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
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)
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.
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.
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, 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!
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.
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:
- 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)
- CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card: 4 complimentary annual passes
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. You, an accompanying traveller and up to 2 children will have free access.
- Platinum Card®: this is the frequent flyer card and offers the most options for airport lounges access.
- 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 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.
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:
- 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!
- Platinum Card®: unlimited access for two to over 1,200 airport lounges, great for frequent travellers!