When you often find yourself in the hustle and bustle of the airports, you may want to escape from all the buzz and relax in the comfort of an airport lounge. But purchasing an annual lounge membership is still a large purchase which may not pay off. In most cases you will get more value from purchasing airport lounge access daypasses or independent membership programs in addition to having a no annual fee credit card with travel rewards.
In your case, you should think of how often you fly and which airlines you fly. Answering these questions will help you decide what type of credit card is good for you and whether it is worth having a credit card that has complimentary lounge access.
Credit cards with airport lounge access across airlines
A handful of credit cards that are tailored for the frequent travelers offer free airport lounge access without being tied to any particular airline or club. For example, the Citi Prestige® Card (the offer is currently unavailable) gives complimentary access to hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select. The Priority Pass allows a maximum of up to two guests free per visit. The card costs $450 a year which is partially covered with a $250 air travel credit that applies automatically to flight-related expenses you charge to your card. There are no other lounge perks.
Specific airlines lounge access credit cards
Co-branded credit cards, airline credit cards in particular, tend to offer lounge access for specific airlines. These cards are best for frequent flyers who are loyal to specific airlines. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is good for those who fly American Airlines most of the times. With this card you, any authorized users and your accompanied guests will enjoy full benefits of Admirals Club membership. The membership includes access to more than 50 worldwide American Airlines lounge locations or one of many partner lounges. The annual fee for this card is $450, but airport lounge access and other benefits can make up for it.
Buying airport lounge access with a regular credit card
If you do not travel several times a year but still buying daypasses to access airport lounges, it will be a wise decision to have a regular travel rewards credit card without an annual fee. Since travel credit cards allow redemptions for travel purchases, you may be able to cover the cost using miles or points you've earned. For example, the Discover it® Miles card has no annual fee, gives miles rewards for purchases, and allows to redeem miles for travel statement credits or cash. No expensive annual membership fee.
Credit cards with a complimentary lounge access often come with hefty annual fees, so you will need to travel more than 5 times a year to make it pay off. To choose the best credit card for you, consider how often you travel, which airports you travel to most and what lounges are available there. You won't want a credit card which perks you won't be able to use or which is too expensive to have.