How to Access Airport Lounges For Free in Canada

By Maude Gauthier | Published on 28 Dec 2023

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    There’s a stealth way to access airport lounges for free in Canada, without a plastic nose and fake moustache. Everyone dreams about winding down in a quiet area of the airport where you can relax and recharge. But airport lounges are often seen as a high-class luxury, one that you can only access by spending a ton of money, flying premium, or being an elite person with exclusive benefits. Not true!

    Surprisingly, there are plenty of ways to get inside an airport lounge and enhance the Canadian travel experience with ease. In this article, we’re going to break down a complete guide to access airport lounges for free in Canada. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before planning your next big getaway. 

    The Benefits of Free Lounge Access

    Airport lounges provide a lot of benefits and money-saving opportunities, especially for anyone that’s catching a flight multiple times a year. Depending on the lounge, you’ll be able to use their amenities and avoid sitting in a noisy, crowded terminal. Some lounges offer luxury beverages and snacks for free or a fraction of the price of typical airport purchases. 

    Here are some benefits of airport lounges to consider and maybe even motivate you to choose your next credit card! 

    • Arrive early and have a place to relax away from the crowd before boarding. 
    • Enjoy a quiet area with wifi to get your work done if you’re travelling on business. 
    • Treat the family to a nice pre-flight hang-out and benefit from the added safety and security of lounges where the kids can retreat. 
    • Freshen up after a long flight or during a layover using the amenities. 
    • Save money in the long run and enhance the travelling experience with cocktails, beverages, snacks, magazines, and more. Most lounges offer free food and drinks so you aren’t breaking the bank at the airport. 
    • Take a quick shower and get ready in between flights at certain lounges with extensive facilities. 
    • Retreat to a private area where you can be productive or relax in the airport, instead of getting stuck in the chaos of Canadian travel epicentres. 
    • These are just a few of the benefits, but of course, take a look at your local lounges for more information on special perks and features you can access.

    10 or More Free Lounge Visits

    One of the easiest, cheapest, and most reliable ways to access airport lounges is with Canadian credit cards. Many of these credit cards come with extra features that benefit your travel needs, without adding to the long list of vacation expenses. Some cards will give you free memberships that offer lounge access, whereas others partner directly with a network of global lounges. 

    Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”62c4512c8e710d4f783b951c”]

    As we mentioned earlier, Scotiabank is one of the only major banks that will save you up to 2.5% on foreign transaction fees. The Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card offers an advantageous number of annual airport lounge visits for all cardholders.

    Every year you can get ten complimentary visits with a Platinum Pass membership. Just simply present your card at the airport at over 1200+ VIP lounges across the globe.

    Visa and Mastercard have moved to Dragon Pass, but American Express cards are a great way to get Platinum Pass access. 

    American Express Platinum Credit Card 

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f46c3834726ce7207266a78″ id=”145855″]

    The American Express Platinum Credit Card offers some of the best features for airport lounge access. Keep in mind the same benefits accompany the American Express Platinum Business Credit Card, as well! 

    While many cards don’t have their own programs, AMEX runs the American Express Global Lounge Collection to bring their customers the best options on the market. Both cards give you unlimited annual access to all of the lounge benefits. 

    Since AMEX is a partner of many airport lounge networks, you can easily get into over 1,300 lounge locations in 140 different countries. Both primary and supplementary cardholders gain access to the amazing travel benefits from this credit card. 

    So, what exactly lounge access benefits of the Platinum Card? Here is a quick overview of everything you need to know. 

    • The Canadian Platinum card gives the cardholder, spouse, and up to two children, or one guest, access to all participating lounges in Canada. 
    • If you are flying with Delta, the primary cardholder will receive entrance to Delta Sky Clubs for free. Any guests that are with you can pay a reasonable entrance fee to get access. 
    • Full access for the cardholder and two guests to American Express Centurion lounges and Centurion Studio lounges. 
    • Free access to the global American Express partner lounges. Usually, guest access will vary by location, so make sure to check on the AMEX website beforehand. 
    • Complimentary access for the cardholder and one guest into all Plaza Premium Lounges. 
    • Free Priority Pass Membership with one bonus guest access per visit. We will be covering more about Priority Pass later on as well, so keep reading!
    • Airspace and Escape lounges are accessible for all cardholders and two additional guests. 

    The American Express Platinum Pass is definitely one of the most inclusive options for airport lounges. It may be a beneficial card to consider if you’re an avid traveller or often go on trips with the whole family. It’s simple to find all the lounges you have access to, so you can plan ahead for every trip! 

    Dragon Pass Membership with Airport Lounge Access 

    Visa and Mastercard just recently made the transition from Priority Pass to the Dragon Pass network. If you had previous priority passes you never used, unfortunately, they won’t roll over since we’ve passed the July 1st, 2022 deadline. 

    All cardholders receive a free membership and exclusive access, alongside the many travel benefits that come with these cards. Keep in mind that some cards put a limit on the annual number of visits allowed, but this can still be a great option for seasonal travellers. 

    Here is a list of all credit cards that provide Dragon Pass membership! Before gaining lounge access at the airport, make sure to enroll at or through the app. 

    Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card 

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f31a9ab92ec22115033b2c2″]

    According to Rewards Canada in 2019, this credit card was voted the #1 travel points credit card. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card comes with travel protection benefits and six free annual visits to airport lounges within the Dragon Pass membership guidelines. This card is also great for Canadian residents since there are no fees for foreign currency conversion. 

    TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Credit Card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5faebd6ecee9031232939393″]

    The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege credit card has a great points system to help you save on travel. Meanwhile, you’ll gain access to over 500 airport lounges worldwide. Since Visa has transitioned to Dragon Pass, you get six free annual visits a year. 

    Additionally, this credit card offers additional benefits if you travel with Air Canada. A primary cardholder and additional cardholders can access complimentary benefits at any Air Canada Maple Lounges in the US and Canada locations. You’ll also receive four annual one-time guest access benefits to a Maple Leaf Lounge.

    †Conditions apply. Visit the TD site to know all of the terms and conditions.

    BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card 

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5ff3cef15b6ac16a9cdc8c6a”]

    Visa Airport Companion gives you Dragon Pass access with the BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege card. Enjoy six complimentary airport lounge visits per year and plenty of other amazing travel benefits at hotels, restaurants, concierge services, and more. 

    BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard 

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f2aceacff76a21b40c68aa7″]

    The BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard is one of the only cards in Canada that offers a Dragon Pass membership and four additional free accesses to airport lounges. They claim to offer the highest rewards points for any premium flexible Canadian travel cards. 

    Credit Cards With Exclusive Bank Lounge Access 

    It’s important to note that all Canadian World and World Elite Mastercards receive free membership to the Mastercard Travel Pass Program. Even if they aren’t listed in this article, you will receive access benefits and discounts to over 1,300 global lounges and restaurants that correspond to the program. 

    National Bank World Elite Mastercard 

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f6238369021382b35bb250e”]

    If you are looking for a great travel MasterCard, the National Bank World Elite Mastercard is one to consider.  As a card holder, you’ll receive unlimited access to the National Bank Lounge at the Montreal Airport. While you have an opportunity to subscribe to Dragon Pass, you currently still have to pay for access with this card. 

    Desjardins Odyssey Visa Infinite Privilege Card

    Desjardins Odyssey Visa Infinite Privilege Card

    Annual Fee: $295 for members, $395 for nonmembers 
    Welcome Offer: No Welcome Offer

    The Desjardins Odyssey Visa Infinite Privilege Card gives you 12 free passes a year to the Desjardins Odyssey Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau Airport. The good news is after you use all your credits, you can still gain entrance for 50% whenever you need to. If you travel for business or leisure, bank lounges can be a great option for individuals that often frequent the same airports. 

    Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard

    Annual Fee: $130 
    Welcome Offer: No Welcome Offer

    Similar to the previous Desjardins Mastercard, the Odyssey World Elite provides you access to the bank lounge in Montreal up to eight times a year. Upon admission, you can enjoy unlimited snacks and beverages, magazines and newspapers, and free Wifi. However, this card does not offer discounts after exceeding your annual limit. 

    Credit Cards With Affiliate Lounge Access 

    We briefly mentioned the Maple Leaf Lounge earlier, which is located in over fifteen locations across Canada. There are three credit card institutions that currently partner with Air Canada including American Express, CIBC, and TD. If you are a primary or secondary cardholder of any of the following cards, you get unlimited access to the Maple Leaf Lounge. 

    Until the end of this year, you are also able to bring one guest with you for free. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Credit Card that we mentioned earlier is also available in this category. 

    CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card

    CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card

    Annual Fee: $599
    Welcome Offer: Up to 75,000 Aeroplan Points

    This credit card comes with a lot of cardholder perks including access to select Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafes, and six complementary card visits within the Visa Airport Companion Program. 

    Additional Ways to Access Airport Lounges For Free or at a Discount

    The best way to access airport lounges for free, save money, and optimize your finances is with travel credit cards. There are more options than what we covered today, but these are the top contenders available that are popular amongst Canadian travellers. 

    In addition to credit cards, you can purchase airline lounge access memberships to gain entry into a variety of airport lounges globally. Here are some examples of purchasable lounge programs for individuals on the go. 

    Air Canada Maple Leaf Club

    There are three different price packages that give you, or you and your spouse, access to the Maple Leaf lounges. You can choose between Canada, North America, or Worldwide access and pay an annual fee. However, the price can definitely get steep, especially considering there is still a limited pool of lounge locations. 

    If you’re interested in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Lounge, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to see if an eligible credit card may be more lucrative for you in the long run. 

    Alaska Airlines Lounge Membership 

    Alaska Airlines has two packages available for purchase. The first entrance into the Alaska Lounge is slightly more affordable, and grants you access to eight locations in the United States. If you buy the premium annual package, you can access these eight locations and 90 more partner lounges in affiliate airports. 

    However, if you’re just taking a short trip, it may be more financially savvy to purchase a one-day pass that gives you access to the lounges. For example, a special vacation with the family could be a great time to invest in additional lounge access. This option isn’t the most profitable for Canadian travellers that don’t frequent these cities. 

    American Airlines Admiral Club 

    The Admirals Club gives you access to over 90+ worldwide lounge locations. You can choose between four different package tiers to gain additional features, locations, and benefits. These packages are on the higher end, especially if you are purchasing for your entire household to have lounge access. 

    Delta SkyClub

    If you purchase annual Delta SkyClub access, you get unlimited yearly entrance into over 250 lounges around the globe. This membership is slightly more reasonable considering the flexibility of locations, especially if you are travelling Delta frequently. Buyers can opt for individual or executive membership, and even pay in monthly installments to lessen the financial burden. 

    United Club 

    United Club offers single-day passes and annual membership that grants you access to over 45 lounge locations worldwide. There are six different package options that give buyers an extra layer of flexibility, depending on the features you are considering.

    Access Airport Lounges For Free in Canada With Travel Credit Cards 

    Undoubtedly, the best way to access airport lounges for free in Canada is with a travel credit card. There are plenty of options available that offer exclusive features for different locations, amenities, and airlines. If you are looking into a Visa or MasterCard, be sure to check the details of their unique programs that align with access to airport lounges.

    Since they just recently moved away from the Platinum Pass, many of the facilities and locations have changed for cardholders. Nonetheless, if you’re interested in the Platinum Pass program, AMEX is a great card to look into further. 

    If you travel randomly to global locations, it’s recommended to get a flexible card that grants access to airport lounges in a variety of locations. On the other hand, bank lounge and airline lounge access with certain cards can still be beneficial if you travel to the same locations often. In the long run, a credit card will help you save expenses on travel, build your credit, and access airport lounges for free or at a discount whether you travel for business or pleasure.

    Choose the Right Card For Your Needs

    Many individuals who travel on business opt for inclusive travel credit cards to soak up the many lounge benefits. However, it’s a mutually great experience for families or couples looking to elevate their airport experience. 

    Before you commit to an airline lounge access program, make sure to explore the many credit card options that could supercharge your travel and financial gain long term. It’s always a good idea to do your research and compare credit cards to find the perfect option that meets all your needs. 

    When it comes to travel, you deserve to have an amazing experience before you even arrive at your destination. Credit cards often cover your membership and let you access elite lounges for free where you can luxuriate pre-flight in a private space. Hopefully, this article gave you some inspiration for Canadian credit cards to consider when searching for airport lounge benefits.

    Disclaimer: American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information, click the Apply Now link.

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    Maude Gauthier is a journalist for Hardbacon. Since completing her Ph.D. in communications at University of Montreal, she has been writing about finance, insurance and credit cards for companies like Fonds FMOQ and Code F. As a responsible user of credit cards, she can spend hours reading the fine print to fully understand their benefits. Because of their simplicity, she developed a preference for cash back cards. After suffering steep increases with her former insurer, she can now proudly say that she saved hundreds of dollars by shopping around for her auto and home insurance. In her free time, she reads novels and enjoys streaming popular shows (and possibly less popular shows, like animal documentaries).