Behind the closed doors of airport lounges, frequent flyers — and luxury credit card holders — can stretch their legs, sip premium wine and spirits, and feast on refreshments, all while watching TV and enjoying free WiFi. Some clubs even boast shower facilities for weary travelers to freshen up after long-haul flights. It’s an airport secret all insiders know to take advantage of.
Carrying a luxury credit card in your wallet can literally open these doors for you. Amid the bustle of getting to the airport, TSA checks and navigating to the gate, a complimentary cocktail served away from the masses can go a long way in restoring your mood.
Keep reading to check out some of the best credit cards for travelers.
The Platinum Card From American Express
Long considered an elite status symbol, the Platinum Card from American Express comes with a steep annual fee of $550. But if you travel even just a few times a year, the card ends up working for you. Among the laundry list of benefits is access to more than 1,100 airport lounges worldwide, including the Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Club and Priority Pass Select Lounges — so layovers and delayed flights won’t seem so bad. The card clearly wants you to spend less time in security to maximize your time in airport lounges: American Express offers a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, valued at $100 and $85, respectively.
- Airport lounge access: Access to over 1,100 lounges in 120 countries, across seven lounge programs: the Centurion Lounge Network, the International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club, Priority Pass Select lounges, Airspace Lounges, Escape Lounges and Plaza Premium
- Other benefits: Earn 5x points on flights and hotels; $200 airline fee credit; $15 Uber credit every month; $75 hotel credit; unlimited Boingo WiFi access; 24/7 Premium Global Assist Hotline; premium roadside assistance
- Annual fee: $550
Delta Reserve Credit Card From American Express
If Delta is your preferred carrier or you want to start building loyalty to one airline, consider the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express. With its annual fee of $450, cardholders — and up to two guests at a rate of $29 per person — can enjoy access to any of the over 250 Sky Clubs and partner lounges located around the world when traveling on a Delta-coded or Delta-operated flight.
- Airport lounge access: Access to over 250 Sky Clubs and partner lounges
- Other benefits: First checked bag free on Delta flights; priority boarding; earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 15,000 bonus miles after you reach $30,000 in eligible purchases on your card in the calendar year; one round-trip companion ticket per year; no foreign transaction fees; 20 percent savings on eligible in-flight purchases
- Annual fee: $450
United MileagePlus Club Card
Ideal for people who don’t travel light, the United MileagePlus Club Card — with its annual fee of $450 — offers up to two free checked bags each for the primary cardholder and a guest on a round-trip flight. Beyond the baggage perk, the card grants access to more than 45 United Club locations, Copa Club locations and participating Star Alliance lounges, conveniently located in United’s busiest airports.
- Airport lounge access: Access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance-affiliated lounges worldwide
- Other benefits: Premier Access travel benefits; first and second checked bag free for you and a companion on United flights; no foreign transaction fees; perks at the Luxury Hotel & Resort collection properties; World of Hyatt Discoverist status; Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle Elite Status; earn miles with every purchase; access to exclusive events; 24/7 Visa Concierge Service; travel and purchase protections
- Annual fee: $450
To decide which card to apply for, weigh the annual fee against your lifestyle and upcoming air travel plans. Before your research gets too in-depth and you’ve started to visualize yourself enjoying airport lounges for the foreseeable future, it’s worth mentioning that luxury creditors look favorably on applicants with stellar credit.
Learn how to travel the world for practically free using your credit card rewards.
More on Airline Credit Cards
- Best Airline Credit Cards
- Southwest Credit Card Review: Which One Is Right for You
- When Frequent Flyer Miles Are Worth the Wait
- Watch: Ways to Fly for (Nearly) Free Every Time
We make money easy. Get weekly email updates, including expert advice to help you Live Richer™.
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions and other financial services organizations. Some companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article. All fees and rates are subject to change at the issuers’ discretion. Some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. Verify terms and conditions before opening an account.