About Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Published on: May 3, 2018

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the only premium credit card that carries the American Airlines name on it.

The card provides some significant perks that you don’t see with other cards from American, making this the kind of card that’s reserved for those who are willing to pay a high annual fee in order to get priority service and booking discounts.

To understand if this card is right for you, we’ve done in-depth research and applied our credit card expertise to figure out exactly what this card offers, how it can benefit you, how it compares to similar premium airline credit cards and what its pros and cons are.

We’ve also included a closing section about who we think this card is good for.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard’s Rewards and Benefits

As a luxury card, the AAdvantage Executive focuses its rewards in two specific areas: frequent flyer miles and complimentary travel benefits.

Frequent Flyer Miles: Sign-up Bonus and Purchase Points

There are two main ways to earn frequent flyer miles with this card.

The first way is through the card’s sign-up bonus, which is 50,000 miles. In order to get this bonus, you’ll have to spend $5,000 in the first three months.

Considering that this credit card is the type of card that high earners would sign up for, that $5,000 spending requirement is relatively easy to meet. Remember, though, that any balance transfers you make or interest/fees you pay won’t count toward the $5,000.

Also, the fine print says that it can take up to 10 weeks for those points to arrive in your AAdvantage account, which is the name of your frequent flyer account. This is important to remember; you can’t automatically make a reservation with your bonus miles the day you spend $5,000.

If you don’t have an AAdvantage account, Citi and American will set one up for you when you’re accepted for the card.

The second way you can earn miles with this card is by using it to buy things. You’ll earn two miles for every dollar you spend on American Airlines purchases and one mile on everything else.

We read through the terms and conditions and found that American Airlines purchases count as those you make through AA.com, at AA ticket counters or through the company’s reservation line.

The fine print points out that car rentals and hotel reservations made through AA.com website don’t get double points. However, if you use your frequent flyer miles to book hotel rooms and car rentals, the taxes you pay on those rewards redemptions will earn double points.

Yearly Miles Totals and How to Redeem Them

Trying to pin down the number of miles you can earn in a year is tough. As we mentioned earlier, high earners tend to get premium travel credit cards. The assumption is that these cardholders also travel a lot – why get a travel card with a high annual fee (more on that later) if you don’t travel often?

So, assuming that you spend about $1,000 a year on American Airlines flights and another $29,000 a year on other purchases, your yearly miles total will be around 31,000.

Redeeming those miles is as simple as logging into your AAdvantage account and booking with your miles. You’ll pay taxes and fees which, for domestic flights, is usually $11.20.

The booking advantage to getting this card is that you’ll pay discounted rates for flights. According to the fine print, you can book seats for as little as 7,500 miles round-trip for flights longer than 500 miles and 2,000 miles round-trip for flights under 500 miles.

The 7,500-mile price for flights of more than 500 miles is an incredible deal based on our research of American Airlines flights, as the cheapest seats are usually 12,500 miles.

Remember, though, these cheap fares are known as MileSAAver awards. You’ll fly economy and the seats are subject to blackout dates. Also, these seats can be sold relatively quickly because they’re a good value.

Flight Perks

Along with the rewards you can earn every year, your card entitles you to a variety of complimentary services that can make your travel days more comfortable and stress-free.

For example, you get priority check-in, which means you can save time by not getting stuck in long lines at the ticket counter.

Once you’re checked in, you get priority airport screening where it’s available; you get to side-step the long lines again.

From there, you get complimentary entrance into American Airlines’ Admiral’s Club airport lounges, a privilege that normally costs $550 the first year and $500 thereafter. And, when it’s time to get on your flight, you get priority boarding.

On the flight, you get a 25% discount on food and beverage purchases when you use your card. The discount will show up as a credit to your account six to eight weeks after the purchase.

The final perk you get is that, every year you spend $40,000, you’ll get 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles. You get these miles whenever you fly and, once you hit 25,000, you get Gold status, which provides you free upgrades on flights of less than 500 miles and a few other perks.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard’s Rates and Fees

It’s important to understand an airline card’s rates and fees because they can undercut the value of the card’s rewards. We’ll list this card’s rates and fees and then explain how they can negatively affect you:

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 17.24%-25.24%
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%
  • Cash advance APR: 26.74%
  • Cash advance fee: 5%
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • Late/returned payment fee: $35

They key fees here are the annual fee -$450 is the standard for premium travel cards like this one – and the APR, which is equal to what you’d get with the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire and lower than the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Now, if you make a late payment or a payment is returned, there’s a chance that a penalty APR of 29.99% will kick in and may apply for the entire time you own the card.

The influence of that APR is considerable if you tend to carry a balance. For example, an average daily balance of $2,000 will rack up more than $340 in interest payments over the course of a year at the lowest APR on this card.

If your penalty APR is applied to that same average daily balance, your yearly interest payments would be around $600.

As you can see, $340 of interest payments each year adds to the cost of owning this card. Between those payments and your annual fee, you could pay as much as $790 just to use the card. If your interest payments go up to $600 because of the penalty APR, the yearly cost jumps to $1,050.

Our advice: Don’t carry a balance and, if you do, never make a late payment or have a payment returned.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and the Competition

There are three main premium airline credit cards: the AAdvantage Executive, the Delta Reserve from American Express and the United MileagePlus Club.

We’ve included those cards in the table below, along with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, a premium credit card that earns points you can transfer to Delta and Southwest as well as seven other international airline carriers:

Citi AAdvantage Executive Delta Reserve Amex United MileagePlus Club Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus miles 50,000 40,000 50,000 50,000
Yearly points 31,000 31,000 45,500 38,000
Priority boarding Yes Yes Yes No
Lounge access Yes, Admiral’s Club Yes, SkyClub Yes, United Club Yes, Priority Pass Select
Travel reimbursement Yes, for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck app fee No No $300 plus Global Entry or TSA PreCheck app fee
Free bags 1 1 2 0
APR 17.24% to 25.24% 17.24% to 26.24% 17.49%–24.49% 17.49%–24.49%

The main advantage this card has over the other two airline cards is that you get a reimbursement for the fee you’d incur from applying to the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck programs, two government-run initiatives that help you get expedited security checks at airports.

Aside from that, it presents some distinct disadvantages as compared to the United MileagePlus Club card: one less free checked bag and about 30% fewer points per year.

However, the AAdvantage Executive card counters the yearly rewards disparity by giving cardholders the chance to book long-haul flights for 7,500 points, something you don’t get with the Delta Reserve or United MileagePlus Club.

As the chart shows, the big advantage to getting a premium airline card instead of a luxury travel card is that you get specific perks on your flights: priority boarding is the main one.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Priority Pass Select membership gives you access to more than 1,000 airports worldwide and provides a $300 travel credit each. These two aspects set it apart from the airline rewards cards.

The Final Word: Pros, Cons and Who the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Based on our research, we believe this card’s greatest strength is the fact that you can book Miles SAAvers seats for 7,500 miles on flights of more 500 miles. So, while the card’s yearly rewards may not be as lucrative as the United MileagePlus Club card, you get good value when you book – enough to earn four round trips per year.

The downsides to the card are that you only get one free checked bag and that the card has a penalty APR that could hurt you in the long run.

We believe, based on what we discovered during our examination of this card, that it’s an excellent choice for someone who flies American Airlines often and would like a premium flight experience, from priority check-in and security checks to priority boarding and free lounge entrance.

If you pay late often, we discourage you from getting this card because there’s a good chance you’ll get a permanent penalty APR of 29.99%.

» For Further Reading: Best Travel Credit Cards of 2018

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