Which Citi Card Is Best for Admirals Club Lounge Access?

Jun 7, 2015

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi Prestige Card, Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard 

TPG reader Eric wrote in to ask about getting Admirals Club access with Citi cards:

“What’s the difference between the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card vs. Citi Prestige when to comes to Admirals Club access?”

This is an interesting question, but before I answer, I think it’s important to understand the benefits of both cards.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard allows you to earn American Airlines miles, while the Citi Prestige card earns Citi ThankYou points, which you can transfer to a number of frequent flyer programs, but not AAdvantage. However, Prestige cardholders can redeem ThankYou points for 1.6 cents apiece toward American Airlines flights through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.

As far as lounge access goes, Citi Executive gives you full Admirals Club membership outright. That means you don’t even have to be flying American to access the lounge. On the other hand, Citi Prestige requires that you fly American, American Eagle or an American Connection carrier flight in order to access the lounge. Both cards allow access for you and your immediate family (or up to two traveling guests that accompany you).

There are more than 50 Admirals Club lounges worldwide.

If you want to accrue American Airlines miles and are worried about EQMs, then Citi Executive is the card for you.

Personally, I put a lot of spending on the Barclaycard Aviator Silver to get elite miles, and I earn 3 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, as opposed to 2 miles per dollar with Citi Executive.

I’m actually going to switch from Citi Executive to Citi Prestige. Both cards have a $450 annual fee, but with Citi Prestige you get $250 toward airfare, which effectively drops that annual fee down to $200. I think paying $200 per year for Admirals Club access, Priority Pass Select and the other benefits is a great deal — if you use the 4th night free benefit at hotels even once, you’ll likely have justified the annual fee.

Citi Prestige currently offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months; plus you earn 3 points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and 2 points on dining and entertainment, so I think it’s an all-around better card. I have tons of AAdvantage miles thanks to the merger with US Airways, since I had purchased a bunch of US Airways miles for cheap. I’ve always been an advocate for diversifying miles and points, and as far as Admirals Club access goes, I’d rather get it through Citi Prestige and diversify than put all of my miles in one basket.

That’s my take, but I’d love to hear from other American Airlines frequent flyers. Which card works best for you? Let me know in the comments below.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.