The One American Airlines Credit Card That’s Still Worth It

Filed Under: American, Citi
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American Airlines has co-brand credit cards from both Barclays and Citi. Historically this is a good thing, since it means the two issuers are competing with one another for our business. You’d think that this would lead to better welcome bonuses, more benefits, etc.

Unfortunately over the past several months we’ve seen negative changes to American’s portfolio of cards:

  • As of the beginning of 2019, the number of elite qualifying dollars (EQDs) that you can earn through credit card spend has been greatly reduced
  • As of May 2019, the 10% rebate on redeemed miles (for a limit of up to 10,000 refunded miles per year) is being eliminated
  • Some other changes are being made to Barclays cards, some of which are positive, and some of which are negative

It can still be worth having a co-brand American credit card if you are only an occasional American flyer, since the priority boarding and first checked bag free can be valuable benefits. But as an elite member there’s not much value anymore:

For example, I have the Aviator Silver Card, and it’s a card I got for the ability to earn EQDs and for the 10% rebate on redeemed miles. For that matter, one easy way to justify the annual fee on many American cards was the 10% rebate, which in many cases was worth more than the annual fee members were paying.

So at this point I’ve been asked several times by readers if there’s any American Airlines credit card that I still find worthwhile? Yes, personally I have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard, and it’s a card that I find continues to provide exceptional value.

The card has quite a few benefits, though fundamentally what makes the $450 annual fee Citi Executive AAdvantage Card so exceptional is the lounge access that it offers.

The card offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember.

Admirals Club Phoenix Airport

That in and of itself is a good deal, since the annual fee is less than the cost of an Admirals Club membership even for Executive Platinum members (a new annual membership for an Executive Platinum member costs $550).

Admirals Club Membership Cost

But what’s so great is that you can add up to 10 authorized users to the card for free, and they each get Admirals Club access for themselves and two guests each.

I have this card, and I have 10 authorized users, including friends and family members. I value an Admirals Club membership anyway, and the fact that I can essentially gift 10 others Admirals Club access is the icing on the cake.

Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport

While major changes have been announced to American’s other card products, no changes have been announced to this card, so I’d say it continues to be a “keeper” for anyone in a similar situation to me.

For anyone who is interested in the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card, there are some other great benefits, in addition to a generous welcome bonus:

  • 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and headsets on flights operated by American Airlines when purchased with the card
  • Priority check-in, screening, and early boarding on American operated flights
  • A statement credit of up to $100 every five years that can be applied towards a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry application

So yeah, I hope they don’t make any changes to this card, but as it stands this is the only American credit card that I consider to be worthwhile at this point.

Anyone else like the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card as much as I do?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. What is the difference between the lounges you can access as a executive platinum and a admirals club lounge?

  2. @ Sam — Currently you can use the Admirals Club if flying any airline. However, starting November 1, 2019, you can only access the Admirals Club with a membership (or credit card benefit) if flying American or a partner same day.

  3. @ Carlos — As an Executive Platinum member you don’t receive complimentary lounge access on most domestic routes, so this would actually get you lounge access. On longhaul international flights Executive Platinum members get access to Flagship Lounges, which are better.

  4. I predict the 10 AUsers access will go away very soon. Why would the leave that loophole around.

  5. @lucky assuming you don’t have to book the flight with the card, but rather just show it for Club access? (Curious as I have a company Amex for work travel and thinking about getting the card and killing my Club membership). Also assuming this would still get me in the Alaska Lounges?

  6. @ Ben — I couldn’t agree more. I am ready to get this card again, but want to hold out for at least a 60k bonus. Do you know if the expired offer of 60k advertised on the referral cards offered by the check-in agents at the Admirals Clubs is actually valid still?

  7. The last time I tried to cancel my Barclays AA card, they threatened to claw back the welcome bonus. Anyone know how long I have to wait for that to not be a thing?

  8. People like you will ruin the benefit for authorized users. 10 authorized users? Seriously? What a cheap ass.

  9. It’s weird that AA Exec Plat members cannot automatically use Admiral’s Lounges.

    Because if you are BA Gold (i.e. OneWorld Emerald) then you can use not only Admiral’s lounges but also Flagship lounges, where they exists.

    BA Gold is supposed to be equal to AA ExPlat, but in reality it is better

  10. Having to fly AA’s garbAAge product to use the ‘benefit’ of this card that you PAID for makes this card absolutely worthless outside of hub-captives (starting Nov 1). AA needs to be sent a message that this is not ok, and pushing their cards as being anything more than the commodity product does nothing to help get improvements.

    Just saying

  11. I’m done with the whole AA/Citi/Barclays run around. By crediting a few business/first runs to BA, I’ll easily get BA Silver which provides Admirals Club Access and access to MCE seats at booking for the few AA flights I take. Good enough for me

  12. Other than Admirals club access I’m not seeing much of a benefit. I’m a big fan of OMAAT, but I’ve got a feeling the referral commission is probably high for this card, hence Lucky’s ringing endorsement.

  13. @KevinB It’s just a meaningless threat. Unless the TC of the app stated that they will claw back the bonus if you cancel within a certain time (as some AMEX apps now do) once that bonus has been transferred to your AA account it cannot be clawed back. Only exception is if they can prove fraud in either the app, or the spend. Which is almost unheard of, unless one does something stupid like meeting the min spnd, and then returning all of the purchases for refund after the bonus posts. Otherwise any points in your AA account are safe.

  14. And tomorrow we’ll get an article on lounge overcrowding. Seriously, the AU’s cause many of the overcrowding problems, and you’re advertising having 10 AU’s?

  15. I have this card and like it, but the value will diminish markedly after November 1st when you actually have to fly AA to get into the lounges.

    Also, as another poster asked, can I use this card to access Alaska lounges? If so, will I need to be flying Alaska (either before or after November 1st) to use this card?

  16. @Bob – Can’t speak for everywhere, but this card does get you access to the Alaska lounge at LAX when flying Alaska. It was a nice perk when Priority Pass members were being turned away that I could get in with this card.

  17. do the ten authorized users have to have the credit card (for instance do I have to give my grown daughters their own card) or do you just sign them up as authorized users

  18. @Bob — in Seattle only the primary cardholder can access the Alaska lounges (+2 guests). Authorized Users cannot access the SEA lounges by themselves. It’s not the same at every airport, but FYI.

    @larry — the authorized user must physically have the card to enter. My wife forgot it once when traveling by herself and the AA agent said it didn’t matter if they called Citi or me, she had to have the card in hand.

  19. Lucky: You posted correct cost of new Admirals Club for EXP but your table is an old one before prices went up by $100. You may want to correct.

  20. The Barclay cards are also useful for folks who travel to Europe, since they are one of the few US banks that issue “chip and PIN” cards.

  21. “I have this card, and I have 10 authorized users, including friends and family members.”

    Why I can never find a seat… gee thanks.

  22. Exactly why I’m getting rid of this card on November 1st. Lounges are overcrowded and now I’m paying $450/yr and only allowed access on same-day Oneworld flights. No thanks. I’ll keep my $50/yr Citi AAdvantage Visa card and earn the same crappy miles that I can’t do anything with.

  23. I have this card. I got it last year with a 50000 miles bonus. I now used this card for all my purchases to avoid using my debit (afraid of ID theft). My question is this: I never used a lounge before!! I can use with this card the lounge and I see also better flagship lounge. BUT WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OR DIFFERENT USING A LOUNGE than a nice Starbucks or seating? I want to know so I can begin using this benefit. Another thing; how do I use the priority check in benefit? Do I show my card at TSA guards when checking on priority line? There are basic questions but I am new at this card and having this flying benefits. Please, share your experience and educate me.

  24. “Priority check-in, screening, and early boarding on American operated flights”

    Do these cards give you priority check-in and screening as well? I thought they’re only good for early boarding.

  25. I’ve been searching all over the web to try to find this and can’t — can you earn EQDs using the Citibank AA cards? I know that American slashed the Barclay’s benefits, but you can still earn a few EQDs through credit card spend on the Barclay’s cards. it looks like the Citibank cards only offer EQMs through spending, not EQDs. Is that right?

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