The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the hottest premium credit cards with a number of solid perks, including Priority Pass airport lounge access. I’ve used its Priority Pass membership a countless number of times and it is still one of the few cards that I always keep in my wallet.
But what exactly can you expect with Chase Sapphire Reserve lounge access and what access do guests get?
This article will explain everything you need to know about the Sapphire Reserve’s lounge access policy for cardmembers and guests. I’ll also show you how to find a list of Priority Pass lounges in the US and around the globe and offer up some alternative options for lounge access.
What is the Chase Sapphire Reserve airport lounge access policy?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers Priority Pass Select airport lounge access for you and up to two guests.
Priority Pass offers different types of memberships but the type of membership given to Chase Sapphire Reserve holders is Priority Pass Select, which is essentially the equivalent of “Prestige” which would normally cost you $400 and wouldn’t even allow free guests. So this is an extremely valuable perk just in terms of its monetary value.
Considering that the annual fee for the Reserve is $550, and that you can use the $300 travel credit and $60 DoorDash credit to offset that annual fee down to $190, it is like getting a $400 membership for well under $200 (assuming you take advantage of other perks of the credit card).
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What are Priority Pass lounges?
Priority Pass is a global network of airport lounges that number over 1,300. You can search for a list of Priority Pass lounges in various cities here.
Priority Pass lounges vary in quality and services offered.
Some Priority Pass lounges might offer clean showers, hot food items, complimentary alcohol, modern decor, spacious multi-floor seating, and inspiring views of the tarmac. At these lounges you will be loving life and at peace with the universe (even with flight delays).
Other Priority Pass lounges may consist of merely a large, dim room with canned sodas, chips, and some painfully slow internet. At these lounges you will not be living life and not be at peace with the universe (and yes, flight delays will have you questioning your life choices).
Still, even though the quality differs among Priority Pass lounges, I’ve been overall pleased with my Chase Sapphire Reserve lounge access, especially while traveling abroad. I’ve visited some very nice lounges that have offered me some crucial rest when I needed it the most. The key is to always do research so that you know if you will have a lounge at the airport you are traveling through.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass guest policy
The Chase Sapphire Reserve was unique when it was released in that it offered Priority Pass access to the cardholder and to every guest traveling on the same itinerary.
Yes, you could walk into a lounge with 10 other people and everybody could get in as long as you were all on the same travel itinerary. So as you can probably imagine people abused this benefit to death. Literally.
Chase ended up revising their policy so that card holders were limited to only two guests per visit, which is the current policy.
It’s worth noting that most lounges have their own policy when it comes to allowing folks in. Typically, they will follow the guest policy attached to your membership but at times, “due to capacity,” they could limit the entrance of guests.
Heck, they could even turn you, the cardmember, around and not allow you to enter the lounge if they are too full. Some lounges will have dedicated hours when Priority Pass members are not given access so watch out for those, too.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass restaurant access
There are quite a few restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass lounge network. At these restaurants, you can get a credit of around $30 that you can use toward food or beverages which is quite nice.
Some cards with Priority Pass do not allow you to receive these credits for these restaurants but with the Chase Sapphire Reserve you definitely get these credits.
How it works is that you scan your Priority Pass card or app and then scan your boarding pass at the beginning of your meal. Sometimes the server will ask you if you are a Priority Pass member but other times you can just call it to their attention.
They should clarify the amount of your dining credit and then you simply can order whatever you want and apply that credit to food or drinks. The only thing you can’t apply the credit to is tips.
Hitting up these restaurants is great at airports that don’t have lounges or even at airports that do have lounges but are overran with other guests.
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Accessing arrival lounges or lounges upon arrival
Some Priority Pass lounges will allow you to access the lounge when you arrive at the airport so you don’t always have to be departing.
For example, let’s say that you fly from Seattle to Los Angeles. When you arrive in Los Angeles, it is possible that you could get access to a Priority Pass lounge. Lounges may not always allow folks to enter when they are arriving so you can’t always count on this.
Then there are also arrival lounges — these are lounges that are dedicated to passengers arriving at the airport and of course you will be allowed in if that lounge is a part of the Priority Pass network.
Do authorized users get Priority Pass?
Each authorized user will get their own Priority Pass so they can get access into airport lounges along with two additional guests. The annual fee for each authorized user is $75 so you could consider this a heavily discounted Priority Pass membership.
This is the most valuable benefit for Chase Sapphire Reserve authorized users, though there are some other perks as well.
How to sign-up for Priority Pass
You cannot forget to activate your Priority Pass membership after you get approved for the Sapphire Reserve because it does not automatically get activated. If you forget to activate, not only will you not have a lounge membership but you will officially be a Reserve newb.
Once you have your Sapphire Reserve online account setup, log-in and go to Ultimate Rewards.
Form there, click on “Card Benefits” and then the “Activate Now” button. That will activate the benefit for you and any authorized users you have added to your account.
Your membership will remain active until you close the card.
If you add your authorized user after activating the card for yourself, just call in to Chase and let them know what you’re trying to do.
Remember to bring your Priority Pass Card!
Merely holding the Sapphire Reserve credit card in your possession will not be enough to get you access into the lounge. For this reason, I always advise people to bring along their physical Priority Pass card which gets mailed out to you.
And although it’s possible to gain access with the app (“the digital membership card”), not all lounges will take the digital card. And there is always the chance that their computers are not working properly or something along those lines.
Here is what Priority Pass states about bringing your card:
All lounges accept the physical membership card and the majority of our 1300+ lounges also accept the Digital Membership Card. To avoid any disappointment, we recommend you always carry both cards with you when traveling.
So I always try to keep my physical card on me when traveling. It’s just good practice.
What if I forget my card?
If for some reason you forget to carry your Priority Pass card with you, you can charge the lounge access on your Sapphire Reserve and Chase might reimburse you for the expense. Keyword “might.”
I’ve been told they will do this, but I would not 100% rely on this (especially more than once) because this sounds like something where your mileage could vary.
If you do end up doing this, simply call the number on the back of your card or send them a secure message explaining to them how you misplaced or forgot your card and how you would like to request a reimbursement for the lounge entrance fee. And then cross your fingers.
Other lounge memberships
It’s worth noting that only approximately 5% of Priority Pass lounges are located inside the US. Yes, you heard that right only 5%.
And while there are more Priority Pass lounges popping up all the time, many feel that the domestic lounges are much too crowded.
Therefore, if you want to maximize domestic airport lounge access with credit cards, you might want to consider some other options. Below are a couple of options that will have you relaxing stress-free in some great lounges all around the US.
American Express Centurion Lounges
My favorite lounges to visit when traveling in the United States are the American Express Centurion Lounges. These are definitely some of the nicer domestic lounges and you can typically find the following features:
- Hot food items
- Complementary quality cocktails
- Quality service
- Free Wi-Fi
- Swanky decor
- Some even have spas
You can only get access to these lounges if you have a qualifying card.
Qualifying cards include the American Express Platinum Card, the Business Platinum Card, and the Centurion Card, also known as the American Express Black Card.
The Platinum Card comes with a Priority Pass membership but it does not offer you access to Priority Pass restaurants in airports which is a bit of a bummer (you get a host of other lounge memberships though).
The annual fee for the Platinum Card is $695 which is expensive but you can offset this annual fee with several credits like the $200 airline credit, $200 Uber credit, and $100 Saks credit. Also, the Platinum Card is simply loaded with additional benefits and you can read more about those here.
Co-branded credit cards
Maybe you are more of the loyal type and interested in getting airport lounge access with just one airline. For example, maybe you live next to a United hub and frequently pass through that airport. In that case, maybe you would be interested in getting a United Club membership?
Well, you are in luck because you can use cards like the United Club Card to get an annual membership into United Club lounges.
Other airlines like Delta and American Airlines also have credit cards that will offer you lounge access.
Sapphire Reserve airport lounge FAQ
Priority Pass lounges are part of a global network of airport lounges that number over 1,300. At these lounges, you might find clean showers, hot food items, complimentary alcohol, modern decor, and inspiring views of the tarmac.
You are allowed to bring in two additional guests for free.
Yes, you can often receive a $30 credit that you can use toward food or beverages.
Yes, you will have to activate your Priority Pass membership after you get approved for the Sapphire Reserve.
Overall, the Chase Sapphire Reserve lounge access is solid in that you get Priority Pass Select along with restaurant access and guest access. But, if I were primarily concerned with lounges, I’d look heavily into the Platinum Card since it offers broader access to other lounges.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.