With these credit cards, you'll be able to access VIP airport lounges around the world for free! Find out how.
How to Get Free Airport Lounge Access?
In almost all airports there are lounges, most of which are havens of peace, in which you can:
- focus if you have to work
- relax before taking your flight
- restore with buffets
- have an alcohol drink
- take a shower, incredibly convenient after a red-eye flight
Being able to access airport lounges is a real plus in the traveller’s experience, but are often reserved for elites:
- Frequent flyers (for Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges)
- Premium customers of a bank /credit union (such as the National Bank lounge or the Odyssée Desjardins lounge in Montréal-Trudeau YUL)
However, most of these lounges are franchisees: to increase their revenues; they sell access rights to lounge networks like Priority Pass and/or LoungeKey (lounges may be members of both networks).
These networks then partner with credit card issuers to offer access to airport lounges as a “travel benefit” for cardholders.
So, by choosing the right credit card based on YOUR traveller profile, you will also be able to access airport lounges!
Your goal: free access to airport lounges
You have to determine your profile as a traveller: we will not recommend a credit card with unlimited access to airport lounges for two people while you are alone and travel only once or twice a year!
That would not make sense.
Similarly, if you travel frequently with Air Canada for work, for example, but don’t have Elite status, you may want to access Maple Leaf lounges with a credit card!
2 / Programs to access airport lounges
In Canada, there are two main airport lounge programs:
- Priority Pass
Some credit cards issued in Canada are part of either of these programs.
Beyond these programs, you can directly enter some lounges upon presentation of your credit card.
Finally, some credit cards are offering both: an Airport Lounge Program subscription AND the possibility to enter the lounge just by showing the credit card. Here, there is an opportunity to accumulate lounge passes, which is convenient for a family!
3 / Credit cards to get access to airport lounges
Many credit cards are offering free or paid access to airport lounges.
Some come with a Priority Pass or LoungeKey subscription, but you’ll have to pay a fee for each visit.
Let’s see which card to apply for, according to YOUR needs.
Goal: less than 6 individual visits per year
If you plan to access airport lounges less than 6 times a year, there is no need to apply for high annual fee credit cards.
Our best choices are:
- BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: This is the only first-year free credit card to offer 4 complimentary annual passes to airport lounges.
- Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite*: This card offers 6 complimentary annual passes to airport lounges, which is unmatched for a card at this annual fee level ($139)
- BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: This card is free for the first year and comes with 2 complimentary annual passes to airport lounges.
Objective: more than 6 visits per year
If you plan to access airport lounges more than 6 times a year, you’ll have to apply for high-end cards.
Our best choices are:
- National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®:If you regularly depart from Montreal for international flights, this is the card you need.
- Business Platinum Card® from American Express: This is the best card for frequent flyers.
- Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card: This credit card comes with 10 complimentary annual passes!
Goal: access to American Express Centurion lounges
If you regularly travel to the United States, and especially to the cities where American Express Centurion shows are located (Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, New York LGA,etc.), it is best to have one of these 2 cards:
You’ll get unlimited access to American Express’s exclusive lounges: Centurion lounges.
With this strategy, you’ll travel more comfortably with access to airport lounges!
You can apply for two different cards to get more airport lounge passes according to YOUR needs!
Our three cards recommended in this strategy are:
- BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: 4 annual passes and a first-year free card; it’s perfect for a beginner!
- Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite*: 6 annual passes for a credit card with no foreign currency conversion fee; it is perfect for an international traveller!
- Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Unlimited access for two to more than 1,200 airport lounges; it’s the perfect one for frequent flyers!