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Priority Pass is the world's largest network of independent airport lounges. Offered as a complimentary credit card benefit or via a paid annual membership, Priority Pass lets you access over 1,000 lounges across the globe, making it one of the best credit card benefits for international travel.
Because Priority Pass is independent of individual airlines, you can access the lounge network no matter which airline you fly. The lounges provide a space where you can grab a bite to eat and drink, log into the Wi-Fi, and sit in quiet comfort to get some work done or enjoy a glass of wine.
The Priority Pass lounge network does have its issues. Lounge quality lags behind some of its competitors in the US, with several lounges out of date and the service a little inconsistent. Another complaint is the rise in complimentary memberships, which is creating an overcrowding issue in select US lounges during peak demand.
Priority Pass also offers some great new benefits outside of lounge access, providing a credit of $28 per person at select bars and restaurants within airport terminals, along with spa access and micro-suites at some airports. Priority Pass doesn't list the locations featuring restaurant or bar credits, so we've put together a post recording each location and the credit offered.
North American Priority Pass Lounge Locations
Priority pass advertises itself as one of the biggest lounge networks on the planet, but its US footprint is comparatively small. At the time of writing, there are 56 Priority Pass lounges in North America, with 40 of those in the mainland US and the rest spread across Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii.
Highlights of the US Priority Pass lounge network include the Air France Lounges at JFK, ORD, and SFO, The Club lounges at SJC, ATL, MCO, and DFW, and the Alaska Lounges at LAX and SEA, although Alaska is restricting entry to West Coast lounges for Priority Pass holders to the primary cardholder, so these lounges are best if you’re traveling alone.
For a full list of US Priority Pass lounge locations head to PriorityPass.com, scroll down to the region selection, and click the North America button. You can access lounge locations worldwide from the same page.
Priority Pass truly comes into its own when you take off from North American shores. The list of lounges overseas is extensive (1,000+ lounges) and includes standout lounges like the Almost@Home Lounge in Helsinki, the Al Dhabi Lounge in Abu Dhabi, the Star Alliance Lounge at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle, and London Heathrow’s superb SkyTeam Lounge.
Paid Priority Pass Memberships – Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige
Paid Priority Pass annual memberships start from as little as $99 for a Standard membership, topping out at a hefty $399 for a Prestige membership plan.
- Priority Pass Standard—$99 – Member visit fee: US$27 / Guest visit fee: US$27
- Priority Pass Standard Plus—$249 – Member visit fee: 10 FREE visits, then US$27 / Guest visit fee: US$27
- Priority Pass Prestige—$399 – Member visit fee: ALL FREE / Guest visit fee: US$27
In the past, a paid membership used to offer additional access benefits over complimentary memberships. But the benefits are now so closely aligned it makes little sense to pay an expensive membership fee when, for the same cost, you could get the Priority Pass membership as a credit card benefit, along with a host of benefits such as travel credits and complimentary travel insurances.
Complimentary Priority Pass Memberships – Priority Pass Select
The complimentary Priority Pass memberships offered with credit cards are Priority Pass Select memberships. While the name is the same across the board, the access and guest policies differ for each card.
Of the cards providing a complimentary Priority Pass membership, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card used to offer the most flexible guest policies, allowing you to bring unlimited guests into the lounge for free. This policy is changing, however, and from 08/26/2018 cardmembers will only be allowed 2x guests.
Other cards offering generous policies include The Platinum Card® from American Express and its business counterpart The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Citi Prestige® Card all allow cardholders 2 free guests, with additional guests priced at $27 per person.
The Amex Platinum offers the best lounge access of the lot, throwing in access to Delta SkyClub lounges (when traveling on Delta) and the Amex Centurion Lounge network on top of the Priority Pass membership. To see a full list of lounge access and guest policies by card, we’ve put together a post comparing the best cards for lounge access which offers a comprehensive breakdown for each card.
Priority Pass Lounge Access by Credit Card
|Credit Card||Complimentary Cardholder Access||Number of Free Guests||Digital Priority Pass Card||Card Annual Fee||Authorized User Lounge Access||Authorized User Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Unlimited lounge access||2 guests||Yes||$550||Yes||$75|
|The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card||Unlimited lounge access||2 guests||Yes||$450||Yes||$0|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Unlimited lounge access - No F&B credits at non-lounge restaurants, bars, and eateries||2 guests||Yes||$550 - Rates & Fees||Yes||$175 total for first 3 AU's then $175 each - Rates & Fees|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Unlimited lounge access - No F&B credits at non-lounge restaurants, bars, and eateries||2 guests||Yes||$595 - Rates & Fees||Yes||$300 - Rates & Fees|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||Unlimited lounge access||2 guests||Yes||$450||No||$0
|Citi Prestige® Card||Unlimited lounge access||2 guests or immediate family||Yes||$495||Yes||$50|
|Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card||Unlimited lounge access||No limit - Lounges can limit the number of guests at their discretion||Yes||$400||Can gift access to one other person - doesn't have to be AU|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||10x free passes then $27 per person||$27 per guest||Yes||$95 - Rates & Fees||No||N/A - Rates & Fees|
|U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card||4x free passes then $27 per visit||1 guest free for first 4 visits, then $27 per visit||No||$400||No||$0|
If you have more than one complimentary Priority Pass membership due to having multiple credit cards that offer lounge access as a perk, Ben from OMAAT offers an easy solution to telling the cards apart. Simply note the lounge access guest policy, and which provider supplied the membership, on the back of the card using a marker pen so you can tell the cards apart.
Lounge access is essential for any frequent flyer, providing a quiet place to relax, eat and drink without the hustle, and space to get work done if you’re that way inclined. And while the Priority Pass network in the US is limited, missing some of the bigger hubs, the membership offers some fantastic lounges when you travel overseas.
Getting a Priority Pass membership via the cards mentioned above is a fantastic option if you don’t hold elite status with an airline, or you plan on flying multiple carriers. Just be sure to activate your membership when you receive your credit card, or you may walk up to the lounge's front counter only to be turned away because you didn’t pre-register your account.
As always, we’d love to hear your experiences and queries, so get in touch via the comments if you have questions regarding Priority Pass memberships and the different options available.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
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