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If you fly American Airlines on a regular basis and you like to hit the Admirals Club lounge pre-flight, there is only one credit card you need on your application list. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® provides a complimentary Admirals Club Lounge membership for the primary cardholder, plus additional memberships for up to 10 authorized users!
- Complimentary Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder
- Complimentary Admirals Club membership for up to 10 authorized user accounts
- No charge for authorized user accounts
- First checked bag free on domestic AA flights for you and up to 8 companions
- Priority check-in, TSA screening lines, and boarding
- 10,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
In addition to the Admirals Club membership, the AA Executive Card offers a signup bonus of 50,000 AA miles, plus offers valuable perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, in-flight discounts, and bonus Elite Qualifying Miles on spending. However, at the heart of it, the decision to get the AA Executive Card will most likely hinge on whether you want Admirals Club access.
Here’s the link to apply for the AA Executive Card, or read on for a full breakdown of the card’s benefits.
AA Executive Card Signup Bonus
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. If you value AA miles on the conservative side at around 1.5¢ per mile, the welcome offer on the AA Executive Card is worth roughly $750.
AA Executive Card Earning Potential and Bonus Categories
This is an area where the AA Executive Card struggles to provide value. You’ll earn just 2X miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else. If your goal is to rack up AAdvantage Miles, you would be better off with Citi’s mid-tier AA co-brand card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, which at least adds restaurants to its list of bonus categories.
Suffice to say; there are plenty of cards that will give you a better return on spending than either of the AA cards. The AA Executive Card is a card you acquire for the perks and benefits on offer, not the return on spend.
AA Executive Card Feature Benefits
Complimentary Admirals Club Membership
The hero feature of the AA Executive Card is the complimentary Admirals Club membership which provides lounge access to the primary cardholder, plus immediate family members or two additional guests. If you were to purchase an Admirals Club membership, you would pay between $550 and $650 depending on your level of elite status with American Airlines. The annual fee on the on the AA Executive Card is $450. You save up to $200 applying for the card and getting a complimentary membership as opposed to purchasing a membership from AA.
And, it gets better the more AU accounts you add. Each authorized user you add to your card qualifies for the same complimentary Admirals Club membership with guests. A household membership for Admirals club will set you back a cool $1,250 without status, but you can add all of your family members as free AU accounts, potentially saving hundreds of dollars per year.
In all honesty, if you aren’t chasing AA lounge access, the mid-tier AA Platinum Select offers almost the same features without the lounge access benefits, but charges a much lower annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months. Note that a same-day boarding pass on American or partner airlines will be required for entry.
Free Checked Bags
Another perk that can add significant value is free checked bags. You qualify for the first checked bag free for up to 9 people on the same domestic itinerary, including the cardholder. At $25 a bag, if you fly a family of two adults and three kids round-trip, you save $125 each way or $250 for the whole trip.
Priority Check-In, TSA Screening, and Boarding
While not traditionally flagship perks, these three benefits get you through the airport faster, with less waiting, less hassle, and on the plane with plenty of room in the overhead bins for your bags. Again, this includes you as the cardholder and up to 8 companions traveling on the same itinerary.
10,000 Bonus EQM
If you are in the hunt for elite status with American, you can score an additional 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles towards your next elite status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year. While 10K EQM may get you over the line for your next elite status tier, it’s essential to weigh up the opportunity cost of spending $40K on the AA Executive Card, much of it likely earning just one mile per dollar spent.
Purchase and Travel Protections
Unfortunately, Citi made dramatic changes to retail and travel benefits on September 22, 2019. This included the removal of almost all travel and purchase protections and it affects almost all Citi cards.
The AA Executive Card will retain extended warranty coverage and purchase protection but lose many of its best benefits including:
- Car Rental Insurance
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Trip Delay Protection
- Baggage Delay Protection
- Lost Baggage Protection
- Citi® Price Rewind
- Return Protection
- Missed Event Ticket Protection
- Roadside Assistance Dispatch Service
- Travel & Emergency Assistance
There are two rules which can impact your eligibility for cards or welcome bonuses from Citi.
The first rule is about how many new accounts Citi will approve for a single person. This applies to both small business and consumer cards (or a mix of the two). For personal cards, you need to wait at least eight (8) days from the last time you applied for any other credit card issued by Citi. You are allowed no more than two applications within a 65 day period. You might see this called the Citi “8/65 rule.” For business cards, you must wait 90 days between applications. (We'd recommend waiting 95 days to be on the safe side).
The second application rule is about whether you will be eligible for a welcome bonus on a specific card. Each card has its own rules, so you'll need to check the offer terms and conditions on the application page if you're considering a different card. For the AA Executive Card, you are eligible for a welcome bonus if you have not received a new account bonus for this card in the past 48 months.
Here's the language from Citi:
“American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive account in the past 48 months.”
It's worth noting that the rules that determine eligibility for an American Airlines bonus were updated around July 2019. Previously, you weren't eligible for a bonus if you had opened or closed any card earning American Airlines miles in the past 24 months. While the waiting period is longer, the new policy no longer considers whether you've opened or closed another AA card besides the AA Executive Card, which should be a positive development for most.
The crown jewel of the AA Executive Card is the lounge access perks the card offers. If you use the lounge access regularly, it can save you hundreds of dollars per year, and potentially thousands of dollars depending on how many authorized user accounts you add. Ultimately, if lounge access isn’t high on your list of priorities, you will get better value out of the mid-tier AA Platinum Select, which offers similar benefits and better bonus categories, but charges less than a quarter of the annual fee.
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