The Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access 2022

Airport lounges. I love them.

If you haven't been to an airport lounge, you're missing out. Just think of it as a peaceful all-you-can-eat-and-drink affair right before your flight. Trust me - once you've experienced a good airport lounge, you get addicted!

I used to have a Diner's Club MasterCard at my old job that granted free lounge access all over the world, and introduced me to a way of flying that didn't involve waiting around in noisy areas trying to order crappy fast food.

Unfortunately, I left that job a few years ago and no longer enjoy free lounge access. Not that I need lounge access every time I fly, but sometimes flights are scheduled during meal times, and it's just easier going to a lounge than trying to figure out which airport restaurant doesn't suck. The only other way you'd be able to get lounge access is if you purchase a business class flight - which is really pricey!

Luckily, there are credit cards for this sort of thing. Here are my picks for the best Canadian credit cards with lounge access!

Last Updated: April 14, 2022

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This post is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. All opinions are my own.


BEST CARD FOR UNLIMITED LOUNGE ACCESS: American Express Platinum (Personal or Business)
Runner-up: None. No other cards offer unlimited lounge access across multiple flights/airports.

BEST CARD FOR GUEST LOUNGE ACCESS: Scotiabank Visa Passport Infinite or Scotiabank Platinum American Express
Runner-up: American Express Platinum (Personal or Business)

LOWEST ANNUAL FEE FOR MOST LOUNGE VISITS: CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite or BMO World Elite MasterCard
Runner-up: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

Runner-up: Basically all the other cards, which have welcome bonuses that partially offset the annual fees.

Keep reading to find out more details of each card listed above. 

1. The American Express Platinum Card

Annual Fee: $699 (Personal), $499 (Business)
Lounge Program: Most Canadian airports, Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounge (Personal); Priority Pass (Business)
Lounge Program Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: Unlimited (+first guest free, $32 USD per guest thereafter)
Welcome Offer(s): 90,000 points = $900 (Personal), 110,000 points = $1,100 (Business)
Application Link(s): PersonalBusiness

There's a lot of other reasons why you'd want this card, such as earning Membership Rewards (MR), a $200 annual travel credit (Personal version), and even preferred golf membership - but this is the only card in Canada that gives you unlimited access to over 1,000 lounges around the world from the following programs:
  • Priority Pass (+1 guest free)
  • Plaza Premium Network (+1 guest free)
  • American Express Centurion Lounges (+2 guests free)
  • Delta Sky Club (when flying with Delta Airlines)
The biggest con of these cards (aside from the fact that American Express isn't accepted everywhere) is that the annual fee is pretty hard to stomach for most people, as it's $499/year for a small business, and $699/year if you're just using it personally. The minimum spends are very high as well - $6,000 for the Personal, and $7,000 for the Business. If the fee is scaring you away, you could redeem the welcome bonus as a statement credit, but I personally think they're worth much more in Aeroplan miles.

The other con is that you will need to pay if you're traveling with more than 2 people. If you are traveling in a group of 3-4, then some of the other cards below might be better as they come with guest passes.

2. The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite / Gold Visa

Annual Fee: $139 (first year free for a limited time)
Program: Priority Pass before July 1; Visa Airport Companion starting July 1
Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: 4 passes per year (can be used on guest(s) traveling with you)
Welcome Offer(s): 20,000 Aventura points after first purchase + 15,000 after spending $1,000 per month in the first 12 months
Application Link(s): CIBC Aventura, CIBC Gold

The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite comes with 4 (four) lounge passes which can be used on guests, and is one of two cards on this list that waives the annual fee for the first year. 

Aside from lounge access, you can also get the following perks:
  • 20,000 Aventura points after first purchase. These points are enough for a short-haul flight within Canada and the U.S. up to a value of $400.
  • Rebate on a NEXUS application every 4 years.
While the lounge access on the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite is pretty comparable to the BMO World Elite MasterCard, there are a couple reasons the CIBC card edged out the BMO card for the #2 spot:
  1. It has the lowest minimum spend (first purchase only) to get the welcome bonus points
  2. Lower income requirement ($60K individual income at CIBC vs. $80K individual income at CIBC). If you don’t meet those requirements, you can also apply for the CIBC Aventura Gold Visa which only requires a household income of $15,000.
Ultimately both of these cards are pretty similar. If you're deciding between the two it may end up coming down to which bank will offer you a better ongoing discount on the annual fee.

3. The BMO World Elite MasterCard

Annual Fee: $150 (first year free if you apply before December 6, 2022)
Lounge Program: LoungeKey before July 1; MasterCard Travel Pass starting July 1
Lounge Program Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: 4 passes per year (can be used on guest(s) traveling with you)
Welcome Offer(s): 30,000 BMO Rewards points = $214 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months + 2,500 BMO Rewards points per month you spend $2,000+ in the first 12 months
Application Link(s): BMO

The BMO World Elite MasterCard has maintained the same welcome offer for a while, which (1) waives the annual fee, and (2) provides at least $214 in value towards travel (flights or car rental). That's not even including the LoungeKey access and 4 lounge passes that come with the card!

To get the first welcome bonus ($214 travel credit), you need to be able to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of the card. This can be challenging if you don't have a major expense coming up. You can try solutions such as Paysimply or Plastiq though these come with a 2.5-2.8% fee.

Furthermore, the card has a relatively high individual income requirement ($80,000), though household income is pretty in line with other premium travel cards ($100,000).

Other than the welcome bonus and lounge passes, the card itself has okay benefits (it works out to be about 1.4% cash back on regular purchases and 2.15% on travel purchases). If you have a flight coming up and are in need of a few lounge passes, this card's a winner.

If you don't mind paying an annual fee and would like a few more benefits thrown in, I would recommend the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite, which is up next.

4. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

Annual Fee: $139
Lounge Program: Priority Pass before July 1; Visa Airport Companion starting July 1
Lounge Program Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: 6 passes per year (can be used on guest(s) traveling with you)
Welcome Offer(s): 25,000 points = $250 statement credit on travel after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, $100 cash back through GCR application
Application Link(s): Scotiabank, Great Canadian Rebates ($125 cash back)

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite includes a generous six (6) passes with the card every year. If you travel with a partner, this means you can use it on 3 flights. Since Priority Pass membership is included, you can purchase additional lounge visits at $32 USD per person.

Besides the lounge passes, the biggest benefit of this card is that it doesn't charge any foreign transaction fees, which can really add up when you're traveling abroad.

Other pros of this card include the fact the annual fee is much lower than the American Express Platinum, and can be partially offset by a current offer from Great Canadian Rebates. In addition, Visa is a much more accepted method of payment than American Express. The welcome bonus for first-time customers is a $200 credit that can be applied towards travel charged on your card.

For people who travel once or twice a year, this card is good enough if you want the airport lounge experience before your flight. If you need more than six passes, then the American Express Platinum or Scotiabank Platinum American Express might be better cards for you.

5. Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card

Annual Fee: $399
Lounge Program: Priority Pass
Lounge Program Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: 10 passes per year for primary cardholder (can be used on guest(s) traveling with you), 4 passes per year for secondary cardholder
Welcome Offer(s): 30,000 points = $300 statement credit, $60 cash back through GCR application
Application Link(s): ScotiabankGreat Canadian Rebates ($60 cash back)

You might be wondering why this card is #3 when it includes more lounge passes than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. Even after factoring in the welcome offer to offset the annual fee, the "cost per lounge visit" is still higher than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite with its own welcome bonuses. If you disregard any welcome bonus, the annual fee is a cool $399 and doesn't offer unlimited lounge access like the American Express Platinum cards.

That said, if you want more than 6 lounge visits a year, this is a better option than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. This card also comes with more special offers and privileges typical of American Express cards, such as having front of the line access to entertainment and complimentary Hertz #1 Club Gold membership.

As with any other American Express card, you will generally find they aren't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.

6. American Express Gold Rewards Card

Annual Fee: $250
Lounge Program: Priority Pass
Lounge Program Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: 4 Plaza Premium lounge passes per year for the primary cardholder
Welcome Offer(s): 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months
Application Link(s): American Express, Great Canadian Rebates ($120 cash back)

The refreshed Amex Gold card comes with a higher fee than before, though it is partially offset by the $100 annual travel credit that comes with the card. If you'd like Amex perks but are not ready to pay the steep annual fees for the Amex Platinum cards, the Amex Gold is a good choice. That said, it does sport a higher annual fee than the other non-Amex cards above.

7. HSBC World Elite MasterCard

Annual Fee: $149 (first year free if you apply before October 31, 2022)
Lounge Program: LoungeKey before July 1; MasterCard Travel Pass starting July 1
Lounge Program Membership Fee: Included
Number of Visits: $100 CAD worth of travel benefits that can be redeemed for lounge access
Welcome Offer(s): 20,000 points upon approval + 40,000 points after spending $6,000 in 180 days = $300 statement credit
Application Link(s): HSBC

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is fairly similar to the Scotiabank Passport in that it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and lounge access membership is included. It's more flexible than the Passport in the sense that there is a $100 "travel enhancement" credit that can be used towards seat upgrades, baggage fees, or lounge access - but $100 will only cover about 2 lounge visits, which is why it's after the Scotiabank Passport on this list.

One of the biggest pros is that this card offers 31-day travel insurance coverage, which no other card offers. The amount of cash back that you can earn is likely going to be higher than the Scotiabank Passport. HSBC World Elite gives 3% cash back on travel and 1.5% on everything else, compared to 2% on gas, groceries, and entertainment, 1% on everything else using the Scotiabank Passport. Otherwise, the welcome bonus and other features are lower than the Scotiabank.


There are many other cards out there that offer lounge access, but those other options either have:
  • Very high income requirements ($200K+), such as the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege, RBC Avion Infinite Visa Privilege or HSBC Jade MasterCard
  • Higher "cost per visit" aka annual fees divided by number of visits included, such as the cards mentioned above
As a result, I narrowed it down to the top seven above for your consideration.

My last airport lounge visit was the amazing Hainan Airlines Business Class Lounge, which I was able to experience as part of a business class flight from Beijing to Toronto.

Let me know if you have any other tips for airport lounge access and if you've been to any outstanding lounges!