Have you ever walked by the American Airlines Admiral’s Club and wondered what it was like inside?
Or, has one of those employees at those credit card booths ever pitched their card to you?
Sometimes I hear the pilot make the American Airlines Admiral’s Club credit card pitch and I almost feed bad for them. An experienced, highly trained, highly educated professional, making a credit card pitch over a speaker.
Still, I gave in. In early 2016, I found myself looking at a year with so much airport travel, and with credit card benefits bursting at the seams, I signed up for the American Airlines Citi Executive World Elite MasterCard. That’s the credit card that gives you access to American Airlines Admiral’s Clubs worldwide.
Here’s what happened.
American Airlines Citi Executive World Elite MasterCard – $450 annual fee
- Admiral’s Club Membership
- $550 value
- 2 Free Checked Bags per trip
- $120 value
- TSA Precheck/Global Entry reimbursement
- $85 for TSA Precheck and $100 for Global Entry
- 50,000 miles once a spending mark is hit within 3 months
- Varies but could easily run in the $200-$600 range
Although the card is a hefty $450, it has a potential return of over $1,000 if you take advantage of it’s amenities. In addition to the above, you also receive Priority airport service and boarding.
I signed up for the card for two reasons, the Admiral’s Club and the 50,000 miles. I already have TSA Precheck and I had another American Airlines card that gives me free checked bags. My other AA card gave me Group 1 boarding, which is fine for me, and I don’t usually check in bags so Priority service at the airport isn’t an issue.
The 50,000 miles alone was worth it, the Admiral’s Club was icing on the cake and saved me more money than the card’s annual fee.
I had 26 visits to the Admiral’s Club from January 2016 – December 2016.
Charlotte was the most visited lounge. I also visited Denver, Chicago, Amman, JFK, San Francisco, Washington DC, Santa Ana, and Dallas/Fort Worth.
I always visited Charlotte flying out. Sometimes I visited a lounge flying into a city if I needed to charge my phone. For example, I flew from Charlotte to Santa Ana and had a three hour layover in Dallas. I visited the lounge in Charlotte flying out, visited the lounge in Dallas on my layover, and then visited the lounge in Santa Ana upon arrival because my phone was almost dead and I needed GPS for the car ride. So I went to the lounge in Santa Ana upon my arrival, sipped some coffee while waiting for my phone to charge. I also visited the Santa Ana lounge flying out of it back to Charlotte. In that one trip, I visited the lounge four times.
I happen to live a couple hours from the airport. That means that I drive for two hours then get to the airport 2-3 hours before my flight. I’m not one of those last minute flyers, so I appreciate getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare and hanging out at the lounge before my flight.
Below is everything that I consumed at the Admiral’s Club that I would’ve paid for at an airport. I didn’t include things like bottled water, because I would just go to a water fountain. I also didn’t include current events or technology magazines that I grabbed from the lounge to read on the plane. There were also a few times when I brought guests into the lounge with me, their food and drinks are not included in this.
- Bagel and cream cheese/peanut butter – 4
- Black Coffee – 32
- Latte – 12
- Soda – 2
- Trail mix – 10
- Espresso – 8
- Fruit – 18
- Greek Yogurt – 13
- Oatmeal – 1
- Cereal – 8
- Soup – 6
- Cheese, olive, cracker plate – 16
- Brownies/Cookies – 9
- Hard boiled eggs – 12
In total, I saved an estimated $650 in drinks and snacks alone over the course of the year. That’s a conservative estimate.
These savings don’t include the checked bags that I received for free or the 50,000 miles that I used to fly to the Middle East for vacation. Most important of all, it doesn’t include the extreme peace and quiet of the American Airlines Admiral’s Club, the friendly customer service representatives that can help you with your flights, the fast WiFi, the showers, the private work-spaces, the abundance of comfortable chairs and televisions, the extremely clean bathrooms, or best of all, the ability to easily find somewhere to plug in your phone or computer.
This is the amount I really saved only because my purchases at airports were almost $0. I didn’t drink a coffee in the lounge and then buy one at a Starbucks. I made a conscience decision that if I went to the lounge, I would not spend any money at the airport. There were only a couple exceptions to this. When I was on the road for a considerable amount of time before arriving to the airport and needed a meal, not snacks, that happened three times.
Overall, this card is absolutely worth it for the first year if you fly often, fly out of an airport that has an Admiral’s Club, and don’t have TSA Precheck or Global Entry. You could potentially save over $1,000 by having this card for the first year. After the first year, you don’t receive any extra miles so the benefit to having it goes way down. And if your company reimburses you for food while you travel but not for this card, then there’s no benefit to you personally, even if it saves the company money.