Citi AAdvantage Executive Card: In-Depth Review

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Update: These offers for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®  and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.


These days, you don’t have to search very hard for a co-branded American Airlines credit card. Thanks to partnerships with both Barclays and Citi, you have tons of cards from which to choose.

While cards such as the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® have lower annual fees, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® might just be the best of the bunch.

Sure, it often comes with a higher sign-up bonus than other co-branded American AAdvantage cards, but it includes better perks such as lounge access that can really come in handy when flying American Airlines.

With a $450 annual fee, I totally get why this card might not make the cut for some of you — I haven’t gotten it myself — but, for the right person, this card could really come through.

Now, let’s get into it!

Admirals Club Access for you and 10 authorized users

Unfortunately, a Priority Pass Select membership won’t provide access to any Admirals Club locations. For many of us, this is a big hole in Priority Pass as we often fly American Airlines on domestic flights. Even The Platinum Card® from American Express — the best card for lounge access — doesn’t have a way to get you into an Admirals Club.

Of course, you could purchase an Admirals Club membership from American Airlines instead of getting the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. Without elite status, it would cost $550 your first year and $500 every year after that. In fact, even top-tier Executive Platinum members would need to pay $450 the first year, which is the same as the Citi AAdvantage Executive’s annual fee.

Admirals Club Membership Cost

While the annual fee after the first year will be lower at $400 per year, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® has a major advantage in that you can add up to 10 authorized users at no extra cost. Each authorized user — added at no extra cost — can access Admirals Clubs and bring up to 2 guests with them.

Consider that household memberships cost $925 the first year if you don’t have elite status ($875 each year after that). The price only goes as low as $675 (then $625) for Executive Platinum members with other elites falling in between. With this in mind, getting the card is a much better choice if you want to share access with family (or friends).

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo

While I haven’t opened this card yet, it continues to be on my mind as I fly out of an American hub — Washington Reagan National (DCA) — and visit cities with Admirals Clubs regularly.

For those who regularly fly American for work, the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card could be a great addition to your wallet if you’d like a place to work and grab a bite while you wait for flights.

Big sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus for the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card has recently been increased to 75,000 American AAdvantage miles with a minimum spend requirement of $7,500 within 3 months.

The card only earns 2X on purchases with American Airlines and 1X on all other purchases, so it won’t be a big winner for everyday spending. However, let’s look at the welcome bonus a bit more. If you hit the minimum spend and earn 1X on all $7,500, you’ll have 82,500 American AAdvantage miles.

With 82,500 miles, you’ll have enough miles to book a one-way business class flight to any region of the world including the South Pacific which includes Australia and New Zealand. You can even book a one-way first class award to Japan. As always, the challenge (fun part?) will be finding award space.

Before you apply, make sure you know if you are eligible to receive the sign-up bonus.

Big spenders can earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)

Let me start by saying I strongly suggest you don’t do this unless you naturally spend a massive amount on credit cards each year — hello, small business owners! So, let’s say you actually do spend a ton and are close to earning the next elite status tier but are a few EQMs short.

With the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, you can earn 10,000 EQMs if you spend $40,000 within a calendar year. You read that right, $40,000. Now, you see why only a very select few should even consider it. If you’ll somehow spend the required $12,000 to earn Executive Platinum but find you’ll be 10,000 EQMs short of the 100,000 EQMs required, maybe it will be worth it to you.

This might even be worth it if you’re just short of Platinum or Platinum Pro status. For everyone else, just ignore this section.

Travel perks

As with other premium cards with $450 annual fees, the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card comes with a few perks to improve the travel experience.

$100 Global Entry statement credit

If you, a family member or friend want to get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you can use this card to pay for the application fee and receive a statement credit automatically to reimburse you.

The Global Entry application fee is $100 while the TSA PreCheck application will cost $85. This card will reimburse for either but, since Global Entry provides access to TSA PreCheck, just get Global Entry. I mean, if you won’t leave the United States for the next five years, I guess you could just get TSA PreCheck.

What are the odds a OMAAT reader won’t leave the U.S. for 5 years?

If you hold onto this card, you can use this perk once every 5 years so you can renew your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and be reimbursed.

One free checked bag for up to 8 people

On domestic flights marketed and operated by American Airlines, just being a cardholder provides you with one complimentary checked bag. In fact, this benefit covers up to 8 people booked on the same reservation.

I particularly like that you don’t even have to use the card to book the flight, which means you can book with a Chase Sapphire Reserve® to earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points or the Amex Platinum for 5X Membership Rewards points.

Other perks

Cardholders also receive a few perks that can make the travel experience a bit better when flying American Airlines. At the airport, you’ll have access to a few services that can speed up the process of getting to and onto your flight quickly. These benefits are subject to availability at the airport from which you are traveling, of course.

First, up you can use the business class check-in desk and the first class desk if business class is not available. Next up, you’ll have access to priority airport screening. Finally, you’ll be able to board with Group 4 to give yourself a better shot at finding overhead bin space for your carry-on.

Finally, you can get a 25% discount on inflight food and beverages purchases. Unlike some of the other perks, you will need to use your Citi AAdvantage Executive Card to receive the discount.

Travel protection

As I’ve been reminded multiple times this year, having a credit card with travel protections can really come through in a pinch. With all protections offered, make sure you read the fine print in your benefits guide.

Trip and baggage delay protection

With the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card’s trip delay insurance, you will have $500 for reasonable expenses — think lodging, food and local transportation — if you have a delay of more than 6 hours or your flight is canceled.

Similarly, if your baggage is delayed more than 6 hours, you will have $500 to purchase many necessities. If your baggage is lost, you could be covered up to $3,000 per person ($2,000 for New York residents).

These benefits also apply to your family members if you used your card to pay for at least a portion of the flights. If your family members’ bags were also lost, you’ll have up to $10,000 to cover everyone.

Additionally, these protections cover other common carriers such as trains and cruises.

Trip cancellation and interruption coverage

If sickness, injury or weather cause your trip to be canceled or interrupted, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 for prepaid expenses. Additionally, if you or a family member dies, this benefit will also apply. There are a number of covered reasons as well as a number of reasons that are not covered so I strongly suggest you review the benefits guide.

Rental Car protection

If you rent a car in the U.S., the coverage provided by the Citi AAdvantage Executive is secondary so the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card would be a better choice. However, it does provide primary coverage abroad. Just keep in mind, that it will only cover damage to the rental car.

Bottom line

Beyond the sign-up bonus, the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is most useful for the Admirals Club membership and a few travel perks — though some of these can be acquired with other cards that also have useful bonus categories.

If you’ll be able to take advantage of the Admirals Club lounge access and, perhaps offset some of the cost by making friends and family authorized users, it could easily be worth the annual fee. That, to me, is where the real value in this card lies.

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Comments

  1. I love this card as an AA frequent flyer. Despite all the knocks on the Admirals Club, even the most packed clubs are an improvement over sitting in the terminal. I added my dad as an authorized user, and he and my stepmom have never been in a lounge before that, so they are always blown away.

    I just wish AA would mirror the Barclays EQD benefits, so that I don’t need to keep my Aviator Silver open and spend another $195 on its annual fee.

  2. Spencer, I don’t need this card.

    If i used your link would pay half of my first year’s annual fee?

  3. Excellent review. One interesting benefit which I don’t believe was covered. One does not need to be traveling with American Airlines in order to use the Admirals Club with this card. As long as the club is located in a concourse to which you have access, you are welcome.

  4. If you, a family member or friend want to get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you can use this card to pay for the application fee and receive a statement credit automatically to reimburse you.

    Citi says ONLY the ORIGINAL HOLDER receives the reinvestment, once every 5 years..

    All Card carrying friends or wife will need to have the card to enter the lounge,

  5. “With 82,500 miles, you’ll have enough miles to book a one-way business class flight to any region of the world including the South Pacific which includes Australia and New Zealand. ”

    Bwahahaha. BIG caveat to that, wouldn’t you say? Like, the biggest, i.e. award availability, which is remarkably thin.

  6. Interesting…. Everytime I go to the business or first class check in counter they tell me this card doesn’t allow me to go there…

  7. Wondering – if you have an award flight and it has some taxes and fees associated with it, and you pay for these with your card – do you have the same benefits (trip delay insurance, etc.) as if you had purchased the ticket outright?

  8. i have been getting offers from citi to upgrade my citi platinum select.

    if i upgrade will i still get the sign on bonus or do i need to apply for the card??

  9. November, 2019 you WILL have to be flying AA to get into admirals club.

    From their website:
    Starting November 1, 2019
    Boarding passes for same-day travel on American Airlines or partner airlines will be required for entry.1

    1 Any departing or arriving flight: marketed or operated by American Airlines, marketed and operated by any oneworld® partner carrier, marketed and operated by American Airlines or Alaska Airlines in any combination

    This no longer makes this card worth it to me, as all of my lounge use is based on location of the lounge and not based on the airline I’m flying.

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