Can Citi Executive Card Authorized Users Enter American Airlines Lounges?

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Update:  This offer for the Citi American Airlines Executive card has expired.  But you can check Hot Deals for the latest offers!

Readers have asked if they can enter American Airlines Admirals Club lounges as authorized users on the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

If you’re the primary cardholder, you can get into 30+ Admirals Club lounges with the Citi Executive card.  Because American Airlines and US Airways are merging, you can also enter US Airways Club lounges.

Can Citi Executive Card Authorized Users Enter American Airlines Lounges

Emily Warming Up in the Admirals Club Lounge in Los Angeles

What Is the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card?

Link:   Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Link:   My review of the Citi Executive AAdvantage WorldElite MasterCard

I’ve written about the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard 100,000 mile offer.  This is my favorite current deal!  We don’t get a commission for the card, but it is the first card on my Hot Deals page.

You get:

This card is a great deal because you get 100,000 miles plus American Airlines lounge access (worth $500) and other perks.

The $450 annual fee actually works out to $250 when you count the $200 statement credit.  That’s because $450 Annual Fee – $200 Statement Credit = $250.  We got our $200 statement credit on our first statement.

How Do I Enter the Lounges?

Link:  Citi Executive Lounge Locations

American Airlines & US Air Lounges

Citi Executive primary cardholders can enter Admirals Club lounges and US Airways Club lounges by showing their card, photo identification, and American Airlines frequent flyer number.  You don’t have to be flying on American Airlines to access the American Airlines or US Air lounges.

Certain Other Lounges

Cardholders can also access some American Airlines partner lounges (like Alaska Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, LAN, or Japan Airlines) in certain cities.  Note that you can’t access these airline lounges in ALL cities, but only in the cities listed.

The rules are different for each location, but you generally have to be traveling on American Airlines (or for Qantas lounges, be flying on Qantas) that day to access the lounge.

Can Citi Executive Card Authorized Users Enter American Airlines Lounges

Cardholders Can Enter Some Partner Lounges, Like Alaska Airlines, but There Are Conditions

Note that the terms say that youMust present your membership card” to access these lounges.  The primary Citi Executive card has the Admiral’s Club logo on the back and is the “membership card”.

Who Can I Bring in With Me?

You can bring your immediate family (spouse, domestic partner, and children under 18) or up to 2 guests into the lounge with you.

Unfortunately, your sister, brother and parents aren’t considered immediate family.

Can Authorized Users Access Admirals Club Lounges?

I applied for the Citi Executive card in January and added Emily as an authorized user.

The terms and conditions say authorized users can NOT access Admirals Club lounges on their own.

Authorized users of the Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard credit card are not entitled to Admirals Club membership privileges.

But the numbers on our cards are exactly the same!  I wondered how lounge staff could tell who was the primary cardholder, so I did a little experiment.

Would Emily Be Able to Enter the Lounge Anyway?

Emily and I were recently at Los Angeles airport.  I wanted to test if she could get into the Admirals Club lounge on her own with her Citi Executive authorized user card.

Can Citi Executive Card Authorized Users Enter American Airlines Lounges

Emily’s About to Be a Guinea Pig for Daraius’ Experiment!

Emily was allowed into the lounge.  But then the agent looked puzzled at her computer and asked to see Emily’s card. She asked Emily if she was primary cardholder.  Emily said she wasn’t, and said that I was the primary cardholder.

The agent said that only primary cardholders could access the lounge, but I could bring my family or up to 2 guests.  I asked her how she knew Emily wasn’t the primary cardholder and she showed me the back of the card!

Can Citi Executive Card Authorized Users Enter American Airlines Lounges

There *Is* a Difference Between the Primary Card & Additional Cards!

Primary cardholders have “Admirals Club” printed on the back of the card, but authorized users don’t!  So that’s how they knew!

Thanks, Emily, for being a good sport and testing this out for me!

Bottom Line

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard gives primary cardholders access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges.

Authorized users can NOT access Admirals Club lounges with their card.  But they can enter the lounges if they’re with an immediate family member or they’re a guest of the primary cardholder.  But the primary cardholder has to be present to get them in the lounge.

Lounge staff can tell who is the primary cardholder by looking for the “Admirals Club” logo on the back of the card!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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47 responses to “Can Citi Executive Card Authorized Users Enter American Airlines Lounges?

  1. Thanks for a definitive, thorough explanation! Now we know how they know!

  2. Katy and I each got a card (paid two fees) and the first time Katy travelled by herself to the lounge, they denied her entrance even though her card had the Admirals Club logo on the back of her card.

    Seems the system had not loaded her AAdvantage number and we had to contact Citi about it.

    New product, new procedure and a few kinks to work out but all is well now. If it happens to you, it is Citi you need to contact

  3. Also, it bears repeating: there was a warning in the terms and conditions that authorized users do not earn miles for spending!

  4. @anon
    Do authorized users spending count towards the 10,000 spend limit?

  5. let me amend my previous comment, I didn’t mean limit, I meant 10,000 spend in first 3 months

  6. @Dariaus.

    Seriously, dude. How did you NOT know notice that? C’mon man…

  7. Anon, Nathaniel —

    You almost caused me a heart attack, but I am now certain your worries are unfounded. Looking at the main flyertalk thread on this card, there is ample evidence that authorized users earn miles for the primary cardholder (just not for themselves). This is standard credit card procedure, so it would be very odd if it were different for this card. And, looking at my wife’s AA account, I do see that my spending in her Citi AA Executive account did result in miles for her.

    There’s also confidence in the AA thread that authorized user spending will count towards the 10K spending requirement. We haven’t yet hit that ourselves, but the flyertalk thread is confident this spending counts and, as above, it would be a bizarre deviation from history if it didn’t.

  8. Very interesting! FYI, my husband is an authorized user on my account and he traveled recently without me on a non AA flight but had no problem accessing the AA lounge showing the credit card 🙂 Perhaps it was an inexperienced agent!

  9. Claire Strouse

    I was not happy to learn that the authorized user could not get in without the primary. I now will look at getting one for my husband alone as he travels by himself and I travel by myself and sometimes we have trips together. A bummer.

  10. Hi Daraius,

    My wife and I each have the Citi AAdvantage card with the Admiral’s club logo (using your link!). My question is about guest access. The two of us, plus two non-Admiral’s club friends will be flying Delta when we stop in Atlanta. I know that my wife and I (with the cards) can enter the Admiral’s club even though we are not flying on AA, however I have not seen a diffinitive answer about bringing guests who are not flying on AA.

    The AA website states this for guest access:
    Citi Executive AAdvantage Primary cardmember: 2 Guests or immediate family*

    *All guests must accompany the member. Immediate family refers to spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age.

    *Flight sold with AA flight number and flown on AA aircraft.

    It is that second statement (about AA flight number) that prompts my question.


  11. I see that if you are flying on American, you can use the Alaskan lounge in Seattle. If flying on Alaskan, I don’t think you can access the club. Can you confirm?

  12. Do you know if there is a max on the immediate family members as guests? We are a family of 7.

  13. My wife and I just used these cards for access to the Admiral’s Lounge in Boston. They asked us about our flight and my wife said we were flying on Icelandair. They didn’t care in the least that we weren’t flying on American. However, the flight board at the Lounge will only show American flights. We actually had to go through security at a different terminal to access the lounge. We told security we wanted to use the Admiral’s Lounge and they had no problems letting us through. But we did have to go through security again when we went to the Icelandair terminal. The reps at the Admiral’s Lounge didn’t ask who I was — I could have been some random guy my wife met on the street. We accessed the lounge twice in a two week period and had the same experience both times. The rep at the Lounge just swiped my wife’s card through a machine and we were done.

  14. @iahphx, I can confirm you are right as I am the AU man and solely responsible to fulfill my wife’s 10K spending requirement (she spent zero). The 100K currently is sitting her AA account. I think what Anon means is that the AU person person can’t earn for their own account but only contribute to the primary cardholder’s account.

    @Anjum, yes, your husband was just lucky if the attendant was not that careful, but you can’t wish it happen every time.

  15. Does the authorized user on the card get one checked free bag if they are not traveling with the primary card holder?

  16. I’m working on my 3rd Citi Exce card (thank you citi) and have used the card to get into US Airways lounges without an issue. You must have your AA FF# as the US side and AA side aren’t fully connected. This has to be one of the best bonuses in a while….

  17. I just wonder what other “experiments” Big D is running when he’s on vacation, haha.

  18. If it hasn’t been mentioned it to Emily, please pass along that her new hairstyle is lovely.

  19. Clever and creative post! Keep stuff like this coming.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to run this experiment and to uncover a *real world* answer, rather than just relaying a script read by a customer service agent on the toll-free CS number. Well done, sir. Very well done.

    Via my Barclay Arrival card I also signed up for a lounge access pass. It is a seemingly little known perk of the card. I need to sit down and compare the access it provides vs. the Admirals membership via the Citi Executive. Since I have both I wonder if the Barclay gives me anything the Citi does not.

  20. @iahphx & @Nathaniel

    Sorry for the scare! I’m thinking Citi isn’t going to shoot itself in the leg and miss out on spending from authorized users. But… I didn’t want to take the risk myself.

    Here’s the section in the terms and conditions:

    “2 American Airlines AAdvantage® miles will appear as a bonus in your AAdvantage® account 8-10 weeks after you have met the purchase requirements. Only the primary cardmember is eligible to earn miles.”

    • @rick I – Good to know and surpassed that that happened even though it had the logo at the back of the card.

      @ Anon – The primary card holder earns the miles for spending on all additional cards!

      @Scott – That is an interesting asterisk in the terms and conditions. I haven’t tested it out personally, but suspect that guests should be fine.

      @Seattle – That’s my interpretation as well, but it doesn’t hurt trying!

      @jedijood – I don’t believe there is and it would be bad PR if a family of 7 could only take a certain number of folks and had to leave some of the kids outside!

      @barry – I don’t believe so. It has to be on the same reservation as the primary cardholder to get the free bag.

      @Shorty – LOL!

      @MileFlyer – I’ll pass it along. Thanks!

      @JC – Thanks!

  21. But what if the authorized user’s reservation is made under the primary users account and is traveling just by himself. I he/she entitled to the 1 free checked bag?

  22. Darius, Shall I ditch my $450 Amex Platinum this year? They have offered me the extra $500 to use as clubs as I see fit but don’t know how to use it to best advantage. Join UsAirways club or pay daily $27 each time. I fly out of an US Air airport with lounges and fly to many small one who have none…Roanoke, Charlottesville, New Bern etc. Should I plan on one more year with Amex or spend another $450 (total a steep $900 )this year for the American card to get the 100,000 mile bonus? What do you think?

  23. D, But should I get rid of the Platinum with its ($500 extra allowance for this year) and just have the Citi? or keep both?

  24. When I thought that Barclays Bank was a bit high handed-automatically sending me their Arrivals card when Virgin America simply changed their card to a different bank–I pointed out to Barclays that their offer was not only high handed but ridiculous since Citibank was giving me 100,000 miles on American for their executive card. They claim that since Barclays has the US Air cards, American will soon be switching over to Barclays Arrivals. I cancelled the Arrivals anyway because I expect that when that actually happens, there will be a better deal than zero extra miles. Perhaps this is Citi’s last ditch effort to sign folks to their executive card before the big change-over?

  25. Darius, I already have the card, is there any way I can still add an authorized user? Also, are there any fees for doing so?

  26. I find the guest policy terminology confusing. It is immediate family OR two guests? Can I take my wife and one guest? That’s the same as two guests right?

    • @bella – Citi will continue to issue the American Airlines cards.

      @Tony – You can call the number at the back of the card to add another user. There isn’t a fee for adding a new user.

      @ Tom – You can get your wife included as one guest and then take someone else in!

  27. My wife handed her non-primary card over to the AC lounge attendant, which he promptly swiped in the computer and said “no I need the primary cardholder’s card for access” of course I was standing right there next to her so it was not a problem. So it appears that despite the fact that the numbers are the same, the computer can see whether it’s primary or not.

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  29. Can I still get into the lounge if i cancel the card?

  30. Do I have to enroll in Admirals Club to get a membership card or does my Citi Executive AA card automatically get me in?

  31. I have recently applied and been accepted for this card but I haven’t received the physical card yet, and likely won’t before I fly later this week. Will I still be able to access the lounge without the physical card, despite being a card holder?

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  33. I am just curious about a post by JC…how does one get a lounge access pass with a Barclay Arrival card? I can’t find any info on it. Thanks for any additional information on this.

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  35. How much is it to add a spouse (non primary card holder but has a card) to be able to access the Admiral Club on their own?

  36. Here are the rules…I work at the Club
    1. Only the primary card holder is a member. Note the word member. Different than AmEx which was just given access. The member is allowed to bring in 2 guests Or immediate family which cannot exceed 2 people over 18 and all children under 18. For example John cannot bring in his wife, his 2 daughters and their husbands. He can bring in 2. If his daughters are under 18 they do not count toward the guest count of 2. At that point I would recommend a 30 day membership for one adult at a cost of $99.00 which is a full membership for 30 days. This mini membership allows 2 guests.

    2. Our computers tell us if one is an authorized user.

    3. Choice of airline doesn’t matter. You can fly anyone and access the club. We might not be able to help you with your ticketing but you can come in to charge your phone or computer…or even use ours, all the while enjoying a complimentary glass of wine or well drink.

    4. Some day the citibank may allow household memberships!!

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  38. Curious that the newly redesigned Citi Executive card (without embossed numbers on the front) appears to lack the Admiral’s Club logo on the primary cardholder’s card. An oversight?

  39. Unfortunately, the article perpetuates a widely held misunderstanding: this card does not “provide access”, it provides a full, annual Admirals Club membership (including access when one is not flying, if access is for business purpose and arranged 24 hours or more in advance).

    If you do not have your card with you for some reason, your AAdvantage number will still get you in.

    There is the Citi Prestige card – it provides access, not membership, on days one is flying AA. If you do not have your card with you, you will be denied access.

  40. Do Citi Executive Aadvantage card members have access to American Airlines’s Flagship lounges?

  41. Citi AA exec just extended admiral club privileges to additional card members.

    Additional card members have access WITHOUT the primary card member being present.

    This is a new and fantastic development.