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Compare credit cards with airport lounge access

Find a credit card that offers free airport lounge access, such as Qantas lounge access and Virgin lounge access. Compare credit cards via interest rates and fees, and choose one that suits your situation.

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If you’re curious as to how you can get access to airport lounges for free, it may be worth looking into credit card perks which do just that. 

Free airport lounge access through credit cards

Booking into an airport lounge will typically cost flyers anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars. You may also need to have frequent flyer status or be flying in business or first class to consider booking in, and even then, you may only be offered a discount for your lounge pass. 

However, several providers offer free airport lounge access as a benefit of their credit cards. These are typically associated with premium credit cards or rewards credit cards. Keep in mind that while these perks are considered free, you will generally need to pay an annual fee or other ongoing costs for this card type. 

The airport lounges on offer are typically related to specific airlines such as Qantas, Virgin and Emirates, or they offer access to a broader program such as Priority Pass, which allows cardholders to access its own network of airport lounges located around the world. 

Which credit cards give you free airport lounge access?

Which airport lounges can I access with a credit card?

The airport lounges you may have access to will depend on which airlines are affiliated with your chosen credit card. The most commonly affiliated airlines for Australian credit cards are Qantas or Virgin. 

Some credit card issuers allow a greater level of global access through affiliation with Priority Pass. This airport lounge membership program offers members access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide. While you can purchase a membership without a credit card, some higher-status credit cards, such as the American Express Platinum Card, may offer membership as a perk. 

How do I get free airport lounge access with a credit card?

To get free airport lounge access with a credit card, you’ll first need to find a suitable card that offers this perk. Once you have such a card, you may still need to meet certain conditions to access some or all of the lounge services. 

Different airport lounges offer a wide range of perks and services, including food, beverages, and even beauty treatments. Depending on the card's conditions, you may be able to access just the basic services or all available perks. 

It's crucial to research before deciding which card is best for you, as there are usually conditions associated with using the card for lounge access. For example, some credit cards may offer only a couple of complimentary lounge passes per year, while a few premium credit cards might provide unlimited lounge access. Even with these cards, you may be required to meet specific conditions, such as: 

  • Spending minimums: Some cards require you to spend a minimum amount before you can redeem the complimentary lounge pass. 
  • Purchase requirements: Many cards require you to buy plane tickets with the credit card to gain access to the airport lounge. 
  • Member requirements: Enrolling in the airline or lounge network’s membership service may be necessary to acquire the free lounge pass. Additionally, you may be limited to specific airlines through the card provider. 
  • Access limitations: If your card only offers airport lounge passes, you may be limited to a few visits per year (typically 2-4). But if your card offers airport lounge access, this may not be a concern. 
  • Guest Limitations: Only one guest per cardholder is a common limitation of credit cards offering free airport lounge passes or full access. 

The difference between airport lounge access and an airport lounge pass

Airport lounge passes allow travellers to book individual lounge visits with affiliated airlines, domestically and internationally, typically at a full or discounted price. Cardholders usually have access to 2-4 free airport lounge passes a year. 

Full airport lounge access is a feature offered by some credit cards that provides unlimited entry to affiliated airlines. These credit cards are designed to appeal to frequent travellers, by granting them access to the exclusive services provided in airport lounges before their trips. 

Many credit cards let you book in airport lounge access using rewards points you’ve accrued, while some will grant you direct access, which could potentially save you hundreds of dollars in yearly membership fees. 

It’s important to note that the level of access granted by these credit cards can differ. Some credit cards have limited lounge passes, with two to four complimentary visits standard across the industry. Others may offer full lounge access as part of the perk of being a cardholder with said provider or a member of their higher-status credit card. 

What are the pros and cons of credit cards with airport lounge access

Credit cards with free lounge access can significantly enhance your travel experience. However, it’s important to remember that credit card rewards or perks aren’t exactly free. It’s worth weighing in the annual fee you’ll pay for the card as well as any other conditions, like minimum spending, to use the free lounge facility. Here are some potential pros and cons of a credit card with free airport lounge access: 


  • Comfort and convenience: Free access to an airport lounge can help you take a break from the crowded airport terminals. Depending on the level of access, apart from comfortable seating, you can enjoy facilities like free Wi-Fi, food, beverages, and sometimes even shower facilities and spa services. 
  • Cost savings: Complimentary access to food, drinks, and other amenities can save you money, especially during long layovers. 
  • Enhanced travel experience: Some lounges offer additional perks like expedited security and boarding, enhancing your overall travel experience. If your card allows you to bring a guest, it improves the travel experience for companions as well. 
  • Prestige and status: Having access to airport lounges can add a sense of luxury and exclusivity to your travel, which may be important to some people. 


  • High annual fees: Premium credit cards, especially those offering unlimited lounge access, often come with high annual fees, which may outweigh the benefits if you don’t travel frequently. 
  • Spending requirements: Some cards require you to meet high spending thresholds to qualify for lounge access, which might not be possible for everyone. 
  • Limited access: Many cards only offer a limited number of lounge visits per year, which might not be sufficient for frequent travellers. If you’re looking for unlimited access, you may need to shell out more in annual fees. Further, free lounge access on a credit card is often restricted to certain lounge networks or specific airlines, limiting your options. 
  • Guest limitations: If your card only allows one guest or no guests, you might incur extra costs if traveling with family or friends who also want lounge access. 
  • Usage conditions: You may need to enrol in additional programs, such as Priority Pass, to activate your membership and access a lounge, which can be inconvenient for some. Other conditions may include requiring a same-day airline ticket or booking flights through the card, which might not always be feasible. 

How to compare credit cards with free airport lounge access

The next step for those considering these cards is to look more closely at everything on offer so that the lure of a free visit in an airport lounge doesn’t financially outweigh the more financially important features of the card. You need to look at: 

  • Interest rates and fees – There may be a special introductory fee or interest rate that comes with the card for the first year, or a fee waiver on balance transfers, but with rates and fees you need to look at what both revert to after that initial period. This is the biggest game-changer on all cards and should always be your first priority. 
  • Overseas travel costs – Another thing to consider is the purchase rate and cash advance rate on the card, particularly when making those transactions in another country. You may get a free visit to the airport lounge but if you’re overseas and using the card for purchases or withdrawing money from local ATMs, look at the rate and fee attached to both, as they can sometimes be quite hefty. 
  • Travel insurances – These are commonly attached to the same cards and can either be complementary or the offer taken up when you spend a certain amount of money. You need to look at the coverage they provide as well as who is providing the insurance. 
  • Other elements to consider – If you’re a regular traveller, look at what lounges you’ll be able to access around the world and how that will align with your travel plans and habits. 

Having access to a limited amount of airport lounges in countries you’re not likely to visit may not provide any real benefit, but when you consider on a global scale there can be a vast difference in the number of airline lounges attached to different carriers and programs, this should be taken into account, along with everything else. 

The sky will certainly continue to be the limit on these types of credit cards, so ensure you compare like for like when you’re looking at everything on offer. 

That said, if you can combine a credit card with airport lounge access with other credit card travel perks like credit card travel insurance and cheap flights you’ve earned through the rewards program, then you have the potential to knock hundreds of dollars off the overall cost of your trip. 

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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