Truth be told, this method is one that is so obvious and doesn’t involve any crazy travel hacks or extreme cleverness.
Now, although the thing itself is fairly easy to do, the financials around the savviest and most effective way to do it might not be quite as obvious.
This, in essence, is what got me to write down this post because once you sit down to think about it, it starts to make a bit more sense.
Finding Comfort When You Travel
All of this boils down to the lounges at airports really. Airport lounges are generally more comfortable spaces in the airports with drinks (yes, even alcoholic ones), food, showers, internet, magazines and many other creature comforts (some even have sleeping pods and massage areas) that make your transit time fly by and your journeys so much more.
We’d actually started paying for lounge access intermittently – which, when you consider how much you would have spent on a meal (with dessert and a few drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic) worked out to be fairly similar to just going to the regular airport restaurants, except the lounges are way more comfortable and there’s no limit on how much you can eat or drink!
For how much we travel, we didn’t actually stumble on this totally brilliant way to get access to limitless airport lounge access (all over the world!) until we were on a trip to Japan and South Korea with our group of friends.
Our trips started off, in different countries to begin with (some of us went to the Basque Country, others to China), before meeting up in Seoul and carrying on to Tokyo. It was on the way to Tokyo when, our friends suggested we ALL check into the lounge at the airport for FREE, that the penny finally dropped.
So, seeing as it was a fairly short flight between Seoul and Tokyo (a little over 2 hours, if I recall correctly), we were on Economy tickets and had no lounge access, I remember thinking to myself. They then introduced us to Priority Pass – a card which grants you lounge access all across the world.
So Here’s The Problem…
I then had a closer look at the Priority Pass website but here’s the thing – Priority Pass is not free and costs a fair bit of money to get some decent value out of it.
There is a pay-as-you-go option which was the cheapest but you had to pay a fee every time you visited. Granted, the fee you pay is a discounted fee but that just didn’t feel like it provided as much value. This pay-as-you-go option also didn’t let you bring in guests for free – you still had to pay for them every time you visited.
Then there was the (higher-priced) intermediate level which let you have 10 free visits a year and then basically defaulted you right back to the pay-as-you-go level. Guests are also not allowed for free – even within the 10 visits, you always have to pay for guests every time. This still didn’t feel quite right, value-wise.
The highest level (almost double the price of the intermediate level), let you in all year for ‘free’ i.e. no fee with each entry but you still have to pay for guests every time. The fact that you get limitless lounge access kinda made a bit more sense I guess but when we were in Tokyo, our friends were going to get us ALL in the lounge for free so their Priority Pass card was a much better deal than this.
By the way, all the 3 Priority Pass cards options above are for just 1 person.
And Here’s The Solution…
Confused by how they were able to get us all in the lounge for no fee, my friends then elaborated further.
Rather than go to Priority Pass directly, they signed up for an American Express (Amex) Platinum Card which does comes at a fee but then gives you an amazing Priority Pass card, for you AND for one other person (2 for 1) – both of which then also allow you sign in guests for free all year round.
Fundamentally, with just one Amex Platinum Card, you can get year-round access to airport lounges across the world for up to 4 people! (You can use the lounge access at Departures, In-Transits, On Arrivals…essentially anytime you’re in an airport).
Then, of course, there were the fringe benefits of having the Amex… AND the fact that you get money back (quite literally) on everything you spend (*my feelings on this are that you were going to spend the money already anyway, you might as well get something back for it).
You get stuff like Coachella VIP tickets and Glastonbury VIP tickets all handled at bargain prices! Not to mention discounts on pretty much everything and anything (I’ve gotten discounts using this card even without realising it till after I’d booked and was left wondering why it cost less than the quoted price 😆).
With the Amex card, I signed up just for the lounge access but the extras are definitely worth it, in and of themselves!
Here’s the thing though – there is a cost for the Amex Platinum Card (like I mentioned above). It ain’t free!
The Amex card does however, cost less than if the two of us were to get individual Priority Pass cards (as the limitless Priority Pass cards come free once you have the Amex Platinum Card) and so much more less than if we then had to sign in guests (again free with the special Priority Pass you get with the Amex Platinum Card but not free if you go to Priority Pass directly).
Financially, it just made sense to spend the money that we would have spent on the Priority Pass and instead go for the Amex!
Best part – after a year of using it, the cash back I’ve gotten from it from just regular day-to-day spending (which I’d never have gotten if I didn’t have the Amex) ended up paying for the Amex fee several times over – essentially making the Amex, Priority Pass and all the extra benefits not just free but actually having made me money!
This Is The Best Way To Do It!
You could just sign up directly but you actually get loads of points if you sign up from a referral (which literally translates to cash as soon as you get your points). Currently, I think it’s something like 35,000 points – which is pretty huge!
I signed up using my friend’s referral so if you have friends or family that already have the Amex Platinum Card (it has to be the Amex Platinum Card as that’s the one with the benefits), then you can use their referral link as you both get points when you sign up – leaving you cash-up as soon as you start.
If you don’t know anyone with a referral you can use, don’t worry – I got you! 😁 You can use my referral link here to sign up – which means both you and I get ‘sign-up’ points. (Don’t worry – you still get your full 35,000 points 😃).
For full transparency, I would like to say though I have no horse in this race or any vested interest in Amex or Priority Pass whatsoever. I just found that given the amount of travel we do, having lounge access at our disposal all across the world has been something of a game changer.
I’d wanted to write this post for a while but kept procrastinating till just right now and figured I might as well do it – especially so as I’m in the second year of my Amex card and have a lot more visibility around the benefits of having the card after over a year’s use of it!
If you do sign up, or indeed, if you already own one, let me know what you think below in the comments! 😀