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As someone who flies American Airlines regularly, I place a high value on lounge access. It’s the people who keep me going especially during irregular operations, going above and beyond to get me where I’m going. As a result I’m very interested in the best way to get American Airlines club access.
For instance, agents have regularly double booked me giving me ‘backup’ flights just in case I misconnect. And I’ve even gotten a proactive call from a lounge about a delay, they had booked me as a backup on a new flight (that had looked sold out to me, and it was the last one of the night). And I’m not a Concierge Key member.
Entrance to American Airlines Admirals Club Austin
US airlines only charge for club access via historical accident rather than giving access to premium cabin customers domestically and to elite frequent flyers — but since they do credit cards have become the best way to access the lounges.
And that’s becoming even more true.
American Airlines Club Prices are Going Up $50 – $100 July 25
American Airlines is raising prices for its lounge memberships by $50 per year for individual memberships and $100 for household memberships on July 25. (HT: Zach Honig who wrote about this before I saw my e-newsletter on the changes.)
American is also discontinuing 30 day memberships at the same time.
AA.com indicates that the annual fee for the premium co-brand credit card won’t be going up at that time (and when you get the card you are locked in for the first 12 months anyway, it is illegal to change rates and fees during the first year of cardmembership anyway… and that includes annual fee.
Or Bring 33 People into the Club for Just $450 a Year
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® comes with an Admirals Club membership and has a $450 annual fee.
In December American started giving access to all authorized users of Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® cards.
How big is that?
- Primary cardmembers can have up to 10 authorized users on their account.
- Each authorized user is allowed to bring in with them either immediate family members (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18 years of age) or up to two guests traveling with them.
Buenos Aires Admirals Club
Each of 11 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® cardholders — primary and 10 additional — could bring in their spouse and minor children, or could bring in two guests in addition to themselves. That’s at least 33 people who can get into a lounge at once for a single credit card annual fee which is currently $450.
The card also gives you a signup bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening; priority check-in, screning, and boarding; first checked bag free for the primary cardholder and up to 8 travel companions on the same domestic reservation; and a reimbursement up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application. (offer expired)
I carry the card even though I have a Citi Prestige® Card which offers Admirals Club access because it lets me give access to others and because it lets me spend $40,000 and earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles. I always think I’m going to need those miles to re-qualify for elite status (even though I don’t wind up needing them) and it’s cheaper and easier than mileage running.
Get Your Lounge Access and Make a Profit Instead of Paying the Membership Fee
The Citi Prestige is one of the very best all-around credit cards in the market. Here are 15 things I love about the card.
In addition to a signup bonus of 50,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months — which can be transferred to various airlines or used as cash at 1.6 cents apiece towards American Airlines airfare — you get triple points on air and hotel and double points on restaurants and entertainment.
Citi Prestige also gets you lounge access via the Priority Pass Select card, but is even better because it includes free guest access as well. The card comes with a $100 Global Entry application fee credit and a $250 airfare credit. You even get free rounds of golf. Many will get $3000 in value for the $450 fee in year one with the card.
And the card comes with Admirals Club access for the primary cardholder and eligible guests (when flying American same day, as it is not a membership) as well as a Priority Pass Select card which comes with unlimited visits to participating lounges (like Alaska Airlines lounges, and The Club lounges, plus many foreign airline lounges here in the US and abroad) for yourself and for 2 guests each time.
Putting Green, American Airlines Admirals Club Austin
So how do you make money on your lounge access in the first year? Signup bonus aside, the $250 airline fee credit can be used for the purchase of tickets charged to the card. It is granted each calendar year. So you use it in 2016, and you use it again at the beginning of 2017. That is $500 in airline credits during your first cardmember year which costs $50. ANd you get lounge access. And you get points, golf, and all the other benefits like 4th hotel night free.
It just seems crazy for someone who can get one of these cards to pay for an Admirals Club membership. Especially at these new higher prices.