6 best lounge access credit cards in Canada 2024

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Updated: June 18, 2024

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As a frequent flyer, owning a credit card that provides airport lounge access can significantly enhance your travel experience. The comfort of these lounges offers an escape from airport bustle, allowing you to rest, recharge, and arrive at your destination refreshed.

Choosing the right credit card offering lounge access, however, depends on your unique needs and travel patterns. What works for one traveler may not necessarily work for you. With our comprehensive guide, you can find the best lounge access credit card that aligns with your lifestyle and travel preferences—enabling you to enjoy the tranquility of airport lounges without worrying about escalating costs. After all, finding a serene spot amidst the chaos of a busy airport is like stumbling upon a sanctuary in a desert.

Best credit card for unlimited lounge access

The Platinum Card

Apply now

70,000 pts

Excellent

Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points1*

Earn 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada

2x

points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible travel

2x

point for every $1 in all other Card purchases

1x

Purchase APR

21.99%

Annual Fee

$799

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.50%

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

Pros

  • Earn 5X Rewards Points for flights and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel

  • Access to a wide range of luxury perks, including premium concierge service

  • Complimentary lounge membership providing access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide

  • Annual statement credits: $200 airline fee credit, $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit

  • Special insurance coverages like trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, lost or stolen baggage and rental car theft & damage.

  • Provides extended warranty (2 years) and purchase protection (120 days).

Cons

  • High annual fee of $799, one of the heftiest among Canadian cards

  • The rewards system can be complicated, especially for users not familiar with maximizing credit card points

  • Requires good to excellent credit for eligibility

The only card on our list offering unlimited airport lounge access, The Platinum Card® is one of the most premium cards out there for Canadians.

It’s intentionally exclusive with a lofty annual fee of $799, but the tradeoff for paying that kind of cash to be a member is a more elevated travel rewards experience. If you travel really regularly and like to do so as lavishly as possible, this card may be worth it for you. 

Lounge access is just one of many benefits you get with this card in your pocket. The Platinum Card grants unlimited access to The American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM which unlocks access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This includes The Centurion® Lounge network, Plaza Premium Lounges, and hundreds of other domestic and international lounges designed to enhance your travel experience.

Plus, there are airport-specific Toronto Pearson perks like free valet service, discounts on parking, and access to the Pearson Priority security lane.

The Platinum Card has no set spending limit, so it could be ideal for big spenders. And while we won’t list all of the benefits it comes with, some of the best ones are:

  • $200 CAD annual travel credit for one booking ($200 or more) made on www.americanexpress.ca/travel or through Platinum Card® Travel Service
  • Enjoy a $200 Annual Dining Credit at some of Canada’s best restaurants
  • Unlock $200 or more in additional value with Member extras. You can earn statement credits for qualifying purchases with participating brands
  • Access many leading hotel and car rental companies’ loyalty programs. Amex partners include Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Hertz and Avis

Best discounted lounge access credit card

Scotiabank Gold American Express®

Apply now

up to 40K pts

Very Good

Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points.

Expires

Jul 2, 2024

Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Freshco, Foodland and more

6x

Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on dining, food delivery and other eligible grocery stores. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.

5x

Scene+ points for every $1 you spend in Canada eligible entertainment purposes. Includes movies, theatre and ticket agency stores.

5x

Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible gas and daily transit options. Includes ride shares, buses, subway, taxis and more.

3x

Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible select streaming services.

3x

Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases.

1x

Purchase APR

20.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

22.99%

Cash Advance APR

22.99%

Annual Fee

$120

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Very Good

Pros

  • Lots of daily spend options to earn multiplied point bonuses

  • Swanky Amex perks like Front of the Line presale concert tickets

  • Save on foreign transaction fees when abroad

  • Fantastic insurance coverage, especially for travel

Cons

  • Relatively low-value welcome bonus

  • $120 annual fee that chews into your point value substantially

  • Scene points redeem poorly for travel

If you’re not 100% sure that you’d use free lounge access but you’d like the option to visit at a discounted rate, the Scotiabank Gold American Express® card might be right for you. This credit card is for anyone who wants to “have it all” and doesn’t want to have to choose between travel benefits, lifestyle benefits, and everyday rewards. This is an incredibly high-earning card for a higher but fair annual fee and solid perks like insurance and savings.

This card offers discounted Priority Pass membership to get you into airport lounges. It’s up to you whether you take advantage of this benefit, but if you do, your account will automatically renew each year unless you cancel. As far as airport lounge programs go, the Priority Pass program is a good one to be a part of since it’s one of the largest.

But no matter how you end up using this card, you shouldn’t really need to modify your purchasing habits at all to maximize your rewards. It earns a high rate in almost every top spending category from dining to streaming, with an impressive maximum rate of 6X Scene+ points for each $1 CAD. So even if you never set foot in an airport lounge, you’re likely to make that annual fee back pretty easily if you use this card on the regular.

A few of the best benefits include: 

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Extensive travel coverage including travel emergency medical insurance, flight delay insurance, travel accident insurance, new mobile device insurance, and much more
  • American Express benefits including Amex Offer®, Amex Front Of the Line®, and American Express Invites®

More: Scotiabank Gold American Express review

¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card to learn more.

Best lounge access credit card for travel rewards

BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®

Apply now

up to 90K pts

Excellent

Get up to 90,000 points and the annual fee waived in your first anniversary for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*

Expires

Nov 30, 2024

5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases*

5x

3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments*

3x

1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else*

1x

Purchase APR

20.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

23.99%

Cash Advance APR

23.99%

Annual Fee

$150

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.50%

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

Required Annual Personal Income

$80,000

Required Annual Household Income

$150,000

Pros

  • High-value welcome offer

  • Flexible airport lounge access

  • BMO Rewards points can be used to cover flight taxes and fees

  • Great for those who frequently rent cars

  • Good for Costco and No Frills shoppers

Cons

  • So-so earn rates relative to its annual fee

  • Points have low redemption value compared to other travel rewards programs

  • Charges foreign transaction fees

  • Relatively high minimum income requirements

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* is a lounge access credit card with a high earn rate on travel and a decent airport lounge package. It’s perfect for people who want a card that really focuses on travel and flying benefits

This card comes with four complimentary airport lounge passes per year and membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass. You can use these passes yourself or put them toward the cost of passes for people you’re travelling with. And if four isn’t enough, you can purchase additional passes for $32 USD per person, per visit.

Be sure to look into the terms and conditions and restrictions for each lounge. Some will have limits on how long you can stay or when you need to check in. For example, the Plaza Premium Lounge in the Toronto Pearson International Airport allows you to stay for a maximum of three hours per visit, and you won’t be permitted to enter if your ticket is for a domestic or U.S. transborder flight.

Travel purchases eligible for 5X points for every $1 include flights, hotel bookings, car rentals, train tickets, and more*. You can earn this rate on up to $15,000 per year. After you reach this limit, travel earns one point per dollar.

Other notable 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*
  • No foreign transaction fees

More: BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* review

*Terms and conditions apply

Best everyday credit card with lounge access

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite*

Apply now

up to 40K pts

Good

Earn up to $1,300* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived

Expires

Jul 2, 2024

Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and participating Co-ops and more

3x

Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on other eligible grocery stores, dining, eligible entertainment purchases and eligible daily transit options (including ride shares, buses, subways, taxis and more)

2x

Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases

1x

Purchase APR

20.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

22.99%

Cash Advance APR

22.99%

Annual Fee

$150

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Good

Required Annual Personal Income

$60,000

Required Annual Household Income

$100,000

Pros

  • No FX fees means the card saves you significant expenses on foreign transaction fees

  • Earn up to 3x Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible purchases

  • Flexible and straightforward redemption program

  • Visa acceptance globally compared to American Express, especially outside major cities.

  • Enjoy six annual visits to airport lounges

  • Robust insurance offerings, including extended travel emergency medical coverage

  • Access to Visa Infinite Program benefits, with added advantages like a free supplementary card

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Limited rewards categories for earning reward max rate on purchases

  • Primarily best for travel within Canada

The Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card is for fans of the Scene+ rewards program who are looking for a card for more than just travel. While this credit card does include airport lounge access as a perk, it earns rewards for everything from groceries and dining to entertainment and transit. It’s a well-rounded option for everyday spending, not just flying. Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, statement credits and gift cards, and more.

This card gives cardholders six complimentary annual lounge passes in the Visa Airport Companion Program. If you use all your passes before the annual renewal, you can pay for entry at a cost of $32 USD per person, per visit. Six yearly airport passes is generous for a card in this price range, and you’ll have no problem finding eligible lounges within the global Visa Airport Companion Program.

And although the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card isn’t exclusively for travel, it’s a good card to have with you whenever you’re away from home. You can save significant cash whether you’re taking a short trip in Canada or flying across the ocean. Travel benefits include:

  • Complimentary Avis® Preferred Plus membership
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Visa Infinite Concierge Services, Visa Infinite Hotel Collection access, and Visa Infinite Dining and Wine Country program

More: Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card review

¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.

Best lounge access credit card for low income

CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa

Apply now

Join and get up to $1,500 in value including a first year annual fee rebate!†

Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre†

2

points for every $1 spent at eligible gas stations, EV charging, grocery stores and drug stores†

1.5

point for every $1 spent on all other purchases†

1

Purchase APR

20.99%†

Balance Transfer Rate

22.99%†

Cash Advance APR

22.99%†

Annual Fee

$139

Recommended Credit Score

Good

Required Annual Household Income

$15,000†

Pros

  • High value welcome offer

  • Minimal household annual income required

  • Exceptional points-redeemable travel opportunities and other perks

Cons

  • High annual fee (rebated for your first year)†

The CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card is a travel-focused rewards card with good flat earnings rates and great travel benefits. With this card, you’ll earn up to 2 points for every $1 spent on travel when you book flights, hotels, and more through the CIBC Rewards Centre and no less than 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else†. Compared to the other credit cards on this list, this card has a very low income requirement, so you can qualify even if your salary is on the low end. Its annual fee is also lower and easily paid if you take advantage of lounge access.

This card includes four complimentary visits to airport lounges within the Visa Airport Companion Program per year. And if you’d like to purchase more than this, you can buy one-time passes for $32 USD for you and/or your guests.

This may not be the most rewarding card of the bunch, but it has the lowest barriers to entry, making it a good fit for many Canadians. Just watch out for the 2.5% foreign currency conversion fee.

Other benefits of this card worth mentioning are:

  • Extensive travel coverage including flight delay and baggage insurance, out-of-province emergency travel medical insurance†, $500,000 common carrier accident insurance, and more.
  • $50 value NEXUS◊ application fee rebate

More: CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card

The information for the CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card has been collected independently by Money.ca. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

†Terms and Conditions Apply

Best Visa Airport Companion credit card

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege

Apply now

max 120K pts

Excellent

Get up to 120,000 Points*

Expires

Nov 30, 2024

Cardholders earn an impressive 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent in essential categories like travel, dining, gas, groceries, and pharmacy*. This bonus applies up to an annual threshold of $50,000.

5

You’ll earn 1 BMO Rewards point per $1 spent in these categories after that threshold as been met. Other purchases will earn 1 BMO Rewards point per $1 spent*.

1

Purchase APR

20.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

23.99%

Cash Advance APR

23.99%

Annual Fee

$499

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

Required Annual Personal Income

$150,000

Required Annual Household Income

$200,000

Pros

  • Strong welcome bonus

  • High rewards earning rate*

  • Earn more when you add supplemental cards*

  • Annual lifestyle credit*

  • Mobile device insurance*

  • Extensive travel insurance*

  • Extended warranty and purchase assurance*

  • Visa Airport Companion membership and 6 complimentary airport lounge visits per year - over $250 USD* in value

  • Access to Visa Infinite Dining Series and Visa Infinite Wine Country*

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • High eligibility requirements

  • The welcome bonus is not awarded immediately

  • High rewards earning rate reduces after $50,000 spend

This is a digital-exclusive offer. To be eligible for this offer, you must apply for a new eligible card using the “Apply Now” link available on this webpage.

Best credit cards for airport lounge access compared

Recommended credit card Lounge program Number of free lounge visits Annual fee Link
The Platinum Card® The American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM Unlimited $799 Apply Now
Scotiabank Gold American Express® card Priority Pass Discounted access only $120 Apply Now
BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* DragonPass* 4 annually* $150 Apply Now
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card Visa Airport Companion Program 6 annually $150 Apply Now
CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card Visa Airport Companion Program 4 annually See terms Apply Now
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card Visa Airport Companion Program 6 annually $499 Apply Now

Expert tip: Before choosing a lounge access credit card, research the options at the airports you use most

Do some research into the lounge options in the airports you use the most before choosing your lounge access credit card. Every credit card has different lounge partners and you'll want to ensure that you choose a card that partners with a lounge that you can frequently use. Airport lounge access is one of the preferred perks and benefits when it comes to travel credit cards. Usually, this type of perk only comes with more expensive top-tier travel credit cards. However, for frequent travellers, the extra cost might be well worth it. Not only do lounges have more comfortable seating areas but the free food, drink, and wifi access provided by lounges also helps many travellers cut down on airport costs.

Hannah Logan, Money.ca credit card, saving and travel expert

Credit card access lounge programs in Canada

As you’ve probably noticed, one credit card’s airport lounge benefit is not quite the same as any other’s. Every card offers membership in different programs with different levels of lounge access, some with benefits like unlimited visits and others with a set number of visits or discounted passes. So even if two credit cards use the same lounge program, this perk varies.

Compare some of the most popular lounge programs for Canadians here.

American Express global lounge collection®

The Amex lounge network consists of over 1,300 lounges worldwide. Within this extensive network, there are seven different types of airport lounges. These are:

  • Centurion® Lounges
  • International American Express Lounges
  • Priority Pass lounges
  • Escape Lounges
  • Delta Sky Club® lounges
  • Plaza Premium lounges
  • Airspace lounges

The number of airport lounges within each of these programs varies. For example, as of 2023, there are 24 different Centurion® lounges (with about half in the U.S. and the rest in major cities like London, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, etc.), while the Delta Sky Club has over 50.

Centurion® and Amex lounges are exclusively available to Amex cardholders.

Priority Pass

With 1,300+ lounges in around 150 countries, the Priority Pass network is easily one of the largest. Priority Pass lounges are included in the American Express Global Lounge Collection® and other programs. But unlike the American Express Global Lounge Collection®, the Priority Pass program is not exclusive to people with certain credit cards.

Anyone can purchase one of three memberships — Standard, Standard Plus, or Prestige — for an annual fee of between $99 and $469. You can also buy one-time lounge passes or guest passes whenever you want.

Visa Airport Companion program by DragonPass

This program offered to Visa cardholders gives access to more than 1,200 lounges in airports around the world. This includes Plaza Premium lounges as well as many smaller programs specific to certain airlines and airports. Membership benefits extend beyond lounge access to dining and retail offers. This program is very similar to Mastercard Travel Pass.

Mastercard Travel Pass by DragonPass

This is another airport lounge program offered through Mastercard in partnership with travel service provider DragonPass. Within the DragonPass lounge network, there are over 1,300 lounges worldwide. This program also includes dining benefits and services like limousine pickups.

You don’t need a Mastercard credit card to join DragonPass, but membership is included free with many credit cards. However, only some give you free airport lounge access.

Mastercard airport experiences by LoungeKey

The Mastercard Airport Experiences program by LoungeKey is reserved for select cardholders. Because it’s associated with a credit card network rather than a specific issuer, it’s widely available. Many Mastercard World and World Elite credit cards include this benefit.

There are more than 1,100 different Mastercard Airport Experiences lounges worldwide in over 400 airports. This program also includes exclusive offers and discounts at select restaurants and stores, giving it a slight edge over lounge-only programs for travel savings.

Plaza Premium lounges

The Plaza Premium lounge network is the largest independent airport lounge network in the world. There are more than 100 lounges in the program in countries across Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East and Africa. To get access, you can either purchase a pass or membership or use a travel credit card.

Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounges

A much smaller program by comparison with only 23 Maple Leaf Lounges total, this program features lounges in 17 different airports in the U.S. and Canada. Maple Leaf Lounges are ideal for domestic travel, and it’s not hard to get an invitation to one.

There are a variety of ways to get into Maple Leaf Lounges. Frequent flyer elite status with Aeroplan, Star Alliance, and Air Canada is just one way. Those flying with premium tickets (business or Premium Rouge) can also enjoy these lounges.

How to choose a credit card with access to a lounge

Unsure how to distinguish between the different options out there? Keep the following in mind when mulling over which lounge access credit card is best for you.

Travel frequency

Start by taking a look at your travel history in the past year: How many flights did you take in total? How many involved connections of two or more hours? 

Knowing how often you’ll actually use airport lounge privileges each year is the first step in determining which credit cards you should consider – and which annual fees are worth it.

How to estimate savings vs. annual fee

A high annual fee can be tough to swallow. But if you’re a constant globetrotter who seems to spend more time in the airport terminal than in your living room, you might save money by paying a high annual fee for a card with lounge access. 

Take the number of lounge visits you estimate that you’ll need annually, multiply it by the price of a visit to whichever lounge program you’d be most likely to use, and add the price of a membership to that program. For example, if a Priority Pass one-time lounge pass costs $32 and a basic Priority Pass membership is $100, you’d look for a card with an annual fee of around $130.

But be mindful of more than just lounge access. Other travel benefits can offer immense value, often much more than a trip to a lounge a few times a year.

Affiliated lounge program

It’s hard to definitively say which lounge program offers the best amenities, as even two lounges within the same program can differ from one airport to the next. That said, airport lounges will generally offer some combination of plush, comfy chairs and sofas; luxury restrooms (some with showers); free alcohol and food; complimentary Wi-Fi; massages; sleeping areas and more.

Keep in mind that although different lounge programs will offer similar comforts to their members, they will not necessarily be equally distributed throughout the world. Compare the lounge network of the card you’re looking at with your most frequent travel destinations and make sure there’s overlap between their domestic and global distribution.

Additional lounge access credit card features

Even if two cards have comparable annual fees and lounge benefits, they will likely have other differentiating features that suit different lifestyles and priorities. When comparing credit cards with lounge access, take a look at rewards earning and redemption, travel benefits like insurance, and savings like statement credits to see which ones you’d prefer.

Other features to research are foreign transaction fees and sign-up bonuses.

Eligibility requirements for credit cards with lounge access in Canada

You don’t need to be a gazillionaire to travel comfortably, but most travel credit cards with worthwhile lounge features tend to be geared toward those with an annual income of $60K or more on top of requiring strong credit scores for approval. 

Always double-check a card’s income and credit score requirements before applying so you don’t waste your time.

Are airport lounge credit cards worth it?

Clearly, there’s no truly free way to get a credit card with lounge access in Canada. But if you spend hours and hours of your life in airports and being able to walk into a lounge before or between flights would add some noticeable stress relief and comfort to your trips, you might decide you’re ready for the Lounge Life.

Not only will these credit cards make your time at the airport terminal a pleasure rather than a misery, but most of them also have other attractive, wayfarer-friendly advantages that reduce the cost of your trips.

FAQs: Credit cards with lounge access

  • How can I get free airport lounge passes?

    +

    Credit cards aren’t the only way to access airport lounges. You may be entitled to free airport lounge passes if you fly business or first class; if you’ve attained a special airline status via an airline’s travel program; or if you pay for membership to your favourite lounge network.

  • Should I have multiple credit cards with lounge access?

    +

    Very frequent flyers may consider getting multiple travel credit cards that access different lounge networks, e.g. one card to access Priority Pass lounges and one card to access LoungeKey lounges. This will significantly increase the chances of finding a lounge no matter where you are in the world and can allow you to test out different lounges to see which ones you prefer.

    But for most Canadians, this is probably overkill, especially considering the fact that many lounge credit cards have steep annual fees. Choose a credit card with broad lounge access, and if you find that you’re visiting lounges more often than your card allows, only then would it make sense to add another lounge access credit card to your wallet.

  • What are Centurion® lounges and how do they work?

    +

    Centurion® Lounges are luxury airport lounges within the American Express Global Lounge Collection. There are about a dozen Centurion Lounges, most of which are in the United States, and access is granted to Amex Platinum®, Centurion®, and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve cardholders.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information, click the Apply Now link. If you apply and get approved for an American Express Card, (I/we) may receive compensation from American Express, which can be in the form of monetary payment

Lauren Graves is a writer and editor specializing in finance writing and education.

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