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Admirals Club Membership – How to get it for $200 a year (it’s not from American)

by on Sat April 4, 2015 • 10 Comments

Admirals Club Membership

As American and US Airways merge there are some changes regarding how you can get into American Admirals Clubs.

The biggest change is that The Platinum Card from American Express no longer offers access to Admirals Clubs or US Airways Clubs. That’s left a lot of American flyers wondering what they can do to get into Admirals Clubs for less than the standard $350 – $450 annual membership fee.

The good news is you still have some backdoor options that will save you money.

Update: The Citi Prestige Card no longer offers Admirals Club access to new cardholders.

1. Citi Prestige Card: $450 – $250 credit = $200 per year

citiprestige170The Citi Prestige Card offers access to all American Admirals Club lounges for cardholders and up to two guests or immediate family.

Technically, it’s not full Admirals Club *membership* because you need to be flying American when you use the lounge – so if you’re flying another airline you’re out of luck. But you also get unlimited access to over 700 Priority Pass lounges for you and 2 guests no matter what airline you’re flying.

The savings come because every year, you get a $250 credit on airline charges made on the card. Any airline expense you charge to the Prestige Card will qualify, so any tickets, change fees, baggage fees, award fees, even gift cards purchased from an airline can be used to qualify for the credit, up to $250 worth a year. So it’s not hard to bring that $450 annual fee down to $200 with travel expenses you’re already making.

Thanks to these benefits we think the Citi Prestige Card is the lowest cost way to get access to all American Admirals Clubs.

The downside is it doesn’t offer access to the lounges of American Airlines partners like Cathay Pacific or Qantas. For that you’ll need full Admirals Club membership. It also doesn’t earn AAdvantage miles, though the points it does earn are great for buying American Airlines tickets for fewer points than you’d pay if you used AAdvantage miles – see how here. And you’ll earn full AAdvantage miles on those tickets.

There are also lots of other Prestige Card benefits, like a 4th free night anytime you book a hotel stay of 4 nights or more. You can take advantage of this benefit at just about any hotel worldwide, and use it with the lowest rates you see on a hotel’s website.

2. Citi Executive AAdvantage Card

executiveaadvantage170If you want full Admirals Club membership with access to partner lounges then the Executive AAdvantage credit card is an option.

It has a generous sign on bonus, which helps offset the $450 annual fee. That’s a hefty amount but you get a really big bonus if you can swing it. And you can access the clubs even when you’re not flying American Airlines. With the Citi Prestige, you have to be flying American the day of your flight.

Even better, any authorized users you add to your Executive AAdvantage account get their own card which grants them access to the Admirals Club free of charge. So if you have a spouse or family member who travels a lot this is a great way to avoid paying for two memberships.

After the first year you’ll have to pay the full $450 annual fee.

The Executive is the better deal if you plan to leverage the authorized user benefit, otherwise you’re better off with the Citi Prestige Card and its $250 annual fee credit.

3. Pay with miles

Finally, you can also buy a full Admirals Club membership with your AAdvantage miles. We’re not big fans of this approach as your miles can save you more money if you use them for flights, but these are the rates for new members and renewals:

  • Base Member: 80,000 new / 70,000 renewal 
  • AAdvantage Gold: 70,000 new / 60,000 renewal
  • AAdvantage Platinum: 65,000 new / 55,000 renewal
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 55,000 new / 45,000 renewal

So in summary if you’re looking for a low cost way to enter the American Admirals Clubs give the updated Citi Prestige Card a good hard look.

It’s a powerful card for American Airlines flyers with lucrative ways to offset the $450 annual fee and more every year.

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10 thoughts on Admirals Club Membership – How to get it for $200 a year (it’s not from American)

  1. Dionne

    I just reached Gold status on American. I fly for business and I don’t use my Advantage card often. I also fly personally on United but I am trying to decide if it’s worth my points for admiral club access or keep my points for an emergency flight if needed.


      @Dionne – You’ll probably save more money using the points for an emergency flight rather than using them to buy Admirals Club access.

  2. EchoSide

    With the Citi Prestige Card can you still get a free AU which would allow the AU access if the primary person isn’t flying?


      @EchoSide – AU is $50 per year, but does not get Admirals Club access. It’s for primary only with the Prestige.

  3. Sandra Carter

    I have recently became a member of Admiral’s Club through the Advantage Executive citi card. Will this allow me access to the Admiral’s Club lounges for myself if I am confirmed on another airline by chance?


      @Sandra Carter – Yes, that is one of the privileges of the Executive AAdvantage card – access even when you’re not flying American.

      You can also add an authorized user to your account (free) and that person can enter the clubs when you’re not around. Though for that access, the authorized user needs to be flying American that day.

  4. Deb

    I would like to know if joining the Admirals club gives me access to the cart that would take me to my gate. I have knee surgery coming up and travel quite a bit, thanks


      @Deb – No it won’t, though that’s usually ad hoc based on medical needs rather than having to pay. You should be able to request assistance via AA when you make your reservation.

  5. Randall Flick

    I have heard from a few American Airlines representatives that the American Advantage program will not be extending complimentary Admirals Club memberships to American elite flyers who fly 150,000 miles or fly 150 segments in a calendar year as US airways had done in the past.

    I believe this is a mistake on behalf of your marketing department.

    I myself usually qualify for US Airways Chairman (now Executive Platinum) by about the 8th month of the year….and I have already done so again this year. I saw it as one more little perk that the airline extended to me for being loyal and flying over 90% of my flights on them. I have total control of the carriers that I fly on and saw it as one more step beyond Executive Platinum. I looked at it as a challenge to make that “one last plateau” before the end of the year.

    I know that the combining of US Airways and American Airlines will create a lot of “artificial” Executive Platinum members for next year as the mileage programs are combined. I am not one of those “artificial” elite members. I have been a top tier flyer with US Airways and now with American for over twenty years.

    I would hope that you would reconsider your decision concerning the Admirals Club membership for your “super elite” flyers.

    Randall Flick
    Executive Platinum


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