Travel has become a part and parcel of our modern day lives. Individuals prefer to explore more and more places for pleasure. On the business front, though technological improvements like video conferencing and remote working are in place, travel still forms a part of an executive's routine. When we talk about travel, it certainly involves airports and spending long hours waiting for connecting flights in different time zones, which is definitely tiring and cumbersome.

One of the benefits of possessing a credit card is getting access to a lounge at airport. Lounges are present in some domestic airports and at all international airports and provide selected travelers comforts beyond those allowed at the airport terminal itself, such as more comfortable seating, calmer environments, and often better access to customer service representatives. Other facilities that are frequently provided at lounges may include private meeting rooms, access to internet, and other business service. Lounges are well equipped with provisions to enhance passenger comfort, such as free drinks, food, showers, massages and spa too.

Airport lounges are generally maintained by airlines and offer their business and first-class passengers free access to this facility. However, you do not have to travel by business class each time to get this benefit. There are many credit cards that offer you this benefit, that too free of cost.

We bring you a list of 5 best credit cards that offer free airport lounge access. Some of these cards offer Unlimited Access, while certain limit it. You can take your pick as per your needs.

HDFC Bank Diner's Club Black Card

This is a super premium credit card offered by HDFC Bank and offers a galore of benefits. The main features of the card are:

  • Unlimited complimentary access to 700+ international and domestic lounges all through the year. The access is complimentary only to the primary cardholder

  • Access to book airline tickets and hotels on its exclusive website

  • Redemption of points to book air tickets @ 1 reward point = Re 1

  • Exclusive 24/7 Concierge Services on Your HDFC Bank Diners Club Credit Card

  • Air Accident Cover of INR 2 Crore

  • Foreign Currency Markup of 2%

  • Monthly salary of Rs 1.75 lakhs or Annual Income of Rs 21 lakhs (Self-Employed) allows you to apply for the card

  • Annual membership fee of Rs 5000, the renewal fee is waived off on spending of Rs 5 lakh in a year

Citi Prestige Card

This is also a Premier credit card issued by Citibank India offering highest levels of service, travel upgrades and other benefits. 

  • Unlimited complimentary Priority PassTM lounge access at over 800 airports for primary and supplementary card members

  • 10,000 bonus air miles and vouchers/card worth Rs 10,000 from Taj Group or ITC Hotels, every year*

  • Enjoy elevated status on the loyalty programs of CitiBank's  global partner - Taj Group

  • With Citi Prestige credit card, your nominee or supplementary cardmember will get a cover of Rs 50,000,000 in the unfortunate incident of an air accident

  • Foreign Currency Markup fee of 3%

  • The card carries an Annual Fee of Rs 20000

ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card

ICICI Bank Emeralde is a recently introduced card that provides benefits in line with other premium cards as listed above. Main features of the card are:

  • Unlimited international lounge access is offered on this card at 450 lounges outside India, and unlimited domestic airport spa access. This is through the DragonPass membership.

  • The card allows Unlimited domestic lounge access with Amex and MasterCard at lounges located at Bangalore, Kolkata, Cochin, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Goa.

  • ICICI Bank Emeralde Amex variant can also get complimentary wi-fi at airports and in-flight with Boingo. 

  • You get up to 50% off on Gym memberships at Golds Gym company owned gyms in Mumbai and Pune and a free dietician consultation.

  • ICICI Emeralde levies the lowest currency conversion fee of 1.5%

  • The card offers Air Accident Insurance Cover of Rs 3 crores

  • The card is linked to PayBack Reward Points

  • 24/7 Concierge Service currently available in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai only

  • The card has a eligibility criteria of an income of Rs 30 lakh p.a and comes at a annual fee of Rs 12000.

The cards mentioned above have unlimited lounge access. We have also selected 2 cards that allow limited access to lounges for the benefit of those who have limited travel. 

HDFC Bank Regalia Card

Regalia Card from HDFC Bank comes with a host of benefits but does not offer unlimited access to lounges. The main features of the card are:

  • Get a complimentary Priority Pass Membership for preferential access to over 1000+ airport lounges around the world. The add-on member is also eligible for a Priority Pass membership.

  • The Primary cardholder and the add-on member can jointly avail 6 complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges outside India in a calendar year. 

  • For Lounge visits within India, Regalia Primary Cardholders can avail 12 complimentary lounge access per calendar year through Regalia Visa/Mastercard Credit Card Lounge program.

  • Cardholders could experience the Good Food Trail Dining program at premium restaurants across top cities. 

  • Earn 4 Reward Points* for every 150 spent on your HDFC Bank Regalia Credit Card which you could redeem for travel bookings or choose from their catalog of rewards

  • Enjoy lowest foreign currency mark up of 2% on all your foreign currency spends.

  • As an HDFC Bank Regalia Credit Card customer, you can customize your travel and entertainment experiences with their Travel Concierge Assistance.

  • In case of death in an Air accident, your nominated kin will receive a compensation of Rs. 1 Crore 

  • Protection worth up to Rs. 15 lakhs against any medical emergency when you are traveling and are outside your home country.

  • Salaried card holders should have an income of Rs 1.2 lakhs p.m and the criteria for self-employed is income of Rs 12 lakh p.a

  • First-year membership comes at Rs 2500, subsequent membership fee is waived of on spending of Rs 3 lakh in a year. 

SBI Elite Credit Card

Elite is also a premium card with limited access to airport lounges with main features as follows.

  • Complimentary membership to the Priority Pass Program worth $99

  • 6 complimentary Airport Lounge visits per year outside India (max. 2 visits per quarter) W.e.f. 1st July 2017

  • Access over 1000 Airport Lounges worldwide

  • Enjoy 2 complimentary Domestic Airport Lounge visits every quarter in India

  • You could also enjoy complimentary Club Vistara Silver membership

  • Enjoy complimentary Trident Privilege Red Tier membership   

  • Get exclusive 1,000 Welcome Points on registration

  • Your SBI Card ELITE offers you the privilege of the lowest Foreign Currency Mark-up Charge of 1.99% on International usage.

  • Exclusive assistance with gift delivery, customized holiday packages, movie & hotel reservations

  • This card comes with a Joining Fee and Renewal Fee of Rs 4999/-

  • Air Accident Cover of Rs 1 Crore

End Note

It is good to note that each card comes with its own set of eligibility criteria and benefits. Apply for one only after you do a clear research how it meets your needs and other usage criteria.