Priority Pass is a program where members can access select lounges worldwide. Often times, Priority Pass gets you into independent lounges, which can be great when you don’t have elite status or are not traveling in a premium cabin. I’m a big fan of Alaska Airlines’ Board Rooms and use my Priority Pass to gain access there.
There are several different tiers of membership within Priority Pass. If you buy access directly from Priority Pass, you can access any of the lounges in their network. In general, though, I don’t find much value in paying upwards of $400 a year for the program. I only have Priority Pass because it’s a free benefit of a credit card I hold for other reasons.
Several U.S. credit cards offer a “watered-down” version of Priority Pass for free (usually alongside a hefty annual fee). The main restriction is that a credit card-related membership will not get you access to United Clubs, but you’ll still get access elsewhere. If you already find yourself holding one of these credit cards, it’s worth it to get the free Priority Pass membership.
In fact, I hold several of these credit cards and now have multiple “free” Priority Pass memberships. It wasn’t until I got an updated membership card that I realized my Priority Pass memberships, all obtained through credit cards, had different benefits.
Most People Get Priority Pass with the American Express Platinum Card
For example, I have an American Express Platinum Card – the annual fee is $450, but I get a $200 airline fee credit, making the net cost $250. I use more than enough of the benefits for $250, including Centurion Lounge access, Fine Hotels & Resorts perks, and more. The Priority Pass that comes with that card allows access for one
guest entrance (usually the cardholder, although I have been able to use my priority pass to let a friend in while I went straight to my flight). Each additional guest costs $27 each.
The Citi Prestige Card Offers a Better Way
However, I also recently got the Citi Prestige card – the annual fee on this is also $450, but the benefits more than outweigh the costs, as explained by Frequent Miler here. I also have a decent stash of Thank You Points and am going to remain an American Airlines flyer for a while, so I’ll be able to use points at the rate of 1.6 cents toward my paid flights (you can tell I don’t agree with the Devil’s Advocate’s take on TYPs 😉 ).
The Priority Pass Membership that comes with the Citi Prestige is much better than the one provided with the American Express Platinum. Instead of paying for guests, you can bring in 2 guests for free, or even the entire family, as detailed on the Citi Prestige website:
Primary and Authorized users are granted complimentary access to the Priority Pass lounges and allowed a maximum of up to two guests or immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age). Any additional guests will be charged a $27 per guest, per visit charge.
Even better, additional users for the Citi Prestige only cost $50 a year and get a Priority Pass membership themselves. It can certainly come in handy if you have any friends or relatives who travel internationally but don’t always have lounge access – the only limitation is that they won’t be able to get into a United Club.
So now that I have two Priority Pass memberships, I’m making sure to carry the one that came with my Citi Prestige card. There have been several instances where I wanted to make a quick lounge visit but didn’t want to pay $27 for a guest; this gets rid of that problem!
Not to mention the Citi Prestige card came in a swanky package and is easily one of the better looking cards in my wallet (and earns it a spot closer to the front :p). Step up your game, Amex!
n.b. – Stefan at RTC wrote about this earlier. I missed his original post but I’ll give credit to him for picking it up earlier.