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Last Friday was the last day American Express Platinum cardholders enjoyed access to American and US Airways club lounges as part of their benefits package, and it looked like the only credit card left that would get you access to both sets of lounges (thanks to the merger) was the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard. However, TPG reader Jamar pointed me to a page on AA.com that states:
Just like the Citi Executive AAdvantage card, Citi Prestige cardholders are entitled to access to Admirals Clubs along with up to 2 guests or immediate family. All guests must accompany the member, and immediate family refers to spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age.
The terms also go on to state that: “Citi Prestige Card holder must present a stand-by ticket or boarding pass (other than a non-revenue ticket or boarding pass for airline employee travel), showing an American, American Eagle Airlines, Inc., or an American Connection carrier flight number, valid for travel on such flight and departing within 12 hours of the Admirals Club visit (or, in the case of a visit at an arrival airport, with respect to such a flight that arrived no more than 12 hours prior to the visit.)” So they must be flying that day on a paid American ticket in order to gain entry.
To compare, Citi Executive AAdvantage cardholders get Admirals Club membership with their card – so it’s just like being a member of the club, and is not restricted to same-day travel. It also comes with other club-specific benefits, which the Prestige does not, including access to over 30 Qantas lounges as well.
Though more limited than the co-branded card access, this is just another sign that Citi is trying to tighten its partnership with American in advance of the merger with US Airways, as well as trying to make its Prestige card more competitive in a marketplace that is seeing higher and higher bonuses and more benefits being added to cards in an effort to woo new eligible applicants.
Citi also just announced that Prestige cardholders can redeem ThankYou points at a preferential rate of 1.6 cents each toward American flights (otherwise it’s 1.33 cents per point toward other airfare). As a reminder, here are the other benefits of the Citi Prestige:
- $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
- 4th night hotel benefit for any hotel stay at hotels booked through the Citi Prestige® Concierge.
- Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
- Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
- Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
- Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
- Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
- 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
Personally, I just applied and was approved for a second time for the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard so I could get in on the current 100,000-mile bonus, and to me that just makes more sense because:
- I’m most interested in maximizing the card’s benefits on American Airlines itself since that’s my primary US carrier
- The bonus is so much higher at 100,000 miles instead of 30,000 points. I can get a roundtrip business class award to Europe for that many miles, but 30,000 ThankYou points even redeemed at the higher 1.6 cents rate would only equate to $480 towards American Airlines tickets
- The Admirals Club membership comes with greater access, including to US Airways Clubs now
- The Citi Executive AA card also comes with a $200 statement credit – but on any purchases, which makes it more versatile.
- The annual fee is the same
So I’m happy with my card situation, but if you already have the Citi Prestige and were considering it, then the new American Airlines-specific redemption rate and the access to Admirals Clubs when flying on American might just be enough to sweeten the deal for you. For more on the card, check out this post.
Know before you go.
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