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9 Best Travel Credit Cards With Airport Lounge Access in Canada 2023

I love relaxing in an airport lounge before a flight, and free access to airport lounges is one of the best perks offered by several premium credit cards in Canada.

In this guide, I look closely at what it involves, including its pros and cons, the different airport lounge programs available in Canada, and the best travel credit cards that provide access to lounges.

Key Takeaways

  • Airport lounge access is a perk included with a few premium credit cards from Amex, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC.
  • There are three main airport lounge programs in Canada: the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges, DragonPass, and the Amex Global Lounge Collection.
  • Before applying for a lounge access credit card in Canada, there are pros and cons to consider.

Best Lounge Access Credit Cards in Canada

Here are nine of the best travel cards in Canada that include airport lounge access along with several other travel perks:

1. The Platinum Card by American Express

American Express Platinum Card

Top credit card for VIP perks

Annual fee: $799 (and $250 annual fee for additional cards)

Rewards: Earn 2x Membership Rewards Points on dining and food delivery, 2x pts. on travel and 1x pts. on everything else.

Welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus points if you spend $10,000 in the first 3 months, plus an extra 30,000 points if you spend between 14 and 17 months of Cardmembership.

Interest rates: Variable (charge card)

Minimum income requirement: N/A

Recommended credit score:
760
900

Very Good

American Express Platinum Card

On Amex’s website

  • Earn 2x Membership Rewards Points on food delivery and dining purchases.
  • Earn 2x points on travel purchases.
  • Earn 1x points on other purchases.
  • Use earned points to save on almost any purchase.
  • No preset spending limit.
  • Get a $200 annual travel credit on American Express Travel Online.
  • Get a $200 annual dining credit at some of Canada’s best restaurants.
  • Get access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the world.
  • Engraved and precision-cut metal card.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits are included.
  • American Express® Experiences, including Front of the Line Presales, Retail, Dining, and Wellness benefits.
  • Shopping coverage protects eligible purchases.

Earn up to 2x Membership Rewards Points

Use points to save on almost anything

Packed with premium perks

Engraved metal card

Very high annual fee

High annual fee for additional cards

The American Express Platinum Card is a premium card packed with benefits. It allows you to earn up to 2x Membership Rewards Points, which can then be used to save money on other purchases. It also comes with many premium perks, like access to airport lounges and comprehensive travel insurance coverage.

The Platinum Card includes unlimited access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, with over 1,300 airport lounges in 140 countries.

It has an annual fee of $799, and you can earn Amex points on all purchases, including 2x points on dining and food delivery and 2x points on travel.

It also comes with a $200 annual travel credit, a $200 annual dining credit, and complimentary benefits at selected hotels and resorts, making it an excellent option for travellers.

2. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

Best for no FX fees and travel perks

Annual fee: $150

Rewards: Earn 3x Scene+ points on eligible grocery purchases, 2x pts. on dining, entertainment and transit, and 1x pts. on everything else.

Welcome offer: Up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and no annual fee for the first year.

Interest rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.

Minimum income requirement: $60,000

Recommended credit score:
760
900

Very Good

scotiabank passport visa infinite card

On Scotiabank’s website

  • Earn 3x Scene+ points for shopping at select grocery stores, including Sobeys and Safeway.
  • Earn 2x points on dining, select grocery stores, entertainment venues and eligible transit options.
  • Earn 1 point for all other eligible purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases overseas.
  • Includes Avis® Preferred Plus membership.
  • Access to over 1,200 global airport lounges with the Visa Airport Companion Program.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits are included.
  • A minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 is required.

Earn up to 3x Scene+ points

No foreign transaction fees

Premium perks like travel insurance included

High-income requirement of $60,000

$150 annual fee

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is a great option for anyone who wants to earn Scene+ points on their purchases. Zero foreign exchange fees, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, and Visa Airport Companion Program membership also make it a good option for travelers.

Get access to the Visa Airport Companion Program with this card. You get six free visits to airport lounges annually, with over 1,200 lounges worldwide, including Plaza Premium Lounges.

You need a minimum income of $60,000 or a minimum family income of $100,000 to apply for the card. The fee is $150 annually, with 20.99% APR on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.

Other perks include no FX fees and the ability to earn Scene+ points. In addition, you will get 3x points at various grocery stores and 2x on dining, entertainment, and daily transit.

3. Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card

Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card

Top premium credit card for airline lounge access

Annual fee: $399

Rewards: Earn 2X Scene+ points on all eligible purchases and 3X points on travel purchased via Scene+ Travel.

Welcome offer: Earn up to 60,000 bonus Scene+ points.

Interest rates: 9.99% on both purchases and cash advances.

Minimum income requirement: $12,000

Recommended credit score:
760
900

Very Good

Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card

On Scotiabank’s website

  • Earn double Scene+ points (2X) on all eligible purchases.
  • Earn 3X Scene+ points on travel bookings made through Scene+ Travel.
  • Relax with 10 complimentary airport lounge passes each year.
  • Enjoy exclusive access to tickets, virtual events, live performances, and more through American Express Invites.
  • Access various travel insurance benefits, including emergency medical, baggage, car rental, and trip delay insurance.
  • Receive complimentary Gold membership to the Hertz #1 Club.
  • Never pay foreign transaction fees.
  • Minimum credit limit is $10,000.

Very competitive purchase APR at 9.99%

2X points on ALL purchases

No foreign transaction fees

High annual fee at $399

Minimum credit limit of $10,000 may be restrictive

The Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card offers a highly competitive purchase APR and a robust points program with solid travel benefits for those willing to pay its annual fee. It is an excellent card for frequent travelers who would make the most of its benefits.

This is another favourite card that gives you 10 free visits to airport lounges each year in the Priority Pass and Plaza Premium programs. You can enter with a travel companion, but they take up one of your free visits.

The annual fee is $399, with a low-interest rate of 9.99% on purchases and cash advances.

You can also earn 2x Scene+ points on all eligible purchases, and it has no FX fees, access to premium concierge services, and travel insurance coverage.

4. BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

Good BMO travel credit card

Annual fee: $150

Rewards: Earn BMO Rewards points on every purchase you make with the card.

Interest rates: 20.99% for purchases and 23.99% for advances for non-Quebec residents, and 21.99% for Quebec residents.

Minimum income requirement: $80,000 for the primary cardholders or $150,000 for a household.

Recommended credit score:
650
900

Good

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

On BMO’s website

  • Earn 5X the points on eligible travel purchases.
  • Earn 3X the points for every $1.00 spent on dining, entertainment, or recurring payments.
  • Earn 1X the points for every $1.00 spent anywhere else.
  • Airport lounge access via free membership in Mastercard Travel Pass.
  • Travel insurance for up to 21 days and medical coverage for $2 million.
  • Redeem BMO Reward Points for travel purchases or even contribute them to a BMO investment account.
  • The annual fee is waived in the first year for all cardholders.
  • The supplemental cardholder fee is $50.00 per card after the first year.
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • 24/7 access to BMO’s experienced concierge staff.
  • Save up to 25% on car rentals at National Car Rental or Alamo Rent a Car.
  • Get 15% off Cirque Du Soleil shows in Canada or 20% off in Las Vegas.
  • Gain access to over 1 million WiFi Hotspots around the world through Boingo WiFi for Mastercard Cardholders.
  • Minimum income of $80,000 for the primary cardholders or $150,000 for a household.

Extensive BMO Rewards Points program

Excellent travel perks

No annual fee for the first year

Higher minimum income requirement

Annual and supplemental fees after the first year

Aside from the annual fee after the first year, the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard is the total package. The extensive BMO Rewards Points system provides incentives to use this card regularly. Enjoy a vast offering of travel incentives and perks as well.

Get free membership of Mastercard Travel Pass lounges with four free passes each year with this card.

You will need a minimum personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 to apply, and the APR is 20.99% on purchases and 23.99% on cash advances.

You can also earn 5x BMO Rewards points on travel purchases and 3x points on entertainment, dining, and recurring bills. In addition, you can redeem points for discounts on travel purchases. It also includes travel insurance coverage.

5. BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card

BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege

Excellent travel rewards card

Annual fee: $499

Rewards: Earn 5x rewards points for every $1 you spend on dining, groceries, gas, travel, and drugstore purchases. Earn 25% more points on all purchases when you add an additional card user. Receive a $200 annual lifestyle credit.

Interest rates: 20.99% for purchases and 23.99% for cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents).

Minimum income requirement: $150,000 minimum income and $200,000 household income.

Recommended credit score:
660
900

Good

BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege

On BMO’s website

  • Earn 5x points on daily purchases, including groceries, dining out and takeouts, gas, travel, and drugstore purchases.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on anything else.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage included.
  • Visa Infinite Privilege included 6 free airport lounge visits each year, priority airport parking, access to the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, and more.
  • Mobile Device Insurance is included.
  • Purchases covered by Purchase Security Insurance.
  • Extended Warranty Insurance is included on purchases.
  • $150,000 minimum income and $200,000 household income required.

Earn rewards points for shopping

Packed with premium perks

Includes travel insurance coverage

High minimum income requirement

Expensive annual fee

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege is a premium rewards card. It has a high annual fee and income requirement, but in return, you can earn lots of reward points, especially with the option to earn 5x points bonus in several key categories. It is also packed with premium perks like travel insurance.

This credit card gives you Visa Airport Companion membership with six free annual airport lounge visits.

The annual fee is $499, and you need a personal income of $150,000 or a household income of $200,000 to apply. It also has an APR of 20.99% for purchases and 23.99% for cash advances.

Earn 5x BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, gas, travel, and drugstore purchases, and you can use points to get discounts on spending.

This card also includes travel insurance coverage, a $200 annual lifestyle credit, and other Visa Infinite privileges, including a priority security lane.

6. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Best travel credit card in Canada

Annual fee: $120

Rewards: Earn up to 6x Scene+ points on groceries, 5x pts. on dining, food delivery, & entertainment, 3x pts. on gas, and 1x pts. on everything else.

Welcome offer: Get up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in the first 12 months.

Interest rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.

Minimum income requirement: $12,000

Recommended credit score:
660
900

Good

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

On Scotiabank’s website

  • Zero foreign transaction fees when travelling overseas or shopping abroad.
  • Earn 6x Scene+ points at select grocery stores, including Sobeys and Safeway.
  • Earn 5x points on dining or food delivery at select stores and restaurants as well as select movies, theatres and ticket agencies.
  • Earn 3x points on eligible gas and transit purchases.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 CAD spent on eligible purchases.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits and extended warranty protection are included.
  • Priority Pass™ membership discount to access VIP lounges.
  • Amex Offers® including deals on shopping, travel and dining.
  • Access to Front Of The Line® presale tickets to concerts, restaurants and events.
  • Minimum annual income of $12,000 required.

Earn up to 6x Scene+ point

Lots of premium perks included

No foreign transaction fees

Low income eligibility at $12,000

Expensive annual fee

$29 fee for each additional card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card provides a great opportunity to earn Scene+ points on all purchases and extra points on select purchases. Its zero foreign transaction fees and travel insurance coverage make it a good choice for travellers.

Get a discount on Priority Pass membership and access over 1,200 airport lounges with this card.

The annual fee is $120, and the APR is 20.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.

You will earn 6x Scene+ points at Sobeys, Safeway, and other grocery stores, 5x points on dining and entertainment, and 3x points on gas, transit, and streaming services.

It also has no FX fees and includes other benefits like complimentary concierge services and Amex Offers.

7. CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

Great for travel insurance

Annual fee: $139

Rewards: Earn 2 points on every $1 spent on travel purchases.

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.

Minimum income requirement: A minimum annual individual income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.

Recommended credit score:
660
900

Good or better

On CIBC’s website

  • Earn 2 points per dollar on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre.
  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on eligible gas station, grocery store, and drug store purchases.
  • Save up 10 cents per litre on eligible gas purchases. 
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Access various travel insurance benefits, including emergency medical, flight delay and baggage, hotel burglary, and rental car insurance.
  • Redeem points to cover full airfare, including taxes and fees.
  • A minimum annual individual income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000 is required to apply.

More points on high-spend categories

Comprehensive suite of travel insurance benefits

Points redeemable for airfare

Minimum income requirement may be restrictive

Travel must be booked through the card’s rewards centre

High purchase APR at 20.99%

The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card offers a flexible travel rewards program that’s great for frequent travelers and those who will maximize its points system. It also includes a solid list of insurance coverages while still maintaining a reasonable annual fee.

With this card, you can access the Visa Airport Companion Program with four complimentary lounge visits each year.

You need a personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000 to apply, and it costs $139 per year. The APR is 20.99% for purchases and 22.99% for cash advances.

You can also earn Aventura Points when you spend on this card. You’ll get 2 points for every $1 spent on travel via the CIBC Rewards Centre, 1.5 points on gas, electric vehicle charging, groceries, and drugstores, and 1 point for everything else.

You can redeem points for flights and hotels or pay down your credit card balance, and you will also get access to Visa Infinite Exclusive Offers.

Learn more about CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card.

8. American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

Premium travel credit card

Annual fee: $599

Rewards: Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Air Canada purchases. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining. Earn 1.25 points per $1 spent on everything else.

Welcome offer: Earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan points.

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advance.

Minimum income requirement: No minimum income requirements.

Recommended credit score:
660
900

Good

American Express aeroplan reserve card

On Amex’s website

  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Air Canada flights or Air Canada Vacation Packages.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on food delivery and dining purchases.
  • Earn 1.25 points per $1 spent on everything else.
  • $100 Nexus statement credit every 4 years.
  • Travel perks such as free checked bags, priority check-in and boarding, and access to Maple Leaf Lounges.
  • Insurance for instances including flight delay, stolen baggage, and baggage delay.

No minimum income requirements

Comprehensive travel insurance

Access to Maple Leaf Lounges across Canada

High annual fees

Some vendors do not accept American Express

Travel benefits are limited to Air Canada

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card offers several great travel benefits. While many of those benefits are limited to passengers on Air Canada flights, other benefits such as comprehensive insurance and the Nexus statement credit make this a great all-around card for frequent travelers.

The benefits of this card are focused on Air Canada, including access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest, as well as Priority Pass access with over 1,200 lounges.

The annual fee is $599, and the APR is 20.99% for purchases.

You can also earn Aeroplan points when you spend using this card. This includes earning up to 3x points on Air Canada purchases, 2x points on dining and delivery, and 1.25x points on everything else.

It also comes with perks, including priority check-in and boarding for you and up to eight companions, travel insurance coverage, and more.

Learn more about the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card in this explainer.

9. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card

You can access Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada and the United States with this credit card.

The fee is $599 annually, with an APR of 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances. There is also a minimum income requirement of $150,000 or a minimum household income of $200,000 to apply.

You can also earn Aeroplan points when you spend on the card, including two points for every $1 spent with Air Canada. You can also access Priority Airport Services, including priority boarding and baggage handling.

Airport Lounge Access Programs in Canada

There are several airport lounge access programs in Canada. Here are three of the most important:

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges

This is Air Canada’s airport lounge program. It provides access to 16 lounges in Europe and North America, including at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which I can personally confirm is excellent.

The lounges can only be used by departing customers flying with Air Canada or Star Alliance partners.

Inside, you’ll find quiet zones, food and drink, free WiFi, showers, relaxing seating, and more so you can relax before your flight.

DragonPass

DragonPass provides Visa and Mastercard airport lounge access programs. It includes the Visa Airport Companion Program and Mastercard Travel Pass.

The program includes access to different lounges, including Plaza Premium lounges across Canada and other programs worldwide, like Aspire Lounges. There are over 1,200 worldwide.

Facilities vary, but the lounges typically include showers, free WiFi, business centres, snacks and drinks.

Amex Global Lounge Collection

American Express offers the Amex Global Lounge Collection. It includes access to several lounge programs, including Centurion Lounges, International American Express Lounges, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, Delta Sky Club Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges, and Lufthansa Lounges.

Centurion Lounges are premium lounges, but they are only for a select few card holders, and not everyone can access them.

Methodology:

I chose the best cards on this list based on several factors, primarily the access they provide to airport lounges in Canada and worldwide. I also looked at other factors like annual fees, interest rates, application requirements, and other rewards and perks.

What is a Lounge Access Credit Card?

A lounge access credit card is a card that includes access to airport lounges as one of its perks.

Airport lounges can make a trip more relaxing by providing somewhere to unwind, grab a drink, or even shower, making them a very popular feature on credit cards.

Several cards include this feature, including the nine best cards listed above. But the access they provide varies. There are different airport lounge programs, and you may be restricted to a set number of visits each year.

Advantages of Travel Credit Cards

  • Earn points for discounts on flights, hotels, car rentals, and more.
  • Get complimentary access to airport lounges around the world.
  • Premium perks are often included, like travel insurance coverage and hotel upgrades.
  • You can often redeem points for other non-travel-related purchases.
  • Many cards come with no FX fees.

Downsides of Travel Credit Cards

  • Premium travel cards often have high annual fees.
  • Some may come with restrictions on how you redeem your rewards.
  • There are often limits on the number of free airport lounge visits.
  • The rewards may not be worth it unless you travel regularly.

How to Choose a Travel Credit Card for Lounge Access

If you are especially interested in a travel card that includes lounge access, I’d first recommend exploring the different cards available.

Look at which airport lounges are included in the program. If you frequently travel via a particular airport, you’ll want to ensure you can use a lounge there.

Also, consider how many visits you are permitted. For example, you may be restricted to six free visits a year, or it may be unlimited. Choose your card based on how many times you expect to use the lounge.

Then, there are other factors to consider, including the annual fee, additional rewards and perks included, interest rate, and other standard features of the card, all of which can help you make a decision.

How to Apply for a Travel Credit Card

Applying for a travel credit card is a straightforward process. First, make sure you qualify for the card in question. There may be a minimum income requirement, and you will likely need a good credit score.

When you have chosen your card, you can normally apply online. Some have immediate approval, and you will usually need to provide a form of ID and your personal details.

You may prefer to apply at your local bank branch. In this case, you may need to book an appointment, but it depends on the bank. You may also be able to apply over the phone.

Once your application has been approved, you will receive your card, and you can start using it to earn points and get access to airport lounges when you travel.

Should You Get a Travel Credit Card?

Whether you should get a travel credit card or not depends on how often you travel. If you are constantly jetting off to new places, a travel card can make good sense. You can use the perks to make your travel experience more enjoyable.

Free airport lounge access is just one of the perks offered. You may also get discounts on rental cars and hotels, travel insurance coverage, free miles, and more.

Your decision may depend on the cost of the card. Many premium cards have annual fees of a few hundred dollars. If you can save more than the annual fee, applying for a travel card can be a good idea.

FAQs

Is lounge access free with a Visa card?

It depends on the card, but many premium Visa travel credit cards include airport lounge access as one of the perks.

How can I get free international airport lounge access?

If you have a credit card that provides airport lounge access as one of the perks, you can often access the lounges for free when you travel.

Can economy class use the lounge?

You can use an airport lounge if it is included as a perk on your travel credit card, even if you are travelling economy.

Are airport lounges worth it?

Many people find that airport lounges help them to relax and prepare for their flight in comfort, which makes them worth it.

What is the best airport lounge access program?

The most premium airport lounge access program is the American Express Centurion Program. However, other programs like DragonPass provide access to hundreds of lounges globally and are very popular.

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in Forbes, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, CBC News, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, and many other personal finance publications. You can learn more about him on the About Page.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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