Rewards expert who writes the “Cashing In” reader Q&A column for CreditCards.com
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When you are waiting for a flight at the airport, having access to an airport lounge can be a welcome respite from the crowds. You can usually even get a complimentary bite to eat and a drink at the bar. Premium travel credit cards, with annual fees of $450 and up, are a common way to gain access to these exclusive spaces. The major U.S. airlines – United, Delta, and American – each have credit cards that allow access into their airline clubs.
Cards that offer Priority Pass
Now, though, one of the leading airport lounge programs is expanding the definition of what constitutes an airport lounge. Priority Pass, which is an included perk with a handful of premium cards, has started adding restaurants and by-the-hour airport hotels to its roster of “lounges” in the U.S. That means that if you have one of these cards, you will be able to eat for free at certain airport restaurants and even take a snooze in a private room at airports in select cities.
These restaurants and hotels are open to you if you hold one of the following cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Hilton Honors Ascend, American Express Platinum, Citi Prestige, Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards or Barclaycard MasterCard Black or MasterCard Gold. Those are the cards that come with Priority Pass, which gives entry into more than 1,000 lounges worldwide, including more than 60 in North American airports.
To receive Priority Pass privileges, you have to call your credit card issuer and enroll. After that, you receive a membership card, which you present when you arrive at a Priority Pass lounge. The lounges are typically independent lounges or lounges of international airlines. Whether you can bring in guests for free varies depending on which card you have.
Restaurants where you can eat for free
In half a dozen U.S. cities, there are airport restaurants that accept Priority Pass cards:
Denver: Timberline Steaks & Grille
Lexington: Kentucky Ale Taproom
Miami: Corona Beach House
New York-JFK: Bobby Van’s Steakhouse
Portland: Capers Cafe Le Bar, House Spirits Distillery, Capers Market
St. Louis: The Pasta House
When you present your Priority Pass card at one of these restaurants, you typically receive a $28 credit per person. (You’re still responsible for paying the tip.) With that amount of credit, you can actually enjoy a full meal at a restaurant, which is a step up from the usual airport lounge offerings of cheese and crackers, veggies and soup. Internationally, Priority Pass is accepted at airport restaurants in London (Gatwick), Brisbane, and Sydney.
Skip the lounge, take a nap instead
In addition, in three U.S. airports, you can now use Priority Pass to unwind in a private room at no charge. Airports in Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia have Minute Suites, which rent small rooms to travelers by the hour. Priority Pass holders receive one hour free, which might be used to take a nap or get some work done in private. The Dallas location even has showers.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional airport lounges. They can be nice and relaxing when you travel. But now, with restaurants and hotels added to the mix, those credit card travel perks just keep growing.