Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
If you’ve flown with American Airlines, you’ve probably encountered their Admirals Club airport lounges during your travels. With 50+ locations worldwide, they’re a comfortable place to hang out before your flight or during a connection, with free food, drinks (including alcohol), Wi-Fi, and quiet spots to relax and work.
Unlike Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, which comes with many credit cards, getting into Admirals Club lounges isn’t as easy. You’ll generally need to pay for access, unless you’ve got qualifying elite status and / or are flying on certain flights.
But there’s one travel credit card – the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® – that has American Airlines Admirals Club access as a perk. It can save you a ton of cash if you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer – especially if you travel with others or have a large family.
There’s something else really cool about the card – it has an extra superpower you might have forgotten about!
I’ll show you why getting the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® makes sense for most frequent American Airlines flyers who want Admirals Club airport lounge access.
Don’t Pay for American Airlines Admirals Club Membership – Get the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Instead
Visiting airport lounges when you travel can make the journey much more civilized. That’s why many of us in the miles and points hobby carry the best credit cards for airport lounge access.
American Airlines Admirals Club lounges are great for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the airport and unwinding before (or between) flights. You’ll find light snacks, soup, and free beverages (including adult drinks), plus complimentary Wi-Fi and areas to get work done. Some locations have showers, a business center, and made-to-order treats like guacamole (which is amazing by the way!). And you’ll save money compared to paying for pricey food and drinks in the terminal.
Normally, to gain access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges, you’d have to be:
- A paid Admirals Club lounge member (yearly memberships start at $650 for individuals depending on elite status, $1,250 for household memberships)
- Flying on a qualifying international or transcontinental First or Business Class flight marketed or operated by American Airlines or a oneworld airline
- An AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Executive Platinum member flying on a qualifying international flight marketed or operated by American Airlines or a oneworld airline (in any cabin)
- A oneworld Emerald or Sapphire elite customer flying on flights marketed and operated by American or a oneworld airline, in any cabin (American Airlines Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum customers traveling only on North American itineraries don’t qualify)
- Admirals Club day pass ($59 per day) holders
- US military personnel traveling in uniform
Starting November 1, 2019, you’ll have to have a boarding pass for same-day travel on American Airlines or partner airlines to enter Admirals Club lounges.
Paying cash for an Admirals Club membership is expensive, especially if you purchase a household membership. It makes far more sense to sign-up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, because it comes with Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder, plus Admirals Club access (not a full membership) for authorized users. Primary cardholders and authorized users can bring in 2 guests or immediate family (spouse/domestic partner and children under age 18).
There’s a $450 annual fee, but that’s a significant savings over purchasing a membership.
And here’s the card’s superpower – authorized users are are free to add (up to 10).
That’s an incredible deal for folks who want to share Admirals Club access with friends and family. Most other cards that offer lounge access, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, charge an additional fee to add authorized users.
Suppose you and your partner fly American Airlines frequently (and not always together). If one person were to get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and add the other as authorized user, you could both have access to Admirals Club lounges for the cost of one annual fee. The same principle applies if you have a friend, parent, child, or coworker who’d like to share the benefits of Admirals Club access with you. Just keep in mind you’re responsible for any charges they make to the card, so be sure to only add folks you trust completely.
Here’s an important note – only the primary cardholder gets a full Admirals Club membership, which also includes access to certain partner lounges (you can see the list of lounges here). Authorized users get Admirals Club access, but aren’t able to enter partner lounges, or get discounts on meeting rooms or other promotions.
I’ve got a buddy who has the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® because he flies on American Airlines for work a couple of times a month, so the perks are more than worth it for him. He’s added a few (trusted) coworkers who travel similarly to his account as authorized users, and they’re all enjoying the benefits of Admirals Club access without having to pay for a membership, or another annual fee.
Earn 50,000 American Airlines Miles With the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® isn’t just about Admirals Club lounge access!
When you apply for the card and spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, you’ll earn 50,000 American Airlines miles. That’s enough for 2 round-trip coach tickets anywhere in the contiguous US or Canada, or more than enough for a round-trip coach flight to Hawaii.
You’ll also get:
- Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (every 5 years)
- First checked bag free (for you and up to 8 companions traveling on the same reservation) on American Airlines domestic itineraries – save $60 round-trip per person
- Priority check-in, security (where available), and boarding
- 10,000 elite-qualifying miles if you spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year
- 2 American Airlines miles per $1 you spend on American Airlines
- 1 American Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
- NO foreign transaction fees
Now, if you don’t fly American Airlines often enough to take full advantage of Admirals Club lounge access and other perks, the Citi AAdvantage Executive likely won’t make sense for you given the $450 annual fee. Instead, if you’re looking to earn more American Airlines miles, you could consider cards like:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® – Our Review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® – Our Review of the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Card
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card – Our Review of the Citi American Airlines MileUp Card
Folks who fly American Airlines often might consider paying for an Admirals Club airport lounge membership (especially if they don’t have elite status or aren’t traveling on qualifying flights that get you access to the lounge). But Admirals Club membership is not cheap – the initial membership fee for non-elite travelers is $650 for the year, or $1,250 for a household membership.
A far more cost-effective way to access these lounges is by opening the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. For a $450 annual fee, the primary cardholder gets full Admirals Club membership (which includes certain partner lounges), and authorized users get access to Admirals Club lounges. Best of all, authorized users (up to 10) are free to add. So you can share the perks and comforts of lounge access with a partner, family members, or friends without paying anything extra.
The Citi AAdvantage Executive also comes with 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus you’ll receive a slew of other perks, like a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, priority boarding, and a free first checked bag on American Airlines domestic itineraries for yourself and up to 8 companions on the same reservation.