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Reader DanceDiscoInferno asked the following in the “Ask Lucky” forum:
Since I live in the Philadelphia area, should I get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® because it’s a hub city for American? It would allow me to use the Admirals Club. Is that worth the $450 annual fee? I fly for pleasure about 4 times a year. I have an AMEX Premier Rewards Card and a Chase United Mileage Plus Visa Card.
It’s an interesting question, especially since DanceDiscoInferno only flies a few times a year on American.
The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card sign-up bonus is fantastic
The sign-up bonus on this card is fantastic, as it offers 75,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $7,500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. While that’s a big minimum spend, AAdvantage miles are extremely valuable, and that alone is more than enough for a one-way first class ticket between the US and Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines.
The card has a $450 annual fee, though it comes with an Admirals Club membership — it’s actually the only credit card to offer an Admirals Club membership. Ultimately I’d prefer accessing the Admirals Club through the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card than through directly buying a membership.
That being said, there’s still an all around better value proposition in this case.
The Citi Prestige® Card is an all around better option
Given DanceDiscoInferno‘s situation, I think the Citi Prestige® Card is still an all around better option. The card also has a $450 annual fee, but right off the bat offers a $250 annual airline credit, which can be applied to the cost of airfare, upgrades, etc. That’s an annual benefit, so if you value that anywhere close to face value, it more or less means the card is really costing you $200 “out of pocket” every year.
This card also offers Admirals Club access. The distinction is that it’s not technically a membership, since you have to be flying American same day in order to access the Admirals Club using your Citi Prestige® Card.
In addition to the $250 annual credit and Admirals Club access, the card also offers the following perks:
- A sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months — those points can be transferred to one of their airline transfer partners, or be redeemed for $800+ worth of flights on American/US Airways
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
In the reader’s situation, he’d be spending ~$200 out of pocket for the card, which in and of itself might be worth it for Admirals Club access on four trips per year. Meanwhile I don’t think Admirals Club access on four trips per year would be worth the ~$450 annual fee on the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card.
Add in all the other perks (Priority Pass membership, a fourth night free hotel benefit, etc.), the excellent points earnings structure on the card, and the great sign-up bonus, and I think the Citi Prestige® Card would be a fantastic fit in the above situation.