Credit cards have certainly come a long way, with many offering an enticing array of perks that go above and beyond the usual card features – including free airport lounge passes.
So if that sounds exactly like your cup of long macchiato, you need to know exactly how they work and how you can find the best deal for you.
There are several providers that offer a number of visits to the airport lounge and these are usually attached to premium credit cards. This makes perfect sense when you consider many of those cardholders will also travel and be more inclined to use that card overseas.
The airport lounges on offer through such cards are either related to specific airlines such as Qantas, Virgin and Emirates, or they offer access to a broader program such as Priority Pass, which allows card-holders to access its own particular network of airport lounges located around the world.
Compare the conditions on each offer
Like any perk or reward, there are usually conditions associated with the use of the card to ensure you can utilise the airport lounge, so do your research before you decide which one may be best for you.
Specifically, conditions attached to the cards are likely to vary based on:
- Spending amounts – some cards will have a minimum amount of money you’re required to spend before you can redeem the complimentary lounge pass.
- Member programs – enrolling in the airline or lounge network’s membership service may be a prerequisite to acquiring the free lounge pass.
- Airport lounge benefits – different airport lounges offer a large range of perks and services including food, beverages and even beauty treatments. Depending on the card conditions, you may be able to access just the base services, or all of the above.
Look at all the card features
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 rate 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 is not providing 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.