Busy airports are generally agreed to be among the worst places on Earth. If you have ever spent several hours sat on your suitcase waiting for a delayed flight, eaten a $15 croissant, slurped a $9 latte, and tried on all the $500 moisturisers in the cosmetics shop, you’ve probably daydreamed about getting into one of the lounges.

Comfy seats to lie down in, free and nutritious food, clean showers - paradise is no exaggeration, so credit cards with complimentary lounge access can be extremely enticing. Here’s what to know.

Compare credit cards with airport lounge access

The following table displays premium credit cards with lounge access, sorted by annual fee (low to high).

Credit card

[Amplify Rewards]1.5[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, FREE_SUPPLEMENTARY_CARDS, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, CONCIERGE, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, RENTAL_VEHICLE_EXCESS_IN_AUSTRALIA_INSURANCE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]30151500021.49VisaMore details

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature (Amplify Rewards)

    [Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer]0.75[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, FREE_SUPPLEMENTARY_CARDS, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, CONCIERGE, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, RENTAL_VEHICLE_EXCESS_IN_AUSTRALIA_INSURANCE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]30151500021.49VisaMore details

    St.George Bank Amplify Signature (Amplify Qantas)

      [Amplify Rewards]1.5[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, FREE_SUPPLEMENTARY_CARDS, PRICE_GUARANTEE, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, CONCIERGE, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, RENTAL_VEHICLE_EXCESS_IN_AUSTRALIA_INSURANCE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]30151500021.49VisaMore details

      BankSA Amplify Signature (Amplify Rewards)

        [Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer]1.25[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, RENTAL_CAR_EXCESS_INSURANCE, CONCIERGE, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]3100301500021.99MasterCardMore details

        Qantas Money Qantas Premier Titanium

          [Qantas Frequent Flyer (ANZ Frequent Flyer Black), Qantas Frequent Flyer (ANZ Frequent Flyer Black), Qantas Frequent Flyer (ANZ Frequent Flyer Black)]1[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, CONCIERGE, SPECIAL_EVENTS, PARTNER_DISCOUNTS, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, RENTAL_VEHICLE_EXCESS_IN_AUSTRALIA_INSURANCE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]365201500021.99VisaMore details

          ANZ Frequent Flyer Black

            [Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer]1.2[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, VIP_SEATING, CONCIERGE, SPECIAL_EVENTS, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, FRAUD_PROTECTION, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]0020600021.99MasterCardMore details

            Commonwealth Bank Ultimate Awards (Qantas Points)

              [Velocity Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer]1[FREE_DOMESTIC_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, PRICE_GUARANTEE, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, CONCIERGE, SPECIAL_EVENTS, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]3.389301500020.99VisaMore details

              Virgin Money Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card

                [Citi Rewards Program, Citi Rewards Program]1[INTERNATIONAL_TRAVEL_INSURANCE, FREE_SUPPLEMENTARY_CARDS, PRICE_GUARANTEE, EXTENDED_WARRANTY, CONCIERGE, SPECIAL_EVENTS, PARTNER_DISCOUNTS, AIRPORT_LOUNGE, PURCHASE_PROTECTION_INSURANCE, ]3.40301000022.24MasterCardMore details

                Citi Citi Premier (Velocity Offer)

                  Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

                  All products with a link to a product provider’s website have a commercial marketing relationship between us and these providers. These products may appear prominently and first within the search tables regardless of their attributes and may include products marked as promoted, featured or sponsored. The link to a product provider’s website will allow you to get more information or apply for the product. By de-selecting “Show online partners only” additional non-commercialised products may be displayed and re-sorted at the top of the table. For more information on how we’ve selected these “Sponsored”, “Featured” and “Promoted” products, the products we compare, how we make money, and other important information about our service, please click here. Rates correct as of May 26, 2024. View disclaimer.

                  How does credit card lounge access work?

                  Airport lounge access is a feature offered by select credit cards, alongside other features like rewards programstravel insuranceconcierge services and more. Depending on the card, you might qualify for free or discounted entry to certain airport lounges both domestically and overseas. Other cards might have lounge access as one of the rewards points can be redeemed for.

                  However, there are generally a few conditions around lounge access.

                  • You may have to buy the plane ticket with the credit card, and the ticket may have to be valid for that day

                  • You might also have to reach a minimum spend limit each year to be eligible

                  • You might be restricted to certain airlines (e.g. only Qantas, no Virgin)

                  • You might have to enrol in programs like Priority Pass to be granted entry

                  • You might be restricted to one guest per cardholder, so families might not be granted access for every member, although you can often purchase additional guest passes.

                  • There may be a limit to the amount of visits per year (this tends to be around two to four)

                  • Some basic offers might not even grant you free access - you might still need to pay a nominal amount

                  Since airport lounges can be fairly fancy places, there might be a dress code you’ll need to adhere to as well, which might mean forgoing your usual thongs and Bintang singlet.

                  It’s a bit misleading to suggest airport lounge access is completely complimentary. These cards will typically come with significant annual fees for these privileges, and will generally also have higher interest rates.

                  Which lounges can you access?

                  Some cards grant you access to a wide range of lounges, while others just a few. If you’ve got a Qantas card for example, you probably won’t be allowed into Virgin lounges, and vice-versa.

                  Some cards, however, grant customers access to more than 1,500 airport lounges across the globe through Priority Pass. This is a paid service with an annual fee, but certain credit cards can grant subsidised or free memberships to this program. If you have it, then you can use the airport lounges in countries like China, the USA, the UK, Thailand, Singapore, Japan among many others.

                  Some other products might grant you access to an airline’s network lounges. For instance, Qantas is part of the One World Alliance, in which 13 airlines around the world participate. This could see you fly with Qantas, but have access to a Cathay Pacific lounge, for example.

                  How much do airport lounges cost otherwise?

                  Let’s have a look at the cost of entry into some of these lounges without a card. You can use this to compare the cost of a membership against the annual fee certain cards charge, to help work out if it's worth having this feature.

                  Lounge

                  Entry cost

                  Virgin Australia Lounge

                  $65 per single entry.

                  AUD $399 for one year membership or $9,750 lifetime fee.

                  Qantas Club

                  AUD $699 per year (or 116,500 Qantas points) with a $129 joining fee.

                  Priority Pass

                  USD $329 for 10 visits a year

                  USD $469 for unlimited visits per year 

                  Emirates Lounge (Melbourne, Sydney)

                  USD $170.5 per visit

                  Prices correct as of April '24

                  Is it worth getting a card with lounge access?

                  A credit card with lounge access could be worth it if the cost of the card works out less than the equivalent membership.

                  For example, the Virgin Money Velocity High Flyer card comes with two complimentary single lounge entry passes per year. Without the card, these two passes would cost $130. However, this card has a $329 annual fee, and a purchase rate of 20.74% p.a.

                  If choosing an alternative card with a lower rate and fees would save more than $130, as far as the airport lounge goes this card might not be worth it. Of course, it isn’t this simple: there are a range of other features that come with the Velocity High Flyer card that you should also take into consideration, but you get the idea.

                  What other travel perks do credit cards have?

                  Frequent travellers tend to get more use out of certain credit cards, as there are products on the market that come with a range of features and travel benefits. Other travel perks these credit cards can offer include:

                  Certain cards also have lower than average currency conversion fees, which can be a big money suck for overseas travellers.

                  Savings.com.au’s two cents

                  In general, access to airport lounges makes travelling much more enjoyable, relaxing and comfortable. If you find a credit card that suits your needs that comes with complimentary lounge access, that’s great. As a frequent traveller, you might prioritise travel related benefits when choosing a credit card, which is also totally understandable.

                  As with any credit card benefit though, lounge access is rarely free. More comprehensive rewards usually mean a more expensive card, so you’ll always want to run the numbers to work out if you end up ahead.

                  Jay Wen on Unsplash