15 Best Credit Cards in India for Airport Lounge access

If you’re a frequent flyer, you might already know that Air Travel is not so a luxury thing to do unless you travel Business/First Class. Most of the time when you travel economy, you end up losing energy by the time you land. Added to this, you go through an unpleasant experience at the airport with never ending noise, expensive food, not so great Wi-fi and not so comfortable seats.

But what if I say there is a way to enjoy unlimited food, juices, comfortable chairs and a calm atmosphere with premium Wi-fi at FREE of cost? That’s what you get in an Airport Lounge. And to access such airport lounges, you need the right credit cards in your wallet with complimentary lounge access benefit.

Let’s have a look at some of the widely used credit cards for airport lounge access. I’ve listed the cards from low fee to high fee range, so you can make a wise decision. Feel free to check the links under each card to check the detailed review.

Domestic Lounge Access

1. Amex Platinum Travel Card

  • Variant: American Express
  • Limits: 4/Yr
  • Joining Fee: Rs.3500+GST First Year FREE (Limited Period Offer)

The reason why this card is the most relevant for lounge access is because it not only gives you Lounge benefit, but also comes with amazing ~7% reward rate. Not to forget the Amex merchant travel offers which is one of the best in the industry.

2. Axis Flipkart card

  • Variant: Mastercard
  • Limits: 4/Yr
  • Joining Fee: Rs.500+GST

This is one of the newly launched credit card that serves the purpose with one of lowest joining fee, yet decent rewards. Currently an invite only card though.

3. ICICI HPCL Coral Amex

  • Variant: Visa/Mastercard/American Express
  • Limits: 2/Yr
  • Joining Fee: Rs.199+GST

Note that different Coral variant has different limits. Do verify bank’s link before going for it. The HPCL coral Amex variant is the cheapest one though.

4. Indusind Iconia Amex

  • Variant: American Express
  • Limits: 2/Quarter
  • Joining Fee: Rs.3000+GST

This card has been devalued recently for various reasons but this card still gives you decent lounge benefit not only for primary but also for Supp. cards. Good thing is there is no renewal/annual fee.

Domestic & International Lounge Access

1. HDFC Regalia

  • Domestic Limits: 12/yr (Mastercard/Visa)
  • International Limit: 6/Yr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Rs.2500+GST

If you find Regalia is expensive, you may also consider Regalia fIRST which is the entry level variant for Regalia. Moreover, its the cheapest card with international lounge access, for supplementary cards too.

2. SBI Prime

  • Domestic Limits: 2/qtr (Mastercard/Visa)
  • International Limit: 4/Yr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Rs.3000+GST

3. SBI Elite

  • Domestic Limits: 2/qtr (Mastercard/Visa)
  • International Limit: 2/qtr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Rs.5000+GST

4. Yes First Preferred

  • Domestic Limits: 3/qtr (Mastercard)
  • International Limit: 4/Yr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Mostly Free

5. ICICI Sapphiro

  • Domestic Limits: 4/qtr (Mastercard/Amex)
  • International Limit: 2/Yr (Dreamfolks DragonPass)
  • Joining Fee: Mostly Free

Just incase if you’re asked for a fee for this ICICI card, don’t ever get it.

Unlimited Lounge Access

If you’re a frequent traveller or have a big family to take vacation, then you may need one of these below credit cards that comes with unlimited lounge access. Not to forget, most cards below allow you to get a supplementary card too with unlimited lounge access benefit.

1. HDFC Diners Black

  • Network: Diners Club
  • Joining Fee: Rs.5,000+GST

2. HDFC Infinia

  • Network: Visa / Mastercard & Priority pass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.10,000+GST

3. Yes First Exclusive

  • Network: Mastercard & Priority Pass
  • Joining Fee: Mostly Free

4. ICICI Emeralde

  • Network: American Express / Mastercard & DragonPass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.12,000+GST

5. Citi Prestige

  • Network: Visa & Priority Pass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.20,000+GST

6. Amex Platinum Charge Card

  • Variant: American Express & Priority Pass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.60,000+GST

So which one should I get?

Okay, I understand that the above list is quite exhaustive. So to answer your query, you need to ask yourself “how many times do I travel Domestic/international ?”. Match that number with the # of complimentary lounge visits available as above. 

For ex, if you just travel once a year, any credit card with low fee that gives you 2 access/qtr would do. Remember, you’ll need 2 access for a trip as you’ll also return back. 

If you travel quite often, like once or more every month, you either need multiple credit cards with lounge access or one credit card that gives you unlimited lounge access benefit as above.

Note: Also remember you maybe limited by the network as not all lounge network allows you to access all lounges. Try to choose Mastercard over others for domestic & Priority Pass for International.

Which card do I use for lounge access? As I’ve at least 10 cards in my wallet most of the time, I usually have this confusion in the past as to which one to swipe for lounge access.

But now, the thumb rule I follow is: Swipe the card whichever costs me annual fee, or whichever that gives me less returns, so as to make sure the bank spends something for charging me the fees.

In the past, I used the  ICICI Jet Saphiro Credit Cards as they charged me annual fee (and I never used those Jet codes). Now, going forward I plan to use ICICI Emberalde

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