American Airlines has a unique co-branded credit card agreement as far as US airlines go, as the airline has cards issued by both Citi and Barclays. This dates back to the merger between American and US Airways, as historically Citi had partnered with American, while Barclays had partnered with US Airways.
Nowadays the card issuers have competing cards, with the major differences being where cards can be marketed. The fact that American has two credit cards partners is fantastic for consumers, since it means you’re eligible for more American Airlines credit cards (and therefore more bonus miles and perks!).
In this post I wanted to go over the eligibility requirements for American’s six credit cards issued in the United States. There’s definitely more interest in these cards than in the past, given that with American’s Loyalty Points system, credit card spending can help you earn elite status.
American AAdvantage credit card bonus rules
Credit card issuers have a variety of restrictions when it comes to approving people for cards. If you’re looking to apply for an American Airlines credit card, eligibility requirements are pretty lax in terms of being able to apply for multiple of these cards over time.
Let’s go over the details, and I’ll note both the rules specific to each card, as well as the general rules for Citi and Barclays.
Citi American Airlines credit card rules
American Airlines has four co-branded credit cards issued by Citi:
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review) has a $450 annual fee, and offers the most valuable perks, including an Admirals Club membership, plus Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (review) has a $99 annual fee (waived the first year), and offers several great benefits, plus an excellent bonus
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (review) has a $99 annual fee (waived the first year), and offers valuable benefits, and a generous bonus
- The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® (review) has no annual fee, and is surprisingly compelling
These cards all have identical restrictions when it comes to earning the bonus:
- The bonus on each of these cards isn’t available to those who have received a new cardmember bonus on that exact card in the past 48 months; it’s fine if you’ve received the bonus on another AAdvantage product within the past 48 months, it just can’t be for the same product you’re applying for
- This is in addition to Citi’s general application restrictions, which include that you can get approved for at most one Citi card every eight days, and at most two Citi cards every 65 days
Barclays American Airlines credit card rules
American Airlines has two co-branded credit cards issued by Barclays:
- The AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard (review) has a $99 annual fee (waived the first year), and offers useful perks for travel on American
- The AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard (review) has a $95 annual fee, and offers useful perks for travel on American
Barclays isn’t quite as transparent as Citi when it comes to the policies associated with getting approved for co-branded AAdvantage cards:
- The terms are vague, and state that “you may not be eligible for this offer if you currently have or previously had an account with us in this program”
- Anecdotally, many report being able to earn the bonus on the personal version of the card if they closed the same card at least 24 months ago, and being able to earn the bonus on the business version of the card if they closed the same card at least six months ago; let me emphasize that this is anecdotal, and the offer terms suggest that rules could be stricter
- Barclays has few consistent rules when it comes to approving people for cards, so there aren’t any strict rules to be aware of
What credit score do you need for an American Airlines credit card?
There’s not a consistent rule as to what credit score you need to be approved for an American Airlines credit card from Citi or Barclays. In general, I’d recommend having a credit score in the “good” to “excellent” range if you’re going to apply for any of these cards.
Personally, I probably wouldn’t apply if my credit score were under 700, and ideally, I’d hope to have a credit score of 740 or higher. That being said, people with scores lower than that have been approved for these cards, and conversely, people with scores higher than that have been rejected. There are lots of factors that go into approval — your income, your credit history, how much credit an issuer has already extended you, etc.
Best strategy for getting American Airlines credit cards
It’s pretty awesome how non-restrictive the eligibility requirements are for earning the bonuses on co-branded American Airlines credit cards, as you can pick up both Citi and Barclays cards. This is quite a contrast to Marriott’s co-branded card portfolio, issued by American Express and Chase, where there are significantly stricter eligibility requirements.
American Airlines credit cards are a great way to build up your balance of AAdvantage miles, given all the great uses there are for these miles.
What’s the best strategy to take with applying for American Airlines credit cards? Here’s how I view things:
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is unique in the portfolio, given that it offers an Admirals Club membership and has a higher annual fee, so it’ll probably appeal to a different consumer base than the other cards
- Similarly, for those looking for a no annual fee card, the American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® is your only option; however, I wouldn’t necessarily apply directly for the card, given how much smaller the bonus is than on other cards
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard are largely substitutes, so you could apply for either or both, and I’d do so based on the bonus being offered at a particular time
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® and AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard are also substitutes, so I’d apply based on the bonus being offered
You could potentially pick up the two mid-range personal and business cards from each issuer in a matter of weeks, and earn hundreds of thousands of miles, if you wanted to. If you only wanted to apply for two cards, based on the current bonuses I’d probably go with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, applying at least eight days apart.
American Airlines has credit cards issued by both Citi and Barclays, and fortunately eligibility requirements aren’t very restrictive. None of the cards are mutually exclusive, so over time you could pick up all of these cards, if you wanted to.
With the current bonuses, it’s hard to beat the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, though all cards can make sense to apply for.
What has your experience been with getting approved for American Airlines credit cards?
You left out Barclay's
What about the Barclays Aviator Silver?