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In October Japan Airlines and Priority Pass introduced a new partnership. You can now buy a Priority Pass Prestige membership for 40,000 JAL miles, which means you and any travel companions get unlimited access to any of the 900 Priority Pass lounges.

But is that even a good deal?


Japan Airlines miles are not the easiest to come by. It’s likely your only access to JAL miles is via SPG point transfers.

We value SPG points at 2.5 cents each. SPG points transfer to JAL Mileage Bank 1:1, and you’ll get a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer SPG points to JAL in increments of 20,000. You would need to transfer a total of 35,000 SPG points in order to purchase a Priority Pass membership. That’s like paying $875. Outright a Priority Pass Prestige membership costs $399, so it’s easy to see that this is not a good deal unless you just happen to have a bunch of JAL miles lying around you have no use for.

Tiers of Priority Pass Membership

Better Strategy for Getting Lounge Access

Priority Pass Membership is a common perk of premium travel rewards credit cards. For example, all of these cards come with differing tiers of Priority Pass Membership.

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® grants you and all travel companions access to Priority Pass Lounges (Prestige level).
  • The Citi Prestige grants you and two guests access to Priority Pass lounges. Any more guests will cost $27 per person to bring in with you.
  • Amex Platinum / Enhanced Amex Business Platinum grant only you access to Priority Pass lounges. Any guest will cost $27 to bring in with you. Note that you also get Centurion Lounge, Delta Skyclub, and Airspace Lounge access.

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Which of the above cards is best suited for you is going to depend on the person. But I think for most people, the answer to that question is going to be the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Yes, the Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee that isn’t waived. But the litany of benefits and the massive sign up bonus quickly make up for it– you’ll get $700 in statement credits during the first 12 months of card membership, and the bonus points are worth $2,000 to me.

Locked out of the Reserve by the Chase 5/24 rule? Learn more about the Citi Prestige and the Amex Platinum cards by checking out…

Bottom Line

If you want lounge access, get it through a premium card. Don’t spend 35,000 SPG points buying it, that’s basically the equivalent of spending $875 on something that costs $399.