Airline Lounge Access Pays for Itself for Our Family. Here's Why

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  • I recently signed up for a credit card that provides airline lounge access -- for a $450 annual fee.
  • Paying the fee for lounge access is worth it because we save on food costs and have access to better quality food than we would get from in-airport fast food restaurants. 

Could lounge access actually be a really good value?

Recently, my husband and I signed up for a credit card for the primary purpose of getting airline lounge access which the card offered as a member perk. We already have other cards that provide bonuses for travel spending or that offer other generous rewards, so the big draw of this card was the lounge access alone. 

The card came with an annual fee of $450. This may seem like a lot of money to pay just to be able to get into an airline lounge. But, in reality, it's likely to pay for itself each year. Here's why.

Paying $450 for lounge access could actually end up saving us money 

My husband and I have a house in Florida and a house in Pennsylvania, and we go back and forth because my son has preschool and my husband has to work in Pennsylvania (I'm lucky enough to be able to work anywhere). 

While we sometimes drive, this year we have decided to fly because my eight-month-old is not a big fan of her car seat. Since we visit our house often, we will end up taking 12 airline flights over the course of the year (that's round trip, for six trips). 

Before we had airline lounge access, we would end up having to buy food at the airport for our family of four on each of those trips. Sometimes, my in-laws also traveled with us and that was another two meals tacked on as well. Between meals and drinks, we'd typically end up spending anywhere from $40 to $60 (when my in-laws tagged along). 

With lounge access, though, we get access to meals and drinks at the airport. This means we end up saving a minimum of $480 assuming we save $40 on meals on each one of the days we are at the airport -- or more, when you figure that my in-laws get to come to the lounge as guests and eat for free as well.

Not only do we save money on food, but we also end up with meals that are better quality. The last time we flew, we had chicken and rice soup, meatball sliders, and brownies and Rice Krispies treats for dessert -- along with fresh-squeezed orange juice, and some Ruby Red grapefruit juice bottles that delighted my son. 

The lounge also afforded us unlimited refills on the food and drink -- which meant we could eat as much as we wanted rather than just settling for whatever our meal money bought for us at the fast food joint at the airport. 

Consider the big picture when deciding if a card is worth it 

While I initially balked at the idea of paying $450 for a credit card, when I did the math on how much we'd save on meals, paying the price was well worth it. This just drove home the lesson that sometimes spending a little more money upfront can help you save over time. 

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