Credit Cards with Priority Pass
As the world’s largest independent airport lounge access plan, Priority Pass has come a long way since its launch in 1992. Now providing access to more than 1,300 airport lounges across the world, Priority Pass offers members a premium experience, regardless of what airline they are flying with or the class that they are travelling.
Working well for those who fly on a range of airlines, primarily in Economy or Premium Economy, Priority Pass offers an alternative way for travellers to spend their pre-flight time, away from the noise and chaos of the airport. And as Priority Pass lounges are independently run, each lounge offers something different. With that being said, all provide comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi and charging stations, and a range of complimentary refreshments.
How Does Priority Pass Work?
As its own independent program, Priority Pass offers three levels of membership that can be purchased on an annual basis.
With Standard membership, you would pay a US$99 annual fee. Then, each time you visit one of the Priority Pass lounges, you would pay a US$32 fee. If you want to invite a guest into the lounge with you, this comes with a fee of US$32. Given its per-visit fee, this option tends to work best for those who would want to visit one of the lounges up to five times per year.
With Standard Plus membership, you would pay a US$299 annual fee. This allows you 10 lounge visits within the year. Any lounge visits after that point – or any guest visits – would come with a US$32 fee. With the fee structure in place, this option would work best for those who would use the lounges between six and 13 times per year.
With Prestige membership, you would pay a US$429 annual fee. This provides you unlimited access to lounges throughout the year, with guest visits charged at US$32. This option would be best suited to those who would use the lounges at least 14 times per year.
So, what about Priority Pass as a credit card feature? While there are a number of credit cards that offer Priority Pass as an extra, not all are equal.
Jesse has a Westpac Altitude Black Card. His card provides him two single-entry Priority Pass lounge visits every year. This has a value of US$163 ($99 + $32 + $32) per year. If Jesse decides to visit a Priority Pass lounge again within the year, he will pay US$32 per visit.
Tahlia has a Citi Prestige Card. Her card provides unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges for her and a guest. This has a value of US$429.
Fred has an American Express Platinum Card. Among many other perks, his card provides unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges for both Fred as the primary cardholder, and to one nominated additional cardholder as well. Each cardholder may bring a guest into the lounge at no extra cost. The overall value of this feature is $858.
While Fred’s card certainly sounds more appealing, it does come with a much higher annual fee at $1,450 (compared to the Westpac Altitude Black Card’s $250 annual fee). As with any card comparison, cardholders must choose the card that suits them. Fred may need the incredible array of extras on his card, getting more back in value than he’s paying out in annual fees.
Jesse, on the other hand may only travel once a year, and is happy to use his single-visit lounge passes on that trip. He wouldn’t get value from unlimited lounge visits, so there would be no point in him paying extra in annual fees for that feature, and all the other travel-related perks the American Express Platinum Card provides.
What Does Priority Pass Offer?
Time to dig a little deeper into what Priority Pass actually provides.
With more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges around the world, each one looks a little different to the next – and has something different to offer. However, you can usually expect the following benefits no matter which lounge you happen to visit.
Peace amid the chaos: Visiting a Priority Pass lounge, you can escape the noise and commotion of the airport to either relax and unwind, or get some work done. You can find comfortable seating, with the option to watch TV, or use your own device while accessing the lounge’s charging stations.
Complimentary meals and beverages: As you wait for your flight, you can enjoy a range of complimentary snacks and meals, with some options perhaps reflecting the local culture and flavours of your location. Hot beverages such as barista-made coffee, as well as soft drinks and alcoholic options are also usually available.
Connectivity and conferencing: Most Priority Pass lounges offer free access to high-speed Wi-Fi. If you’re travelling for business, you may be able to access meeting rooms and conferencing facilities, depending on the lounge.
Aside from providing access to lounges around the world, Priority Pass membership also offers access to a range of food and beverage discounts outside of its lounge network. So, instead of hitting the lounge, you could benefit from a discount while eating or drinking at one of the participating food and beverage outlets in the airport.
It’s worth noting that each ‘discount’ used counts as one ‘lounge visit’, so if your membership only allows for a certain number of lounge visits per year, think about whether the discounted bill provides more value than a lounge visit. In addition to this, American Express cards offering Priority Pass as a perk no longer provide food and beverage discounts – only lounge access.
What Should You Look For In A Priority Pass Credit Card?
Level of Access: As you compare credit cards with Priority Pass, check what level of access each card offers. Some will only offer two single-visit lounge passes each year, while others will provide unlimited access throughout the year. Find out if the card provides a discount on higher level membership if you choose to upgrade after using your single-visit passes.
Complementary Features: Look at the card’s other features that may complement your Priority Pass perk. With unlimited Priority Pass access, for example, you may look for other travel-related features such as travel credit and hotel loyalty program membership that will work well for you as a frequent traveller.
Annual Fee: Credit cards offering extras such as lounge access typically have a higher annual fee. There’s nothing wrong with paying a higher annual fee, as long as you can afford it – and the card’s features provide sufficient value in return.
How To Make Priority Pass Work For You
You’ve decided Priority Pass is a perk you want on your credit card. So, what do you need to do to make that perk work for you?
Get Maximum Value
Think about what your level of Priority Pass access offers you. If you have just two-single visit passes each year, you need to make the most of them. Use your lounge visits on a special trip perhaps, or when you know you’ll have a long layover. Find out where the best Priority Pass lounges are in the world, and aim to hit those as you travel.
On the other hand, with unlimited lounge access, you can really use your Priority Pass as you please. You could pop into the lounge for an hour or so, then step out to one of the participating Priority Pass restaurants to enjoy a discounted meal, perhaps with friends or family who are travelling with you but don’t want to access the lounge. It’s really up to you.
Research & Plan Ahead
If you want to make the most of your Priority Pass access, it’s a good idea to find out more about the lounges within the network, so you can see which ones you want to visit before you leave home. You can use the Priority Pass app to scope out the options before you go, or to find a lounge within the airport you’re already in.
The app will also tell you which participating food and beverage outlets offer discounts in each airport you’re passing through.
Want to find the best of the best? There are plenty of articles online that rate airport lounges around the world, so take some time to find out which lounges are a must-see – and which aren’t worth your time.
When you arrive in the lounge, don’t forget to enjoy the experience! And as you sit back and relax in your perfectly comfortable armchair, sipping a glass of something cold and enjoying the peace and tranquility – think about all the unfortunates outside those sliding doors, surrounded by all the chaos and noise airports are known for. Then smile, knowing for once you’re not one of them.
Priority Pass Credit Cards - Frequently Asked Questions
Before you visit a Priority Pass lounge for the first time, you will need to activate your membership. You may need to do this via your credit card’s website, as well as with Priority Pass direct.
Do you need to book ahead before visiting a Priority Pass lounge?
No, you don’t need to book ahead. All you need to do is present your single-entry pass or Priority Pass membership card, either on your phone or the physical card itself, when you arrive at the reception desk.
With that being said, your pass or your membership doesn’t guarantee entry to the lounge. Some lounges place restrictions on the number of guests, and some have restricted hours. The info on each lounge within the Priority Pass app will detail this information.
Yes, you can invite guests to join you in a lounge. Depending on your level of membership, this may come with a per-guest fee.
Many Priority Pass lounges allow children. While most charge children at an adult guest rate, some lounges allow children under a certain age to enter for free. To find out more about this, check details of the lounge you want to visit using the Priority Pass app.