Link: Apply now for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review), which is American’s most premium credit card, has just undergone a full refresh. This card was in the “too good to be true” category for a long time, so these changes shouldn’t come as a surprise.
I first wrote about these changes when they were first announced, but wanted to post an update, now that the changes are live.
Citi AAdvantage Executive Card gets higher fee, new benefits
Changes have been made to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card as of Sunday, July 23, 2023. Let’s look at what has changed for the worse, what has changed for the better, and what has stayed the same.
Let’s start with what has changed for the worse:
- The annual fee has increased by 32%, from $450 per year to $595 per year
- The card previously let you add up to 10 authorized users at no extra cost, and each gets Admirals Club access; after the refresh, there’s a $175 annual fee for the first three authorized users (that’s $175 total for up to three people, so potentially under $60 each), and then a $175 annual fee for each authorized user thereafter
Now let’s talk about what has changed for the better:
- The card now offers up to $120 back on eligible Avis or Budget rentals every calendar year; this can be used toward a single rental, so as long as you spend $120 or more with Avis or Budget in a year, this should be worth face value
- The card now offers up to $120 back on eligible Grubhub purchases every year; this comes in the form of up to $10 in statement credits with each billing statement
- The card now offers up to $120 in Lyft credits every year; this comes in the form of a $10 credit each month after taking three eligible rides
- The card now offers 4x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines flight purchases, and after spending $150,000 on the card in a calendar year, cardmembers can earn a total of 5x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases for the remainder of the calendar year
- The card now offers 10x AAdvantage miles on eligible rental cars booked through aa.com/cars, and eligible hotels booked through aa.com/hotels
- The card now offers Loyalty Points bonuses, unrelated to spending on the card — receive 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year, plus an additional 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in the same status qualification year; this replaces the previous opportunity to earn 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points when spending $40,000 on the card in a year
- The card now offers travel protection, including for trip cancellation and interruption, trip delay, lost baggage, and worldwide rental cars
Now let’s talk about what hasn’t changed about the card:
- The card continues to award one Loyalty Point for every dollar spent, helping you qualify for AAdvantage elite status, whether you’re going for Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Executive Platinum
- The card continues to offer an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember (while authorized users continue to get Admirals Club access, but not a full membership)
- The card continues to offer up to a $100 credit on a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years
- The card continues to offer a first checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to eight companions on the same reservation on American Airlines domestic flights
- The card continues to offer 25% savings on eligible American Airlines inflight food and beverage purchases when using the card
- The card continues to offer priority boarding, priority check-in, and priority screening on American Airlines flights for the primary cardmember and up to eight companions on the same reservation
What happens for existing cardmembers?
If you’re an existing Citi AAdvantage Executive Card member, how should you expect these changes to be implemented?
- You’ll be billed the new annual fee on your next renewal date
- You’ll be billed for authorized users on your next renewal date
- You can start taking advantage of the new card perks immediately, including the credits with Avis/Budget, Grubhub, and Lyft, plus the elevated mileage earning on flights, and with American’s hotel and rental car portals
- If you earn 50,000 Loyalty Points you can expect to earn 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points, and if you earn 90,000 Loyalty Points you can expect to earn another 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points; this will automatically post during this membership year
One common question has been regarding the 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points that you historically earn for spending $40,000 on the card. In 2023, can you qualify for the 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points through that, plus the 20,000 bonus Loyalty Points as part of the new card perks?
The short answer is that it’s one or the other, and you’re not going to earn more than 20,000 Loyalty Points from the card this year. If that’s not clear, here are the relevant terms:
For AAdvantage status qualifying year, defined as March 1, 2023 – February 29, 2024, the Primary credit cardmember will earn 10,000 additional Loyalty Points for fulfilling one of the following milestones: (1) after earning 50,000 Loyalty Points, or (2) after spending $40,000 in purchases that post to the cardmember’s account. You can only earn the first 10,000 additional Loyalty Points once in the AAdvantage status qualifying year of March 1, 2023 – February 29, 2024.
Additionally, if in that same qualifying year, the Primary credit cardmember earns 90,000 Loyalty Points, the Primary credit cardmember will be awarded an additional 10,000 Loyalty Points. Total additional Loyalty Points that can be earned through this benefit is 20,000 in one qualifying year.
This is part of a larger American Admirals Club overhaul
The introduction of Citi AAdvantage Executive Card changes comes as part of a larger Admirals Club overhaul.
Also as of July 23, 2023, the cost of an Admirals Club membership has been increased from $650 per year to $850 per year. Similarly, the cost of day passes has increased from $59 per person to $79 per person. So it’s not surprising that the annual fee and authorized user perks on the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card have been changed as well.
It’s not all bad news, though. American has promised to improve Admirals Clubs, with more substantial food, more complimentary alcohol options, and even some grab-and-go snacks. While that’s positive, personally I’m skeptical about just how good these changes will be. After all, it almost feels like American is making these changes just to show that it’s doing something to justify a higher cost of membership.
Is the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card still worth it?
The changes to the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card are negative, plain and simple. That being said, the card fit into the “too good to be true” category for a long time.
For a $450 annual fee, you not only got an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, but you could add 10 authorized users at no extra cost, and they received Admirals Club access as well. As much as I wish it weren’t the case, we knew this was going to change sooner or later.
With that in mind, here’s my take on the new value proposition of the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card:
- The $595 annual fee is still less than you’d pay for buying an Admirals Club membership outright; furthermore, adding three authorized users could still be a good deal, as you’re paying under $60 per person for them to get Admirals Club access
- It’s awesome to be able to earn 20,000 bonus Loyalty Points without any spending requirement just for having the card, assuming you earn 90,000 Loyalty Points per year otherwise; this is frankly a reason for elite members to hold onto the card, even if they don’t plan on spending money on it
- The up to $360 in credits with Avis/Budget, Grubhub, and Lyft, are valuable incremental perks, though they all take effort to use; with the number of credit card issuers offering these kinds of perks, I feel like I’m becoming a professional couponer
- Many will be excited to earn 4-5x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases, though I don’t view there as being much incremental value there, since other cards have similarly good returns on airfare spending
- What I find rather odd is that there’s a strong incentive for elite members to have this card (to earn 20,000 Loyalty Points), but not actually an incentive to spend money on the card, aside from earning one Loyalty Point per dollar spent, as is the case on all of American’s credit cards
So while I’m absolutely not a fan of these changes, I understand why they happened, and I’ll continue to be a cardmember. Living in Miami, American is the airline I fly most, and I value Admirals Club access. I’ll probably keep three authorized users, given the incremental value offered. But going from a $450 annual fee to a $770 annual fee ($595 + $175 for 3 authorized users) while losing Admirals Club access for eight people isn’t ideal. 😉
On the plus side, 20,000 bonus Loyalty Points with no spending requirement is nice. It seems like American is trying to make this a card that all elites will want to get. The catch, of course, is that Loyalty Points thresholds can change each year. It’s nice to get more Loyalty Points, but when the goalposts keep changing, it’s hard to get too excited.
The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card has undergone major changes as of July 23, 2023. The card’s annual fee has increased to $595, and there is now a cost for authorized users ($175 for up to three, and then $175 for each additional one beyond that).
There are some positive changes to the card, though, including new opportunities to earn credits, the ability to earn up to 20,000 bonus Loyalty Points annually, travel protection, and more.
These changes are no doubt negative, and mark the end of one of the world’s most generous credit card perks. As a result, we also shouldn’t be surprised about these changes.
What do you make of these Citi AAdvantage Executive Card changes?