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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.
The 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.
If 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.
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:
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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