Everyone loves airport lounge access. Instead of the chaos of an airport terminal, you have a nice, quiet space to relax, charge your devices, and enjoy some complimentary food and drinks while you wait for your flight.
If you’ve been reading Upgraded Points for a while, you’ll know that there are many different airport lounges to choose from. However, if you’ve clicked on this article, you are likely an American Airlines frequent flyer looking to learn what credit card you can use to get Admirals Club access. Read on to learn what option you have for accessing Admirals Club lounges.
The Best Credit Card with Admirals Club Access
Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Unlike Delta and United which offer multiple credit card options for access to their lounges, American Airlines offers only one — the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card.
By simply holding the card, you and up to 2 traveling companions can access every American Airlines Admirals Club and American’s partner lounges worldwide when you fly with American Airlines or one of its partners. Given that there are now 50 Admirals Clubs locations, you’re likely to find one in many domestic airports that American services.
Further, the card offers perks like free checked bags for you and up to 8 traveling companions, priority boarding, 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases, a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit, and the ability to earn an additional 10,000 Loyalty Points towards status qualification after spending $40,000 on the card in a year.
Perhaps the best benefit of the card, though, is its ability to add up to 10 authorized users for no additional fee. Why is this so useful? That is because each authorized user gets their own access to Admirals Club lounges. While they do not receive access to partner lounges, authorized users can also bring 2 guests of their own into the Admirals Club.
Here is an example that illustrates this benefit’s power, albeit an extreme one: if you were to get the card and add 10 friends and family members as authorized users, and each of those authorized users can bring 2 guests, that is 11 people that can access the lounge directly and 22 more that can access the lounge indirectly (as a guest) for the same $450 annual fee.
If you simply account for the 10 free authorized user cards, you’re effectively paying ~$41 per person, per year, for Admirals Club access — that is pretty spectacular.
Other Ways To Access Admirals Clubs
Aside from holding the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card, here are the other ways that you can access Admirals Club lounges.
Select Admirals Club lounges sell day passes that allow you to access the lounge without a membership, so long as you are flying on a flight operated by American or one of its partners. The price of the day pass is $59 or 5,900 miles.
As with most airline lounges, American Airlines allows you to purchase a yearly membership to the Admirals Club at the following rates based on your AAdvantage status level with the airline.
As you can tell from the chart, unless you have ConciergeKey status, purchasing Admirals Club access is going to cost you anywhere from $550 to $650 each year. In our view, it feels silly to pay this price when you could pay $450 for the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card, which is $100 to $200 less, and still receive Admirals Club access along with all of the other perks the card offers to boot.
When you consider the mileage price the value proposition is even worse. We value American Airlines miles at 1.4 cents per mile, so redeeming them at a rate of 1 cent per mile towards a lounge membership would be a suboptimal use of those hard-earned miles in our opinion.
If you hold Platinum status or above in the AAdvantage loyalty program, you can access Admirals Clubs no matter what class of service you are flying on, as long as it is a long-haul international flight operated by American Airlines or one of its partners. These include American’s signature Flagship Lounges that provide an elevated experience above the standard Admirals Club.
Further, those who have Oneworld Sapphire via an airline other than AA can access Admirals Club lounges on eligible long-haul itineraries, and those with Oneworld Emerald status can access business and first class lounges like AA’s Flagship Lounges.
Hot Tip: Check out our guide on how to get American Airlines AAdvantage elite status!
Premium Cabin Tickets
Lastly, if you are flying in a premium cabin on a qualifying international American or Oneworld partner flight, or a premium cabin on a qualifying transcontinental flight between NYC and Boston to Los Angeles or San Francisco, you’re able to access both Admirals Club and Flagship First lounges.
While it is true that you have multiple options for achieving Admirals Club access, in our view, the best option by far is simply holding the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card. Not only is it cheaper than paying for a membership, but it also offers the ability to add up to 10 authorized users for no added fee, all of whom will also receive Admirals Club access.
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