Best Credit Card For American Admirals Club Access

Best Credit Card For American Admirals Club Access

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review) is not only the only credit card that offers American Admirals Club access, but it’s also arguably the single most lucrative airline credit card for airport lounge access. In this post I wanted to go over everything you need to know about this card’s lounge access perks.

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Admirals Club basics

If you’re an American Airlines frequent flyer, then having the $450 annual fee Citi AAdvantage Executive Card should be a no-brainer. Airport lounge access is a valuable perk for any frequent flyer, whether you’re looking for help in the event of irregular operations, want to grab a drink or snack, or just want a quiet(ish) place to get some work done with Wi-Fi.

What makes the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card so incredible is that it not only offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, but it also offers complimentary Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users, all at no extra cost. Ordinarily American charges $500-650 per year for an Admirals Club membership, so this represents significant savings, not even factoring in the authorized user perks.

Let’s break down the details of these perks, starting with the Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, and then we’ll talk about the Admirals Club access for authorized users.

Admirals Club membership for primary cardmember

The primary cardmember on the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card receives a full Admirals Club membership:

  • You can access Admirals Clubs worldwide when flying American Airlines, a oneworld partner airline, or JetBlue, the same day (you can even use the lounge on arrival)
  • You’re allowed to bring immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to two guests
  • Admirals Club members also receive access to Alaska Lounges, as well as access to dozens of other partner lounges, including lounges of British Airways and Qantas (you can find the full lounge directory here)
  • The Admirals Club membership will be tied to your American AAdvantage number, so there should be no need to show your credit card; rather you just need to make sure your AAdvantage number is linked to your ticket

Since American ordinarily charges $500-650 per year for an Admirals Club membership, you’re saving anywhere from $50-200 per year by paying the card’s annual fee, and that doesn’t even factor in all of the other perks (including the ability to earn AAdvantage elite status through credit card spending).

The primary cardmember gets an Admirals Club membership

Admirals Club access for authorized users

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card allows the primary cardmember to add up to 10 authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and they each receive American Admirals Club access:

  • You can access Admirals Clubs worldwide when flying American Airlines, a oneworld partner airline, or JetBlue, the same day (you can even use the lounge on arrival)
  • You’re allowed to bring immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to two guests
  • Authorized users only get access to Admirals Clubs, and not to Alaska Lounges or other partner airline lounges
  • Since authorized users get Admirals Club access rather than an Admirals Club membership, they’ll have to show their eligible credit card when entering clubs; there’s no way to have this linked to your American AAdvantage account
Even authorized users get Admirals Club access

Crunching numbers on Admirals Club credit card perk

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card has a $450 annual fee, which is $50-200 less than you’d otherwise pay for an Admirals Club membership. So how do I mentally account for the cost of the card, not even factoring in the other perks of the card? There are two ways to view it:

  • Frankly I fly American enough that I’d pay $450 per year for an Admirals Club membership, so getting a discount on it by picking up a credit card is the obvious choice
  • To look at it differently, I have 10 authorized users on the card, meaning that 11 people are getting Admirals Club access with my account; if I wanted to account that cost across people, it would be like spending ~$41 per year for Admirals Club access, which is a reasonable gift for family and friends
This card is the cheapest option for Admirals Club access

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Admirals Club FAQs

While the above covers the basics of the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Admirals Club access benefits, I wanted to answer some of the questions that may arise regarding this perk (and if there are any I missed, please let me know, and I’ll answer them too).

How soon after being approved is your Admirals Club membership activated?

Many people may be considering applying for the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card shortly before taking a trip. How soon after being approved for the card does your Admirals Club membership kick in?

Since the primary cardmember gets a full Admirals Club membership, it’s linked to their AAdvantage account. Many may be surprised to learn that this membership could very well kick in before you even receive your credit card in the mail, and you don’t even need your card to enter a lounge.

Fortunately there’s an easy way to tell if your Admirals Club membership has been activated. To figure it out, pretend that you’re signing up for an Admirals Club membership. Go to this page, enter your AAdvantage number, last name, and password.

If your account has already been updated to reflect the Admirals Club membership, you’ll see that the next page shows “1-Year Citi AADV Exec CC Membership.”

If it hasn’t been updated, you’ll see that it gives you the option of choosing what kind of membership you want to purchase.

Note that this only works for the primary cardmember. Since the authorized users don’t get a full Admirals Club membership, they wouldn’t show up as being eligible online. Authorized users need to present the physical Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, since there’s no membership linked to their AAdvantage account.

How do you add authorized users to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card?

Adding authorized users to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is super easy, and can be done directly on Citi’s website. Follow this link to access the part of the Citi website where you add authorized users, and then log into your account.

On the next page, you’ll be able to manage authorized users, including adding and removing them.

You’ll just need their name to add them, and you have the choice of whether or not you want to give them permission to access your online account.

Does Citi let you set a lower spending limit for authorized users?

Any authorized user on the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card will have full access to your credit line, so be sure you trust them. There’s no way (at least not that I know of) to set a lower limit on an authorized user’s account, and any charges they incur will be your responsibility.

Is there an age limit for Citi AAdvantage Executive Card authorized users?

While Citi has no formal age limit on how old authorized users need to be, you need to be 18 to access Admirals Clubs through the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. This ultimately comes down to whether or not the agent at the entrance asks for your ID (which they very well may).

What happens if you’re already an Admirals Club member?

In the event that you have an existing Admirals Club membership that you paid for, and you get approved for the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, what happens? Assuming you have 60 or more days remaining on your current membership, you’ll receive a pro-rated refund, based on the number of days remaining in your membership.

This will happen automatically to your original form of payment, though it can take up to 12 weeks.

What happens if you cancel your Citi AAdvantage Executive Card?

If you cancel the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, all Admirals Club benefits will immediately be terminated. This means the primary cardmember will lose their Admirals Club membership, and authorized users will lose Admirals Club access.

Is there a better credit card for airport lounge access?

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is without a doubt the best card for accessing American Admirals Clubs, so it’s a card that’s worthwhile for American frequent flyers. However, there are other cards that offer access to a larger selection of airport lounges, assuming you’re not determined to access American lounges.

Just to present a few other options:

Bottom line

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is the best credit card for accessing American Airlines Admirals Clubs. The card not only offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, but also offers complimentary Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users. I’d say this is as close to “too good to be true” as credit card perks get.

Hopefully the above answers any questions people may have had about how this benefit works. If there’s anything I didn’t cover, let me know!

If you have the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, what has your experience been with its value?

Conversations (16)
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  1. FlyerDon Guest

    So one card can potentially allow over thirty people entry to a club. No wonder they are so crowded these days. I’ve also noticed a lot more people acting like slobs when they are in a club. Feet up on the furniture, bags spread out over two or three seats and parents ignoring their kids as they run all over the club. I think I also read that American is granting club access to anyone...

    So one card can potentially allow over thirty people entry to a club. No wonder they are so crowded these days. I’ve also noticed a lot more people acting like slobs when they are in a club. Feet up on the furniture, bags spread out over two or three seats and parents ignoring their kids as they run all over the club. I think I also read that American is granting club access to anyone in business or first class flying internationally or to Hawaii. That’s going to make the club in terminal D, at DFW, more crowded than it already is. Maybe I should save $450 dollars and just sit at the gate.

  2. mangoMan Guest

    I've had the card for just under 5 years now. We do our banking with Citibank and have Citigold status. In the last two years I've received a $145 Citigold relationship bonus around when my annual fee was due.

  3. DCYukon Guest

    I’m still trying to figure out why AA/Citibank switched from Visa to Mastercard many years ago. Mastercards are not widely accepted in many other countries, so are only slightly more useful than Discover Cards. I still have the basic card, but have never had a use for it. In the meantime, I will use my UBS Signature Rewards Visa to reimburse me for an airline club membership of my choice (up to $500 per year),...

    I’m still trying to figure out why AA/Citibank switched from Visa to Mastercard many years ago. Mastercards are not widely accepted in many other countries, so are only slightly more useful than Discover Cards. I still have the basic card, but have never had a use for it. In the meantime, I will use my UBS Signature Rewards Visa to reimburse me for an airline club membership of my choice (up to $500 per year), including the Admiral’s Club and Chase Sapphire Reserve for other travel purchases.

  4. Steve from LA Member

    Question: If you get the card, must you attach you AA number to your flight to get lounge access on that day? I'm a big AS fan, it would be nice to get AS miles and upgrades for my flight but still be able to visit American Lounges and the AS lounge as well. Also do you get to bring in a guest(s) when visiting an AS or partner lounge?

  5. shza Guest

    AA lounge membership does NOT provide access to the Alaska lounge at SFO (probably others also excluded -- but that's my home airport and I fly Alaska way more than AA).

    1. Mike Guest

      That's surprising. It works at SEA and PDX. I fly AA though. Not sure if it would work when flying Alaska.

  6. BenjaminGuttery Gold

    Ben, can you address the 48 month citi rule? From what a supervisor told me, there is no way for ANY signup bonus after you receive one for 4 full years. Doesn't matter. Business of Personal. Same AAdvantage Account = NADA. And if they see the same name or address, they will immediately claw it back. I wanted to upgrade my Citi World Platinum or open up an Citi Executive by itself and they told me: NO OFFERS FOR YOU.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ BenjaminGuttery -- It's not quite that drastic, and I addressed the rule in this post:
      https://onemileatatime.com/citi-card-24-month-rule/

      Generally personal and business cards are considered separately for these purposes. Take a look at that post and let me know if you have any questions.

    2. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      HOWDY Ben! Sp I read the post you mentioned and I'm even more confused now. I'm currently at 22 months of have the World Elite (June 2022 will be 24 months).

      So if I'm interested in getting another CITI AA card then OR upgrading my World to Executive, what am I eligible for or can I do?

      I have a small business too. Sorry, I only have 4 CC's, everything I've learned thus far, I've learned from you!

      (And of course I'll use your links and/or invitation codes)

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ BenjaminGuttery -- Appreciate the support and you reading! :-)

      Essentially each AAdvantage card has a 48 month rule, meaning you can't get the card if you've received a new bonus on that card within the past 48 months. However, that applies to each individual card.

      In other words, you couldn't get the card you currently have again, but you could get any other Citi AAdvantage card, whether it's personal or business. For example, you...

      @ BenjaminGuttery -- Appreciate the support and you reading! :-)

      Essentially each AAdvantage card has a 48 month rule, meaning you can't get the card if you've received a new bonus on that card within the past 48 months. However, that applies to each individual card.

      In other words, you couldn't get the card you currently have again, but you could get any other Citi AAdvantage card, whether it's personal or business. For example, you could pick up the business card, which I wrote about here:
      https://onemileatatime.com/guides/citi-business-aadvantage-card/

      Hope that clarifies things!

    4. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      I think I got it! Okay, so I got the World Elite bonus 22 months ago, but I could get the Personal Executive Card now or in a few months and be eligible for the current bonus? OR get the Citi AA Business card and be eligible too?

      Last question: so are any of the bonuses "good" right now on any of those? Should I wait? Is there a best time of year to wait for Citi AA card bonuses?

  7. Brutus Guest

    The "best" card in a data set of one.

  8. Rich Guest

    How many people know 10 other people that you would be comfortable giving full access to your line of credit, though?

    1. Tom Guest

      So they do have to be authorized users on the actual credit card? Not just your admiral membership? I was thinking there might be a difference

  9. Anthony Diamond

    I got the card last year mainly for the sign up bonus and for occasional lounge access if I fly AA - haven’t flown AA since then, so card hasn’t gotten that much use. A few things to point out:

    1) AA is one of the last remaining major carriers to allow for purchases of day passes, which trigger the Amex air fee credits
    2) In NY at least, American is outsourcing a lot...

    I got the card last year mainly for the sign up bonus and for occasional lounge access if I fly AA - haven’t flown AA since then, so card hasn’t gotten that much use. A few things to point out:

    1) AA is one of the last remaining major carriers to allow for purchases of day passes, which trigger the Amex air fee credits
    2) In NY at least, American is outsourcing a lot of flights to JetBlue out of JFK T5, which has no club

    I’ll fish for a retention offer but will likely downgrade my card to another AA Mileup, which is the best no fee airline card available as it earns 2x on groceries and can help you get status

  10. Russ Member

    I would add in that if you have this card and want to earn loyalty points on AA towards status, it can be a good place to park some non-bonus spend.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ BenjaminGuttery -- Appreciate the support and you reading! :-) Essentially each AAdvantage card has a 48 month rule, meaning you can't get the card if you've received a new bonus on that card within the past 48 months. However, that applies to each individual card. In other words, you couldn't get the card you currently have again, but you could get any other Citi AAdvantage card, whether it's personal or business. For example, you could pick up the business card, which I wrote about here: https://onemileatatime.com/guides/citi-business-aadvantage-card/ Hope that clarifies things!

1
Rich Guest

How many people know 10 other people that you would be comfortable giving full access to your line of credit, though?

1
Tom Guest

So they do have to be authorized users on the actual credit card? Not just your admiral membership? I was thinking there might be a difference

0
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