We love airport lounges at Frugal Flyer. All of us look forward to kicking off a vacation with an alcoholic beverage in hand and a few bites to eat, all complimentary of course.
When it comes to complimentary airport lounge access, the American Express Global Lounge Collection is the best lounge program out there for Canadians. It offers unlimited access to over 1,200 airport lounges, often for both the cardholder and a guest.
Let’s take a look at the American Express Global Lounge Collection, the most comprehensive lounge program available to credit card holders in North America.
What is the American Express Global Lounge Collection?
The American Express Global Lounge Collection is a collection of airport lounges, spanning over 1,200 lounges in over 500 airports in 130 countries. For those who have access to this program, lounge access is complimentary for the cardholder and oftentimes at least one guest.
Needless to say, it is a safe bet to assume that in every bigger airport, at least one lounge will be included in this program. With this in mind, if you have access to this program, you should always be able to find an airport lounge that you can visit in advance of your next flight.
Airport Lounges Included in the Global Lounge Collection
The Amex Global Lounge Collection program does not consist of just one brand, but instead, is a combination of many different airport lounge brands.
Most notably, access to American Express Centurion lounges is included in the program. These are some of the best lounges available as a credit card benefit, and absolutely worth prioritizing if you find yourself at an airport that offers one of these lounges. Learn more with our definitive guide to American Express Centurion Lounges. Danny has been able to visit a couple of Centurion lounge locations over his travels, including the Denver Centurion and Las Vegas Centurion.
Individuals who have access to the Global Lounge Collection also can access the Priority Pass lounge program. Enrollment is required, but this opens up another massive chunk of airport lounges with over 1,300 locations worldwide. Priority Pass access is pretty strong, and having this program as part of the broader collection is a massive benefit. Upon enrolling, you will receive a unique Priority Pass card and account number that can be used for lounge access.
Plaza Premium airport lounges are also included in the program, which should be of great interest to many travelers. Plaza Premium lounges are typically middle of the road in quality, but are located in many of the bigger airports and suffice for a stop for food and drink. As I am Edmonton based, I personally find value in being able to start every trip with a visit to the Plaza Premium Lounge at Edmonton Internation Airport.
Finally, other airport lounge brands that are encompassed within the program include international American Express lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Lufthansa Lounges, Escape Lounges, Airspace Lounges, and Swissport Executive Lounges. These are fewer and further between, but still a positive addition for the added variety and options.
If you are curious about what participating lounges are available at a specific airport, visit the American Express Global Lounge Collection page here. Simply enter your airport code or city to find a list of lounges, in addition to access and guesting requirements.
How to Get Free American Express Global Lounge Collection Access
A common theme with airport lounge access is that it often is available as a perk on many credit cards. This has become a much more prominent perk in recent years as travelers look to make their travel experience more comfortable, premium, and overall more enjoyable.
Some lounge programs, such as the Dragonpass lounge program, involve a wider variety of lounges, many of the credit cards that grant access, such as the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card, only grant a set number of passes per calendar year, making it not optimal for the frequent traveler.
On the other hand, access to Maple Leaf lounges is available only on a few premium credit cards, such as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card, but offers unrestricted access to Maple Leaf Lounges worldwide. However, the Maple Leaf lounges have a small footprint within the overall airport lounge landscape This means it’s only worth pursuing Maple Leaf Lounge access if you are often departing from airports that have lounges within the Maple Leaf program.
The American Express Global Lounge Collection stands as its own beast, offering access to the widest variety of airport lounges with unlimited free visits for the cardholder and a minimum of one guest (guesting privileges vary by lounge). This lounge program, in our eyes, is the best option for many travelers, as it is easy to find a lounge you can access without much planning at the majority of airports around the world.
However, if you are interested in gaining free access to this lounge collection, the only way is by holding one of two premium American Express credit card products coupled with a same day boarding pass. Let’s take a look at what cards offer access and how you can kick your next trip off with unrestricted airport lounge access.
Credit Cards with Free American Express Global Lounge Collection Access
There are two credit cards available to customers in both Canada and the United States that grant access to all of the lounges within the Amex Global Lounge Collection program: the American Express Platinum & Business Platinum cards.
Learn More: The Best American Express Credit Card Offers
American Express Platinum Card
The American Express Platinum card is the main option for individuals who are looking to unlock access to the full collection of lounges offered by American Express.
The American Express Platinum card earns Membership Rewards and offers cardholders a variety of benefits including an annual $200 travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, an annual $200 dining credit, and instant elite status with many hotel loyalty programs.
100,000 Membership Rewards
While this card has a very high annual fee, it has a $200 per calendar year travel credit that can be applied to any booking (alternatively, look into the refundable hotel trick). Not to mention, this card also grants instant Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy elite status, in addition to access to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
The American Express Platinum card (US) also offers access to the global lounge collection with one main difference: for American Express Centurion lounge access, only the cardholder is provided complimentary access, and they will need to pay a fee to gain access for an additional guest.
American Express Business Platinum Card
The American Express Business Platinum card is the other option for individuals who are looking to gain access to the global lounge collection. While it is a business credit card, you can qualify as a sole proprietor, so it is within reach of many Canadians.
The American Express Business Platinum card earns Membership Rewards points and offers cardholders benefits including complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, a $100 NEXUS membership credit, an annual $200 travel credit, and more.
120,000 Membership Rewards
While it has a lower annual fee than the American Express Personal Platinum card, it does come with fewer perks. This card offers no travel credit but does still offer similar perks, including instant Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy elite status, in addition to access to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
Similar to the US version of the personal card, the American Express Business Platinum card (US) also offers access to the lounge program with one main difference: for American Express Centurion lounge access, the card does not permit any complimentary guests and only provides access to the cardholder. If they wish to bring any guests into the lounge, the cardholder will need to purchase guest access.
The American Express Global Lounge Collection program is a fantastic all-in-one solution if you are looking for one credit card that can provide you unrestricted access to the majority of airport lounges across the globe.
While both the American Express Platinum & Business Platinum cards command high annual fees, the lounge collection alone makes it worth it, even more so when combined with the high welcome bonuses and other perks these cards offer. If you travel often and want unrestricted airport lounge access, consider adding one of these cards to your wallet!
Frequently Asked Questions
The Amex credit cards that offer access to the global lounge collection have a very high annual fee. Is it worth it?
This is a situational question for each individual traveler. If you travel frequently, it is absolutely worthwhile since it will give you the opportunity to enter a lounge every time you visit the airport and make your experience that much more positive.
Can I bring a guest into all of the lounges in the American Express Global Lounge collection?
Guesting policies vary depending per lounge, but most of the time, you will be eligible to bring in at least one guest, free of charge. Double-check the terms of entry for your desired airport lounge on the American Express Global Lounge collection site to confirm before departing on your trip.
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