My Plan For Getting Admirals Club Access After The Citi Prestige Changes

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As someone who primarily flies American domestically, I’ve gotten a ton of value out of the Admirals Club access offered by the Citi Prestige® Card. The card comes with a slew of other benefits that more than justify the annual fee (including a fourth night free hotel benefit), so Admirals Club access was the icing on the cake.

The Citi Prestige Card will no longer offer Admirals Club access

As previously reported, unfortunately there are some changes coming to the card, and as of July 23, 2017, the Citi Prestige Card will no longer offer Admirals Club access as a perk. So now I’m putting some thought into how I plan on getting Admirals Club access going forward. While Admirals Clubs are far from glam, it’s nice to have a (relatively) quiet place from which to work during a layover.

Admirals-Club-LAX-2

The next best option for Admirals Club access?

I suppose I could buy an Admirals Club membership directly, but that isn’t cheap. American charges the following amounts for an Admirals Club membership:

Admirals-Club-Membership-Fees

So as an Executive Platinum member I’d be paying $450 per year for an Admirals Club membership. Fortunately there’s another very good option.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® has a $450 annual fee, and offers an Admirals Club membership. So on the surface it’s a “wash,” without considering the other benefits. However, there’s a lot more value to had from this card.

Perhaps most significantly, you can add authorized users on this card at no additional cost, and they receive Admirals Club access as well. So you can potentially add 10 authorized users and not pay any extra. So I might as well do this and be able to get Admirals Club access for friends and family at no extra cost, essentially.

There’s only one slight problem…

While I could apply for the card and probably be approved, I wouldn’t receive the welcome bonus. The terms of the card state the following:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

I have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (for reasons I explained in a post about my Citi card strategy), and since I got it in the past 24 months, I wouldn’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Executive Card. That’s not a deal breaker since I still think I’d get outsized value with the card compared to paying for an Admirals Club membership outright, but I can do better than that.

The solution…

While my dad and I both have Citi AAdvantage cards already, my mom and Ford don’t. So the best option is to have one of them pick up the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and I’ll cover the annual fee — they’ll get the sign-up bonus, and can add me as an authorized user, and I’ll still have full Admirals Club access. That seems like a win-win, and a condition under which we’d keep the card long term.

To those of you who have been relying on the Citi Prestige Card for Admirals Club access, what’s your plan for getting access in the future?

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Comments

  1. A bit confused (non-American). So you are already oneworld Emerald and AA Exec Platinum and you still have to _pay_ to get access to a lounge when flying AA????

  2. @ Oliver

    Yeah, as an AA elite, unless you’re flying internationally you have to pay for AA lounge access. All other OW Emeralds get complimentary access regardless if they’re flying domestic or international.

  3. Got a targeted offer in my email to upgrade the Platinum for the Executive by the end of March and it comes with 20k miles…. might be worth it

  4. Share the wealth, Ben, allocate one guest spot for the admiral pass for one of your faithful readers, make a fun meme contest (or just give it to the person who came up with the contest idea in the first place :-0)

  5. @Peter B – thanks for the heads-up. Still – those membership fees are substantial (especially given how many Priority Passes people on this site have in their wallets). Are Admiral Club Lounges that much better than Priority Pass lounges? I remember staying in one when in the US and not being impressed (I’m based in HK and the PP lounges here are nicer).

  6. @ RKToledo — I do, but those have value too. I could redeem them for up to five one-way domestic upgrades. So just because I have the points doesn’t mean I want to redeem them for something where I’m not maximizing their value.

  7. @ Kevin — Given that you can’t get both the Platinum and Executive bonuses, it does indeed sound like it might be worthwhile.

  8. @ Susan — Yeah, that’s a good point. Maybe it’s something I should consider. I guess the thing is that I already credit most of my revenue flights to American, and I also have a lot of oneworld award flights, which aren’t eligible for mileage accrual.

  9. @Lucky. So you could not get the bonus because you opened the AA Platinum Select card WITHIN the last 2 years, is that correct? Since I opened it 3 years ago, I should be fine (getting the bonus), shouldn’t I? Thanks.

  10. First. I love the prestige card as it is. So sad the changes are happening.

    I am considering getting the Citi advantage card, adding an authorized user and having them pay a portion of the sign up bonus ($100). I think full admirals club access for $100 is a pretty good deal.

  11. @ Daniel B. — Correct, as long as you haven’t opened or closed the card, you should be fine. If you’ve had it open for three years and don’t close it, you should be eligible.

  12. What a ridiculous policy that you don’t get AA lounge access domestically with OWE unless that OWE is with an airline other than AA! How backwards!
    Imagine if BA or QR only allowed F lounge access to elites from competing airlines? People would desert that program in droves!

  13. If you have a Spg Amex card, can you get access to any lounge or American Express lounge (including Admiral Lounge)?

  14. If you are an elite member on Alaska you get a discount to the Board Room Membership so even though you already get it through Priority Pass, could be a cheaper alternative

  15. Is there no option to just status match your AA status with a one world partner rather than earning the hard way? E.g. air berlin or something… don’t they do regular status matches? Then you get one world emerald and domestic lounge access. Or will they not status match a one world partner?

  16. @Jared – That’s my situation. I use the Amex Plat $200 credit to buy an AS membership. As an MVP Gold my out of pocket is $95 and I have access to BR and AC. I know you can get BR thought PP, but I don’t want any access/overcrowding shenanigans.

  17. I currently have the Citi Platinum Select… I’m not too concerned about the signup bonus. Does Citi allow one to “upgrade” from the Platinum Select to the Executive (with the additional yearly fee)? Or do I have to apply for a new account?

  18. Lucky,
    To clarify, only the primary cardholder has full Admirals Club access. Authorized users onky have access privileges when flying American.
    From the card terms:
    “Only Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard® primary cardmembers who are eighteen (18) years of age or older will receive full membership access privileges to Admirals Club® lounges. An Authorized User of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard® who is eighteen (18) years of age or older will receive access privileges to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges. Full Admirals Club® membership privileges do not apply to an Authorized User.”
    I have the card and value it for the full membership access it provides. I find it worth the annual fee.

  19. I have 5 friends as UA on my Exec card they each pay me $100/y to get access it’s cheaper than their own membership and my Fee is paid for, a nice win/win for everybody.

  20. I received a status match with Air Berlin Gold using my United Gold Status, which provided me with Admirals Club access. It will probably end at the end of February 2017 so I recently received the Citi Executive card to continue my club access.

  21. I applied for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and three months later the Citi AAdvantage Executive in 2016. I received the 50,000 bonus on the first and 80,000 on the second. I advised them that the Executive application was from a targeted offer from AA as it was.

    I don’t fly with AA often but credit to Alaska Airlines when I do. The Executive card gives me access to the Alaska Boardrooms which is of great value to me.

    I use the World Elite for award redemptions to get 10% back and often redeem for flights on Alaska Metal.

    I am Canadian living in a city serviced by Alaska so it is my goto Airline connecting me to their hub in Seattle. I own properties in Phoenix and have an ITIN for tax purposes (Individual Tax Identification Number). Although I am a non-resident Alien of the United States my ITIN and Residential Address in the United States were sufficient to be approved for Credit Cards. The first was a bit of a challenge but the second, third, fourth… were relatively easy.

    If there are other Canadians with an ITIN and a US residential address you should be able to get US credit card approvals.

    Cheers

  22. @Tony, can you set a credit limit on your AUs? Meaning, what prevents them from overcharging on your account?

  23. @Jonathan they are not allowed to charge anything on the cards, they are AU just for access to AC’s. I never inquired about credit limits for them.

  24. I cannot decide between The AMEX Platinum and The Citi Plat Advantage Executive Card. I see AA is upgrading Admirals Clubs with a better food and drink menu. They now have server that brings drinks to where your sitting and have a made to order guacamole bar. If they will match what Centurion lounges offers in their clubs, I will get the Executive card, if not then I’ll go with Amex

  25. Admirals club sucks. I am an EP and had the club for years. This is the first year I decided against renewing. Salty soup, bud light, and awful hummus is really no benefit. I would rather hang out in a paid for restaurant or bar and get real food and drink. The admirals club is as sorry as the airline they are owned by.

    They should up the fee which would lower the amount of people that are in them and then raise the quality of food and drink. Give Centurion lounge some competition and you would have people that want to belong to a club. I would gladly pay more money for that. Thankfully I don’t, as Amex Centurion fills the niche beautifully.

  26. I know English is an imprecise language, but …
    “American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.”

    “Opened” is different from “open”.
    “Opened” implies that it was started within the past 24 months, while “open” means that it was simply in use during the past 24.
    Have you verified that the bonus miles are NOT available simply because I have a platinum Advantage card that I have been using for several years? It wads NOT “opened” or “closed” within in the past 24 months.
    (Upon re-reading I recognize that I sound like a politician, so please excuse that)

  27. I’m torn and in the same predicament. I am an EXP and fly AA for business. I have the Citi Prestige and will keep it as the 4th night free is a heck of a perk especially since most trips for me are 6 days. No brainer!

    I hate to lose lounge access but the AA lounges are all very boring, I will agree.

    I’m torn between the world elite or jumping ship and trying the AMEX cards and seeing what their lounges are like. Most of my flights are based in the USA. I have the priority pass as well but never used it.

    I don’t believe I’ve had a card open aside from a business card in the last 24 months which was AA branded. Do you think calling will have any flags to verify? Hate to lose the signup bonus if I don’t have to. Don’t mind waiting the extra few months as lounge access isn’t something I’m in desperate need of.

  28. @Kyle. AUs get access to admiral’s clubs no matter what airline they’re flying. They don’t need to be flying American. (AUs don’t get access to reciprocal clubs the way primary users do.)

    I’m going to dump my Citi prestige since they stopped the admirals club access. Not sure if I’m going to get the AAdvantage world elite yet.

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