Get airport lounge access with the Santander World Elite Mastercard credit card

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Our main credit card focus on Head for Points is, not surprisingly, cards which earn you miles and points when you spend.  There are other cards on the market which offer travel benefits – but don’t offer any points when you spend – and I also like to take a look at those from time to time.

Santander Select is one the least known but offers good value.  The Santander Select current account makes you eligible for a World Elite Mastercard credit card which comes with a chunky fee but also has free airport lounge access included.

Details are here on the Santander website.

I should be clear up front that I don’t find this card as good as the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard which I reviewed here.  This is because the HSBC card has a similar cost (£195 v £180 for Santander) but comes with 20,000 Avios for getting the card and a further 20,000 Avios for spending £12,000 in your first year.

Both have high income requirements.  HSBC wants £75k and Santander £89k (£60k if you are self employed) to equal £5,000 per month going in.  Reader comments below suggest that the £5,000 can come from two combined salaries if you have a joint account.

As with HSBC, you need to open a current account with Santander and pay in your salary in order to qualify for the card.

What are the benefits of the Santander World Elite Mastercard?

The Santander Select World Elite Mastercard has a £15 per month fee.   The representative APR is 49.8% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

The key benefits are:

Airport lounge access via LoungeKey for yourself and three supplementary cardholders.  This has an equivalent network to Priority Pass (LoungeKey has over 1,000 lounges) which is not surprising as it is run by the same people who run Priority Pass, Collinson. 

No foreign transaction fees on purchases abroad

0.5% cashback on all spending, capped at £15 per month – so you can offset the monthly card fee if you spend enough

An interesting catch if you have young kids vs adult kids

You can have up to three additional cards for adult family members or friends free of charge.  ALL of these cards are eligible for free airport lounge access since you only need to show the credit card at the desk – there is no separate LoungeKey card.

If you have adult children, this is arguably a very valuable benefit indeed – you would get unlimited lounge access for four people for just £15 per month.

However, all guests who go into a lounge with you will be charged £15.  This is bad news if you have children under 18 years who cannot get a supplementary credit card as you cannot avoid paying the £15 guest fee.

Santander Select World Elite Mastercard review

The Santander World Elite Mastercard is only available to Santander Select current account holders.  Santander Private Banking customers are also eligible.

Santander Select current accounts carry a £5 monthly fee and to qualify for this, you would need:

Income of £89,000 per year gross (because £60,000 net must be paid into the account) unless you are self-employed or otherwise paid gross, in which case a £60,000 salary would be OK – this can come from two people paying in their combined salaries, or

£75,000 of savings or investments with Santander

Unless you are self employed, this is now a stricter target than HSBC Premier requires because HSBC has dropped its income requirement from £100,000 to £75,000.

This card isn’t a no-brainer for anyone, although it is attractive if you have adult children – or indeed want to get your own parents free airport lounge access via supplementary cards.

Whilst you may be tempted to put £3,000 of spending through the card each month to generate £15 cashback to offset the £15 monthly card fee, I don’t recommend that.  It is better to put your £3,000 through another credit card which offers rewards which are worth more than 0.5p per £1 spent and bite the bullet on the £15 Santander fee!

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. Jonathan says:

    Realistically you’re talking more like £100,000 base due to various deductions such as pension contributions etc.

    • Bonglim says:

      I think all you have to do is demonstrate your total income. So if it is above the threshold before deductions, that will still count.

      • No, I think they want to see £5k dropping in.

        • Victor says:

          Does the £5k have to come from your employer though?!!

          Otherwise the ‘hokey-cokey’ approach might work.

        • The £1k on Santander 1-2-3 certainly doesn’t have to come from employer and I can confirm the ‘hokey-cokey’ approach works! 😀

        • Mark2 says:

          Following on from john re Santander, it also works on Lloyds, Tesco, Nationwide, Halifax and First Direct.
          I always move odd amounts rather than £1,000.

    • Have had a select account for 5 years +

      I was originally over the threshold when contracting but have been a little below it for the last 3 years due to going permanent, and have been okay so far (touch wood)

  2. Sam G says:

    I have had Santander Select for years now despite being outside the acceptance criteria initially and now well outside their criteria as I don’t use the account as my main account, o they seem a little more flexible than HSBC (or their IT is just bad ha)

    • I received Select status after putting £75K savings into their account when it was paying 5% interest. I continued to be Select for about 3 years after moving the money away and having an average balance of £50. Then they removed it, so perhaps they may remove yours one day.

  3. Benylin says:

    Much difference between lounge key and priority pass?

    • Andrew M says:

      Quoting directly from the article: “This has an equivalent network to Priority Pass (LoungeKey has over 1,000 lounges) which is not surprising as it is run by the same people who run Priority Pass, Collinson.”

    • Polly says:

      Some lounges accept one or the other. Always good to check listings before you head to an airport.

  4. Select current account has a £5 monthly fee attached to it.

  5. luckyjim says:

    I thought this was a sponsored article when I first read it. I would not describe the Santader offer as ‘good value’. As well as the sign up bonus and ongoing points earning rate, the HSBC package comes with decent worldwide travel insurance. Then there is Santander’s notoriously poor customer care vs 24/7 relationship management service.

    Free supplementary cards? Meh.

    • Qwerty Bertie says:

      I didn’t know Santander had a bad rep for customer service, but their Select CSAs are good. They also come across as more human. At times I’d say they’re on a par with Amex.

    • HSBC is clearly a better proposition but I bet there are people who bank with Santander who don’t know about this.

      This article was actually written at the request of a reader who is very happy with it and thought it went under the radar.

  6. Qwerty Bertie says:

    Rob, regarding what Ron said, speaking as a long-term Santander customer.

    The standard 123 current account has a £5 fee, formerly £3, but there is no set fee attached to being in the Select bracket. I had that account for some years, but have since held the light version instead, which has only a £1 fee. I am still in the select bracket due to the amount of money that I deposit in to the account monthly, and it’s all official from Santander’s point of view/not an IT glitch. I ran the scenario by them on the telephone and they confirmed the main 123 account is not compulsory for Select. (I stopped keeping the relevant sum of £20k in the current account when they moved from 3% to 1.5%, as I could beat that rate elsewhere, especially after accounting for the £36 annual fee which became £60.) I keep my main bills account with them, because despite their faults, I find their CSAs to be the most competent overall, having experienced every mainstream bank’s customer service over the years, except for Barclays who won’t touch me with a bargepole for reasons I’ve never been able to learn. They won’t give me an ordinary current account, let alone their Premier one which I qualify for.

    As for the card itself, I think it’s an absolute waste of money for anybody who has the Amex plat, unless they routinely travel in a party in excess of four. It would, for a plat holder, essentially just be a possibly better deal than paying for a lounge membership scheme for any family overflow on holidays.

    I have the plat and the HSBC equivalent of this card, and I only have the HSBC card for the points. Which reminds me I have to cancel the latter so I can get more points with it in the autumn. 😀

    • luckyjim says:

      The HSBC card is churnable?

      • rams1981 says:

        I have churned it. But the first time round the spend bonus posted immediately after hitting £12k. Now I’d need to wait for it and in theory charged second annual fee before it posts so churning less attractive.

  7. barry says:

    I have it, works really well for me with regular lounge access w/w. Self employed so just have a regular standing order to move some money from my original main bank a/c to Santander so no need to have upheaval of changing banks. And overseas credit card spend is fee free, so all good.

  8. stevenhp1987 says:

    The Santander Select Current account is £5k into the account, not a £89k annual salary. This doesn’t have to be from one person, hence the £5k per month requirement. We have the account due to both me and my wife’s income combined (we wouldn’t qualify alone).

    It supposedly comes with foreign-free cash withdrawals at Santander ATMs, but the USA ones always charge me as it doesn’t recognise it as a Santander card… Santander UK do refund the fees though when I give them a call.

    • Thanks, will update.

      Didn’t know people still did joint bank accounts!

      • All my married friends that I’ve chatted about finance stuff with do (lots of chat recently about packaged bank accounts, switching deals, etc.!)

  9. R89UK says:

    Not sure where you are getting the £89k requirement from. To be eligible you must be a Santander Select customer, eligility is to hold at least £75k with Santander or turnover £5k or more through a Santander Current Account.

    • £89k is the gross salary which earns you £60k net salary to get £5k per month going into the account.

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