2024 Edition: Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access

What are the best credit cards for airport lounge access in terms of free visits, guest entitlements and lounge network?

Complimentary lounge access is an increasingly common perk of many miles cards in Singapore (and even some cashback ones), allowing cardholders to visit an airport lounge regardless of airline or cabin, in Singapore and overseas.

Allowances range from just a couple of visits to unlimited access plus guests. As always, you get what you pay for- expect basic benefits for entry level cards, and more generous allowances for premium ones. 

In this article, I’ll do a full rundown of the best credit cards for airport lounge access.

Summary: Credit cards with airport lounge access

Ambassador Transit Lounge seating
Ambassador Transit Lounge Changi Terminal 3

Here’s an overall summary of which credit cards grant airport lounge access, the network they use, and how many free visits you’re entitled to. 

CardLounge NetworkFree Visits
(Per Year)
PrincipalSupp.
Income Requirement S$30K
Maybank Horizon Visa SignatureSelected lounges in SIN, KUL, HKGSpend S$1K in single trxn. within 3 months prior to travel for 1x visit
Diners Club CardsDiners Network1*N/A
Citi PremierMilesPriority Pass2*N/A
DBS Altitude VisaPriority Pass2N/A
AMEX HighFlyer CardPriority Pass2N/A
SCB Journey CardPriority Pass2N/A
HSBC TravelOne CardDragonPass4*N/A
AMEX KrisFlyer AscendPlaza Premium4N/A
Income Requirement ≥S$120K
CIMB Visa InfiniteDragonPass3N/A
BOC Visa InfinitePlaza Premium4#N/A
Maybank Visa InfinitePriority Pass4N/A
SCB Visa InfinitePriority Pass6N/A
UOB Lady’s Solitaire Metal CardDragon Pass6*6*
DBS VantagePriority Pass10N/A
OCBC VOYAGEDragon PassN/A
HSBC Visa InfiniteLoungeKey
UOB VI Metal CardDragonPass∞ + 1 guestN/A
Citi PrestigePriority Pass∞ + 1 guestN/A
AMEX Platinum ChargePriority Pass, Plaza Premium, AMEX & Centurion Lounges, and others∞ + 1-2 guests
Income Requirement ≥S$500K
DBS InsigniaPriority PassN/A
Citi ULTIMAPriority Pass 
UOB ReservePriority Pass∞ + 1 guest
amex centurionAMEX CenturionPriority Pass, Plaza Premium, AMEX & Centurion Lounges, and others∞ + 1-2 guests
Priority Banking Customers
OCBC Premier Visa InfinitePlaza Premium2N/A
SCB Priority Banking VIPriority Pass12^N/A
*Allowance follows calendar year instead of membership year
#BOC Visa Infinite allowance runs from 1 November to 31 October the following year
^With min. AUM S$200K. If AUM falls under S$200K, then two visits

When comparing lounge benefits across cards, consider the following factors.

Which lounge network is used?

The main lounge networks used by credit cards are Priority Pass, LoungeKey, Dragon Pass and Plaza Premium.

NetworkAirportsLounges
Priority Pass7301,500+
Lounge Key7301,500+
DragonPass7401,300+
Plaza Premium Lounges~100200+

I’m of the opinion that you should be fairly indifferent between Priority Pass, Lounge Key and DragonPass, because there’s significant overlap in their coverage. Plaza Premium, however, is a much smaller group, and you should take note if your card partners with this network.

Priority Pass & LoungeKey

Priority Pass and LoungeKey are owned by the same company, and offer the largest lounge network globally.

While there was a two-year period where they lost access to Plaza Premium lounges, that was resolved in June 2023, and most Plaza Premium Lounges have rejoined Priority Pass and LoungeKey.

Plaza Premium Lounge Singapore
Plaza Premium Lounge Singapore

To bolster their value proposition in airports where they have no lounge agreements, Priority Pass has added alternative amenities like F&B credits, or access to sleep pods in Dubai or nap rooms in selected US airports.

Bar Roma at SYD, which offers Priority Pass holders a dining credit
💳 Using American Express?

If your Priority Pass membership is issued by American Express, take note that it does not cover so-called “non-lounge experiences” like restaurants or sleep pods. You’ll be billed separately if you use your Priority Pass for these. 

When in doubt as to whether something counts as a “non-lounge experience”, refer to the American Express lounge finder. If you see a lounge listed there, it’s safe to use your American Express-issued Priority Pass.

DragonPass

DragonPass is a China-based lounge programme with more than 1,300 lounges, including some at railway stations in China. Members can redeem free meals at certain airport restaurants, or even things like complimentary massages. 

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck at Changi T3

Plaza Premium

Plaza Premium has a much smaller network of 200+ own-branded and third-party managed lounges worldwide. While its footprint is small, Plaza Premium lounges tend to be much higher quality than the average contract lounge, and in some airports (e.g. Penang and Langkawi), Plaza Premium is the only lounge operator. 

Plaza Premium First Lounge, Hong Kong

Plaza Premium also has a chain of Plaza Premium First Lounges which offer an experience that, in theory, is supposed to rival that of some First Class airline lounges. I visited the lounge in Hong Kong prior to COVID and found it to be great, though more recent reports suggest the standards have come down. 

Plaza Premium First Lounges require an upcharge, so take note if you intend to visit.

How are free visits tracked?

Free visit entitlements are usually tracked based on membership year, i.e. the date when you got your lounge membership. For example, if your Priority Pass was approved in April, your free visits will be tracked from 1 April to 31 March of the following year. 

However, there are a handful of cards which track entitlements by the calendar year (i.e. 1 January to 31 December):

And if you hold a BOC Visa Infinite, do note your free visit entitlement runs from 1 November to 31 October.

In case you were wondering, free visit entitlements can be stacked across cards. For example, if you have both the DBS Altitude Visa (two free Priority Pass visits) and the Citi PremierMiles Card (two free Priority Pass visits), you’ll have a total of four visits to use. You will need to register and keep track of separate Priority Pass cards, though. 

How I keep track of multiple Priority Pass cards

How many guests are allowed?

With most cards, bringing a guest means you’ll have to use one of your free visit entitlements. For example, bringing a guest with you on your DBS Altitude Visa’s Priority Pass would exhaust your two visit allowance.

However, some higher-end cards like allow you to bring a guest for free. 

CardGuest Allowance
AMEX Platinum Charge1-2, depending on lounge
Citi Prestige1
UOB VI Metal Card1
UOB Reserve Card1

The policy on children is more nebulous and varies by lounge. In general, infants under the age of 2 will be admitted for free, while some lounges may permit free entry for kids up to 12 years old. 

Do supplementary cardholders get access?

As a rule of thumb, lounge privileges are only accorded to the principal cardholder. That said, there are a few exceptions. 

CardSupp. Cardholder Entitlement
UOB Reserve CardUnlimited visits
Citi ULTIMAUnlimited visits (available for up to two supplementary cardholders)
AMEX Platinum ChargeUnlimited visits (only the first supplementary cardholder gets a Priority Pass)*
HSBC Visa InfiniteUnlimited visits (available for up to five supplementary cardholders)
UOB Lady’s Solitaire Metal Card6 visits
*Certain lounges such as the Plaza Premium Lounge Group can be visited simply by showing the AMEX Platinum Charge card, so your 2nd and subsequent supplementary cardholder will still get access to these

Annual fee waivers

Lounge entitlements are not linked to your payment of the annual fee. For example, if you get an annual fee waiver for the DBS Altitude Visa, you’ll still enjoy two lounge visits per membership year.

However, there are some credit cards which do not offer fee waivers, like the Citi Prestige. In this case, not paying the annual fee means cancelling the card, which means no lounge visits (obviously).

Conclusion

SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3 seating areas
SATS Premier Lounge Changi Airport Terminal 3

The quality of airport lounges can be extremely variable. The best precaution against wasting your free visit on a crappy lounge is to simply ask whether you can have a quick look inside before deciding.

Here’s some things to look out for when surveying a lounge:

  • How plentiful are power outlets and USB charging ports?
  • What’s the quality of the F&B selection (especially alcohol!) like?
  • Are there shower rooms, and do they look clean?
  • Does the lounge have productivity pods or workstations?
  • Is there a napping area, or better yet, nap rooms?

In theory, some lounges do impose time limits on visits, but I’ve never seen this actively enforced because of the difficulty tracking who came in when. If lounges do enforce time limits, they usually base it on time of departure (e.g. if your flight departs at 9 p.m and the restriction is three hours per visit, they won’t let you in before 6 p.m).

Here’s to happy lounge hopping in 2024!

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Nisha

Hi, any idea if DBS Altitude still throws in the 2 free visits if you choose to waive the annual credit card fee?

jason

i think ICBC offers 6 dragon pass visits? or they havent announced for 2022?

  • just checked, they have ended the promo 🙁
Last edited 2 years ago by jason
Shanky

Crypto.com prepaid card also provide unlimited lounge visit. Great product for people without or low income 🙂

Adi

For cards with unlimited lounges, can we bring many guests at the same time for free?

MOY

Certainly yes, just pay for your guests

Kkk

Seems like lounge access is back on the books for BOC Visa Infinite
https://www.bankofchina.com/sg/bocinfo/bi1/202208/t20220817_21630607.html

Steve

Are the SATS lounge part of the plaza premium network as part of the OCBC Voyage?

Anon

Should add the caveat that if you choose to waive the amex ascend annual fee, u dont get the pass.

chk

Yes, that was my experience

Lifshitz

I think adding the annual fee (and waive-ability) would have been more informative than what ‘income tier’ they’re in. Yes, I’m lazy. I rather refresh milelion several times a day that googling something 🙂

Christopher

UOB Reserve includes a Priority Pass with unlimited access.

JT91

that day passby KLIA, just found out there is only 1 lounge supported by priority pass, somemore no free flow food. not sure is KLIA too lousy or what. haha

Zoro

I was denied access (priority pass) at Haneda ANA lounge during Nov 2022. I would say nowadays these lounge accesses are basically useless post Covid.

JTL

While maybe not worth noting in the article proper, I have come to appreciate how the DBS Vantage 10-visits offers a different sort of flexibility to an unlimited visit 1-2 guest entitlement.

When I’m traveling with my wife, mother, and brother and SIL, I can bring in four people for free, as opposed to 1-2 guests and paying for the rest. As a solo traveler sure the unlimited entitlement is great, but it’s nice to have the ability to bring your whole family into the lounge when you underestimate the travel time to the airport.

Vic Wang

Does having Citi premises visa and master gives 4 passes?

Red

Will be good to indicate if the pass can be used for guest. Any idea if we use both Citi PremierMiles miles on guest, while i check in with another priority pass?

sam

any idea if i have citi prestige and citi premiermiles, could i bring in 3 guest including myself into a lounge in 1 go?

Grace

Do note that for CIMB dragonpass, we are not allowed to use our entitlement to bring in guest. The entitlement is solely for principal card holder.

JDssss

Hmm, I just cancelled my Citibank prestige card a week ago as the renewal benefit was not enticing. It appears that my priority pass with unlimited visit was renewed from 1 Jan-31 Dec 2024 before I cancelled the prestige card and even now PP still shows my account as active. Anyone knows if I should be expecting the PP account to be updated in the coming weeks and any charge back would occur if I continue using unlimited PP account while it’s still active?

Patrick

Thanks Aaron. If I have both the amex charge and uob visa infinite, can I invite+1 guest for each card that I?

Bro

For HSBC T1 cardholders, your 4 DragonPass visits is only for the main cardholder, there is no allowance for guests

I.e. if you bring in your wife, you’ll exhaust 1 visit out of 4 and be charged for your wife’s entry

loungesnob

Calling out that for HSBC T1 cardholders, the dragonpass variant is a watered down version of the original Dragonpass app, and you will not be entitled to dininng privileges that the original app has.

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