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How to Get Free Airport Lounge Access?

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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
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American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong

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)
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Etihad Arrivals Lounge Abu Dhabi

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.

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Canopy Lounge - Nice Airport

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.

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Le Saigonnais Business Lounge

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!

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Le salon Feuille d'Érable International de Montréal

2 / Programs to access airport lounges

In Canada, there are two main airport lounge programs:

Some credit cards issued in Canada are part of either of these programs.

Beyond these programs, some credit cards will allow you to access airport lounges directly, upon simple presentation of these.

Finally, there are credit card that offer both: a subscription to a lounge program AND the possibility to access on presentation of it. Here, there is an opportunity to accumulate the authorized entries which is very convenient for the family!

In addition from credit cards, it is also possible to purchase a Priority Pass membership, which will be more or less expensive depending on the number of visits required per year.

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Souhaitez-vous accéder aux salons?

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.

Other cards come with 2 to 10 lounge passes per year; or unlimited access with the Platinum Card® (or the self-employed version: the Business Platinum Card® from American Express).

Visa Infinite Privilege cards offered by CIBC/ Desjardins / TD / RBC include 6 annual access to Priority Pass lounges, but the annual fee is high: from $399 to $599. We will prefer the other card listed below.

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Salon Premium Plaza Lounge Toronto

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 go to expensive cards.

Our best choices are:

If you want to see what airport lounges look like, without getting too involved, the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* is perfect for this: it’s the only one to be first-year free!

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Salon - Aéroport de Malte La Valette

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:

With unlimited access to the National Bank Lounge in Montreal-Trudeau, the National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® is the one you need if you travel internationally from Montreal!

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Le salon Banque Nationale

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.

Business Platinum Card® from American Express Centurion
Business Platinum Card® from American Express and Centurion Lounge access in San Francisco


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:

  1. BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: 4 annual passes and a first-year free card; it’s perfect for a beginner!
  2. Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite*: 6 annual passes for a credit card with no foreign currency conversion fee; it is perfect for an international traveller!
  3. 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!
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