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Which credit card has lounge access?


business woman in lounge

If you're a frequent air traveler, airport lounge access is almost a must-have benefit for you. Imagine the comfort of a premium lounge with service instead of sitting on old uncomfortable airport chairs for hours waiting for your flight.


Even if you're not a frequent air traveler and fly once or twice per year, you're probably curious whether it's worth it.


Well I'm here to tell you with some credit cards you can easily gain this access while also getting a lot of rewards.


But which credit card has lounge access? Or more importantly, which credit card has lounge access and can also gives you the most rewards?


Summary of 8 of the best Canadian credit cards with airport lounge access:

Credit Card

Lounge Program

Airport Lounge Access

Annual Fee (CAD)

DragonPass

Discounted access

$0

Priority Pass™ membership

Discounted access

$120

Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass

4 free visits

$150

Visa Airport Companion

6 free visits

$150

Priority Pass™ membership

4 free visits

$250

Priority Pass™ membership

10 free visits

$399

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Access

Unlimited visits

$599

Amex Global Lounge Collection

Unlimited visits

$699


Some quick terminology before we go further:


- Discounted lounge access means you can buy individual passes at a discounted price each time you visit an eligible airport. So visits are not free but tend to be cheap.

- Free visits are self explanatory. You can get 4-10 free visits depending on the credit card.

- Unlimited visits is a unique perk that very few credit cards and usually come with hefty price tags so keep that in mind.



Let's dive into how you can choose the best credit card with lounge access.


Pro tip: FinlyWealth has an app that can show you which of these cards you can gain the most rewards from before you even apply for them. I'll show my results for each card.



Best For Discounted Lounge Access


Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

scotiabank gold amex card

If you don't mind paying a little bit (usually $32 USD per person) for each lounge access visit then this card will likely give you the best rewards.


This is particularly true if you're a frequent shopper at any of the grocery stores like Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.


You get 6X Scene+ points when you shop there!


This card will often outperform most other similar cards to it when it comes to "discounted lounge access" simply by offering much better reward rates.


After using Finly to do the rewards analysis, it seems like I can earn $266 after annual fees with my spending habits. That's not even including my $400 in first year signup bonus!

Finly mockup of scotiabank gold amex card

You also get some special benefits like:

  • Extensive travel coverage including travel emergency medical insurance, flight delay insurance, travel accident insurance, new mobile device insurance, and much more

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • American Express benefits including Amex Offer®, Amex Front Of the Line®, and American Express Invites®


Which credit card has lounge access and is a good alternative here?


If you have an individual annual income of $80,000 or household annual income of $150,000, and a good credit score, consider the Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®.


rogers world elite mastercard

This card is fantastic because not only it offers fairly decent rewards with a discounted airport lounge pass program, it's also free.


And you earn 3% cash back on U.S dollar purchases, so if you're a frequent U.S traveler, you can reap those benefits.

finly mockup of rogers world elite mastercard

Again, I let Finly estimate my rewards to get a good sense on how much I can potentially earn.


A pretty good deal to earn almost $200 per year without paying any annual fees.


Do I need to say more?



Let's get a bit more luxurious.



Best Value For Free Lounge Visits


Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card

scotiabank passport visa infinite card

This card is fantastic for people who want free lounge access every year but don't mind slightly lower rewards on everyday spendings compared to other cards.


Why?


Because you only earn 3X Scene+ points when you shop at any of the grocery stores like Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.


And you only earn 2X Scene+ points at restaurants and bars.


Those are at least half of what you could earn from the Scotiabank Gold Amex Card.


However, this card comes with 6 complimentary annual lounge visits in the Visa Airport Companion Program.


Keep in mind that you need a minimum annual income of $60,000 individually, or $100,000 as a household, or have $250,000 worth of assets under management.


From a dollar value perspective, that's $192 USD (or ~$250 CAD) worth of airport lounge passes that you get as a perk by just having this credit card.


You also get some other special benefits like:

  • Visa Infinite Concierge Services, Visa Infinite Hotel Collection access, and Visa Infinite Dining and Wine Country program

  • No foreign transaction fees


But does that justify the somewhat lower rewards rate plus the annual fee?


That's up to you to decide. If you don't absolutely need the 6 free visits, the discounted lounge access credit cards are a better option for you.



Best For Travel Rewards + Free Lounge Visits


BMO Ascend World Elite®* Mastercard®

bmo ascend world elite mastercard

This credit card is perfect for you if "travel" is your highest spending category.


Why?


Because you get 5X the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases.


You also get 4 free airport lounge visits through the Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass. If that's not enough, you can always purchase additional passes for $32 USD per person, per visit.


Some interesting benefits of this card include:

  • Up to $2 million in Travel Emergency Medical insurance* to cover medical expenses like treatment, emergency room visits, medication; up to $2,000 for Trip Interruption (per insured person)

  • Free use of over a million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world with no roaming charges (with some terms and conditions)



What if you travel a lot but still not sure if this card is better than the rest for you?


You can make the decision making part very easy by simply utilizing the features of Finly. Here's a snapshot of what the card gives me based on my personal spending habits.

finly mockup bmo ascend world elite mastercard

Since the 4 free lounge visits are worth about $168 CAD and assuming I'll use all of them, my annual rewards estimate would be approximately $243 CAD.


These numbers can easily vary for someone who travels a lot since that's where most of the rewards would come from.


But for me? It's clearly not worth it. Finly ranked other credit cards much higher so I'd only go with this card if I really wanted the extra benefits.


Comparing this card to Scotiabank Gold Amex Card from before, I'd say for someone who may not be using lounges as much, the Scotiabank Gold Amex is the winner, otherwise I'd go for this card instead.



Which credit card has lounge access and is a good alternative here?


American Express® Gold Rewards

amex gold rewards credit card

This card also comes with 4 free lounge visits, although it is provided by Plaza Premium Lounges (i.e. Priority Pass™ membership).


To make things better, this card comes with an $100 annual travel credit. That's an extra $100 you can use towards your travel.


Again for a better rewards comparison, you can utilize Finly to automate it for you.


Okay, now let's increase the luxuriousness a bit more.




Best For Travel and Lots of Free Lounge Visits


Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card

scotiabank platinum americanExpress card

Okay, what if 4 or 6 free lounge visits just aren't enough?


You can get 10 free lounge visits per year to any Priority Pass lounge in the world with the Scotiabank Platinum American Express® card.


This card does however come with a hefty price tag of $399 per year and requires an excellent credit score to be approved.


But how much rewards could you earn with this card?


That will depend on how much you travel per year. If you're not a frequent traveler, I would not bother with this credit card as it's only worth it for travelers that take many trips per year.

finly mockup scotiabank platinum amex card

As you can see on the Finly app, I would be getting a negative $145 in rewards annually if I were to get this credit card.


Even though I could get a $600 signup bonus, it's still not worth it for me to have this card in the long term as the annual fee would be higher than my annual rewards.


Some interesting benefits of this card include:

  • Mobile device insurance for devices purchased with this card if they get stolen, lost, accidentally damaged or have mechanical failures.

  • No foreign transaction fees



Now luxuriousness to the maximum.



Best For Big Time Travelers and Unlimited Lounge Visits


American Express Platinum Card®

amex platinum card

This card is one of the most premium credit cards in Canada and is intentionally built to be exclusive due to its hefty annual fee of $699.


You can get unlimited lounge visits with this credit card at The American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM which means access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide.


This card comes with no spending limits and is ideal for big spenders, particularly those looking for premium travel experiences.


Some of the interesting added benefits of this card include:

  • $200 in annual travel credit when booking on the amex travel website or through their Platinum Card® Service

  • Gain access to hotel or car rental companies' loyalty programs (e.g. Marriott, Hilton, Radisson, Hertz and Avis)

  • $100 NEXUS Card statement credit (with some terms and conditions)

There are many more benefits to list which can be found on their website but this card has the most perks compared to almost all other credit cards in Canada.


Is this card worth it for you?


Only if you travel a lot and want a truly premium experience. Otherwise you basically lose money every year by paying the annual fee and not use the perks enough.


Which credit card has lounge access and is a good alternative here?


TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card

td aeroplan visa infinite privilege card

For $100 less in annual fees ($599) compared to the Amex Platinum card, you can get fairly similar benefits and get unlimited access to Air Canada Maple Leaf lounges around the world including complementary access for one guest.


This card also offers a better rewards earning rate if you're a frequent traveler. The first year signup bonus is quite high and is likely to be one of the best.


When I sort the cards to see the best signup bonus offers for me on Finly, I also end up with this card as the top one for signup bonuses. I can earn over $1000 in just the first year!

finly mockup of td aeroplan visa infinite card


This card also comes with "privilege" benefits such as:

  • Priority Airport Services like Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage Handling, and Priority Airport Standby & Priority Airport Upgrades.

  • Annual round-trip companion pass starting from $99.

  • NEXUS application fee rebate up to $100 every 4 years.


But again, is this card worth it for you?


The best way to answer that is through Finly since it can analyze your exact spending habits and match it to the right credit cards. It would take guessing out of the game.





Lounge Access Programs in Canada - An Overview


One thing to note about many of these programs is that you don't need a credit card to get the membership. You can apply for the lounge passes individually as well.


Priority Pass


This is one of the most popular lounge access programs globally, and it's available in Canada as well. With Priority Pass, you get access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, including several in Canada. The access depends on the type of membership you have - Standard, Standard Plus, or Prestige. The Standard membership requires you to pay per visit, while the Standard Plus provides 10 free visits, and the Prestige offers unlimited free access.


Visa Infinite Privilege Concierge


This program is offered to Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders. It provides access to over 1200 airport lounges worldwide. The number of free visits depends on the specific Visa Infinite Privilege card you have.


American Express Global Lounge Collection


This program is available to American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders. It provides access to over 1200 lounges across 130 countries, including Amex's proprietary Centurion Lounges, International American Express lounges, and partner networks like Priority Pass.


DragonPass


DragonPass is another global lounge access program that offers a new way to experience the airport. With DragonPass, you can access over 1300 lounges worldwide and enjoy a variety of services that suit your needs. In addition to lounge access, DragonPass also provides discounts of up to 25% at airport restaurants around the world. The program uses your preferences and current location to give you personalized recommendations on which lounges and restaurants you can visit for the best experience. DragonPass aims to enhance your airport experience, allowing you to retreat, refresh, and relax before your flight.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges


These lounges are available in 17 airports across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Air Canada is making significant investments across its network, including expanding seating capacity in its hub locations, introducing new menu offerings, and implementing eGates with digital identification for quicker entry. Access to Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafés, and Signature Suites is limited to three hours prior to scheduled departure time.


LoungeKey


This is another global program that provides access to over 1000 lounges worldwide. It's included with several Canadian credit cards, like the BMO World Elite Mastercard. With LoungeKey, you don't need to carry a separate membership card; your credit card grants you access.


Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey


This is a specific program offered by Mastercard in partnership with LoungeKey. It provides access to over 850 lounges worldwide and is included with several Mastercard credit cards. Similar to LoungeKey, your Mastercard is your ticket to the lounge.



Each of these programs has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and the best one for you depends on your specific needs and travel habits. For instance, if you're a frequent international traveler, you might benefit from a program with a large number of international lounges, like Priority Pass or LoungeKey. On the other hand, if you primarily travel within Canada, the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges might be a better fit. It's also important to consider the cost of each program and whether it's included with a credit card you already have or are considering.





Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is airport lounge access?


Airport lounge access is a perk offered by certain credit cards and membership programs. It allows you to use private lounges at airports, where you can enjoy amenities such as complimentary food and beverages, Wi-Fi, showers, and more.


2. How can I get airport lounge access in Canada?


You can get airport lounge access in Canada through various credit cards and lounge membership programs. Some credit cards, like the American Express Platinum Card or the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, offer complimentary lounge access as a perk. You can also join lounge access programs like Priority Pass, LoungeKey, or DragonPass.


3. What are the benefits of airport lounge access?


Airport lounge access offers a comfortable and quiet space to relax or work before your flight. Lounges typically offer complimentary food and beverages, Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and sometimes additional amenities like showers or meeting rooms. Some lounges also offer unique features like spa services or private sleeping areas.


4. Are there fees associated with these lounge access programs?


Yes, most lounge access programs have associated fees. Some credit cards include lounge access as a perk, which can offset these costs. It's important to read the terms and conditions of each program to understand the fees and what is included.


5. Can I bring guests into the lounge with me?


Most lounge access programs allow you to bring guests, but the rules vary. Some programs allow a certain number of guests for free, while others may require a fee for each guest. It's important to check the specific rules of your lounge access program.


Remember, the information provided in this FAQ section is accurate as of the time of writing and may change over time. Always check with the credit card issuer or lounge access program for the most up-to-date information.







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I hope you enjoy reading this article.

If you want to find your best credit cards and maximize rewards, book a session now.

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