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How to Get Free VIP Airport Lounge Access?

To the point

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?

Almost all airports offer lounges, most of them real havens of peace, in which you will be able to:

  • focus if you have to work
  • relax before taking your flight
  • eat at the buffets
  • celebrate your departure on a trip with an alcoholic beverage
  • take a shower, incredibly convenient after a red-eye flight
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American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong

In short, airport lounges represent a real bonus in the traveler’s experience, but are often reserved for a certain clientele:

  • Frequent flyers (for Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges)
  • “premium” clients of a bank/credit union (such as the National Bank lounge or the Odyssée Desjardins lounge in Montreal-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 such as Priority Pass and/or LoungeKey (lounges can 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!

1/ Your goal: free access to airport lounges

You will have to establish your profile as a traveller; we are not going to suggest a card allowing unlimited access to airport lounges for two people when you are alone and only travel 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; all you need to do is show your card.

Finally, there are credit cards that offer both: a subscription to a lounge program, AND the ability to access it on demand. Therefore, there is an opportunity to accumulate the authorized entries, which is very practical when you travel as a 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 offer 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 American Express Platinum Card® (or the version for self-employed: the American Express Business Platinum Card®).

Visa Infinite Privilege cards offered by CIBC, Desjardins, TD and RBC include 6 annual access to Priority Pass lounges, but the annual fee is high: from $399 to $599. That’s why we prefer the other cards 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 get 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 free during the first year.

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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 lounges 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

Conclusion

Thanks to 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!

The three cards we recommend 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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