Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Review (2019)

Filed Under: American, Citi
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2x miles
on AA purchases
Admirals Club
lounge access
no foreign
transaction fees
Annual Fee: $450

Co-branded credit cards are big businesses for airlines, and in many cases a majority of their profits actually come from frequent flyer programs, and the lucrative arrangements they have with banks.

When thinking of premium credit cards (let’s say those with annual fees of $450 or more), the first cards that come to mind are probably The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees) or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

However, there’s a premium airline credit card that arguably gets me just as much value as either of those cards, if not more.

In this post I wanted to take a detailed look at this card, which is in a league of its own when it comes to airline credit cards. I wanted to do this especially in light of the “scare” we just had regarding this card, which I’ll address below.

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Basics

American Airlines has cards issued by both Barclays and Citi, and the most premium card in the portfolio is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. This card offers the strongest lounge access perk of any airline credit card, to the point that it’s almost ridiculous how generous this card is.

But let’s look at other aspects of this card as well, like the sign-up bonus, return on spending, benefits, and more.

50K Miles Sign-Up Bonus

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months.

Personally, I value American miles at ~1.4 cents each, so to me those miles are worth about $700. That’s a great bonus for a card. Then again, think of the sign-up bonus as just an added incentive here. There is a much bigger reason you’ll want this card.

Note that the bonus miles aren’t available to those who have received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 48 months (however, you are eligible if you’ve had a different American Airlines credit card).

Then there are the typical rules for Citi credit card applications, which includes that you can apply for at most one card with them every eight days, and at most two cards every 65 days.

Redeem American miles for Etihad’s A380 first class

$450 Annual Fee

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card has a $450 annual fee. You can add up to 10 authorized users to your card at no extra cost, which is my favorite perk of this card, as I’ll discuss in greater detail in a bit.

Rewards Structure

When it comes to actually spending money on the card, don’t get too excited. The card offers 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American, and 1x AAdvantage miles on all other purchases.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The card has no foreign transaction fees, so this can be a good option for purchases you make abroad.

Use this card for purchases abroad and pay no foreign transaction fees

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Lounge Benefit

The real reason you want to get the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is because of the incredible lounge access perk that it offers. Getting this card can potentially get you lounge access for you and up to 10 other people. How does that work?

Receive An Admirals Club Membership

The primary cardmember receives a full Admirals Club membership. That in and of itself is a reason this card makes sense.

Ordinarily, if you buy an Admirals Club membership you’ll be paying anywhere from $500 to $650 per year, depending on your AAdvantage status, and also depending on whether you’re a new member or are renewing your membership.

So by getting an Admirals Club membership with the Executive Card you’re saving $50-200 right off the bat.

Note that while you can redeem miles for an Admirals Club membership, this represents a terrible value, as you’re getting just a cent of value per mile.

This is a full Admirals Club membership, so you don’t even have to bring your credit card, as your membership will be linked to your AAdvantage number:

  • You can access Admirals Clubs worldwide; starting November 1, 2019, you’ll only receive access if flying American Airlines same day
  • You’re allowed to bring up to two guests into lounges
  • Admirals Club members also receive access to over 60 partner lounges around the world, including select lounges from Alaska, British Airways, LATAM, and Qantas (you can find the full lounge directory here)

Access the Alaska Lounge in Seattle with this card

Note that Admirals Club members don’t get access to Flagship Lounges, as that access is determined based on the ticket you purchased rather than any membership.

Give 10 Authorized Users Lounge Access

This is where the card goes from solid to unbelievably good. You can add up to 10 authorized users on the card at no extra cost, and each of the authorized users also receives Admirals Club access.

Note that authorized users receive Admirals Club access and not a membership, so there are the restrictions:

  • You’ll need to present their authorized user card to access the lounge, since they don’t have a membership tied to their AAdvantage number
  • As of November 1, 2019, they need to be flying American Airlines same day to access lounges
  • They can bring up to two guests into lounges
  • They can’t access partner lounges

So for the purposes of accessing Admirals Clubs this is more or less the same as an outright membership.

This is such an outrageously good benefit, since it means that just about all of my family and some of my friends get Admirals Club access when they fly. When you split my $450 annual fee 11 ways, I’m basically paying just over $40 per person per year for Admirals Club access. That’s less than a single day pass.

Even authorized users get Admirals Club access

How To Add Authorized Users To The Citi AAdvantage Executive

Adding authorized users to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is super easy, and can be done directly on Citi’s website. You should see an area in the “Your Offers & Benefits” section that invites you to add authorized users.

On the next page, you’ll be able to manage authorized users, including adding and removing them.

You’ll just need their name to add them, and you have the choice of whether or not you want to give them permission to access your online account.

Make sure you trust all your authorized users, since any charges they incur will be your responsibility.

The other thing to note is that authorized user cards will be mailed to the primary cardmember, and then you’ll have to pass them on.

Is This Authorized User Benefit Here To Stay?

We just had a bit of a scare where we saw Citi’s website suggest that there’s a $175 fee per authorized user on this card. Citi representatives have confirmed that this was an error, and that the authorized user fee continues to be $0.

So, was this truly a mistake, or was this an instance of the website updating a bit sooner than it should for an imminent change? Really it’s anyone’s guess. The way it was explained to me, it sure seems like a change in the authorized user fee isn’t in the works, though who really knows?

Regardless, for now there continues to be no fee to add authorized users, and I’d gladly sign up for the card under that assumption.

Other Benefits On The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card

The primary reason to get the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is because of the Admirals Club benefit, though the card offers some other perks that could add a lot of value for card members. These perks range from priority check-in to early boarding to a TSA Pre-Check fee credit.

So here’s what you need to know about all the other perks of this card.

First Checked Bag Free

Receive a first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation. There’s no need to actually pay for the ticket with your card, you just have to make sure it’s linked to your AAdvantage account.

American ordinarily charge $30 for the first checked bag, so that’s a $60 value per person roundtrip (and if you had eight companions all checking a bag, that would be a value of $540).

Priority Check-In, Priority Screening, Early Boarding

For having the card you receive several valuable airport benefits, including priority check-in, priority airport screening, and early boarding. These are all features that can save you time and money.

Earn Elite Qualifying Miles

While the above two perks are valuable for non-elites, here’s a benefit that’s valuable for AAdvantage elite members. The card offers 10,000 elite qualifying miles after you spend $40,000 on purchases in a calendar year.

Personally, I’d only spend that much on this card if you’re in a bind, because there are better cards for everyday spending.

Unfortunately, this card doesn’t offer any opportunity to earn elite qualifying dollars.

Global Entry Or TSA Pre-Check Credit

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every five years. Simply charge the purchase to your card and it will automatically be reimbursed. You don’t have to be the one signing up — you can always pay for a friend or family member who is signing up instead.

Personally, I always recommend applying for Global Entry, because Global Entry automatically comes with TSA Pre-Check, while the inverse isn’t true.

World Elite Mastercard Perks

This is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning that it comes with quite a few benefits you may not be familiar with. For example, Mastercard World Elite cardholders receive:

  • A $10 Lyft credit after every five rides taken in a calendar month
  • $5 off every Postmates order of $25 or more

Is The American Executive Card Worth It?

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is a fantastic card that I personally have and also recommend, but only if you’re a frequent flyer with American. If you fly American with any frequency then an Admirals Club membership is super valuable, and this is the best way to access the Admirals Club, hands down.

Not only is the card’s annual fee lower than the cheapest Admirals Club membership fee, but you get the additional perk of lounge access for 10 others.

This card is the best option for accessing Admirals Clubs

Is This The Best Card For Lounge Access?

The Executive AAdvantage Card is the best card for lounge access if you’re a frequent flyer on American. However, if you fly a variety of airlines, I think going with another premium card is a better option:

Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum

Note that neither of those cards gets you access to any American Airlines Admirals Clubs, though.

Complement: CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card

If you want to earn lots of American miles, consider also signing up for the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®. This business card has a bonus of 70,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $4,000 within four months, and the $99 annual fee is even waived for the first 12 months.

Best of all, eligibility for the two cards is independent, as earning the welcome bonus on a personal card in no way impacts your eligibility to earn the welcome bonus on a business card.

AAdvantage Executive Card Summary

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a frequent flyer on American then you shouldn’t consider this card. However, if you are a frequent flyer on American then this card is totally for you.

While Admirals Clubs aren’t anything to get too excited about, there’s still huge value in the complimentary snacks and drinks, free wifi and quiet places to sit, and access to an agent in the event your flight has irregular operations.

This is a card that I have and love. The Admirals Club membership is awesome, while the Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users is the icing on the cake.

For a moment we had a scare that made us think that there might be an authorized user fee coming, though it looks like we’ve been spared for now, and that’s great news. It’s a good reminder that this is a card that’s well worth having.

If you want to learn more about the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card or apply, follow this link.

Apply Now

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. Unfortunately the new restriction of having to fly American to use the lounge makes the card worthless to me.

    Will cancel in the next couple of weeks.

  2. If I were to close my Citi AADVANTAGE platinum select card today. Would I be eligible to reapply for another bonus in 2 years ?

  3. With me living in Charlotte and flying quite frequently out of CLT, this is an excellent card for me. Too bad it otherwise is poor return on spend so I usually dont put more than $100 a year on the card except the annual fee

  4. @Lucky Does flying Alaska the same day count starting in November? I thought they had a reciprocal lounge relationship.

  5. The rather significant devaluation of requiring AA or OneWorld flights same day makes this less valuable. Further, with Citi removing ALL benefits, this card has precisely one single purpose and that is Admirals club ONLY if actually flying AA. That is beneficial only if flying domestically, assuming business travel internationally which grants access. For heavy domestic AA flyers, it’s a good benefit. For heavy AA flyers, even internationally, access is granted through Platinum or higher membership into all OneWorld lounges.

    I actually love Admirals Clubs and find them to be really nice. (The newly renovated ones.) The Flagship Lounge is really nice and a joy to visit. I wish AA planes were as nice as, or even half as nice as, their clubs.

  6. Your summary nets this out: if you want Admirals Club access, this card gives you that at a discount. If you have 10 people working for you, all flying AA at least occasionally, this would be a bonanza. Otherwise, divide $450 by the number of Club visits you plan next year and see if that’s what you want to pay per visit.

  7. I’ve loved this card for the last few years because I live in Phoenix. Three Admirals Clubs to choose from and unlimited access when flying any other airline in Terminal 4, i.e., Southwest, Westjet, Volaris. The ability to enter whether one is flying AA or not is what set the Admirals Club apart. And now that benefit is about to go away. Given how horrifically awful American’s on-time performance has become, I have only flown with them maybe twice this year. But I’ve continued using the Admirals Club in Chicago, Austin, TPA, DFW, Phoenix, LAX, ATL, CLT, etc., when flying with United, Delta or Southwest. Now those days are about to come to an end. My relatives are authorized users but don’t seem to have much of an interest in airlines clubs. So this card is probably headed for the trash heap come October. I’ve been hoping that perhaps Citibank would intervene and save those of us with this card from the same day AA flight requirement, but I guess that’s not going to happen. So this decision by American Airlines to force a same day trip with them will likely mean that I will never return. It’s like the last thread connecting me to AA is being cut. It blows my mind to think that after 40 years of being my go-to airline, I can no longer envision even considering them. I wonder how many millions are about to cut that thread as well.

  8. One more comment. My one and only connection to Citbank has been with American AAdvantage Citi cards. I have three of them, and I guess they are about to join the World Executive Card on the trash heap. Curious lack of foresight by this bank.

  9. Between the website hiccup and the surveys they’ve conducted about adding an AU fee, the change is imminent.

  10. Moving target. Unless I misunderstood both the car rental coverage and the club access ceased overnight. The ability to visit the clubs regardless of the airline proved to be a wonderful benefit due to the frequency of flights via ORD and CLT.

  11. Yes, if you want the AU benefit for free quickly apply now. It’s typically been like this for Citi to unofficially tell things few weeks before it happens.

  12. @ChadMC
    Yes. Flagship lounge is really nice. However the credit card does not grant access to the flagship lounge, only admiral’s clubs. But again that’s partly an advantage as the lounge would have been much more crowded if anyone can get in with a credit card or cash payments.

  13. If I carry this card for my personal use, would the priority check-in and boarding benefits also apply when I fly for work where I am booking those flights through my company’s travel agent as opposed to directly on this card?

  14. The biggest problem I have with the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is that it offers no credit after spending $5,000-10,000 within the first three months. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve I got $350 in credit once I spent $5000. The other issue is the priority boarding. Its not even in Group 1 or 2. How are you in “priority” if you’re not in the top 2 groups? Frankly, if you love the Admirals Club this is the card for you. Other than the 2x points on purchases, the only service this card performs is basically saving you a yearly discount for AA lounge access. Pretty straightforward.

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