For many people, just the thought of sitting in an airport is stressful. Once you get through the hassle of airport security, you’re greeted by the prospect of fighting for an uncomfortable seat by your gate. If you have a long layover, that’s even worse. It’s no wonder we see frustrated outbursts over flight delays.
While the delays are out of your hands, you can often put yourself in a much more relaxing environment. Rather than fight with hoards of people at the gate for a seat, visiting an airline lounge could bring a little calm to your life. Fortunately, with a Priority Pass membership, lounge access isn’t limited to those with elite status or flying business or first class.
With over 1,200 airport lounges spread across over 500 airports in 143 countries around the world, there’s a good chance you’ll find your way to a lounge that partners with Priority Pass.
Cards That Provide Priority Pass Select
Now, you could buy a membership directly from Priority Pass but, for Americans, you can get a Priority Pass Select membership just by having one of several credit cards. I don’t know about you but I’d much prefer to pay the annual fee on a credit card that can help me earn points/miles to help me travel AND get lounge access.
Here’s a quick breakdown of cards that provide a Priority Pass Select membership, how many guests a member can bring into a lounge and whether authorized users get their own membership.
|Card||Free Guests||Access For Authorized Users?|
|The Platinum Card from American Express* (Learn More)||2||Yes|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express* (Learn More)||2||Yes|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||2||Yes|
|Citi Prestige (Learn More)||2||Yes|
|CNB Crystal Visa Infinite (Learn More)||Unlimited||Yes*|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card* (Learn More)||2||No|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card* (Learn More)||2||No|
As of August 1, 2019, the Priority Pass Select membership provided by American Express cards will no longer include partner restaurants.
Card Details And Differences
The CNB Crystal Visa Infinite stands out as its Priority Pass membership allows you to bring unlimited to guests into a lounge which makes it great for families. You can also give a Priority Pass membership to one authorized user who can also bring unlimited guests with them. However, of the cards that provide a Priority Pass Select membership, it’s definitely the most difficult to get.
If you have the Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can add authorized users for $50 and $75, respectively, and each authorized user will receive Priority Pass access. The fee for Citi Prestige authorized users will increase to $75 on your first card anniversary that falls after September 1, 2019.
You can add 3 authorized users to the Amex Platinum for a flat $175 fee with additional authorized users costing $175 each. With the Amex Business Platinum, each authorized user will cost $300.
Set Up Your Priority Pass Membership
Don’t forget to register. This is key.
Once you’ve been approved for one of the cards mentioned above, you still need to register your account. It’s an easy process though. Priority Pass will send you your membership card so you can register online.
Once you’ve set up your online account, you can download the Priority Pass app and add the card to your digital wallet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten my physical card but been able to access a lounge thanks to the digital card. We’d still recommend carrying the physical card just in case a lounge or restaurant don’t accept the digital card.
Priority Pass Restaurants
Speaking of restaurants, Priority Pass doesn’t just have lounge partnerships. It also has partnerships with many restaurants which can be particularly useful if you don’t have access to a lounge. With your Priority Pass Select membership, you’ll receive a credit of about $28 toward food and drink at partner restaurants. Considering the price of food in airports, this can be huge if you don’t have access to a lounge.
Before you visit an airport, it’s a good idea to check Priority Pass to see what lounge and restaurant options you’ll have. This is especially true for restaurants as some allow you to pay for two guests while some restrict you to one guest. Don’t worry, it doesn’t come out of the $28. Each guest gets a $28 credit.
Don’t Forget To Tip
If you’re in a country where tipping is customary, this is important. The $28 credit you get from Priority Pass does NOT cover tips. It only covers your food and drink. Since many food service employees make a good chunk of their money off of tips, please remember to bring cash to tip separately.
If your meal costs more than the Priority Pass credit, you can pay the remainder with your credit card and tip that way. If you don’t have cash and your meal might not clear the $28 credit, you might be able to grab a pre-made sandwich for the road to clear the threshold.
When it comes down to it, they have to put up with a lot of cranky travelers so make sure you take care of those who take care of you.
Is Priority Pass Select Worth It?
If you’re able to get a Priority Pass Select membership via a credit card, absolutely. It’s almost just a bonus if the card you get is helping you earn points toward travel and provides other useful benefits. While we hear the occasional complaint about being turned away from lounges at capacity — sometimes, even when they’re not actually at capacity, this is not the norm. Yes, it’s possible but we don’t think it will be a regular thing as you hop around the world.
You might even be surprised to find a lounge or restaurant at an airport. I know I was surprised to find a Priority Pass restaurant at Bluegrass Regional Airport in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky before a 6:00 a flight.
As far as credit card benefits go, Priority Pass lounge/restaurant access has to be one of the better perks. Whether you need to get to the airport early to get some work done and want a quieter place to sit or you’d like a bite to eat after running around all day, the lounge access really can come through for you. If you have a long layover after a long-haul flight in economy, you might just appreciate having a little space — and a drink.