Priority Pass: What You Need to Know

Serene young man watching plane before departure

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If you travel a lot, you may have heard about Priority Pass—a program that gives members access to over a thousand airport lounges around the world. Airport lounges are coveted spaces that make traveling by much more comfortable, and the demand to get lounge access has resulted in the creation of these types of programs.

Priority Pass has become more popular as credit card companies have added complimentary lounge access as a perk for certain high-end rewards credit cards. Some offer Priority Pass memberships, while other cards have agreements that give cardholders lounge access.

Either way, the ability to kick back in comfort before or between flights in an airport lounge can transform a trip. If you've been thinking about getting a card that offers Priority Pass or are wondering how the program works, read on.

What Is Priority Pass?

The Priority Pass program has been around since 1992 and has grown to include more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. The membership-based service gives travelers limited and unlimited access to these lounges and other spaces in over 500 cities across 143 countries.

Whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure, having a comfortable place to stop and recharge can dramatically improve your traveling experience. Priority Pass makes that a possibility by working with spaces that offer food, drink and comfy atmospheres, along with business needs like printers, WiFi and co-working areas.

Once you become a member, you'll receive a membership card and can download the Priority Pass mobile app to use a digital card. Once on your trip, you can use the website or app to locate a lounge, and can access the lounge using your digital or physical membership card.

Priority Pass Memberships

Geared toward the frequent flyer, Priority Pass offers several paid memberships that give you free and discounted access to its network of lounges around the world.

  • Standard: $99 annually and $32 for each lounge visit
  • Prestige: $429 annually and free entry for lounge visits

    You may have also heard about complimentary Priority Pass memberships offered with certain credit cards. The membership offered by credit card issuers is called Priority Pass Select and is not the same as the memberships listed above. The Priority Pass Select membership can be used in the same way as the others.

  • Priority Pass Select: No annual fee and free access to any Priority Pass lounge.

    While being a paid Priority Pass member might get expensive, the Priority Pass Select membership is a great way to get access to this network of lounges as part of your credit card benefits. Offered as a perk for several luxury reward credit cards, Priority Pass Select is one of the best-known and most cost-effective ways to get global access to airport lounges using a credit card.

Priority Pass Lounge Locations

Priority Pass has more than 1,200 lounges currently and adds new locations regularly, according to the company. Within North America, more than 70 airports have Priority Pass lounges (some airports have more than one lounge you can access).

Priority Pass also offers access to lounges throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

What if an Airport Doesn't Have a Priority Pass Lounge?

In airports where Priority Pass doesn't have a lounge, your membership might be able to get you discounts from participating businesses. At the time of writing this, members could use their Priority Pass member card to get $28 off food and drink at more than a dozen eateries in different airports. (This discount is recorded on your account as equal to one lounge visit.) It also offers 10% off coupons for purchases made with certain airport retailers, including specific duty-free shops and electronic stores.

For people with paid Priority Pass memberships, these non-lounge options may be recorded on your account as a lounge visit, so make sure to check with Priority Pass before utilizing them.

What Credit Cards Offer Priority Pass Select?

If you are thinking about applying for a credit card that offers a complimentary Priority Pass Select memberships, here are a few popular ones to consider.

  • The Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Gold Card™
  • The Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Black Card™
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Comes with 10 complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges). Terms apply.

To check out other rewards credit cards, you can browse through Experian's credit card marketplace to find the card that is right for you. And for more information about using a credit card to get airport lounge access, check out this story.

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