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Update: These changes are now in effect.
For fans of American Airlines — and its Admirals Club lounges, specifically — there's some good and bad news with a slate of changes just announced by American Airlines and Citi this week. Thankfully, some of the negative changes don't take effect for another two weeks, giving you time to plan. Meanwhile, AA announced updates and improvements to its Admirals Clubs which will roll out on the same day as the negative changes.
Here's what you should know about changes to Admirals Clubs — including changes to fees, offerings, and axing one of our favorite credit card benefits.
Increased Cost To Visit Admirals Clubs
You can find Admirals Clubs and partner lounges in dozens of airports around the world. Presently, these are the membership costs:
|Membership Type||AAdvantage Member||AAdvantage Gold||AAdvantage Platinum||AAdvantage Platinum Pro||AAdvantage Executive Platinum|
Effective July 23, 2023, prices will increase by (at least) $200 or 20,000 AA miles. Here are the new rates:
|Membership type||General member||AAdvantage Gold||AAdvantage Platinum||AAdvantage Platinum Pro||AAdvantage Executive Platinum|
|Individual – new membership||$850 or 85,00 AA miles||$825 or 82,500 AA miles||$800 or 80,000 AA miles||$775 or 77,500 AA miles||$750 or 75,00 AA miles|
|Individual – renewal||$800 or 80,000 AA miles||$775 or 77,500 AA miles||$750 or 75,00 AA miles||$725 or 72,500 AA miles||$700 or 70,000 AA miles|
|Household – new membership||$1,650 or 165,000 AA miles||$1,625 or 162,500 AA miles||$1,600 or 160,000 AA miles||$1,575 or 157,500 AA miles||$1,550 pr 155,000 AA miles|
|Household – renewal||$1,600 or 160,000 AA miles||$1,575 or 157,500 AA miles||$1,550 or 155,000 AA miles||$1,525 or 152,500 AA miles||$1,500 or 150,000 AA miles|
If you can renew your membership before July 23, you'll want to do so to save money. Also on July 23, the cost of a day pass will increase from $59 (or 5,900 AA miles) to $79 (or 7,900 AA miles).
It's possible to use AA miles to pay for your Admirals Club membership, but it doesn't present great value. You'll use miles at just 1¢ apiece, while average redemptions for AA miles generally provide around 1.5¢ apiece.
Moreover, these new rates (starting at $850) are jaw-dropping when compared to the cost of a Delta SkyClub membership ($695) and a United Club membership ($650). Plus, the fact that these airlines' premium credit cards — which provide lounge access — now have lower fees than AA's lounge-access card (more on that below).
Positive Changes Combing to Admirals Clubs
To compensate for these changes (read: price increase) to Admirals Club membership fees, AA is promising improvements in the clubs, starting July 23, 2023. This includes a renewed commitment to opening Admirals Clubs in Denver (DEN) and Newark (EWR) in the coming months.
Beyond just opening more Admirals Club locations, there will be positive changes to offerings at existing lounges. These will start rolling out on July 23 and should hit all domestic lounges in the U.S. by the first half of 2024.
What improvements can you expect? AA says there will be upgraded buffets, updated lounge designs, and “all domestic lounges will feature complimentary sparkling wine, craft beer that celebrates local favorites, and spirits like scotch and tequila. Customers can also enjoy complimentary cocktails like mimosas, Bloody Marys and signature cocktails created with local flavors.”
You'll also see “premium food” offerings, including new hot and cold options for both all-day dining and breakfast, plus locally-inspired dishes like Cuban pork sliders in Miami and mini crabcakes in Washington, D.C. The airline also says “select lounges” will offer grab-and-go items for those short on time. The full press release is here.
Changes to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
As of July 23, 2023, you'll see noticeable changes to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® — which is American Airlines' premium card that provides Admirals Club membership as a built-in benefit.
The card previously earned as follows:
- 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
That has changed, with the following earning structure after July 23 (for both new and existing cardholders):
- 10 miles per $1 spent on eligible bookings through aa.com/cars and aa.com/hotels
- 4 miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a qualification year
- Another 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in a qualification year
Additionally, the refreshed AA Executive Card now includes these perks:
- Up to $120 back on eligible Avis or Budget car rentals every calendar year
- Up to $120 back on eligible GrubHub purchases annually (available as up to $10 per month)
- Up to $120 in Lyft credits annually (available as a $10 Lyft credit each month after taking 3 eligible rides)
The most surprising perk may be the addition of insurance benefits. Citi slashed these perks from most of its cards in 2019, but the AA Executive Card will include these perks as of July 23, 2023:
- Trip cancellation and interruption protection
- Trip delay protection
- Lost baggage protection
- Worldwide car rental insurance coverage
It's worth noting that we haven't seen the terms of these benefits yet. That means we don't know coverage maximums, waiting periods for delay benefits, or whether the rental car insurance will be primary or secondary.
Ongoing benefits of the AA Executive Card
The AA Executive Card will continue to offer these perks to new and existing cardholders:
- Admirals Club access for primary account holders and authorized users, including guest privileges for their immediate family or up to two guests
- Up to $100 credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (available every four years)
- First checked bag free for the primary cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation when flying on American Airlines' domestic flights
- 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when paying with your card
- Priority boarding, priority check-in, and priority screening (where available) on American Airlines flights for the primary cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation
- Dedicated concierge
- Mastercard Priceless Experiences at Priceless.com/aa
- Select World Elite Mastercard benefits
This comes at a cost
Better lounges and more credit card perks don't come for free, unfortunately. As of July 23, 2023, the annual fee on the AA Executive Card has increased from $450 to $595.
While that might sting, make sure you're sitting down for the worst part. Before, you could add up to 10 authorized users at no cost, all of whom received their own Admirals Club access. Now, you'll pay for authorized users as follows:
- $175 total for the first three authorized users
- $175 per authorized user thereafter
Authorized users will continue to have the same Admirals Club access as before. Despite the fee increase, they'll still get the same lounge access and guest privileges.
What's the real cost here? Imagine you currently have 10 authorized users on your account. Before, you'd have payed $0. Now, you'll pay $1,400. $175 is still cheaper than each person buying an Admirals Club membership, but… ouch.
New applicants can earn 70,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. after spending $7,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. What can you do with those miles? Check our guide to the two dozen partner airlines you can book with AA miles and our favorite AA award sweet spots.
These changes have taken effect for Admirals Clubs, including access fees, the credit card that provides membership, and what the lounges themselves offer. For most people, this is a slew of bad news. The biggest hits come in the form of membership fees and authorized user fees on the AA Executive Card. While new locations and offerings at the Admirals Club sound nice, and the elevated perks on the AA Executive Card sound nice, that's unlikely to balance the scales for most people. Our guess is that most people will find this slew of updates to be overall negative.
What are your thoughts on these changes around the Admirals Club and Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®? Will it change your American Airlines loyalty?
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