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The Ultimate Guide to Canadian Airport Lounges Access

To the point Would you like to access a Canadian airport lounge on your next flight? Find out in this ultimate guide our strategies to get there for free!

This guide has been regularly updated since 2015 based on new credit card offers.

How do I access airport lounges with a Canadian credit card?

There are several ways to access an airport lounge with Canadian credit cards.

This will be with:

  1. a credit card partner of many airport lounge networks
  2. a credit card granting a Priority Pass membership
  3. a credit card granting a LoungeKey membership
  4. a credit card from the bank managing the lounge
  5. an airline-branded credit card giving lounge access

For your information, Priority Pass and LoungeKey are two airport lounges networks and will be the most common methods for accessing airport lounges all around the world.

Here are the five ways to access airport lounges, and the list of accessible lounges at Canada’s major airports.

Amex 1000px

1/ A credit card partner of lounges

American Express has two charge cards granting access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection:

card Platine Max Platinum Card

In Canada, you can directly enter dozens of airport lounges, by presenting the credit card at the lounge entrance:

  • Premium Plaza lounges: Cardmember and one guest
  • Swissport Executive Lounges: Cardmember and one guest and two children under 21
  • The V.I.P. Lounge in Quebec City: Cardmember and one guest and two children under the age of 18

Here is a list of all airport lounges in Canada you can directly access with one of American Express Platinum cards:

Airport City Lounge
YYC Calgary Aspire Lounge(Transborder E)
Aspire Lounge(International D)
YEG Edmonton Plaza Premium Lounge(Non-US Departures)
Plaza Premium Lounge(US Departures)
YHZ Halifax
YUL Montreal National Bank Lounge (International)
YOW Ottawa Aspire Lounge(Departures)
YQB Quebec VIP Lounge (Departures)
YYZ Toronto Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 US Transborder)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 US Cross-Border)
Wellbeing(Cross-Border T3)
YVR Vancouver Plaza Premium Lounge(Pier C Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(Cross-border)
YWG Winnipeg Plaza Premium Lounge(Departures)

Besides to these direct accesses offered by the two Platine cards, they also provide:

  • a Priority Pass membership
  • with unlimited access for the Cardmember AND one guest

Below, you’ll see what it’s all about in the Priority Pass section.

lounge VIP of YQB Quebec Jean Lesage Intl 9
VIP Room - Quebec City (YQB)

The best credit cards partners of airport lounges

As a result, there are only two cards in Canada that are partners with as many airport lounges.

We recommend these cards for frequent flyers: their annual fee will be quickly profitable after several visits to lounges! Especially with unlimited access for the Cardmember and one guest, and even his – big – children!

Charge cards Details
Platinum Card® from American Express Unlimited annual access
Business Platinum Card® from American Express Unlimited annual access
Priority Pass 1000px

2/ A credit card with a Priority Pass membership

The other easy way to access a Canadian airport lounge is to hold a credit card with a Priority Pass membership. There are many credit cards like this in Canada:

  • some will offer unlimited access
  • others will offer some annual visits

To access dozens of airport lounges, you will have to present the Priority Pass Card at the lounge entrance.

Here is a list of all airport lounges in Canada you can access with a Priority Pass membership:

Airport City Lounge
YYC Calgary Chinook Lounge(Hall A)
Aspire Lounge(Transborder E)
Aspire Lounge(International D)
YEG Edmonton Plaza Premium Lounge(Non-US Departures)
Plaza Premium Lounge(US Departures)
YHZ Halifax
YUL Montreal National Bank Lounge (International)
Pork and Pickle Restaurant(Domestic)
Restaurant Houston Bar and Grill (Cross-border)
YOW Ottawa Aspire Lounge(Departures)
YQB Quebec VIP Lounge (Departures)
YYZ Toronto Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 US Transborder)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 International)
Air France-KLM Lounge(T3 International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 US Cross-Border)
Wellbeing(Cross-Border T3)
YVR Vancouver Plaza Premium Lounge(Pier C Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(International)
Skyteam Lounge(International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(Cross-border)
YWG Winnipeg Plaza Premium Lounge(Departures)

American Express Platinum Cards no longer offer access to Priority Pass restaurants.

premium plaza yyz 1
Premium Plaza Lounge - Toronto YYZ - Crédit: Murielle D.
prioritypass

The best credit cards with a Priority Pass membership

Here are the best credit cards with a Priority Pass membership and annual visits to airport lounges.

If you travel a few times a year, the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite*: offers six airport lounge access per year, and it is one of the only credit cards in Canada with no conversion fees for foreign currency transactions.

If you would like ten visits to airport lounges per year, you could apply for to Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card, also offering a high point earning rate, especially at the grocery store.

Finally, if you travel more frequently, the investment in the Platinum Card® from American Express or the Business Platinum Card® from American Express will quickly pay off. These are the only credit cards in Canada with unlimited access for the Cardmember and one guest at Priority Pass airport lounges.

Credit cards Details
Aventura CIBC Visa Infinite
4 annual visits per year included
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* 6 annual visits per year included
Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card card 10 annual visits per year included
Platinum Card® from American Express Unlimited access for the Cardmember and one guest
Business Platinum Card® from American Express Unlimited access for the Cardmember and one guest
Loungekey 1000px

3/ A credit card with a LoungeKey membership

Another easy way to access a Canadian airport lounge is to hold a credit card offering a LoungeKey membership. These will only be World, World Elite or Muse Mastercard credit cards.

To access dozens of airport lounges, you will have to present the credit card at the lounge entrance.

Here is a list of all airport lounges in Canada you can access to with a LoungeKey membership:

Airport City Lounge
YYC Calgary Chinook Lounge(Hall A)
Aspire Lounge(Transborder E)
Aspire Lounge(International D)
YEG Edmonton Plaza Premium Lounge(Non-US Departures)
Plaza Premium Lounge(US Departures)
YHZ Halifax
YUL Montreal National Bank Lounge (International)
YOW Ottawa Aspire Lounge(Departures)
YQB Quebec VIP Lounge Lounge(Departures)
YYZ Toronto Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T1 US Transborder)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 International)
Air France-KLM Lounge(T3 International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(T3 US Cross-Border)
YVR Vancouver Plaza Premium Lounge(Pier C Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(Domestic)
Plaza Premium Lounge(International)
Skyteam Lounge(International)
Plaza Premium Lounge(Cross-border)
YWG Winnipeg Plaza Premium Lounge(Departures)
Af A Lounge Yyz
Salon Air France-KLM de Toronto YYZ
loungekey 300x150

The best credit cards with a LoungeKey membership

Here are the best credit cards offering a LoungeKey membership and passes (or travel credit) to access airport lounges.

If you travel a few times a year, you could apply for the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®: its $100 annual travel credit can cover the cost of lounge access: it’s convenient if you only plan to need a lounge once or twice a year. It is also one of the only credit cards in Canada with no conversion fees for foreign currency transactions. See its presentation here.

Alternatively, the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* is the only Mastercard credit card first-year free (a $150 saving) and four annual access to LoungeKey airport lounges! It is also a card known for its outstanding insurances.

Credit cards Details
HSBC World Elite Mastercard $100 annual credit
card Mastercard BMO AIR MILES World Elite 2 annual visits per year included
BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* 4 annual visits per year included
NBC Desjardins 1000px

4/ A credit card from the bank managing the lounge

Another less common method of accessing a Canadian airport lounge is to hold a credit card from a bank managing the airport lounge.

In Canada, two financial institutions are managing an airport lounge: National Bank of Canada and Desjardins.

To access these airport lounges, you will have to present the credit card at the lounge entrance.

Airport City Lounge
YUL Montreal National Bank Lounge (International)
Desjardins Odyssey Lounge (International)
NBC Featured 2
National Bank Lounge - Montreal

The best credit cards for Bank Lounges

Access to the National Bank Lounge is possible with the card below (in addition to all other cards offering Priority Pass and LoungeKey memberships):

Credit card Details
The National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® Complimentary entry for the cardholder and one guest

Access to the Desjardins Odyssey Lounge is possible thanks to the cards below:

Credit cards Details
card Desjardins Odyssey Visa Infinite Privilege 12 annual visits per year included
card Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard 8 annual visits per year included
card Desjardins Odyssey Gold Visa 50% off the entrance fee
Air Canada 1000px

5/ A credit card from the airline managing the lounge

Finally, you can access Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounges with a credit card from the airline’s loyalty program.

In Canada, three financial institutions are partners with Air Canada: American Express, CIBC and TD.

To access these airport lounges, you will have to present the credit card at the lounge entrance.

Airport City Lounge
YYC Calgary Maple Leaf Lounge(Hall C)
YEG Edmonton Maple Leaf Lounge(excluding cross-border flights)
YHZ Halifax Maple Leaf Lounge(excluding cross-border flights)
YUL Montreal Maple Leaf Lounge(Domestic)
Maple Leaf Show(Cross-Border)
Maple Leaf Show(International)
YOW Ottawa Maple Leaf Lounge(excluding cross-border flights)
YQB Quebec
YYZ Toronto Maple Leaf Lounge(Express)
Maple Leaf Lounge(Domestic)
Maple Leaf Show(Cross-Border)
Maple Leaf Show(International)
YVR Vancouver Maple Leaf Lounge(Domestic)
Maple Leaf Show(Cross-Border)
Maple Leaf Show(International)
YWG Winnipeg Maple Leaf Lounge(excluding cross-border flights)
air canada – classe affaires – yul – gru-04
Air Canada - Signature

The best credit cards for Maple Leaf Lounges access

Access to the Maple Leaf Lounge will be granted by several credit cards.

However, most will only offer:

  • One annual visit AND you have to travel on an Aeroplan reward flight (CIBC or TD Visa Infinite cards)
  • Four annual visits AND you have to travel on an Aeroplan reward flight (CIBC or TD Visa Infinite Privilege cards)

The only card to offer unlimited access to the Cardmember is the American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card (as well as the American Express® AeroplanPlus® Reserve Card for existing holders since the card has been removed from the market).

Credit cards Details
American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card Unlimited access for the Cardmember
Other Aeroplan credit cards (CIBC, TD) Between One and Four annual visits when travelling with an Aeroplan reward flight

Conclusion

As you may have seen, there are many ways to access Canadian airport lounges. Moreover, in the forum of milesopedia, you will find an excel file, created by Caroline and Frédéric, listing access rules according to each credit card!

As you can see, you don’t have to pay for a high annual-fee credit card to start visiting Canadian airport lounges!

You could start entering it for free with the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, which offers four annual visits to airport lounges.

Need more visits? The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* will give you six annual visits (including Priority Pass restaurants), and you’ll save money on your foreign currency transactions since this card does not charge any conversion fees!

Finally, if you’re a frequent flyer, the Platinum Card® from American Express Business Platinum Card® from American Express will give you unlimited access – and with the person of your choice – at more than 20 airport lounges across Canada and more than 1,300 around the world!

These are the three cards we recommend, depending on your needs!

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