The best UK credit cards for airport lounge access in 2021

Jun 18, 2021

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Even if you’re flying economy without elite status, did you know you can still enjoy complimentary lounge access with the right credit card? It’s just one of the many perks of some of the best cards available in the U.K. right now.

By planning your credit card strategy and portfolio, you can ensure that you are a better traveller at every step of the journey from maximising your points and miles when booking to ensuring you have a comfortable journey.

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Here are your options for free airport lounge access with a credit card.

Related: The best Priority Pass lounges at Heathrow

the 4 best cards in the UK that offer airport lounge access

In This Post

Comparing welcome bonuses of the best cards for airport lounge access

Credit Card Annual fee Welcome bonus
The Platinum Card from American Express £575 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £4,000 in the first three months (a £420 value based on our valuation of Membership Rewards points of 1.4p each).
The American Express Business Platinum Card £595 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £6,000 in the first three months (a £560 value based on our valuation of Membership Rewards points of 1.4p each).
Premier World Elite Mastercard From HSBC U.K. £195 40,000 HSBC points after spending £2,000 in the first 90 days (a £240 value based on our valuation of HSBC Premier Rewards points of 0.6p each).
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card £140 (waived the first year) 20,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £3,000 in the first three months (a £280 value based on our valuation of Membership Rewards points of 1.4p each).

 

Related: The 8 do’s and don’ts in an airport lounge

The Platinum Card From American Express and The American Express Business Platinum Card

If you’re a frequent traveller to the U.S., both the personal version and the business version of the Platinum Card gives you access to the very best network of domestic lounges in the U.S. — the Centurion Lounges. Amex has spent plenty of resources building these lounges, and they’re worth every penny. With food menus from award-winning chefs, top-shelf cocktails, complimentary massages, spa treatments and more, the Centurion Lounges are a bright spot of the domestic U.S. lounge network. With Centurion Lounge access, you can also guest in two fellow travellers for free.

Lounge access

There are a wide range of Centurion Lounges in the U.S.: Charlotte (CLT), Dallas (DFW), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), New York (LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA)

Related: Amex delays opening of London and Denver Centurion Lounges

The Amex Lounge Collection also features the following international airport lounges, which are classified as either Centurion or American Express Lounges:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE) – Centurion Lounge
  • Mexico City, Mexico (MEX) – Centurion Lounge and Clubs (three lounges)
  • Monterrey, Mexico (MTY) – Centurion Clubs (two lounges)
  • Toluca, Mexico (TLC) – Centurion Club
  • Hong Kong (HKG) – Centurion Lounge
  • New Delhi, India (DEL) – American Express Lounge
  • Sydney, Australia (SYD) – American Express Lounge
  • Melbourne, Australia (MEL) – American Express Lounge

Plus, Amex plans to open a Centurion Lounge at London Heathrow Airport later this year.

But even when you’re in a city without a Centurion Lounge, you’ll have other options because both versions of the Platinum Card also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership. The worldwide Priority Pass network boasts more than 1,300 lounges, including restaurants. The Platinum Card membership to Priority Pass also allows you to bring one free guest in with you. There are dozens of Priority Pass lounges in the U.K. and across Europe, so you should have a lounge within striking distance at most airports you’re travelling through.

The personal Platinum Card also comes with additional lounge access:

With so much disruption to global travel as a result of the pandemic, you may wish to check with individual lounges in advance of your travels to check if the individual lounges are open as normal. They may have temporarily reduced opening hours and food and beverage offices.

Related:

The American Express Centurion Lounge at Hong Kong international airport. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images For American Express)
The American Express Centurion Lounge at Hong Kong international airport. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images For American Express)

Premier World Elite Mastercard From HSBC U.K.

The card comes with a premium LoungeKey membership, which is similar to the Priority Pass programme, with complimentary membership to more than 750 airport lounges worldwide. It also comes with iPass, which grants cardholders access to millions of Wi-Fi networks in more than 120 countries.

Cardholders will also get up to three supplementary cards for £60 (total) each year, with all three receiving the same premium LoungeKey membership, which is a really valuable perk if travelling with family. You cannot bring any free guests into the lounge with you unless they have their own supplementary card.

There’s also up to 40,000 bonus points in your first year of cardmembership.

Related: Credit Card Review: Premier World Elite Mastercard From HSBC UK

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

This is our favourite points-earning card if you are new to the points and miles hobby.

Even if you don’t have elite status with any airline, this card comes with two airport lounge visit passes each year. The visits must be made in the Priority Pass network, which boasts more than 1,300 lounges worldwide. Member lounges include the No1 Lounges at London Gatwick (LGW) and Plaza Premium lounges at Heathrow Airport (LHR), among others.

There’s also a very generous 20,000 Membership Rewards-point welcome bonus and no annual fee in the first year.

Related:

Bottom line

Getting lounge access is simpler than you may think. With credit cards, you don’t need to be flying in a premium cabin or have elite status in order to rest comfortably before your flight. These are a few of our favourite cards for lounge access.

Now, you just have to find your favourite lounge.

Featured image by Katie Genter/The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.