If you hold elite status in a certain frequent flyer program or are flying in business or first class, this post is not for you, at least not specifically. This post is all about which Canadian credit cards can open the doors to airport lounges around the world, regardless of the status you hold or the price of your ticket. The trick is to hold the right credit card. How you experience travel is about to change dramatically.
There are quite a few Canadian credit cards that offer airport lounge access. However, they vary greatly in value. To help you choose, I created this guide as a quick and easy way to compare all the Canadian credit cards that offer airport lounge access, the price of admission (credit card annual fee) and the airport lounge networks accessible to each card.
Guide to Airport Lounge Networks Accessible to Canadian Credit Cardholders
There are several global airport lounge networks, with different entry requirements. Many (but not all) offer day passes for a price to the public and some offer admission with memberships but each one of them here is accessible to you if you have the right card in your wallet. Here is a quick look at the airport lounge networks and benefits that are accessible to Canadian credit card holders.
Priority Pass is the largest network of airport lounges, dining and spa experiences in the world with over 1,200+ locations in 500 cities across 140 countries worldwide. A Priority Pass membership is a benefit that is most offered by most Canadian credit cards with airport lounge access. Because of the sheer number of locations on offer, a Priority Pass membership is incredibly versatile and coveted.
How Priority Pass Works
The best option is to get a Priority Pass membership through any number of credit cards, listed below. One could also get a membership without the credit card, however. In fact, it’s worth discussing the different membership plans briefly so you could understand the value of what is being offered by the credit card companies.
As you can see, there are three plans available: Standard ($99 USD value), Standard Plus ($249 USD value), and Prestige ($399 USD value). The Standard plan comes with no pass and lets you drop into any Priority Pass lounge for $27 USD per visit. Even at this price, it is usually cheaper than the day rate of any lounge, offered to the public. The Standard Plus is basically a 10-visit pass, after which will cost you $27 USD per visit. The Prestige is an unlimited plan, well worth the price of admission if you are a frequent traveller.
What You Get From Most Credit Cards: For most Canadian credit cards that offer a limited number of airport lounge passes, you are essentially getting a Standard plan membership, valued at $99 USD plus a varying number of day passes (depending on the credit card). After you use up the free day passes, you may continue to drop in for $27 USD. Guests are admitted for $27 USD per person. No freebies for guests, unfortunately.
Best Value! For select American Express cardholders (listed below), you are getting the Priority Pass Select membership (not shown in the image), which is offered to credit card partners. It is even better than the normal Prestige plan. Not only do you get unlimited access, you also have guest privileges: you may bring along one guest with you at no extra charge! $27 USD for each additional guest.
Canadian Platinum Lounge Benefit
With this benefit, an American Express Platinum (personal) or Business Platinum cardholder has access to an airport lounge in most major cities across Canada. Members may use these partner lounges even if they haven’t applied for Priority Pass or they don’t have their Priority Pass member card with them.
Plaza Premium Lounges
Plaza Premium is a smaller boutique airport lounge network operating in 160 locations in 37 airports around the world. In Canada, they operate 14 locations at Vancouver (YVR), Edmonton (YEG), Winnipeg (YWG), and Toronto (YYZ).
While their footprint is small, they provide a premium experience with a full range of services, including dining, concierge, business workspace and meeting facilities as well as spa, massage and beauty services.
For complimentary access into Plaza Premium lounges, travellers may use their Priority Pass membership or their American Express Platinum or Business Platinum card.
Executive Lounges by Swissport
Executive Lounges by Swissport is another smaller, global network operating lounges and spa experiences, including Aspire and AspirePlus lounges in the U.K., Europe, Dubai (DXB), and Hong Kong (HKG). Canadian locations include Calgary (YYC) and Montreal (YUL).
For complimentary access into Executive Lounges, travellers may use their Priority Pass membership or their American Express Platinum or Business Platinum card.
American Express Centurion Lounges and Studios
The Centurion Lounges and Studios are well regarded in the U.S. as some of the best lounges, aside from flagship lounges operated by the legacy airline carriers. Truly, a visit to a Centurion Lounge is a must, if available. Travellers will find modern lounges, with locally sourced beer and wine, creative cocktails, and chef-designed cuisine with well-appointed workspaces. In busy and chaotic U.S. airports, Centurion Lounges are a welcome respite.
Currently, American Express operates lounges in Dallas (DFW), Hong Kong (HKG), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), New York (LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA) and will soon open in Los Angeles (LAX).
Complimentary access is granted to American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders and their two guests. Additional guests may be admitted for $50 per day.
American Express International Lounges and Centurion Clubs
Outside of the Centurion brand, American Express also operates international airport lounges in Delhi, India (DEL), Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE), Melbourne, Australia (MEL), Mexico City, Mexico (MEX), Monterrey, Mexico (MTY), Sydney, Australia (SYD), Toluca, Mexico (TLC).
Again, American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders are granted unlimited complimentary access. Guest privileges will vary by location.
Delta Sky Club Lounges
Delta Sky Club Lounges can be found in 33 locations in the U.S. and internationally, including Santiago, Chile (SCL) and Tokyo, Japan (NRT). Entry to Delta Sky Club lounges doesn’t come easy as access is restricted to passengers travelling in premium seats, those with Skyteam elite status or with Delta Sky Club membership.
Complimentary access is granted to American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders, when travelling on the same day on Delta Airlines.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges are found in 16 cities in Canada, U.K. and rest of Europe. Entry is normally restricted to passengers travelling in premium cabins on Air Canada or Star Alliance partner flights, those with Aeroplan, Altitude or Star Alliance elite status or those with a Maple Leaf Lounge membership.
For complimentary access, cardholders of certain Aeroplan-branded credit cards from TD and CIBC are given a limited number of passes per year, with a number of admission requirements. Cardholders of AeroplanPlus cards have unlimited access with fewer requirements.
For Select TD Credit CardHolders
“The cardholder may access an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, where available, upon presentation of an active TD credit card (listed below) with a valid, same-day boarding pass for travel using an Aeroplan Flight Reward only, on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or under the Air Canada Express banner. To access this benefit, he/she must redeem the Aeroplan Flight Reward with miles from his/her Aeroplan Account.”
In other words, passengers travelling on a regular paid (or revenue) ticket or award ticket not booked from their own Aeroplan account, may NOT use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.
For Select CIBC Credit Cardholders
“The cardholder may access an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, where available, upon presentation of his/her active CIBC credit card (listed below) with a valid, same-day boarding pass for travel using an Aeroplan Flight Reward only, on a flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or under the Air Canada Express banner. To access this benefit, he/she must redeem the Aeroplan Flight Reward with miles from his/her Aeroplan Account.”
Again, passengers travelling on a regular paid (or revenue) ticket or award ticket not booked from their own Aeroplan account, may NOT use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.
For AeroplanPlus Reserve and AeroplanPlus Platinum Card Holders
“American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum and AeroplanPlus Reserve cardholders may access the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, where available, upon presentation of their respective American Express cards and a confirmed, same-day departing ticket on a flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or under the Air Canada Express banner. Not valid in conjunction with an airline employee travel ticket or an airline partner pass travel ticket. Also applicable on same-day departing Air Canada codeshare or select Air Canada partner airline flights.”
Desjardins Odyssey Lounge
The Desjardins Odyssey Lounge is a Desjardins-sponsored lounge located in Montreal (YUL) and can seat 160 passengers. It is a spacious lounge that offers complimentary wines, beers, spirits as well as hot and cold food, but it is accessible to domestic and international travellers only. US-bound passengers will not be able to access this lounge.
Complimentary access is granted to Desjardins Odyssey-branded credit card holders. Since there is only one location, it is of particular value only to passengers who frequently travel from YUL.
National Bank World MasterCard Lounge
Similarly, the National Bank World MasterCard Lounge is a National Bank-sponsored lounge located in Montreal (YUL) and can seat 230 passengers. It is a generous and spacious lounge with plenty of natural light. Passengers can find premium food options along with beer on tap, wine and liquor. The lounge is located near Gate 53 and is accessible to domestic and international travellers only.
Complimentary access is granted to National Bank World Elite MasterCard and World MasterCard holder. American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders may also access this lounge, as this is an Executive Lounge.
Complete List of Canadian Credit Cards with Airport Lounge Access
Below is the complete list of Canadian credit cards that offer airport lounge access, along with the minimum personal income required, and the annual fee.
Scroll left to right to see all airport lounge networks.
|Credit Card||Annual Fee (CAD)||Minimum Income||Priority Pass||Canadian Platinum, Plaza Premium,|
Delta Sky Club
|NB World MasterCard||Air Canada Maple Leaf||Desjardins Odyssey|
|American Express Platinum||$699||none||✓||✓||✓|
|American Express Business Platinum||$499||none||✓||✓||✓|
|American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve||$899||none||✓||✓|
|American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum||$499||none||✓||✓|
|American Express Air Miles Reserve||$299||none||4 passes|
|BMO World Elite MasterCard||$150 (FREE first year)||$80,000||4 passes|
|BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard||$120||$80,000||2 passes|
|CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege*||$399||$200,000||6 passes||4 passes|
|CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite*||$120||$60,000||1 pass|
|CIBC Aerogold Visa for Business*||$180||$35,000||1 pass|
|Desjardins Visa Odyssey Infinite Privilege||$395||$200,000||6 passes||12 passes|
|Desjardins Odyssey World Elite MasterCard||$130||$80,000||8 passes|
|NB World Elite MasterCard||$150||$80,000||✓|
|NB World MasterCard||$125||$60,000||✓|
|RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege Card||$399||$200,000||6 passes|
|Scotiabank Platinum American Express||$399||$12,000||10 passes;|
4 passes for supplementary cardholder
|Scotia Passport Visa Infinite||$139||$12,000||6 passes|
|TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege*||$399||$200,000||4|
|TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite*||$120||$60,000||1|
|TD Aeroplan Visa Business*||$149||none||1|
* = To be used only on an Aeroplan Flight Reward only, on a flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or under the Air Canada Express banner.