The Australian credit card market is a competitive space. So, many banks offer additional benefits to cardholders as an enticement to sign up. These include complimentary travel insurance, bonus credit card sign-up points and even sometimes free flights.
Another benefit offered with some credit cards is airport lounge access.
Around a dozen Australian credit cards offer a couple of complimentary Qantas Club or Virgin Australia Lounge passes each year. Other credit cards come with Standard Priority Pass membership including two complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits each year. Plus, many American Express cardholders are entitled to two annual visits to the international Amex airport lounges in Sydney or Melbourne.
There are a few Australian credit cards that go a step further, offering unlimited access to a global network of airport lounges for as long as you keep the card! These cards have relatively high annual fees but can still work out to be a very good deal compared to the cost of buying an equivalent airport lounge membership outright.
When comparing products, beware of credit cards which advertise “lounge access” that is not free!
Looking for a credit card with some great lounge access benefits? Here are some of the best Australian cards for lounge access in 2022…
Diners Club Business Card
The Diners Club Card for businesses comes with unlimited Diners Club lounge access for the life of the card. It also awards 1 Diners Club Reward point per $1 spent on the card, with points transferrable to around 15 airline loyalty programs including at a 1:1 rate to Qantas Frequent Flyer.
The best part? This card has annual fees of just $172. This includes a $95 annual card fee and a $77 annual “rewards fee”. Plus, you can add an additional cardholder for $80 more and the additional cardholder will also receive lounge access benefits!
There are now over 1,000 Diners Club airport lounges around the world. This includes seven Australian lounges:
- All three domestic REX Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide
- Marhaba Lounge in Melbourne Terminal 2
- Aspire Lounge in Perth Terminal 1 (international)
- The House lounges in Sydney and Melbourne’s international terminals
Eligible Diners Club cardholders can also access food & beverage credits at selected Australian airport bars and restaurants.
Diners Club used to offer a personal Frequent Flyer Diners Club card for individuals (i.e. not a business card) which had an annual fee of $150 and also included unlimited Diners Club lounge access. Unfortunately, this product was withdrawn for new applications in late 2021.
American Express Platinum
With a $1,450 annual fee, the Amex Platinum charge card is naturally a much more expensive option. But its lounge access coverage is also considerably more extensive.
In addition to various other benefits, this card comes with unlimited access to the following lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection for the cardholder and a guest:
- Priority Pass lounges (excluding airport restaurant locations)
- Plaza Premium lounges
- Virgin Australia lounges (when flying Virgin Australia domestically)
- Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta, including on arrival)
- Lufthansa Business Lounges (when flying Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian Airlines in Economy or Premium Economy)
- Lufthansa Senator Lounges (when flying Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian Airlines in Business Class)
- American Express international lounges
- Amex Centurion lounges
- Escape Lounges
- Airspace Lounges
American Express Centurion
For those lucky enough to be invited to apply, the unadvertised Amex Centurion card offers some serious airport lounge benefits. In addition to many of the same lounges available to Amex Platinum cardholders, Amex Centurion members in Australia can access Qantas Club lounges and receive Emirates Skywards Gold status, granting access to Emirates Lounges when flying with the Dubai-based airline.
However, with a $5,000 initiation fee and $6,500 annual fee, the Amex Centurion card is certainly not for everyone.
As something a bit more affordable, the $700/year Citi Prestige credit card offers unlimited Priority Pass lounge access for the cardholder and one guest.
While not quite as impressive as the benefits afforded to Amex Platinum users, Priority Pass lounge coverage is still fairly comprehensive. There are more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges around the world, including eight in Australia:
- The domestic REX Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide
- Marhaba Lounge in Melbourne
- Both Aspire Lounges in Perth (terminal 1 – international and terminal 2)
- The House lounges in Sydney and Melbourne
Although Priority Pass members that have membership via an American Express credit card no longer receive vouchers at participating airport restaurants, this benefit has not been removed for Citi Prestige cardholders. You can still get a complimentary $36 meal voucher for yourself a guest each time you depart from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra or Gold Coast airports.
Considering the annual fee, the Citi Prestige card doesn’t have a great deal of earning power. If you opt-in to earning Qantas Frequent Flyer points, you’ll pay $749 per year and earn just 0.5 Qantas points per dollar. If you opt-in to earning Citi Rewards points, the annual fee is $700 and you’ll earn the equivalent of 0.5 Velocity points or 0.4 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent on the card. That said, you’ll earn 2-3x more points when spending at airlines, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and petrol stations.
If you’re considering purchasing a Priority Pass prestige membership anyway, it’s only ~$100 more per year for a Citi Prestige card. (A Priority Pass prestige membership costs USD429 annually, or around ~AU$635 at the current exchange rate.) You’ll also get an included guest allowance with the Citi Prestige card that doesn’t normally come with paid Priority Pass membership.
The Citi Prestige card also offers various other travel benefits including international travel insurance, hotel discounts and a complimentary airport transfer.
Would you like to learn more about credit cards?
Frequent Flyer Solutions has an entire training course on Credit Cards! This course will teach you about maximising credit card points and help you to choose the credit card that’s right for you. View course →
There’s also a unit on Credit Card Lounge Access in Course 8 of the Frequent Flyer Solutions training which may be of interest to you. Unit 8.2.3 in this course (called “Credit Card Lounge Access”) contains a full list of all personal credit cards in Australia that come with lounge access benefits, including all of the cards giving single-use lounge passes.
You can leave a comment or discuss this topic on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as financial advice. Consider your personal circumstances before applying for any type of credit.