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3 reasons why this is the best card for Admirals Club lounge access

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

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For many travelers, airport lounge access is crucial as it allows a space where you can either relax before a journey or be productive and get work done.

This is where American Admirals Club lounges come in — over 50 of them exist all over the world, and you can get access by purchasing a daypass for a fee or using AAdvantage miles.

However, the best way to access Admirals Clubs is through one specific credit card: the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (see rates and fees) — which is the only card that can get you into Admirals Clubs. While it does come with a $595 annual fee, the exclusive lounge access might make it worth adding to your wallet.

In fact, managing editor Matt Moffitt’s main reason for opening the Citi AAdvantage Executive card was for Admirals Club access.

Related reading: The ultimate guide to Admirals Club access

Why this card is a winner

If you can’t get access to an Admiral Club from elite status or the class of service you’re flying, one option is to purchase a membership. Here is annual pricing broken down by AAdvantage level:


Related reading: Full review of the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

1. Cheaper than paying for an Admirals Club membership

However, the best way to guarantee entry into Admirals Clubs is to have the Citi AAdvantage Executive card. You’d actually save money by having the card versus paying for any of the membership options.

For instance, say you were considering purchasing an Admirals Club membership as a general AAdvantage member (no elite status). Instead of paying $850 for access per year, you’d be better off applying for the Citi Executive card and paying the $595 annual fee per year, plus getting other credit card-specific perks.

a hand holds a credit card

The card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 70,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $7,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, worth $1,106, based on TPG’s most recent valuations.

Related reading: American Airlines joins Delta and United in extending elite status and more

2. Authorized user access

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard allows you to add up to 3 authorized users for $175, then $175 for each additional authorized user. Authorized users can also access Admirals Clubs.

This applies whether the primary cardholder is flying with that person or not, a fantastic perk that is notably different from similar premium cards offered by other U.S. carriers.

Note that while primary cardholders have access to all Admirals Clubs (over 50 worldwide) and partner lounges (about 60 worldwide), authorized users only get access to American Admirals Clubs. However, both the primary cardholder and each authorized user can bring immediate family members or up to two traveling guests into the lounge.

Related reading: The best credit cards for airport lounge access

3. Other Citi Executive card perks

With this Citi card, you’ll also earn 10 miles per dollar on eligible hotels booked through and eligible car rentals booked through

In addition, cardholders earn 4 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, up to $120 in statement credit for eligible Grubhub purchases (up to $10 per month) and up to $120 statement credit on Avis or Budget car rentals each calendar year.

The card comes with Group 4 priority boarding and your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation.


In addition, like a lot of other premium cards, this one also offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. You’ll get up to a $100 statement credit once every four years to reimburse your application fee.

Related reading: Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best? 

Admirals Club restrictions

American Airlines requires a same-day boarding pass for American or one of its partners to access an Admirals Club lounge before or after a flight. While this move is said to reduce overcrowding in the lounges, it’s undeniably a devaluation for elite members and paying customers alike.

Admirals club

This new rule was instituted regardless of how you earned access — whether through a credit card or paid outright for an annual membership. That means you’re not disadvantaged with this Citi AAdvantage Executive card over other club members.

Related reading: AA, Delta and United lounges have limited access to customers flying with them: Here’s what to do

Bottom line

The Citi AAdvantage Executive card is unique in that you can spread the benefit of the annual fee with friends and family in a way that you can’t do with just an Admirals Club membership by adding authorized users and paying a moderate fee.

As a frequent AA or Oneworld alliance flyer, this is the best card for Admirals Club access in addition to many other perks such as statement credits, Loyalty Point bonuses, and decent earning rates.

Apply here: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard