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As someone who is primarily an American flyer, I value Admirals Club access. Not because the lounges are amazing, or anything, but rather because I value having a (relatively) quiet place from which to work with free wifi. However, I’ve never directly purchased an Admirals Club membership.
Admirals Club membership costs increasing
For those of you who do pay for an Admirals Club membership, the cost will be increasing for memberships purchased or renewed as of July 25, 2016.
If you’re purchasing a membership in cash, the cost is increasing by $50 for an individual membership or $100 for a household membership:
Meanwhile if redeeming miles for a membership, the cost is increasing by 5,000 miles for a personal membership or 10,000 miles for a household membership (but please don’t redeem your miles for an Admirals Club membership, as it’s a horrible value):
There’s one other change which is being made to Admirals Club memberships in the process. American is discontinuing 30 day Admirals Club memberships as of July 25, 2016. That costs $99, and is a relative bargain, in my opinion. A day pass costs $50, so you’d come out ahead after two visits. That doesn’t even account for the fact that you can bring in guests with a 30 day membership, while each individual would have to buy their own day pass.
It’s also interesting that American expressly added the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® to the membership chart, explaining that the annual fee on that card isn’t increasing. The card comes with an Admirals Club membership, and with these changes the annual fee on the card is now identical to the lowest possible membership cost for Executive Platinum members.
Two better ways to get Admirals Club access
It’s interesting that American is raising the cost of Admirals Club access, since I suspect the number of people actually buying memberships is decreasing, while the number of people accessing them through credit cards is increasing. Though that’s likely by design, I suppose.
There are two fantastic credit cards which offer Admirals Club access. These include the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card and the Citi Prestige Card. Both cards have $450 annual fee, and come with some awesome perks.
The Citi Prestige Card offers Admirals Club access, rather than an outright Admirals Club membership. The major distinction here is that you only get Admirals Club access when you’re flying American the same day, while with a membership you get access even if you’re flying another airline.
What makes the card so awesome is that it comes with many other great perks, including the following:
- A $250 annual airline credit
- Access to American Admirals Clubs
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
That $250 annual airline credit is almost good as cash to me, so for mental accounting purposes I’m paying $200 per year for the card. And for that I get so many awesome perks. The fourth night free benefit alone has saved me thousands of dollars. So when I look at all the perks, I don’t really have to allocate any amount of the annual fee towards the Admirals Club access offered by the card.
Meanwhile the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card offers an Admirals Club membership, rather than just Admirals Club access. That means you get Admirals Club access even if you’re flying another airline. But the real kicker is that authorized users on the card get Admirals Club access as well. You can add up to 10 authorized users on the card at no additional cost, so the $450 annual Citi AAdvantage Executive Card will really cover Admirals Club access for 11 people.
While I plan on keeping the Citi Prestige Card long term and it covers my Admirals Club needs, I’m tempted to pick up the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card as a way of getting Admirals Club access for 10 friends & family members.
It’s a bummer that the Admirals Club membership cost is going up, though I’ve also never paid it, and in my opinion there’s no good reason to do so, unless you’re not eligible for US credit cards. I suspect this is almost being done as a way to push their co-brand credit card even more.
Does anyone reading actually pay for an Admirals Club membership, rather than have access through a credit card?