How To Get Admirals Club Access For $200 Per Year

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Update: The Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou® Premier now offer 1.25¢ per point towards travel on any airline, versus the previous enhanced redemption rate on American Airlines. The Citi Prestige no longer offers lounge access to American Admirals Clubs. Learn more about the current offers here.

Early last year, Citi came out with what was hands down the best sign-up bonus of the year — they were offering a 100,000 mile sign-up bonus on the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card.

Probably the reason for such a big bonus was that the American Express Platinum Card would no longer get you into Admirals Clubs, and Citi wanted to make a push for the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card and hopefully gain some market share. Their card did get you into the Admirals Club, so it was a compelling point of difference for many.

With the 100,000 mile sign-up bonus it was an absolute no brainer, and for the past year I think a vast majority of us have had an Admirals Club membership. Justifying the $450 annual fee isn’t that tough with such a huge sign-up bonus.


But for many of us the card is now up for renewal. If you’re like me, you’re likely trying to figure out what to do.

I do value Admirals Club access, given how much I fly with American domestically. While Admirals Clubs aren’t glamorous, it is useful to have a quiet place with wifi from which to work.

The Citi Prestige® Card also offers Admirals Club access

The Citi Executive AAdvantage Card isn’t the only card that can get you into an Admirals Club — the Citi Prestige Card can as well. The one distinction to note is that the Citi Prestige doesn’t offer an Admirals Club membership, but instead offers Admirals Club access.

The major distinction is Citi Prestige cardholders may only access the club when traveling on American or US Airways that same day. You’re still allowed to bring in two guests or immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age).

Admirals Club access for $200 per year

The awesome thing about this card is that the Citi Prestige offers a $250 annual airline fee credit. This credit can be used towards airfare, baggage fees, lounge access, and some in-flight purchases. That’s right, the credit can officially be used towards airfare.

Is there anyone here that doesn’t spend at least $250 per year on airfare, be it on taxes or the fare itself? To me that’s as good as cash, and lowers my “cost” to keeping the card to $200.

The Citi Prestige® Card also offers a $100 Global Entry application fee credit, if you’re not yet enrolled.

Citi Prestige® Card basic details

Here are the very basic details of the card:

  • Sign-up bonus: earn 30,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $2,000 in purchases made with your card in the first three months the account is open
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Foreign transaction fees: none

The Citi Prestige® Card is rewarding for everyday spend as well

I’ve written extensively about the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which is Citi’s closest competition to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.

The Premier Card will be undergoing some changes in terms of its bonus categories as of April 19, 2015:


But what’s worth noting is that the Citi Prestige® Card also offers some extremely lucrative bonus categories. The card offers:

  • 3x points on air travel and hotels
  • 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • 1x point for all other purchases

So in terms of category bonuses, the only difference between the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is that the latter offers bonus points in more “travel” categories — not just airfare and hotels, but also gas, car rental agencies, etc.

But if those specific travel categories aren’t that important to you, the Citi Prestige Card can actually be a great substitute for the Citi ThankYou Premier Card.

Regardless, it’s a great card for everyday spend thanks to the lucrative bonus categories.

Bottom line

I’m seriously considering this card, given that my Citi Executive AAdvantage Card is up for renewal next month. I don’t want particularly want to pay the $450 annual fee, give the card isn’t actually rewarding for everyday spend.

So picking up the Citi Prestige® Card seems like a no brainer. Not only is it rewarding for everyday spend, but it’s also the cheapest way I’ve been able to find for accessing Admirals Clubs. $200 per year is a price I’ll gladly pay for Admirals Club access.

Has anyone found a cheaper way to get Admirals Club access, or “jumped ship” to the Citi Prestige® Card for that reason?

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  1. The NZ Qantas hack is better, as long as you have status that you can match. Think they extended it a few weeks, not sure if it’s current.

  2. Lucky

    How about getting AC membership at $350 (EXP renewal rate). I believe you can meet the spending on 3x with your business. But it’s not a bad idea for folks not heavy on spend/manufactured spend.

  3. @Mike they are proactively mailing out flyers as well to CitiGold members with another thank you card. I have a preferred (no fee) and received the upgrade offer.

  4. Hey Lucky, If memory serves, don’t you have oneworld emerald/sapphire status via BA? Doesn’t that get you AC access anyway?

  5. Any chance we can downgrade the AA Exec card to prestige? Or do you guys think 30K points is worth the hard pull (and potential rejection for too many apps)?

  6. Lucky: let me get this right. You’re saying that the Admirals Club membership allows me to access the lounge even when I’m not flying AA/USAir ?? Is that right?

  7. Prestige also has a fourth night free hotel benefit (through Carlson Wagonlit, any publicly avail rate) and a Prestige club pass which allows family or up to two guests without the usual $27 pp fee. For lux travelers, additional benefits for all Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton properties – booked through their service. Three rounds of golf too.

  8. You don’t need to have a Citi Gold account, just walk into a Citibank branch and fill out the application. You get $350 a/f for life with same benefits. Wonder why nobody mentions this.

  9. @Traveling Rabbit: It appears that you can do a product change from the Executive to the Prestige. There’s a flyertalk thread about it in the Citi forum and reports are positive.

    I considered doing that myself but I decided to go ahead and get the branch Citigold offer with the lower $350 AF and 60K bonus. I have Citigold (took a $400 offer for that), but some people have reported success getting the branch offer even if they don’t have Citigold accounts. Some have been denied, but you could always open a Citigold checking account, get the offer, and then downgrade the checking account before you have to pay the fees.

  10. I’ve been thinking why this card have not been broadcasted yet. It also have priority select membership with complimentary priority lounge entries. Even free to 2 guests

  11. @dbeach,

    is the 60k bonus a special offer from any flyer? or a normal offer when applying in Citi Branch?

  12. @pm6163: The 60K offer is the normal one available in the branch, though in theory it is only intended for Citigold customers. The offer is for 30K after $3000 spend in three months, then 30K after an additional $12K in the first 12 months ($15K total spend for the 60K TYPs). Annual fee is $350. The spend is a little steep but I intend to use the card anyway (certainly for hotels and airfare) so it’s not a big hurdle for me.

  13. The American Express Platinum card gives a $200 airline credit that can be applied to admirals club. If you are an American Airlines Executive Platinum member which I am you can renew an admirals club membership for $350, but if you have the platinum card which I also have you can apply the $200 credit towards the renewal making a renewal $150 for an exec platinum.

  14. @ Patrick — While you can certainly mentally account for it that way if you’d like, you’re assuming there’s no opportunity cost to that airline fee credit. I used my airline fee credit to purchase $200 worth of American gift cards, which I value at close to face value. So personally I wouldn’t look at that as paying $150 for an Admirals Club membership, given the opportunity cost. But that’s just me.

  15. @ Monte Poster — Yes, usually if you have a membership you can access the Admirals Club even if you’re flying another airline. You do need to be able to access the terminal, though. But with this card you do have to be flying American/US Airways same day.

  16. @ Travelling Rabbit — Personally I do think 30K points is worth the pull. I value them at about 1.6 cents each, so that’s ~$480 of value, in my book. That’s above my threshold for a pull.

  17. @ rick — Well you can certainly pay for it outright, but ultimately seems better to save $150 per year on a membership just by having the card (and that way the rate stays the same even if you’re not Executive Platinum).

  18. I called and got a retention offer on my Citi Exec for $250 credit if I spend $3000/month for 3 billing cycles. I accepted. 🙂

  19. it is $250 credit annually so I just opened it in bank-

    Pull, $15,000 spend, $350 fee I get.

    60,000 Thank you points worth up to 1.6 on AA flights
    $500 airline credit!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. So in effect I make $150 to to get the access plus 60,000 points + Global entry credit+ 3 rounds of golf.

    Last year I did not get charged my AF for $450 AA Executive card – I did a similar thing this ime and hoping the annual fee skips!

  21. I have no checking relationship with Citi and applied for the 60k + $350 offer in person no questions asked…I think you owe it to your readers to mention that given it’s a far superior offer to the standard offer…

  22. In addition to Qantas NZ for Oneworld gold, there’s the much easier Air Berlin status match. So anyone with status can easily get free AA lounge access for zero dollars.

  23. I’m holding on to the Citi Executive card for the 10k EQMs. Big benefit for those who struggle to reach EXP.

  24. Can you please explain the golf benefit in more detail? Which golf courses can the 3 free rounds be used at? Thanks

  25. I’m actually more interested by the Priority Pass including 2 free guests feature. That beats the Amex Plat, where I had to pay extra for my wife and kid to get cards.

  26. Wow. I was just declined. Income well into 6 figures. Credit score above 800. No other recent credit card applications. I can’t wait to see the letter.

  27. I had a question on Priority Pass Select. I see the annual fee is waived it it LOOKS like the card holder doesn’t pay the $27 visit fee…, does the spouse have to pay the $27 fee? I have read and reread and even called Citi and no one is able to give me a definitive answer. It looks like the card holder can BRING up to four others but do you have to pay $27 for each????? HELP!

  28. Just got a retention offer of $450 statement credit for 5k spend for 3 months. Works perfectly with my goal of getting the 10k EQMs. Looks like $0 AC access to me

  29. Just got a call from Citibank. I’m approved after all. Excellent.

    The old Citi Chairman used to have the same Priority Pass benefit, with 2 guests getting in for free. No concierge service on the new card. The sweetener is the Admirals Club access.

  30. @Connie: No need for the “helpless” act. As another poster noted above yours, the Prestige’s Priority Pass benefit is superior to the Amex Plat’s: with Prestige, family is free; with Amex, they pay. And, despite what you said, that’s 100% clear in the Prestige T&Cs.

  31. Lucky,

    I applied and was approved for the Citi Prestige today. The Terms and Conditions state that only the Primary cardmember gets the Admiral’s Club access, but for the Priority Pass Lounge Access, both Primary and Authorized users are granted complimentary access and allowed up to two guests. Perhaps worth noting.

  32. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem
    on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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