15 Best Credit Cards in India for Airport Lounge access

By | July 24, 2019

If you’re a frequent flyer, you might already know that Air Travel is not so a luxury thing to do unless you travel Business/First Class. Most of the time when you travel economy, you end up losing energy by the time you land. Added to this, you go through an unpleasant experience at the airport with never ending noise, expensive food, not so great Wi-fi and not so comfortable seats.

But what if I say there is a way to enjoy unlimited food, juices, comfortable chairs and a calm atmosphere with premium Wi-fi at FREE of cost? That’s what you get in an Airport Lounge. And to access such airport lounges, you need the right credit cards in your wallet with complimentary lounge access benefit.

Miracle Lounge at Bangkok Airport (BKK)

Let’s have a look at some of the widely used credit cards for airport lounge access. I’ve listed the cards from low fee to high fee range, so you can make a wise decision. Feel free to check the links under each card to check the detailed review.

Domestic Lounge Access

1. Amex Platinum Travel Card

  • Variant: American Express
  • Limits: 4/Yr
  • Joining Fee: Rs.3500+GST First Year FREE (Limited Period Offer)

The reason why this card is the most relevant for lounge access is because it not only gives you Lounge benefit, but also comes with amazing ~7% reward rate. Not to forget the Amex merchant travel offers which is one of the best in the industry.

2. Axis Flipkart card

This is one of the newly launched credit card that serves the purpose with one of lowest joining fee, yet decent rewards. Currently an invite only card though.

3. ICICI HPCL Coral Amex

  • Variant: Visa/Mastercard/American Express
  • Limits: 2/Yr
  • Joining Fee: Rs.199+GST
  • Read Full Review

Note that different Coral variant has different limits. Do verify bank’s link before going for it. The HPCL coral Amex variant is the cheapest one though.

4. Indusind Iconia Amex

  • Variant: American Express
  • Limits: 2/Quarter
  • Joining Fee: Rs.3000+GST
  • Read Full Review

This card has been devalued recently for various reasons but this card still gives you decent lounge benefit not only for primary but also for Supp. cards. Good thing is there is no renewal/annual fee.

Domestic & International Lounge Access

1. HDFC Regalia

HDFC Bank Regalia Credit Card
  • Domestic Limits: 12/yr (Mastercard/Visa)
  • International Limit: 6/Yr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Rs.2500+GST
  • Read Full Review

If you find Regalia is expensive, you may also consider Regalia First which is the entry level variant for Regalia. Moreover, its the cheapest card with international lounge access, for supplementary cards too.

2. SBI Prime

  • Domestic Limits: 2/qtr (Mastercard/Visa)
  • International Limit: 4/Yr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Rs.3000+GST
  • Read Full Review

3. SBI Elite

  • Domestic Limits: 2/qtr (Mastercard/Visa)
  • International Limit: 2/qtr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Rs.5000+GST
  • Read Full Review

4. Yes First Preferred

  • Domestic Limits: 3/qtr (Mastercard)
  • International Limit: 4/Yr (Priority Pass)
  • Joining Fee: Mostly Free
  • Read Full Review

5. ICICI Sapphiro

  • Domestic Limits: 4/qtr (Mastercard/Amex)
  • International Limit: 2/Yr (Dreamfolks DragonPass)
  • Joining Fee: Mostly Free

Just incase if you’re asked for a fee for this ICICI card, don’t ever get it.

Unlimited Lounge Access

If you’re a frequent traveller or have a big family to take vacation, then you may need one of these below credit cards that comes with unlimited lounge access. Not to forget, most cards below allow you to get a supplementary card too with unlimited lounge access benefit.

1. HDFC Diners Black

HDFC Diners Black Credit Card (NEW Design)

2. HDFC Infinia

  • Network: Visa / Mastercard & Priority pass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.10,000+GST
  • Read Full Review

3. Yes First Exclusive

4. ICICI Emeralde

  • Network: American Express / Mastercard & DragonPass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.12,000+GST
  • Read Full Review

5. Citi Prestige

6. Amex Platinum Charge Card

  • Variant: American Express & Priority Pass
  • Joining Fee: Rs.60,000+GST
  • Read Full Review

So which one should I get?

Okay, I understand that the above list is quite exhaustive. So to answer your query, you need to ask yourself “how many times do I travel Domestic/international ?”. Match that number with the # of complimentary lounge visits available as above. 

For ex, if you just travel once a year, any credit card with low fee that gives you 2 access/qtr would do. Remember, you’ll need 2 access for a trip as you’ll also return back. 

If you travel quite often, like once or more every month, you either need multiple credit cards with lounge access or one credit card that gives you unlimited lounge access benefit as above.

Note: Also remember you maybe limited by the network as not all lounge network allows you to access all lounges. Try to choose Mastercard over others for domestic & Priority Pass for International.

Which card do I use for lounge access? As I’ve at least 10 cards in my wallet most of the time, I usually have this confusion in the past as to which one to swipe for lounge access.

But now, the thumb rule I follow is: Swipe the card whichever costs me annual fee, or whichever that gives me less returns, so as to make sure the bank spends something for charging me the fees.

In the past, I used the ICICI Jet Sapphiro credit cards as they charged me annual fee (and I never used those Jet codes). Now, going forward I plan to use ICICI Emeralde

Which card do you usually swipe for airport lounge access? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

48 thoughts on “15 Best Credit Cards in India for Airport Lounge access

  1. Binay

    There is Diners Club Miles, 6/yr free, Domestic or International.
    Got it for my wife just due the access.
    Comes with NO annual fee

    Reply
      1. Siddharth Post author

        Let’s not expand the list, with less known cards.

        Reply
      2. Manveet

        Very useful information. Thanks for sharing. But i have a question- is the lounge access available in visa or mastercard same in all card issuing banks or does it vary from bank to bank. For example- Does sbi visa elite offer free lounge access in same airports as hdfc regalia Visa or are they different?

        Reply
    1. Sessho

      Is free lounge access applicable for supplementary cards also?

      Reply
  2. amaan

    icici hpcl coral has lounge access only in Amex variant and Not in visa or MC variant

    Reply
  3. Prashant Gupta

    Thats a good list. But you missed out Stan C Ultimate card which is quiet affordable with good points value. Apart from above yes bank lower cards like yes prosperity edge also provide lounge access and are ltf…

    Reply
  4. Amann

    Flipkart Axis is Amex??
    Mastercard I think.
    Please correct.

    Reply
  5. KK

    Regalia offers 12 domestic per year, with no qtrly/monthly cap

    Reply
  6. Mickey

    Regalia First also offers Domestic and International lounge access and is a great semi-premium card to have.

    It is the ideal card for people who travel abroad twice a year.

    Reply
  7. Abhay Gupta

    HDFC Regalia is now offering 8 airport launge access per annum not 12 nos as mentioned above.
    Please verify with Bank and upload updated information.

    Reply
  8. Satish Kumar Agarwal

    Now a days HDFC Regalia/ Regalia First cards provides lounge access only to Delhi T3, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad to be precise. If anybody flies frequently to other cities like Pune, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Cochin, Chandigarh etc, HDFC cards except Infinia/ DCB will not serve the purpose.

    If you are the one who falls in 2nd category, please research before applying for suitable cards that will serve the purpose.

    Reply
  9. Tanmay

    Which ones provide complimentry lounge access on addon or supplementary cards?

    Reply
    1. AshishR

      citi prestige, hdfc infinia, yes first exclusive, hdfc regalia

      Reply
  10. Jugnoo Mehta

    But now, the thumb rule I follow is: “use the” card whichever costs me annual fee, or whichever that gives me less returns or whichever bank that charges me some kind of fee for the banking needs.

    I think it should be “do not use”

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      It was correct. I reframed it now for better understanding.

      Reply
  11. Saurabh Dua

    That’s an excellent articly again . Might be adding Railway lounge access will also be worth it as many of us still travel by train sometimes for last mile connectivity and having cards like ICICI Rubyx helps to get free lounge facilities with food at railway stations like Delhi , Agra etc

    Reply
  12. Sumit Rajpal

    You have not mentioned about paytm rupay card. It provides access to airport lounge @₹125 per annum and ₹100 for subsequent years. 2/qtr visits are allowed. I think this is the best card at minimum cost and max visits.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Its a debit card. And we’ve a separate article on it, which includes it.

      Reply
  13. MAA-traveler

    Standard Chartered Ultimate card – MasterCard Variant has unlimited domestic lounge facility. I’ve personally seen multiple times that the charge slip shows “Visits Remaining” as n/a.

    Lounge access is available for supplementary card holders as well.

    Reply
  14. Anuj Bahl

    I am pretty happy with my YFE card…now for almost more than years and still enjoying it, despite the relatively reduced reward points 2019 onwards, but hey the reward points given are competitive to any other card if looked at minutely in its segment, barring Hdfc card 10x schemes or other special offers and also the rewards offered.
    To put it in perspective if one has this card LTF its literally worth it if only for its airport lounge access even if used a few times. I have visited few airports in europe, india and singapore with the priority pass provided and never had any problems in access. So i will definitely recommend this for airport lounge access.

    Reply
    1. SG

      can a person with no relationship with yes bank but with 50L ITR (eligibility) expect to get it as LTF?

      Reply
      1. Anuj Bahl

        Might be a bit tough but worth a try, probably easier than getting a DCB or HDFC Infinia.

        Reply
      2. Praveen Katiyar

        @SG
        Start with Yes First Preferred (can be sourced LTF with other card statement of more than 3L limit). Then upgrade YFP to Yes First Exclusive after atleast 6 month decent usage.
        When i applied I didnt know that YFP can be sourced LTF with other card statement >3L and was mentally prepared to pay the fee, later in the process came to know about this and got LTF YFP.
        Its possible, i had LTF YFP then upgraded to LTF YFE without any other relationship with Yes Bank. Iam thankful to @Sid and cardexpert.in for guidance, and thoroughly enjoyin the card. This is my fav card as of now. Recently used PP at Colombo on my return trip from KL.
        Wishing you all the best dear..!

        Reply
        1. Chiranjeevi

          Hey Praveen

          I am having 3.3 lakhs limit on Amex Platinum Travel card can I show this statement and get Yes First Preferred Card ? If yes how ?

          Please let me know. TIA

          Reply
  15. Anil Kumar Khanna

    SBI Platinum ( Visa and Masters ) also have lounge access once in 3 month.

    Reply
  16. Sanjay

    What about Debit Card Ruppay of Allahabad Bank. It’s not valid in Domestic Airport lounges??.

    Reply
  17. ARNAB CHAUDHURI

    I cannot understand why didnt you add icici sapphiro to your review. It gives 32 lounge access per year with amex and master having 4/quarter each. Golf and everything. Dragonpass is also great for International lounges. I have this card. I got 10k vouchers after paying joining fee. 3500 annually for such a card hereafter. I shell out 3500 payback points every month. I get bonus points on milestone points. I earn double points from amazon and icici in a single transaction. Also great benefits on movies as i get 24000inr worth movie tickets pa. This is one of the best card if you know how to use it. I shell out 10k inr worth of points every year.

    Reply
      1. ARNAB CHAUDHURI

        Shoppers Stop Voucher worth ₹ 3000
        Yatra Vouchers worth ₹ 4000 (Four vouchers worth ₹ 1000 each)
        Ola Vouchers worth ₹ 1000 (Four vouchers worth ₹ 250 each)
        Vouchers from Specialty Chain of Restaurants worth ₹ 1000
        Croma Voucher worth ₹ 1000

        Reply
    1. ved singh

      hello arnab,
      can you please tell me what all vouchers you got for 10k? is it worth paying 6500 joining fee??
      i was planning to go for sapphiro!!
      also are those vouchers usefull??

      thanks

      Reply
  18. Praveen Perumalla

    Citi PM Visa card has generous 8/qrtr and MC has 6/qrtr. Should definitely be on the list

    Reply
  19. Neeraj johar

    My experience says have two cards one with master and one with visa as now days most lounges don’t accept Visa and have only limited access to few high end visa credit cards

    I would even say now good banks give free access to lounges on their debit cards also ..Like axis burgundy …

    Specially small towns accept more of master than visa and also debit cards are as good as free

    Reply
  20. Govind Mehrotra

    Since Yes First Exclusive is not offered (mostly) free anymore, is there any other way to subscribe to it without having to shell too much/?

    Reply
    1. Nithin

      Jst few days back I got upgraded from YFP to YFE life timee free

      Reply
      1. Anoop

        How did you manage to upgrade.. Did you received any upgrade message.?
        Even I’m holding YFP for 2yrs and looking for upgrade..

        Reply
        1. Nithin

          @anoop,

          I did not get upgrade offer. But I got 3 LE offers. And this year I met elig for YPE. During my 3rd LE, I requested for YPE and sent payslips, after 7days they approved my request

          Reply
      2. Rashid

        SCB ultimate Master card is best for domestic lounge. Unlimited domestic lounge access.

        Reply
    2. Praveen Katiyar

      @Govid
      Try taking Yes First Preferred by submitting 3L+ statement of any other card. This way u wud probably get LTF. Keep n use it for atleast 6months and request LTF Yes First Exclusive.
      I worked for me. Hope the same for u.

      Reply
  21. Raja

    HDFC Regalia First is worth for the Domestic/International lounge accesses, cashbacks and 10x rewards points. You can get it for free with a Preferred or Imperial HDFC Bank account I think (check with bank). You can also use that debit card for lounge access. Likewise, ICICI, Axis, HSBC, etc offers free cards for Priority accounts.

    Reply
  22. CM

    HDFC regalia lounge acceptance has drastically reduced. In delhi it is not accepted in domestic plaza premium at T3, International also is restricted to Lounge B only and not Lounge A. (personal experience of last week). T2 and T1 doesnt accept. Anyways PP associated with regalia is paid in domestic lounges. Diners club has better lounge acceptance in india.

    Reply
  23. boxiee

    Just incase if you’re asked for a fee for this ICICI card, don’t ever get it.

    what does this mean??

    Reply

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