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Should I Drop the Admirals Club for the Centurion Lounge?

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TPG reader Adam tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy– “Is it worth keeping my Admirals Club membership, or should I drop it for the new Centurion Lounges?”

I generally don’t think it’s worth paying for lounge access. Spending $500 for a membership alone doesn’t make sense when you could get that same Admirals Club membership through either the Citi Prestige or the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, plus sign-up bonuses and other perks. Overall, you get much more value out of one of those cards than you do from a paid membership.

The only time I think buying a membership makes more sense is if you have poor credit and applying for these cards isn’t an option.

Admiral's Club vs. Centurion Lounge, which wins? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Admirals Club vs. Centurion Lounge, which wins? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

When comparing the lounges, I can tell you right off the bat that the Centurion Lounges are absolutely amazing. I just went to the opening of the San Francisco Centurion Lounge this week, and was every bit as impressed by it as I have been by the others.

Spacious seating area at the new centurion lounge.
Spacious seating area at the new San Francisco Centurion Lounge.

That being said, there are about 50 Admirals Clubs/US Airways Lounges worldwide (including 30 in the U.S.), while there are just four domestic Centurion Lounges (located in Las Vegas, New York LaGuardia, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco, along with a fifth scheduled to open in Miami in 2015. You clearly get quantity over quality with the Admirals Club.

I actually don’t even like hanging out in the Admirals Club or US Airways Lounges. I find the food unhealthy, and I’d rather just get a Starbucks in the airport and save the time. However, I do find myself arriving a little bit earlier to leave time for a visit when I’m flying to or from an airport with a Centurion Lounge. Since LaGuardia and Miami are important airports for me, I often get to visit the Centurion Lounges, and I’m hopeful that Amex will open others in markets like Chicago and LA.

The food at the Centurion lounge was great- very healthy options!
A healthy bite at the Centurion Lounge

I’ll definitely keep my Platinum Card from American Express in order to have access to the Centurion lounges. However, I’ll also be maintaining my Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard, because I want the 10,000 EQMs that are stackable with the new Barclaycard Aviator Silver card (which I upgraded to and wrote about last week). I’m keeping those cards for the other perks, but if those perks ever go away and I could only end up with one card, I would still pick the Amex Platinum and access to the Centurion Lounges. I value Amex Membership Rewards points highly, and get good use out of them.

Ultimately, your decision depends on your traveling style and the airports you frequent. If you always travel through Dallas, for example, it’s a no brainer! The Admirals Club is more likely to be helpful if your flight is canceled, since there are more locations, but the Centurion Lounge is much nicer.

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

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
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  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
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Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A N/A $450 0% Excellent Credit