LoungeBuddy: You Need This Tool If You Love Airport Lounges
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LoungeBuddy is a useful platform for air travelers. Not only does it allow you to see which lounges you can access with your credit cards and elite statuses, but it also displays reviews and photos — and, at some lounges, allows you to book day passes directly through the app.
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Once you spend a layover in an airport lounge, you might start looking at the hectic milieu of the general terminal in a different light.
And once you’ve spent a few layovers in an airport lounge, you might get even pickier — and start trying to find the best lounges with the fastest WiFi, fanciest food, and most abundant outlets in any given airport. (Not that I know from experience…)
Enter LoungeBuddy. Not only does this platform allow you to read reviews and compare airport lounges, but it also allows you to see which are accessible through your roster of credit cards. At some lounges, you can even purchase day passes directly through the app.
Here’s what you need to know about this useful tool.
What Is LoungeBuddy?
“Delays, cancellations, diversions, and misconnects are never within our control, but having a place to make the most of your time in the airport is,” its about page explains. “Airport lounges provide an escape, functioning as the last bastion of comfort and tranquility for travelers. LoungeBuddy was created as your answer to finding a place to relax, be productive, freshen up, or just get away from it all.”
Rather than operating its own lounges, LoungeBuddy serves as a directory for air travelers, offering maps, hours, ratings, reviews, and photos of hundreds of lounges.
At a limited number of locations, you can even buy lounge passes directly through LoungeBuddy — though, since American Express acquired the company in March 2019, you must have an Amex card to do so.
How to Use LoungeBuddy
Since many lounges don’t sell day passes on LoungeBuddy, and since you need an Amex card if they do, does that mean LoungeBuddy’s useless? Far from it. Where the platform really shines is as a research and travel tool.
Here are three ways to use LoungeBuddy to your advantage:
1. Pinpoint Your Lounge Access
Once you download the LoungeBuddy app, be sure to add your credit cards, airline elite statuses, and lounge memberships. (Don’t worry: It doesn’t ask for the actual card numbers.)
That way, when you arrive at an airport, you can open the app and quickly see which lounges you can access, and how much each will cost. This is particularly helpful to users who may have lounge membership through a range of different avenues.
If you love to plan ahead, you can also “create a trip” to preview the lounges you can enter at the airports through which you’ll be traveling. You can even purchase day passes up to two months ahead of time, but that seems risky given the unpredictable nature of air travel.
If you have more questions about how LoungeBuddy works, don’t hesitate to visit its support page — it’s full of helpful answers.
2. Compare Lounges
Using LoungeBuddy means you don’t have to shoot in the dark when choosing where to spend your layover.
The platform allows you to easily compare lounges with its straightforward rating system, which goes from “basic” to “solid,” “fresh,” and “luxe.” You’ll also be able to check lounge reviews and photos from fellow travelers, as well as compare prices for day passes.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a specific terminal or amenity — like premium food or showers — you can filter your search to find the lounge that best fits your needs.
Bummer alert! If you have an Android phone (like me), you’ll be limited to the web platform. While it has reviews, photos, and lounge booking, it doesn’t allow detailed searches or the addition of credit cards and elite statuses.
3. Book Day Passes
If you don’t have lounge access through any of your credit cards or statuses, you may be able to purchase a day pass directly through the LoungeBuddy app — as long as you pay with an Amex card. You can select a duration from three to eight hours; most passes range between $25 and $50.
The downside is that only a limited number of lounges sell passes through LoungeBuddy. For example, here are the U.S. locations — even at these, not all lounges are bookable through LoungeBuddy. Take Newark, where only 2 of 14 lounges can be booked through the platform.
Still, we think LoungeBuddy is a valuable tool. Even if you can’t purchase your day pass through the app, you can still decide which lounge you’re going to visit — and then simply pay your one-time fee in person.
LoungeBuddy vs. Priority Pass
If you’re interested in lounges — and credit card rewards — you’ve probably heard of Priority Pass, too. Although both offer access to lounges, they work quite differently.
Priority Pass is a paid membership program: You pay an annual fee, and then have free access to more than 1,200 affiliated lounges across the globe. Its app only shows Priority Pass lounges, and its review and search functions aren’t as robust. Several credit cards offer a complimentary Priority Pass membership as one of their perks.
LoungeBuddy, on the other hand, is more of a research tool. It costs nothing to join, and its platform displays all of the lounges in a given airport. While it doesn’t allow you to access airport lounges for free, it does show each lounge’s access requirements — and tells you which are compatible with the credit cards in your wallet. For a select few, it also allows you to purchase day passes without leaving the platform.
Which Credit Cards Work Best With LoungeBuddy?
Our favorites are:
- American Express® Green Card (Review)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review)
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Review)
As far as we know, this is the only travel credit card with explicit LoungeBuddy perks. It comes with $100 in LoungeBuddy credits per calendar year, which would probably get you into at least two airport lounges. If you already have lounge access through another card, you could use the LoungeBuddy credits for your guests, or to pay for premium upgrades such as massages, showers, or manicures.
This card has the best airport lounge access of any we’ve seen. With it, you’ll get into a slew of lounges, including Priority Pass, Amex Centurion lounges, Escape, Air Space, Plaza Premium, and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta). To keep track of all those different memberships, LoungeBuddy can be a lifesaver. Once you’ve added your Platinum card to your profile, you’ll quickly be able to see which lounges you can access at any given airport.
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
This is one of our favorite travel cards, and for good reason. It comes with a raft of high-end features, one of which is Priority Pass membership. Though it’s far less to keep track of than with the Amex Platinum, it’s still nice to use LoungeBuddy to compare lounges — and plan ahead for the airports where there’s no Priority Pass lounge available. The Citi Prestige® Card (Review) offers similar perks.
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The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
For an affordable avenue into airport lounges, this credit card offers 10 free Priority Pass visits per year. Although the membership isn’t unlimited, as with the Platinum and Reserve cards, this card’s annual fee is only a fraction of the others’. Not to mention, with 6X points at U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations, it provides solid earnings on everyday expenses.
While broad travel cards work best for most people, brand loyalists might want to consider these cards, too — all of which offer lounge access on their affiliated airline.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (Review)
- United Club℠ Infinite Card (Review)
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Review)
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
Is LoungeBuddy Worth a Look?
If you’re interested in visiting an airport lounge on your next trip, we’d say LoungeBuddy is a good tool to have in your arsenal. Even if you don’t purchase a day pass through the platform, it can still provide valuable intel on airport lounges around the world, helping you make the most of each and every layover.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.
Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.
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