Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

This is a brief review of the Santander World Elite Mastercard credit card.

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 we like to take a look at those from time to time.

Santander Select is one of the least known but offers good value.

If you have a Santander Select current account you are eligible for a World Elite Mastercard credit card.  This comes with a chunky fee but also has free airport lounge access included.

Details are here on the Santander website.  I need to remind you that the representative APR is 18.9% variable on purchases and 49.8% variable when you include the annual fee and assume a £1,200 credit limit.

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 40,000 HSBC points (= 20,000 Avios) for getting the card and a further 40,000 HSBC points (= a further 20,000 Avios) for spending £12,000 in your first year.

Neither card is anywhere near as good as the two new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard products in terms of Avios earning rate:

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

However, you don’t get airport lounge access with the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards and this is the benefit we are looking at here.

What is the income requirement for Santander Select?

As with HSBC Premier, you need to open a current account to get the credit card.

Both have high income requirements.  HSBC Premier wants £75,000.  Santander wants roughly £89,000 (or £60,000 if you are self employed) to show £5,000 per month going in to the account.  Reader feedback in the past has suggested that the £5,000 can come from two combined salaries if you have a joint account.

Alteratively, you can put – and keep – £75,000 in any Santander investment, savings or current account

What are the benefits of the Santander World Elite Mastercard?

The Santander Select World Elite Mastercard has a £15 per month fee.

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, Priority Pass has 1,300) 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 £3,000 per month
Santander Select World Elite Mastercard review

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 who live you (additional cardholders must share your address), this is arguably a very valuable benefit indeed.  You would get unlimited airport lounge access for four adults for just £15 per month.

However, all guests who go into a lounge with you will be charged £20.  This is bad news if you have children under 18 years who cannot get a supplementary credit card as you cannot avoid paying the £20 guest fee.

HSBC Premier World Elite has a similar problem. You can pay £60 to add supplementary credit cards but this doesn’t help when you want to get a child into a lounge.

How do Santander Select current accounts work?

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 £4 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 a stricter target than HSBC Premier requires with its income requirement of £75,000.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the £4 per month account fee.  This is because you earn up to 3% cashback on selected household bills paid by Direct Debit from your account, capped at £5 per month.


This card isn’t a no-brainer for anyone.  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 credit 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 of spending through another credit card which offers rewards which are worth more than 0.5p per £1 spent – such as the new Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard which earns 1.5 Avios per £1 spent – and bite the bullet on the £15 Santander fee.

The exception is spend in foreign currency, where the 0% FX fee benefit on the Santander card comes into its own.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (February 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (19)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • TerryTierPoints says:

    “ Neither card is anywhere near as good as the two new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard products in terms of Avios earning rate”

    …assuming the Barclaycard ever arrives.

    • Symon says:


    • janolabs says:

      Tell me about it… I applied on day 1 (28 Feb), got the PIN last week but still waiting for the card… Btw was approved immediately, so the IT issues didn’t seem to affect me by rejecting.

      • Amit says:

        Same issue.
        Pin has arrived but no card 🙁

      • Chas says:

        Exactly the same issue here, although it took me until day 2 to successfully apply. They sent me a survey at the end of last week asking me about my experience of applying for the card. I didn’t hold back…..

        • Chas says:

          If the post lady had arrived 30 mins earlier today, my comment above would have been different. Card now received. Finally….!

    • Youllnever says:

      It really has gone all wrong for them hasn’t it

    • Red Flyer says:


  • Mark Phillips says:

    Re. the Barclaycard/Avios cards, is there any news on the cards for existing Barclaycard holders? I thought I read that something was on its way, but maybe I’ve missed it?

    • Rob says:

      If you are one of the chosen ones, you will an offer in the Barclaycard app.

      • Stephen says:

        Is there any hints as to what might get one chosen? I started spending on Hilton I had not used in ~2.5yrs to see if that would kickstart it into offering a swap but so far not happening.

      • Symon says:

        I’ve waited two weeks since approval for my card. Shame they aren’t acknowledging how much of a catastrophe the launch has been, and giving a sweeter to all who applied.

  • Red Flyer says:

    No access in any lounge T1 Manchester last Friday at 1pm trying to use HSBC WE card as all full with pre-booked. Has been like this for a while so doubt will get in anywhere when travel increases for the masses.

  • Symon says:

    How does the MasterCard World Elite status work? Does it mean, if they ever show up, we can use the Barclaycard Avios card to enter lounges?

    • Rob says:

      I am waiting on Barclaycard to tell me which WE benefits they are taking.

      • OT says:

        How comes in the article you say that you don’t get lounge access then? Did they already confirm that part?

        • Rob says:

          If they were offering it, they would be making a song and dance about it.

  • Filipino_Chino says:

    My family has this card, £15 per month, you can stop and start when you want..

    We have 3 cards from memory… only use it for lounge access… i think it’s worth the money TBH.

    TBH i like Santander, always had good customer service as a Select customer or Private banking.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.