  9. Liane Tackaberry on October 20, 2021 at 9:39 PM

    I may look into an American Express card but I find the value of Priority Pass deteriorating. If I actually paid for it I would be reconsidering.

    • Barry Choi on October 21, 2021 at 4:03 PM

      Without Plaza Premium, Priority Pass is pretty much useless in Canada unless you fly out of Calgary. All the American Express Cards with lounge access still get you into Priority Pass lounges.

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