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Air France Montreal Lounge

How to Access VIP Airport Lounges for Free?

To the point With these credit cards, you will have free access to VIP airport lounges around the world! Find out how.

Objective: access to airport lounges

In almost all airports there are VIP lounge. They are real havens of peace for the most part, in which you will be able to relax:

  • 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 an attractive advantage in the traveler’s experience. But they are often reserved for some customers:

  • Frequent flyers of an airline (such as Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges)
  • High-end clients of a bank/credit union (such as the National Bank Lounge or the Odyssey Desjardins Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau YUL)
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Etihad Arrivals Lounge Abu Dhabi

However, most of these lounges are franchisees. To increase their revenue, they sell access rights to lounge networks such as DragonPass and Priority Pass. A single airport lounge can even be a member of several 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 according to YOUR travel profile, you too can access the unknown world of airport lounge!

Here, you will have to establish your traveler’s profile. For example, a card with unlimited access to airport lounges for two people is not relevant when you only travel solo once or twice a year.

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Le salon Feuille d'Érable International de Montréal

Programs to access airport lounges

In Canada, there are two main airport lounge programs:

Certain Visa and Mastercard credit cards issued in Canada are part of the DragonPass network. Some American Express cards, such as the American Express Gold Rewards Card, are part of the Priority Pass network.

Airport lounge benefits for credit cards may vary. A distinction must be made between a program subscription (Right to enter the Lounge) and visits (to enter the lounges).

Many cards offer both. A subscription to a lounge program AND the ability to access.

In addition to credit card , it is also possible to purchase a subscription to Priority Pass. The more visits included, the more expensive it is.

National Bank YUL Lounge
National Bank YUL Lounge

Credit cards to access to airport lounges

Many credit cards offer free or paid access to airport lounges.

Some will only offer you a Priority Pass or DragonPass membership, but you will have to pay for each visit.

For others, they will include between 4 and 10 visits per year. Want unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges? Apply for the Platinum Card® or the Business Platinum Card® from American Express .

Visa Infinite Privilege cards offered by CIBC / Desjardins / TD / RBC all include 6 annual visits to DragonPass lounges. Our favorite is the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card as you will also gain access to many Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges.

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Salon Premium Plaza Lounge Toronto

Let’s see which card to apply for, according to YOUR needs.

How to get a few 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:

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Salon - Aéroport de Malte La Valette

How to get more than six 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®: Unlimited access to the National Bank Lounge at Montreal YUL. If you regularly fly internationally from Montreal, this is the card for you. You, an accompanying traveller and up to two children will have free access.
  • Platinum Card®: Unlimited access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide. This is the card for frequent travellers and offers the most options for accessing airport lounges.
  • Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card: 10 annual visits to airport lounges
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The National Bank of Montreal-Trudeau lounge

How to access the Maple Leaf Lounges

If you travel regularly with Air Canada in North America, choose one of the premium Aeroplan cards such as :

With these cards, you will gain unlimited access for you and one guest to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in North America.

See our guide to accessing Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges.

How to access 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:

They will give you unlimited access to American Express’ exclusive Centurion Lounges.

As well as over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide that are members of the Priority Pass network.

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

Bottom line

This strategy for accessing airport lounges should make your travel more comfortable!

Remember, you can apply for two different cards to get more access to suit YOUR needs!

Our six recommended cards in this strategy are:

  1. BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard: Four annual visits for a first-year free card (ideal for a beginner)
  2. CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card: Four annual visits
  3. Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card: Six annual visits for a card with no foreign currency transaction fees (ideal for an international traveller)
  4. TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card: Six annual visits and access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in North America.
  5. Platinum Card® : Unlimited access for two to over 1,300 airport lounges (ideal for frequent travellers).
  6. National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®: Unlimited access to the National Bank Lounge at Montreal YUL for two people and two children
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