Canada’s best credit cards for airport lounge access for 2023
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|Card||Number of lounge visits||Annual fee|
|Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite*||6||$150|
|TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege*||Unlimited for Maple Leaf Lounges, 6 for Priority Pass lounges||$599|
|American Express The Platinum Card*||Unlimited||$699|
|BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard*||4||$150|
|CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite||4||$139|
Best credit cards for airport lounge access for 2023
Airport lounge access can transform an otherwise gruelling layover into a relaxing respite. Depending on the airport and the type of program you belong to, lounges may offer free snacks and drinks (including complimentary alcoholic beverages), free Wi-Fi, plentiful comfortable seating, dedicated work areas, showers, sleep pods and even spa services. It’s little wonder, then, that for many Canadian frequent fliers, lounge access is an especially coveted credit card feature. Luckily, you can choose from a solid selection of credit cards that feature airport lounge access programs as part of their perks.
Note that only a select few cards offer unlimited lounge access, while others offer a limited number of visits per year. All of the cards featured below come with an annual fee. These fees vary significantly between cards, so knowing how much you fly in an average year, and what other perks you can make use of, will help you determine which card offers the most value.
Best overall airport lounge access credit card
At a glance: With six complimentary airport lounge visits a year, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card offers the most free visits among credit cards in a comparable fee range. For that reason alone, the card pays for itself. Adding to its travel-friendly allure is the fact that it’s one of the few cards in Canada that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction (FX) fee. Other cards typically charge 2.5% on purchases made in a foreign currency. It also offers competitive travel insurance coverage, including rare hotel/motel burglary coverage. You’ll also earn Scene+ points on your everyday expenses. Redeem your points for travel, along with movies, merchandise, gift cards and more.
- Annual fee: $150
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
- Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000, household income of $100,000
- Welcome bonus: earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points ($400 value). Offer ends 30 April 2023.
- Rewards: 2 points per $1 on grocery, entertainment, dining and transit/travel; 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
- Perks: No foreign transaction fee; comprehensive travel insurance
- Receive complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership (powered by DragonPass), which includes six free lounge visits per year, the most free visits of any travel credit card in a similar fee range.
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made in non-Canadian currency.
- It’s one of the few cards that don’t make you book travel through a proprietary booking site in order to redeem points. While you can book with Scene+ Travel, you can also book travel online or with any travel agency and still redeem Scene+ points to cover the cost of your trip.
- The highest earn rate of 3 Scene+ points is only available at a few grocery retailers.
- No mobile device insurance coverage.
- Scene+ points have a lower value when redeemed for gift cards or merchandise than when used for grocery purchases and travel.
Best luxury airport lounge access card
At a glance: For Aeroplan points collectors who want an elevated airport experience, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege credit card can be a great travel companion. It’s packed with travel benefits like unlimited free access for you and a guest to Maple Leaf Lounges throughout North America. The card also comes with a complimentary membership in the Visa Airport Companion Program hosted by DragonPass and includes six lounge visits, usable at over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. You’ll really feel like a VIP at the airport with other perks like priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, and you’ll get peace of mind with an extensive suite of travel insurance. This is also one of the few cards in Canada that feature a companion pass.
- Annual fee: $599
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers, 22.99% on cash advances
- Annual income requirement: Personal income of $150,000 or household income of $200,000
- Welcome bonus: Not available to display at the moment.
- Rewards: 2 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on direct purchases with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations, 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery, travel and dining purchases, 1.25 points per $1 spent everywhere else
- Other perks: Access to Maple Leaf Lounges; Nexus fee rebate of $100 every four years; priority check-in; priority baggage handling; priority boarding; priority airport standby; priority upgrades; access a yearly round-trip companion pass from $99 (plus taxes, fees, charges and surcharges)
- Includes unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges for you and a guest and six free visits per year to DragonPass partner lounges.
- Take advantage of a Nexus fee rebate of up to $100 every four years.
- Comes packed with generous travel-friendly perks like priority boarding and upgrades, as well as comprehensive travel insurance and a companion pass.
- To qualify, you’ll need a high personal or household income.
- Even for a premium card with tons of perks, the annual fee is high, at $599.
- Many of the travel benefits (like priority check-in and priority boarding) only apply to flights operated by Air Canada.
Best airport lounge access card for frequent travellers
At a glance: It’s one of the most expensive premium credit cards in Canada, but the $699 annual fee gets you access to the most comprehensive and amenity-laden selection of airport lounges worldwide, including top-tier American Express Centurion Lounges. Depending on the lounge, cardholders may have an unlimited number of free visits and can also bring one companion with them at no additional cost. Cardholders can also take advantage of a yearly $200 travel credit, which essentially brings the cost of the card down to $499 as long as you make a point of using the credit. Every four years, you’ll also get a $100 credit towards a Nexus membership fee. Additional perks like late check-out and daily complimentary breakfast at select hotels, as well as travel insurance and upgraded hotel membership status with brands like Marriott Bonvoy, round out this top travel credit card.
- Annual fee: $699
- Interest rates: N/A
- Annual income requirement: None
- Welcome bonus: earn up to 80,000 rewards points ($800 value).
- Rewards: 3 points per $1 spent on dining and food delivery; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 on everything else
- Perks: Priority Pass and American Express Centurion Lounge access; Toronto Pearson Airport priority lane; hotel status at select brands; premium medical, flight delay/cancellation and baggage insurance
- The card gives you access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection, which is the largest airport lounge collection available, featuring more than 1,300 lounges in over 140 countries. Lounges include American Express Centurion Lounges, Plaza Premium and Delta Sky lounges.
- Get a $200 credit that can be redeemed towards a travel purchase made via American Express Travel Online.
- When staying at eligible Fine Hotels + Resorts, enjoy extras like guaranteed late check-out and complimentary daily breakfast for two.
- Comes with one of the highest annual fees in Canada.
- The travel medical insurance is somewhat lacklustre for such a high annual fee—it only covers you for up to 15 consecutive days (other cards offer 20 days or more) and doesn’t offer any insurance to those who are 65 or older.
- American Express isn’t as widely accepted by retailers in Canada as Visa and Mastercard.
Best airport lounge access card for occasional travel
At a glance: If you find yourself in an airport even just a few times a year, you’ll appreciate that the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard offers free membership in the Mastercard Travel Pass program provided by DragonPass, plus four free passes a year. BMO also has one of the most flexible redemption programs in the country, so you can redeem your points to cover eligible travel purchases like flights, hotels and car rentals no matter what travel provider you booked with. Or if you’re not travelling much in a given year, you can even put your points towards a contribution to a BMO savings or investment account. The card also comes with travel insurance, including travel medical insurance that will cover you, your spouse or children for up to 21 days.
- Annual fee: $150
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
- Annual income requirement: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000
- Welcome bonus: Earn up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.
- Rewards: 5 points per $1 spend on travel, 3 points per $1 on dining and entertainment, 1 point per $1 on everything else
- Perks: Access to over one million Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world; BMO concierge service; extended warranty; purchase protection; and BMO World Elite travel and medical protection
- Comes with free membership in the Mastercard Travel Pass program provided by DragonPass, as well as four free passes a year.
- Solid selection of travel insurance that includes travel medical, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, and delayed and lost baggage insurance.
- BMO Rewards has one of the most flexible redemption programs in the country, and you can redeem points for travel purchases without buying from a specific provider.
- Points are sharply reduced in value if redeemed for gift cards, merchandise and financial products (like a contribution to a BMO savings or investment account).
- To qualify, you’ll need an annual personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000.
- Charges a 2.5% foreign transaction fee for all purchases made in a foreign currency.
Best airport lounge access card for travelling to the U.S.
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite
At a glance: If you frequently cross the border to the U.S. for vacations, work trips or family visits, consider the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite. The card includes membership in the Visa Airport Companion Program and also gives you four free lounge visits a year. Every four years, you get a statement credit of up to $100 towards a Nexus application fee. The card also comes with an extensive suite of travel insurance, including out-of-province emergency travel medical, as well as the hard-to-find hotel burglary and mobile device insurance. Aventura is a fairly flexible rewards program that lets you redeem points for a variety of things, including travel bookings, merchandise, credit card payments, contributions to a savings or investment account and even payments towards your CIBC mortgage.
- Annual fee: $139
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
- Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
- Welcome bonus: earn $1,250 in value.
- Rewards: 2 points per $1 spent on travel through the CIBC Rewards Centre; 1.5 points per $1 on gas, groceries and drugstores; 1 point per $1 on everything else
- Perks: Visa Airport Companion Program membership with four lounge visits a year; Nexus card fee rebate ($100 value, every 4 years); out-of-province emergency travel medical insurance; flight delay and baggage insurance; purchase protection and mobile device insurance; use Journie awards to save on gas
- Includes a free membership to the Visa Airport Companion Program managed by DragonPass, as well as four free lounge visits per year.
- Flexible rewards program that allows you to redeem points for travel, merchandise, gift cards, mortgage payments and more.
- Save up to 10 cents/litre on gas at eligible gas stations if you link your card with Journie Rewards, a loyalty program that helps you earn points at Pioneer, Fasgas, Ultramar and Chevron gas stations.
- To get the highest earn rate of 2 points for every $1 spent, you must make a travel purchase via the CIBC Rewards Centre.
- The value of points decreases when they’re not used for travel.
- There is an $80,000 cap on the 1.5-point earn rate, after which you’ll only get 1 point per $1 spent on groceries, gas and drugstore purchases.
Airport lounge access programs in Canada
|Program||Key details||Number of lounges|
|DragonPass||In 2022, DragonPass took over the airport lounge programs for Visa and Mastercard; in Canada, the programs are now respectively called the Visa Airport Companion Program and Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass. The program includes access to Plaza Premium lounges in Canada, as well as hundreds of different lounge programs worldwide. Lounges feature snacks and beverages, free Wi-Fi, showers and business centres. Cardholders can usually use their free passes for themselves and for a guest, but specific rules vary by lounge.||More than 1,200 worldwide|
|Maple Leaf Lounges||Amenities include cell-free quiet zones, snacks and beverages, free Wi-Fi and showers. Maple Leaf Lounges can only be used by customers departing on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Express or a Star Alliance partner airline.||16 across North America and Europe|
|Centurion Lounges||Centurion Lounges typically feature high-quality meals (designed by award-winning chefs) and beverages (and may even feature a signature cocktail), free high-speed Wi-Fi, plush seating and dedicated working areas. Some feature elevated amenities like spa services, nap pods and showers. Centurion Lounges are often part of The American Express Global Lounge Collection that features more than 1,300 airport lounges in over 140 countries.||More than 40 worldwide|
Frequently asked questions
Several different credit cards give you access to airport lounges. Select Mastercards provide membership to the Mastercard Travel Pass program, and some Visa cards offer membership to the Visa Airport Companion Program. Both Visa’s and Mastercard’s airport lounge programs are provided by DragonPass, which features access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide. The American Express Platinum card gives cardholders access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection, the largest lounge collection available.
As airport lounge access is an especially desirable perk, credit card providers generally make it obvious on their websites if they offer airport lounge access. Often, this perk is listed under “travel benefits.” The best way to make sure is to contact your provider directly and ask if it provides airport lounge access, and if any free visits are included. Note that some credit card providers give a free membership to a lounge program but don’t include any free visits. Lounge visits can cost upwards of USD$32 each, even with a membership.
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