Travel credit cards are known for their perks: extra points to put towards airline or hotel loyalty programs, concierge services, trip cancellation insurance, and more.
Mastercard offers travel benefit for its World Elite Mastercard cardholders: Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey.
This program gives cardholders access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide, as well as special offers on airport dining, shopping, and spas.
Is Mastercard Airport Experiences worth it?
Learn about the lounge access benefits, what it costs, and how it compares to Priority Pass, a similar benefit offered by many other premium travel rewards credit cards.
What is Mastercard Airport Experiences?
Mastercard recently partnered with LoungeKey to give cardholders access to over 850 airport lounges in 400 airports spanning over 120 countries, including:
- New York JFK International (JFK)
- Los Angeles International (LAX)
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- Frankfurt am Main (FRA)
- Dubai International (DXB)
Unfortunately, lounge access is not free.
Cardholders should expect to pay $27 per visit for themselves and any guests.
This fee gets cardholders access to many exclusive airport lounges that are normally reserved for people who have purchased specific ticket classes or who have high status in a frequent flyer program.
Some Mastercard World Elite card issuers provide cardholders with a number of complimentary lounge visits, which appear in the cardholder’s online Mastercard Airport Experiences account.
Inside a lounge, cardholders can enjoy complimentary refreshments, newspapers, and business services (where available) including Wi-Fi.
Some lounges are actually just restaurants.
Ultimately, the list of amenities offered by a specific lounge will vary greatly -- it can go from bare-bones perks to rather extravagant offerings.
For example, certain lounges may come with fully stocked bars, showers, conference rooms, etc.
Note that some additional benefits and services may not be complimentary -- expect to pay for the extras.
In addition to lounge access, Mastercard Airport Experiences provides cardholders with special offers on dining, shopping, and spa experiences.
Cardholders can get 10% off retail purchases at the Be Relax Spa in London Heathrow or Frankfurt Main, for example, as well as a discount on a spa treatment with O2 therapy.
Which Credit Cards Offer Mastercard Airport Experiences?
Currently, Mastercard Airport Experiences are available to U.S. Mastercard World Elite cardholders. This includes the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard.
If you are a U.S. cardholder and your card has “World Elite Mastercard” in the name, you have access to Mastercard Airport Experiences.
Again, it is a free program to join. It only costs you when you actually need to purchase a lounge pass. It's worth keeping around if you ever run into a situation when a lounge visit would be useful.
How Do You Access Mastercard Airport Experiences?
Register your account
Before you can use Mastercard Airport Experiences, you need to register your account.
Visit the Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey website and click “Register Now.” This gets you access to the online Mastercard Airport Experiences portal, where you can search for participating airports and review any available special offers.
If your card issuer provides complimentary lounge visits, you’ll also be able to review the number of complimentary visits remaining.
Locate your lounge
When it’s time for your next trip, use the Mastercard Airport Experiences website or app to search for lounges in the airports you plan to visit.
Mastercard Airport Experiences includes directions to each lounge, so you can easily locate your lounge once you are in the airport terminal. The website or app will generate a QR lounge access code.
When you arrive at your lounge, present either your World Elite Mastercard or your QR lounge access code to the lounge staff and make sure to tell them you’re participating in LoungeKey.
If you are traveling with another World Elite Mastercard cardholder (including a spouse or partner), both of you will need to present your World Elite Mastercards or QR codes. If you are traveling with a guest, identify the person as such.
The lounge staff will charge your World Elite Mastercard for use of the lounge unless you have complimentary visits remaining. The charge will appear on your statement as “LoungeKey.com.”
Be aware that a temporary charge may be placed on your credit card for complimentary visits.
This is just to confirm that your card is still active and hasn’t been reported stolen. The temporary charge will later be removed.
Take advantage of special offers
If you’d like to take advantage of special offers on dining, shopping, or spa experiences, you can access your available options through the Mastercard Airport Experiences website or app.
Search for your airport to determine which offers are available.
When you select an offer, you’ll receive a unique QR code that is valid for three hours after it is generated.
Share that code with the dining/shopping/spa staff when you are making your payment, and any discounts associated with your special offer will be applied.
Since digital access codes are only valid for three (3) hours, you won’t be able to generate these codes in advance of your trip. Instead, plan on selecting your special offers while in the airport.
Although you can use your QR code to pay for a guest’s meal or purchase a guest’s spa experience, you cannot give your QR code to a guest.
Your unique code is linked to your Mastercard Airport Experiences account, and you are the only person who can use it.
How Does Mastercard Airport Experiences Compare to Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a membership program that gets you access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. There are three membership tiers:
- Priority Pass Standard: $99 annual fee, lounge access at $27 per person per visit (for members and guests)
- Priority Pass Standard Plus: $249 annual fee, first 10 lounges are free for members and $27 for guests, remaining lounge access at $27 per person per visit
- Priority Pass Prestige: $399 annual fee, all lounge access is free for members and $27 for guests
This membership is called Priority Pass Select and benefits vary by card. If you have the American Express Platinum Card, for example, you and two guests can access lounges for free. Additional guests cost $27.
Both Mastercard Airport Experiences and Priority Pass provide similar types of lounge access.
If you are a World Elite Mastercard cardholder who plans to visit more than 15 airport lounges per calendar year, the Priority Pass Prestige membership might be a better option than paying $27 per visit with Mastercard Airport Experiences — and you can still access Mastercard Airport Experiences’ special offers on dining, shopping, and spas.
Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey is a nice perk for World Elite Mastercard cardholders, but it is unlikely to be a game-changer in the world of travel benefits.
Credit cards offering Priority Pass Select membership already give cardholders access to over 1,200 airport lounges without charging a $27-per-visit fee, and although Mastercard Airport Experiences includes the extra perk of special offers on dining/shopping/spas, the discounts aren’t necessarily enough to make the travel benefit a must-have.
If you are already a World Elite Mastercard cardholder, taking advantage of the Mastercard Airport Experiences program makes sense — but don’t apply for the card just to get the perks.