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Airport lounge access for £50 per year via Diners Club, the card that time forgot

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(EDIT:  Diners Club removed this offer in October 2013, see https://www.headforpoints.com/2013/10/03/diners-club-stops-free-airport-lounge-access-for-cardholders/)

Reader Neil recently reminded me of the existence of Diners Club, the charge card that time forgot.

Most of you will probably have never ever seen a Diners Club card.  In London, you are more likely to find a shop accepting China UnionPay cards than Diners Club.

Diners Club was the first real ‘travel and entertainment’ focussed charge card, well before American Express chose to focus on this market.  Well before credit cards were first available, the charge cards issued by Diners Club and Amex were the only way to pay for items on plastic.  In recent years ownership has passed from Citi to Discover Financial Services, although the UK operation is a franchise, independently owned by Affiniture Cards since 2012.

Diners Club

Diners Club in the UK does still operate a loyalty scheme, with some decent partners.  However, the earnings rate is very poor.

You earn 1 point for every £5 spent on your card.  These transfer to:

Oddly, the website also lists Swiss Travel Club as a partner, which has not existed for a long time!

These exchange are roughly 50% as good as you would get from holding an Amex card or a dedicated credit card from one of these programmes.  I would say that the AA, IHG and Starwood options are the best of the bunch, with the Hilton transfer rate looking particularly poor following the devaluation of the programme this year.

However, there is one benefit of membership which looks interesting.

You get access to 400 airport lounges, in what looks like a cut-down version of the Priority Pass programme.  These include the No 1 Traveller lounges at both Gatwick terminals.  You receive free entry as the cardholder, with a charge for guests.

If you travel solo, this may work out as a cheap way of getting lounge access.  For comparison, if you paid to join Priority Pass (which has a bigger network globally but not in the UK) you would pay £259 for unlimited lounge access (or £159 for 10 free visits and then £15 per visit).

A Diners Club personal card has a fee of just £50 per year.  This could be a cheap way of getting airport lounge access for yourself.  You would pay £15 per guest, but if you travelled with a guest a lot then they could get their own card as well.  (It is not clear is Diners Club supplementary cardholders get lounge access for free.)  Some of the other Diners Club franchises around Europe have started to add an annual ‘minimum spend’ to the card to retain the lounge access perk, but for now it is available without restriction in the UK and Ireland.

As with Priority Pass, the lack of a lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 is a problem.  All the other terminals are covered, though, as are most UK regional airports.  For this reason – and only this reason – Diner Club may be worth a look.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (28)

  • CV says:

    I see the Diners Card gives access to the DXB First Class Lounge, anyone ever successfully gained access using the card? It’s only the DCA Business Class Lounge which you can get entry into with Priority Pass (and Marhaba Lounges), so I’m wondering if it’s an error.

  • David Butcher says:

    In the days before Barclaycard and Access (remember them?) there was a tie up between Diners Club in the UK and either Nat West or the old Westminster Bank because I recall my Dad who was a bank manager with Westminster and then Nat West showing me this revolutionary piece of plastic – I think they had given all their managers a Diners Card to encourage them to show them off by using them in front of customers – I guess the bank got some commission for any referrals.

    I can’t recall my Dad ever making much use of it, but there were certainly a lot more Diners Club establishments around in those days.

    My only other connection is that when I was working in London in the 70s I actually applied for a job with Diners Club who at that time were at 214 Oxford Street if I recall correctly. I didn’t get the job – I’m sure if they had taken me on, their fortunes would have been very different!!!!!!

  • Daftboy says:

    Well this is quite interesting – I can’t quite justify the cost of PP, but £50 would be worth it for the amount of times I fly over and back to Ireland from LGW on Aer Lingus (where my BA Silver doesn’t work, and my Gold Circle has now expired).

    And how fabulously retro – you have to fill in a paper application form and post it off….the good old days indeed!

  • Squire says:

    Does anyone see what the criteria for acceptance is for this?

    • Neil says:

      They accepted me with no trouble, own my own home, £80k household income, Emirates Blue status – you do have to send off a paper application, and it took about two weeks to get the card and PIN.

  • Steve says:

    Priority Pass doesn’t have lounge access at T4 either, so it’s only 1 and 3…..not that anyone really uses T4 these days 😉

    • Sir Stamford says:

      I know the comment is said tongue in cheek but on a more serious note, 9.8m passengers from the following airlines (not a full list) were using T4.

      Aeroflot
      Air Algerie
      Air Astana
      Air France
      Air India
      Air Malta
      Air Mauritius
      Air Transat
      Alitalia
      Arik Air
      Azerbaijan Airlines
      Biman Bangladesh
      Bulgaria Air
      China Eastern Airlines
      China Southern
      Delta
      Etihad
      Gulf Air
      JAT Airways
      Jet Airways
      Kenya Airways
      KLM
      Korean Air
      Kuwait Airways
      Malaysia Airlines
      Qatar Airways
      Royal Air Maroc
      Royal Brunei Airlines
      Saudia
      Sri Lankan Airlines
      Tarom
      Tunisair
      United Airlines
      Uzbekistan Airways

      Sir Stamford

  • Andy says:

    Qatar are in T4 – new one world partner. Plus etihad as well.

  • Mark says:

    Hi

    I have had a diners card for about 18 months
    (Solely for the lounge access and I have never actually used it).

    The physical card was replaced when the Citibank ownership ended

    I am sure that I have never paid an annual fee for this card ?

    Does the above post suggest a fee is looming ?

    Mark

    • Rob says:

      There is a fee, £50 pa for the card.

      No fee for lounges, but some countries – not UK – impose a minimum annual card spend to retain lounge access. That is what could possibly change.

  • Luke says:

    I’m curious if the additional cardholder also gets free lounge access as well.