The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
- A Priority Pass membership gets you access to over 1,300 airport lounges and experiences across the world, including benefits like food and drinks, conference rooms and even sleeping suites
- There are three levels of membership, ranging from $99 per year to $469 per year, and guests can join you for an additional fee
- Select credit cards also offer access through Priority Pass Select benefits, though these cards’ annual fees are typically on the higher side
If you’re an avid traveler, you’ve probably spent time in an airport lounge. With complimentary food, beverages and other amenities, access to these lounges can enhance almost any airport experience.
You can gain entry into an airport lounge by purchasing a one-time pass or a Priority Pass membership. If you’re interested in getting access to an airport lounge with a Priority Pass, here’s what you need to know.
What is Priority Pass?
Priority Pass membership grants you access to a global network of over 1,300 airport experiences that include airport lounges, restaurants and other exclusive amenities. Select airport locations in the Priority Pass network also include suites for napping, spa services, gaming stations and picturesque views. You’ll even find some next-level luxuries available, like a pool in one of the Punta Cana International Airport lounges and a putting green at the PGA-themed Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport.
Averaging anywhere from $30 to $60 a visit, access to airport lounges can be pretty expensive on a one-off basis. It may not be worth paying for individual passes, especially if you bring a guest or travel with your family. For most travelers, especially those who fly more than a few times a year, it’s more economical to invest in a Priority Pass membership for airport lounge access.
There are two ways to become a Priority Pass member. You can either purchase a membership directly through the company’s website or get a Priority Pass Select membership through a credit card issuer that offers this benefit to its cardholders.
Priority Pass benefits
If you’re a moderate or frequent traveler, a Priority Pass membership could provide a great deal of value in terms of amenities and food. Many airport lounges often have one or more of the following features:
- Free Wi-Fi
- Charging stations
- Food and drinks
- Conference rooms
- Business centers, including computers and printers
- Sleeping suites or showers
Depending on the Priority Pass membership (covered more in depth below), you may be able to bring guests into lounges. In some cases, kids under a certain age are free. Guests that aren’t covered need to pay the prevailing rate to enter the lounge.
Another benefit of the Priority Pass includes restaurant vouchers. You can skip the lounge and go to one of 30+ participating restaurants with a voucher for around $28 to $30. Your guest can also have a voucher if they are included in your membership.
Note: Some card issuers, like American Express, no longer provide restaurant access with their Priority Pass Select membership. (The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card recently removed restaurant access as well, in addition to Priority Pass shopping and spa perks.) Others only offer a limited number of lounge visits. Be sure to read the fine print for your card that describes exclusions and limitations regarding Priority Pass Select benefits.
Priority Pass App
The Priority Pass App is an excellent resource for any frequent traveler. It has a directory of all airport lounges and maps for all locations, as well as their offerings and operating schedules. The mobile experience also gives users the most up-to-date information regarding airport dining, retail and spa discounts. Plus, you can redeem offers via the Priority Pass App or through your digital account.
Where to find Priority Pass lounges
Most of the 1,300 airport experiences available to Priority Pass members are outside of the United States. As a result, you’ll get the most benefit from the Priority Pass as an international traveler. If you would like to enjoy lounge access stateside, there are currently more than 40 airport lounges in the United States:
- Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), Maryland
- Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT), Arkansas
- Blue Grass Airport (LEX), Kentucky
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
- Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), New York
- Charleston International Airport (CHS), South Carolina
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), North Carolina
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
- Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), Ohio
- Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Colorado
- Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Michigan
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Florida
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Texas
- Harry Reid International Airport (LAS), Nevada
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
- Indianapolis International Airport (IND), Indiana
- Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Florida
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
- Kahului Airport (OGG), Hawaii
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA), New York
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), Louisiana
- Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), Minnesota
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
- Orlando International Airport (MCO), Florida
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Pennsylvania
- Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Pennsylvania
- Portland International Airport (PDX), Oregon
- Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport (PVD), Rhode Island
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington, D.C.
- San Diego International Airport (SAN), California
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
- San José Mineta International Airport (SJC), California
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), Missouri
- Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), New York
- Tampa International Airport (TPA), Florida
- Tucson International Airport (TUS), Arizona
- Dulles International Airport (IAD), Washington, D.C.
- William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), Texas
Are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded?
Sometimes, but there are a lot of variables at play. Demand for lounge access varies by country, airport, type of lounge, time of day and whether or not you are traveling during a peak season.
Busy airports at peak travel season could have longer wait times to get into lounges. Popular airport lounges that offer unique experiences, like spa services in sleeping rooms, could have even higher demand and wait times.
There are a few things you can do to get access to an airport lounge, even during periods of higher demand. Some airports have more than one Priority Pass option. For example, if a lounge is overcrowded, then you can opt for an eligible restaurant or even another lounge in another terminal. If you have a long layover or wait before your flight, it could be worth it to venture into another terminal to make the most of your Priority Pass access.
The other option you have is to wait until there’s enough space for you and your guests. Again, this may not be a problem for very long visits to the airport. There are limitations on the time you can spend in these lounges anyway, so waiting before your lounge visit (or having to leave when you still have a wait before your flight) may be inevitable.
What does a Priority Pass membership cost?
There are three levels of Priority Pass membership:
This membership is for the occasional traveler and costs $99 per year. With the standard membership, entry to airport lounges will cost $35 for yourself and $35 for additional guests.
This membership is for someone who travels a bit more often, such as once or twice per month. The $329 annual membership fee covers 10 free visits to Priority Pass lounges. Once you’ve used those, you’ll pay $35 per visit. The same rate applies to any additional guests.
This level accommodates the frequent traveler and costs $469 per year. It provides unlimited member visits at no additional charge, though guests will cost $35 per visit.
Which credit cards include Priority Pass Select?
Suppose you don’t want to pay for a Priority Pass membership. In that case, there are several credit cards that offer a special Priority Pass membership — Priority Pass Select — as a card benefit. Here are some top credit cards that offer this airport lounge pass as part of their benefits:
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for flexible rewards
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the most popular travel credit cards around, and it happens to offer Priority Pass Select membership. For a $550 annual fee, cardholders get a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, an annual $300 travel credit, significant sign-up bonus and heightened rewards on travel purchases. The real appeal for travelers, though, is the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, where cardholders can redeem points for 50 percent more value toward travel.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate travel rewards
A relative newcomer to the travel credit card space, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers many benefits you’d see with higher-end travel cards. The most notable feature of this card is the high rewards rate cardholders get for using their Venture X card to book travel.
Then, there are credits galore: 10,000-mile anniversary credit, up to $300 in annual statement credits for Capital One Travel purchases, added to the $25 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years, means that you can more than justify the annual cost of owning this card.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best for frequent Hilton stays
If you’re partial to the Hilton brand, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card* should be your go-to for travel and dining. Along with Priority Pass select membership, the Aspire allows you to convert points to cover nights at Hilton properties, airline miles and car rentals. There’s a $450 annual fee, but you’ll receive at least one free weekend night reward immediately, plus one every year after card renewal, as well as a number of statement credits for travel-related spending.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Best for brand-loyal Marriott travelers
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card features many benefits, including annual credits, travel perks and status upgrades, like complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status. You’ll pay a $650 annual fee, but the card’s rewards structure is boosted and you can of course enjoy Priority Pass™ Select membership.
The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for maximizing rewards points with travel partners
With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll get the most value by redeeming your points for flights, hotels, cruises and other travel options through the American Express travel portal or its travel partners. Currently, the 80,000-point welcome (after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first six months), worth $800, could be stretched to $1,680 if strategically redeemed with Amex travel partners. That’s because American Express Membership Rewards points are worth around 2.0 cents apiece toward high-value transfer partner travel, according to Bankrate valuations.
The card also offers thousands of dollars in value in the form of travel and entertainment credits (for a $695 annual fee) and can help you relax at any of the 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges around the globe.
How to make the most of a Priority Pass membership
To get the most value out of your Priority Pass membership, you’ll want to use it as much as you can. That might mean showing up for your flight a little earlier or making a stop at a lounge after you land instead of heading straight to your destination.
Another strategy to use your pass more often would be to plan your flights according to lounge access. If you’re shopping for flights and can use different airports, choose the one with access to a lounge, especially if there’s a lounge you prefer. It can also be useful to pick an airport with several lounges if you are open to visiting more than one or want to make sure you won’t have to wait to get in.
Finally, if you have a Priority Pass Select membership through your credit card issuer, you should activate your Priority Pass as soon as possible. Even though it’s included with your credit card benefits, membership enrollment is not automatic.
There are additional steps you’ll have to take to enroll in the program and receive your membership card in the mail. Most card issuers give you the option to activate your enrollment online. You can even download the Priority Pass app and use your digital membership card.
The bottom line
Airport lounge access is an excellent way to make your travels more pleasant, especially when you might be facing extended layovers or an international trip with multiple legs.
No matter how you come into your Priority Pass membership, the value you’ll get from the amenities and convenience could be worth the price tag — especially for frequent travelers who’ll spend money on food and other services at the airport anyway.
*The information about these cards has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.