Best credit card for American Admirals Club access

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review) is not only the only credit card that offers access to the American Admirals Club, but it is also arguably the most lucrative credit card airlines for access to airport lounges. In this article, I wanted to go over everything you need to know about the lounge access benefits of this card.

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Admirals Club Basics

If you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer, having the $450 Citi AAdvantage Executive Card should be a no-brainer. Access to the airport lounge is a great perk for any frequent traveler, whether you’re looking for help with irregular transactions, want a drink or snack, or just want a quiet spot to work with Wi-Fi.

What makes the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card so amazing is that it not only offers Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder, but it also offers free Admirals Club access for up to of 10 authorized users, all at no additional cost. Typically, American charges $500-650 per year for an Admirals Club membership, which is a significant savings, not even considering authorized user benefits.

Let’s break down the details of these benefits, starting with Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder, then we’ll talk about Admirals Club access for authorized users.

Admirals Club membership for primary cardholder

The primary cardholder of the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card receives full Admirals Club membership:

  • You can access Admirals Clubs worldwide when you fly with American Airlines, a oneworld partner airline, or JetBlue on the same day (you can even use the lounge when you arrive)
  • You are allowed to bring your immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to two people
  • Admirals Club members also have access to Alaska lounges, as well as dozens of other partner lounges, including British Airways and Qantas lounges (you can find the full lounge directory here)
  • Admirals Club membership will be linked to your American AAdvantage number, so there should be no need to show your credit card; instead, just make sure your AAdvantage number is linked to your ticket

Since American usually charges between $500 and $650 per year for an Admirals Club membership, you’re saving between $50 and $200 per year paying the annual card fee, and that’s not even taking into account all other benefits (including the ability to earn AAdvantage Elite status when spending by credit card).

Primary cardholder obtains Admirals Club membership

Admirals Club access for authorized users

The Citi AAdvantage Executive card allows the primary cardholder to add up to 10 authorized users to the card at no additional cost, and each of them receives access to the American Admirals Club:

  • You can access Admirals Clubs worldwide when you fly with American Airlines, a oneworld partner airline, or JetBlue on the same day (you can even use the lounge when you arrive)
  • You are allowed to bring your immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to two people
  • Authorized users only have access to Admirals Clubs, not Alaska Lounges or other partner airline lounges.
  • Since authorized users are granted Admirals Club access rather than Admirals Club membership, they will be required to show their eligible credit card when entering the clubs; there is no way to link it to your American AAdvantage account
Even authorized users have access to the Admirals Club

Calculating Admirals Club Credit Card Advantage Numbers

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card has an annual fee of $450, which is $50 to $200 less than what you would otherwise pay for an Admirals Club membership. So how do I mentally tally up the cost of the card, without even considering the card’s other benefits? There are two ways to view it:

  • Frankly, I fly US enough to pay $450 a year for an Admirals Club membership, so getting a discount by grabbing a credit card is the obvious choice.
  • To look at it differently, I have 10 authorized users on the card, which means 11 people get Admirals Club access with my account; if I wanted to tally this cost for all people, it would be like spending about $41 per year for Admirals Club access, which is a reasonable gift for family and friends
This card is the cheapest option to access the Admirals Club

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Admirals Club FAQ

While the above covers the basics of the Citi AAdvantage Admirals Club Executive Card Access Benefits, I wanted to answer some of the questions that may arise regarding this benefit (and if there are any that I have missed, please let me know and I’ll respond to them as well).

How soon after approval is your Admirals Club membership activated?

Many people may consider applying for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card shortly before they travel. How long after card approval does your Admirals Club membership become effective?

Since the primary cardholder gets a full Admirals Club membership, it is linked to their AAdvantage account. Many might be surprised to learn that this membership could very well start before you even get your credit card in the mail, and you don’t even need your card to enter a salon.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to find out if your Admirals Club membership has been activated. To understand this, imagine you sign up to become a member of the Admirals Club. Go to this page, enter your AAdvantage number, last name and password.

If your account has already been updated to reflect Admirals Club membership, you will see that the next page displays “1-Year Citi AADV Exec CC Membership”.

If it has not been updated, you will see that it gives you the option to choose the type of subscription you wish to purchase.

Note that this only works for the primary cardholder. Since authorized users do not obtain full Admirals Club membership, they will not show up as eligible online. Authorized users must present the physical Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, as there is no subscription linked to their AAdvantage account.

How do I add authorized users to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card?

Adding authorized users to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is very simple and can be done directly on the Citi website. Follow this link to access the part of the Citi website where you add authorized users, then log in to your account.

On the next page, you will be able to manage authorized users, including adding and removing them.

You’ll just need their name to add them, and you have the choice of whether or not to give them permission to access your online account.

Does Citi allow you to set a lower spending limit for authorized users?

Any authorized user on the Citi AAdvantage Executive card will have full access to your line of credit, so be sure to trust them. There is no way (at least not that I know of) to set a lower limit on an Authorized User’s account, and any charges they incur will be your responsibility.

Is there an age limit for authorized users of the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card?

Although Citi does not have a formal age limit for authorized users, you must be 18 to access Admirals Clubs through the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. It ultimately comes down to whether or not the agent at the gate asks for your ID (which they may very well do).

What if you are already an Admirals Club member?

If you have already paid for an Admirals Club membership and are approved for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card, what happens? Assuming you have 60 days or more remaining on your current subscription, you will receive a prorated refund, based on the number of days remaining on your subscription.

This will happen automatically to your original payment method, although it may take up to 12 weeks.

What happens if you cancel your Citi AAdvantage Executive card?

If you cancel the Citi AAdvantage Executive card, all Admirals Club benefits will terminate immediately. This means that the primary cardholder will lose their Admirals Club membership and authorized users will lose access to Admirals Club.

Is there a better credit card to access the airport lounge?

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is arguably the best card for accessing American Admirals Clubs, so it’s a worthwhile card for frequent US travelers. However, there are other cards that offer access to a wider selection of airport lounges, assuming you are not determined to access US lounges.

Just to introduce a few other options:

At the end of the line

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is the best credit card for accessing American Airlines Admirals Clubs. The card not only provides Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder, but also provides complimentary Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users. I’d say that’s as close to “too good to be true” as credit card perks.

Hopefully the above answers any questions people might have about how this perk works. If there’s anything I haven’t covered, let me know!

If you have the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, what was your experience with its value?

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