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.
How do you get cards for AUs? For the Amex Platinum I thought only the primary could get a card from PP. How does the AU get in when the primary is not traveling?
I haven’t needed to do this, personally, as I don’t have any authorized users but I believe they should be able to enroll by calling Amex. The AU will then be sent their own Priority Pass card so they’ll have access without the primary cardholder.
how do I add multiple cards to my account?
Hey Thomas – What card do you have?
Amex Platinum (probably dropping in a few months) that is currently registered and Chase Saphire.
Chase Sapphire Reserve to be specific.
With the Sapphire Reserve, select the card in your chase account. Under “Things To Do”, you’ll find a menu option that says “Add an authorized user”.
For the Amex Platinum, you can click on “Add another user”. Believe that is on the main account page.
I am trying to add the chase sapphire reserve as a second card to priority pass website and app, not trying to add another user to a credit card.
Your Priority Pass membership via the Sapphire Reserve is a different account. You’ll have to register a new account online.
I’m not sure you’ve been using them lately…
Like you said it’s a bonus with the card, but I wouldn’t say it is what justify the price of it.
I’m traveling mostly all over the US, and when you’re lucky to have one in the right terminal (or airport), it’s usually crowded. So getting in is absolutely not guaranteed and some of them don’t even have a wait list, they rather try to sell their pass with pre-booking option.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have, but in my opinion for most, even frequently, travelers it’s not worth the value of a premium card (luckily there are other perks) or even less the membership.
It was probably very exclusive back in the days, but it’s actually becoming to commun pass to have I think.
Hey Charles – My experience with Priority Pass lounges in the US is mostly at IAD – one of my home airports – and I haven’t had issues. While I know access isn’t guaranteed, I don’t get the sense that tons of lounges are turning people away constantly. I mostly hear stories about select lounges. Of course, when we do get turned away it sticks in our minds for a loooong time. We’re human, after all.
Seems like you’ve had a rough go with Priority Pass lounges lately. What airports are your regulars these days?
Authorized users ARE eligible for the Priority Pass American Express benefit, but you can’t sign up online. Instead you have to call in:
800-525-3355 if you have the regular American Express Platinum card
800-492-8468 if you have a business American Express Platinum card
Thanks for adding that info Chris. Good to know about AUs needing to call.
I canceled my American Express Platinum because too many Priority Pass Lounges were unavailable or had put restrictions on when you could enter. Gatwick and Schiphol are two that i could never get into. Schipol has rules that you cannot enter more than 3 hours before flight time. Transatlantic flights can board one hour before flight time so that now has you down to two hours and due to airport size, you better start out 30 minutes early. Now you are down to 1.5 hours. By the time you keep going back to see if there is room, you have to leave. Minneapolis has the strangest deal with a golf restaurant. In the end I paid a small fortune for a meal and a drink. Many Asian lounges charge extra for alcohol. I did not find the price of the perk worth it.
Hey Leona – It does seem like certain lounges run full. How early do you prefer to get to a lounge before a flight? I’ve been fortunate my home airport have had issues and we have a few options. Other than that, it’s mostly been connections in Europe and Asia and I haven’t had an issue.
I’ve tried several times in the past to use my Priorty Pass at Alaska’s SEA and PDX lounges. They always had a sign out saying not admitting PP. Alaska SEA is no longer allowing PP access. I’ve given up.
Out of all the Priority Pass lounges, Alaska clubs might be the ones with the most complaints.
Priority Pass is great some of the time.But the system can be frustrating.Some airports like Tashkent or Tel Aviv Terminal 1 do not have access.Narita in Tokyo- a major airport by any standard-has its lounges before check-in and security, so unless you read the fine print (how many really do??), you are left high and dry.The Doha lounge- another major hub-looks more like a crowded Indian railway station’s waiting room.So this card is like a troublesome relationship.Hard to continue without it, yet annoying with it.
Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. Sounds like you’ve spent a decent amount of time in airports! I must admit, I’m one of those people that checks the lounge fine print before I go to the airport.
My chase platinum preferred and reserved state in my letter that i can bring unlimited guests and i have in fact brought more than 2 on more than 10 occassions so your infomation is incorrect.
Originally, the Priority Pass membership that came with the Chase Sapphire Reserve allowed unlimited guests. However, that was changed last year and now only 2 guests are allowed.
Ir doesn’t look like Crystal visa offers unlimited guests wi priority pass anymore.
Hey Oscar – That’s interesting. I just checked the CNB Crystal Visa benefits guide and it says, “Access for Members and their accompanying guests…” No mention of a restriction. Did you see a restriction mentioned somewhere? Obviously, a specific lounge can limit guests, but I’d love to know if CNB has placed a limit on guests.
Continues disappointment is how i would describe this card. For example IAD has two lounges BA and Turkish. Thats great as long as you have a flight that fits the hours they allow Priority Pass. For BA it is the morning until 2pm. Turkish is after 630pm.
Hey Randy – Last I checked, IAD has 3 lounges and a restaurant (Chef Geoff’s). The lounges are the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (6am-1:30pm), BA Galleries Lounge (7am-2pm) and Turkish Lounge (6am-11pm). You should be able to visit Turkish any time for up to 4 hours – not sure if they enforce that.
I’m based in NYC and flight out of all the 3 airports, and have been able to enjoy only 3 times at JFK T4, I didn’t get a chance to try the ones at EWR.
But I’m flying pretty much every where in the US and with connections at most of the hubs of Delta and American.
I’m just saying that for me the experience is not worth the price when you want to be able to enjoy it on the go at “random” airports in my opinion. The lounges are too often full or out of your way and need you to have at least 3h.
And the quite few times going to Europe and connecting in LHR, the experience wasn’t better.
So I guess it’s good, when you have the right lounge at your home/regular airport.
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