Everything You Need To Know About Citi Prestige Lounge Access

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Citi has two fantastic sign-up bonuses on cards which accrue ThankYou Preferred points at the moment, including:

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is a mid-range card with excellent spend category bonuses, so is intended to compete with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.

Meanwhile the Citi Prestige® Card is intended to compete with the higher annual fee cards out there, like the The Platinum Card® from American Express, by not just being rewarding for everyday spend, but by also offering lots of travel perks.

The Citi Prestige Card comes with two great lounge access perks, so I figured I’d dive into the details of the benefits, given that there are lots of questions about the specifics:

Admirals Club access 

The Citi Prestige Card offers access to Admirals Clubs with same day travel on American and US Airways. The basic terms of lounge access are as follows:

  • You can access any Admirals Club within 12 hours of your American or US Airways flight arriving or departing
  • You can bring in either two guests or immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age)
  • Only the primary cardmember receives this Admirals Club benefit — additional cardmembers on the Citi Prestige Card don’t receive Admirals Club access
  • To access the Admirals Club, simply show your Citi Prestige Card, which has verbiage on the card indicating that you receive Admirals Club access (if you’re an additional cardmember then you won’t see the “Admirals Club lounge access” verbiage on the back of the card)

Admirals-Club-Access

It’s important to note that the card comes with Admirals Club access and not an Admirals Club membership. The main distinction is that an Admirals Club membership would get you access to Admirals Clubs even when you’re traveling on a different airline.

Admirals-Club-Honolulu-Airport-11
Access the Admirals Club Honolulu with a Citi Prestige Card

If you’re a frequent American flyer, then Admirals Club access is just about as useful as an Admirals Club membership, in my opinion.

Priority Pass Select membership

In addition to Admirals Club access, the Citi Prestige Card also comes with a Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass is the largest independent collection of airport lounges, with over 700 lounge across the world.

Priority-Pass-1

You’ll receive a separate Priority Pass card once you apply for the Citi Prestige Card, which is required to access Priority Pass lounges. It should arrive automatically within a couple of weeks of when you first receive your Citi Prestige® Card in the mail.

While Admirals Club access is limited to the primary cardmember, even the authorized cardmembers on the Citi Prestige Card receive a Priority Pass Select membership. Since you can add authorized cardmembers for just $50 each, that’s a great way to get an inexpensive Priority Pass Select membership for several friends and family members.

I’ve received quite a few emails asking if the card does in fact come with free Priority Pass Select lounge access, since the terms do seem to (slightly) contradict themselves.

Bullet point one of the Citi Prestige Priority Pass Select terms & conditions read as follows:

Primary and Authorized users are granted complimentary access to the Priority Pass lounges and allowed a maximum of up to two guests or immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age). Any additional guests will be charged a $27 per guest, per visit charge.

Meanwhile bullet point six reads as follows:

Lounge visits are subject to a $27 per person per visit charge. Priority Pass may amend the lounge visit charges at any time on providing 30 days’ notice in advance of such change. Where the cardholder receives the Priority Pass card through third party card issuer, any changes in lounge visit charges shall be notified to Citi, who is responsible for advising the cardholder. The cardholder agrees that the Priority Pass Group of companies is not responsible for any disputes that may occur between the cardholder and Citi nor for any loss incurred by the cardholder relating to any lounge visit charges debited by Citi.

I’ve followed up with Citi on this, and they’ve confirmed that bullet point six refers to lounge access beyond the member and their first two guests.

There’s one other distinction worth noting. The Citi Prestige® Card offers a Priority Pass Select membership, which is slightly different than a “standard” Priority Pass membership. The distinction is that a Priority Pass Select membership doesn’t get you access to United Clubs. But this will become a moot point as of May 15, 2015, anyway, since even “standard” Priority Pass memberships will no longer get you United Club access.

Korean-Air-Lounge-Incheon-14
Access the Korean Air Lounge Seoul Incheon with a Priority Pass Select membership

Bottom line

Lounge access is only one of the many awesome benefits of the Citi Prestige Card. I think the Citi Prestige Card is valuable for just about everyone for the first year, but in my case this is a card I’ll be holding onto long term.

As an Executive Platinum with American this will be my “ticket” into the Admirals Club for all my domestic travel, as well as the card I use for Priority Pass access.

While the Citi Prestige® Card has a $450 annual fee, it also comes with a $250 airline credit each year. With your first year’s annual fee you’ll get two of those credits (since the annual fee is based on cardmember years while the airline credit is based on calendar years). So you’re $50 ahead already, and that doesn’t even account for all the points and other perks you get.

Hopefully that answers all the questions anyone could have about lounge access with the Citi Prestige Card — if not, please let me know!

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Comments

  1. Ben

    You posted a picture of Admirals Club Honolulu which infact is a partner lounge (with JAL). To my understanding access is limited to Admirals Club lounges only and does not cover partner airline lounges. Did you clarify this as well?

  2. @ Rick — Hah, admittedly the Honolulu Admirals Club is an interesting one. It’s my understanding that it’s operated as a joint Admirals Club and JAL Sakura Lounge, so for access purposes it’s the same as any other Admirals Club.

  3. @ Mike — With Citi you can apply for one card every eight days and no more than two cards every 65 days. More than that generally isn’t happening.

  4. So you don’t get admitted to partner lounges. The only two I think I might (someday) care slightly about are the Qantas lounges and the JAL lounge at Frankfurt. You might think that the Alaska lounges would be excluded as well, but you actually do get access to those through the Priority Pass feature of the card.

  5. Ben,

    Do you have to apply for the priority pass? (ie. online or by calling citi) or do you get enrolled automatically.

  6. Do I receive an actual priority pass card or can I enter the lounge by simply showing my Citi prestige credit card?

    Also, for my United Mileage Plus Visa which comes with two one-day United Club passes – do I need paper passes or can I just show that card?

    Thanks!

  7. @ pw — Nope, it should be automatic. Or so I’m told (I just recently got the card, and they said I should get the Priority Pass Select card within a couple of weeks.

  8. @pw: You don’t have to do anything to get the Priority Pass card. It’s automatic. In my case it arrived a week or so after I received the Prestige card itself.

  9. @ Phil — You should get a Priority Pass card in the mail. As far as the MileagePlus Visa goes, you should get two paper vouchers as far as I know.

  10. Lucky, would I get access to an Admirals Club if I was ticketed on a codeshare, but the metal was AA?

  11. Having been a United Club member for a year, I had many problems accessing foreign partner lounges, especially when travelling on another airline. Are the Priority Pass lounges better at adhering to the terms, other than the reported ‘lounge is full’ excuse?

  12. I PM’ed Citi about whether I needed to register separately or when my PP card would arrive, and I got the following:

    Priority Pass is now known as Lounge First. Enrollment into this benefit is not automatic. In order to enroll, you will need to visit http://www.travelbenefits.citi.com. Specific airline lounge terms and conditions can be viewed on the Lounge First website. Lounge First enrollment is only valid for 1 year from date enrolled on Lounge First website, not calendar year and must be re-enrolled each year and cost $35.00.

    Great, they are totally up to date on this!

  13. @ Jason — Yep, the lounges even typically have Priority Pass signage on the door. I’ve never had an issue, personally.

  14. Now I just have to decide which Citi card I’m going apply for today and which I am going to apply for 8 days from now. Maybe Prestige first?

  15. @ Lauren — Shouldn’t make a difference either way, but can’t hurt to do Prestige first so those benefits kick in, and then do Premier in ~8 days.

  16. Does anyone have any feedback on how long it takes for the priority pass card to come? I just applied/was approved today, but leave on an international trip two weeks from yesterday.

    Also, that does indeed come automatic (there is nothing I need to do to request)?

    Thanks!

  17. @ Jason I went to that site and entered my Citi Prestige info and the next pages just said;

    “Thank you for your interest in the $200 Travel Credit. Please contact customer service using the number on the back of your card if you have questions about this benefit or would like to enroll.”

    I have no idea what the $200 is supposed to entail. I applied for my card last Tuesday, it was at my doorstep on Thursday morning, and by that night I had applied for my Global Entry. Global entry was approved in about 30 hours, and I did a walk-in to my local office (Tampa, Fl) this morning and was verified within 10 minutes.

  18. My Citi Executive Mastercard,
    Has great car rental benefits especially as it covers insurance on car rentals in Ireland which nobody else covers that I can find, including Amex Platinum. I cannot find any Car rental benefits information for the Prestige card so can you tell me if it will cover rentals in Ireland too ??
    Best to all……………Kieran

  19. For those asking about the time it takes to receive the priority pass card, I applied for and was instantly approved for the prestige the night of April 9, priority pass card arrived in the mail today April 20. It was automatic, did not call or inquire about it.

  20. “You can access any Admirals Club within 12 hours of your American or US Airways flight arriving or departing”

    Where is that stated so I can pull up if needed? I have an award trip coming up where the 1st leg is on AA then the next 2 legs/layovers will be on partner Hawaiin so I’m thrilled if this is indeed true.

  21. Well that’s probably why I got turned down for the Citi Premier card. I’ve applied for two other Citi cards this month and got them both. I guess I got greedy with the Premier. I even called CS and asked them to convert an old Citi AA Visa card to a Premier and they said they would, but they wouldn’t honor the 50K new offer. So I told them then to cancel my AA card and they called my bluff. Oh well ha ha, saved me the $95 annual fee on a card I never used anyway.

  22. @ Chris — A standby ticket does seem to be valid. Per the terms:
    “A boarding pass or stand-by ticket, showing an American, American Eagle Airlines, Inc., or an American Connection carrier flight number, valid for travel on such flight and departing within 12 hours of the Admirals Club visit (or, in the case of a visit at an arrival airport, with respect to such a flight that arrived no more than 12 hours prior to the visit).”

  23. Hi, Lucky. Thanks a lot for your insight. 2 questions:
    1. Priority Pass can be used unlimited within 1-year?
    2. Priority Pass does not required to fly with AA?

  24. Are all US Airways lounges now considered Admirals club? I noticed on the fine print that it does not include US Airways lounge access.

  25. @ anlovescat — Priority Pass can be used an unlimited number of times for as long as you’re a member, yes. There are no airline requirements for using Priority Pass lounges.

  26. If both myself and an authorized credit card user get the priority pass membership cards, does it mean that we can bring 4 guests into the lounge with us for free (assuming we are all traveling together)?

  27. 2 questions for you, I called priority pass in Plano and they said verbally you and family PLUS 2 guests, has anyone else heard this, and why do they scan your boarding pass even when you have the pp select from CITI Prestige?

  28. Hello,
    I was wondering about accessing the Admiral’s Club lounges with Citi Prestige if you’re on a co-share flight. Say the flight was booked with American, but the actual plane was BA, could you still access the lounge? Or what about vice versa? I do Philly to Manchester fairly frequently, but this is a code share between US/AA/BA …
    Thanks!
    Anna

  29. @ Anna — You do have to be flying on American or US Airways “metal” (not just codeshare) to access the lounge with the Citi Prestige Card.

  30. Does anyone know (from experience) whether or not they actually ask for proof you are flying AA/US? Just wondering. (I rarely fly American, but have the prestige and would love to try the lounge. ; )

  31. Just to be crystal clear before I apply……..the Priority Pass will allow myself and 2 guests into their lounges without additional fees- as long as I have the card?

    Thanks 🙂

  32. Hi Lucky –

    Flying Alaska from ORD , I’m guessing that I can’t get in the Admiral at ORD but can get into the Board room at ANC -correct?
    THANKS!

  33. Is it still the case that you only receive Admiral’s Club access with this card? The website now reads:
    Citi Prestige primary cardholders

    “You have access to:
    -All domestic Admirals Club locations
    -All international Admirals Club locations when departing on the same day on an American Airlines or US Airways operated flight”

    Doesn’t this suggest that it now includes access to all domestic Admiral’s Club lounges regardless of whether you are traveling on AA? (The next section does say that you need to present a boarding pass, however…)

  34. The terms of the card say “A boarding pass or stand-by ticket, showing an American, American Eagle Airlines, Inc., or an American Connection carrier flight number”, which does not seem like it would allow access if flying on US Airways. But I have read in several places that it will?

    I’m flying tomorrow on US Airways operated by US Airways Express and am not sure if this will grant me access to the Admiral’s Club in Phoenix. I’d rather not be turned away with my family in tow if being on an US Airways ticket doesn’t allow us access. (we could also go to The Club with Priority Pass Select).

  35. Actually I think I’ve figured it out…from the Admiral’s Club website:

    When you arrive, please present your:
    Boarding pass for same day travel on an American Airlines or US Airways operated flight^
    ^Citi Prestige Card holder must present a stand-by ticket or boarding pass showing an American and/or American Eagle carrier flight number

    So US Airways OPERATED flights are ok, but you still need to be flying on an American ticket. So I guess we will head to The Club!

  36. My friend (who I will not be traveling with) let me borrow his Citi Prestige credit card. Will I be able to walk into the Admirals Club lounge with his card and get access? Or will they deny me if they ask for boarding pass and it doesn’t match?
    Thanks

  37. So if I book a domestic flight on BA.com with avios points, and the flight is actually operated by AA. Do I get admiral lounge access with Citi prestige card?

  38. Admiral’s Club question: I am about to buy tickets to Europe on Expedia, and it’s indicated as AA flights. However, in details it says that the flights are operated by Finnair. Can I get access to Admirals Club Lounge with my Citi Prestige (tickets were bought with a different card though) at JFK from where we depart? Will the tickets, once printed at the airport, be AA tickets or Finnair tickets?
    Thanks!

  39. It also looks I can buy the same tickets on AA website. Is this making them AA tix and therefore eligible for the Admiral’s Club lounge?

  40. @Connie, doesn’t matter where you buy the tickets if the flight isn’t operated by AA/US – I don’t think you get lounge access.

  41. Please check and advice why my priority pass cannot accessible to the Changi airport. My card no: 887395 004799940.

  42. Sort of a weird question but do know if it is possible to enter one of the priority pass lounges with 2 people and then exit with those two and enter again with two others on the same day? I’m traveling with my siblings and parents and was wondering if I could take them all separately to get a quick snack at the lounges during our long layover. Or is the entry only once per day. Thanks in advance.

  43. I’ve 75k prestige offer. Do I apply for it now ? would I get Airline credit for this year if I get GC for AA right away?

  44. Hi,
    I plan to use my priority pass from citi prestige for first time. How does the whole process work?
    Specifically, about including immediate family members. How would folks at lounge reception know not to charge for immediate family members upon presenting this priority pass card from citi prestige? Reason I ask is, priority pass from AMEX does not have this option to bring immediate family members at no cost, so how would they know the difference between card issued via AMEX platinum benefit Vs Citi Prestige benefit ?
    TIA

  45. Apparently individual lounges can still ignore the family benefit for Priority Pass. KAL lounge in LAX won’t let more than 2 guests total.
    Just like with UA Club partners, this is just another example of family lounge benefits that have disclaimers when they don’t want kids in their lounge.

  46. Since it has been asked in the comments, here is another data point RE timeframe for receiving Priority Pass Card (still mirroring timing from April)

    10/23 Applied for Prestige card online. Instant approval.
    10/27 Received Prestige card via Fed Ex.
    10/31 received Priority Pass card via US Mail.

    Enrollment in Priority Pass was automatic, no action was required on my part.

  47. Hi,
    I just got approved for the Prestige card and have a flight for work already booked next week flying into LGA on Delta. Since I won’t be able to use the Prestige to get into the Admirals club, is there a fee to get into the lounges with Priority Pass? I thought I heard there was a $27 associated with it. Hopefully I’m wrong.
    Any help is greatly appreciated!
    Sean

  48. I will be flying on an award ticket on AA metal from LAX to LHR with a layover at DFW. Will my Prestige card still grant me access to the Admirals club lounges at LAX and DFW even though I am using an award ticket?

  49. @shua – you cancel prestige, priority pass is cancelled along with it.

    @rick: yes you can still use prestige Admirals Club access with award tickets.

  50. Hi Ben,

    I just have a quick question. I currently have the AA Executive Card and also the Citi Premier card, but can only keep one card due to the annual fee. I was just wondering, if it would be a better option to keep the AA card or to discontinue both cards and switch to the Citi Prestige card? I fly primarily AA and already get additional lounge access from the AMEX Platinum + Priority Pass (but of course this does not include Admirals Club access).

    Thanks for all of the wonderful advice on your blog!

    Cheers,
    George

  51. Here’s a question. When you bring a friend to the lounge, do they scan their ticket too? I just moved to Florida (girlfriends a teacher, she’s coming down in fall). We have a few trips but may meet at a final destination or leave on different airlines (more miles with southwest and cheaper).

    I have the Prestige card.. Will her boarding pass get scanned too or just mine and I say I have a guest?

    Thanks!

  52. Can someone help me understand this exclusion listed on AA’s site link about who can access their clubs.

    Lounge access is not available if you’re traveling on American Airlines solely within the United States or between the United States and the Caribbean, Canada, or Mexico (except Mexico City) unless you’re a oneworld Emerald or Sapphire customer. However, AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum members regardless of Emerald or Sapphire status, are not eligible.

    Am I misunderstanding this but isn’t this stating only international flights apply to admiral club access?

  53. David: That is correct. I was flying first class on AA from Miami to Phoenix but was refused Admirals Club entry with my Priority Pass. They said it had to be international.

  54. Hello, my question relates to Global Entry and TSA pre check with the Citi Prestige card. If Global Entry applies only to the primary card holder then if I am traveling with my wife does she have to go into the regular line or can she be with me in the pre check and special kiosk line?

  55. Juan wrote: “I was flying first class on AA from Miami to Phoenix but was refused Admirals Club entry with my Priority Pass. They said it had to be international.”

    You’ve got it all wrong. You simply presented the wrong credentials: Priority Pass doesn’t allow Admiral’s Club access, rather the Citi Prestige card itself does. They were correct to refuse you entry with a Priority Pass, but if you had presented a current Citi Prestige card, they would have allowed the primary cardholder to enter.

  56. Does admiral club front desk check boarding pass or only citi prestige card?
    Bottom line is if they check which airline

  57. Question about the priority pass select membership. It seems that the PP-Select membership is valid for 3 years. What if I cancel my Prestige card prior to the end date of the PP-Select valid date. Does that automatically cancel my PP-Select membership as well?

  58. We are a large family, I have 6 kids and my wife. Will the card allow me to bring my immediate family in for free or would i have to pay $27 for each person? Am a bit confused.

  59. @ Ben Sutarom — You’re talking about a card issued in the U.S. or Thailand? This post was about benefits for the U.S. Citi Prestige Card.

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