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6 Reasons to Get the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card

June 06, 2016
8 min read
American Airlines AA Featured
6 Reasons to Get the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card
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TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen explores the top perks that make it worth signing up for the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, which is currently offering an elevated sign-up bonus.

As we wrote about earlier this month, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is currently offering an increased sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. While it's not quite as lucrative as past offers that went as high as 100,000 miles, this is still a great card to add to your wallet. Today I’ll detail the top six reasons why that’s the case.

Keep in mind that the American AAdvantage program did undergo a significant devaluation back in March 2016, so the card isn’t quite as attractive as it was before. That being said, there are still some ways to get great value from both the card and the AAdvantage program.

Here are six reasons why the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard would make a solid addition to your wallet.

1. The Sign-Up Bonus

Fly in
The sign-up bonus alone can open up some valuable redemptions on American.

The first reason is very straightforward and relatively obvious: the increased sign-up bonus. When you factor in the miles you’d earn from the minimum spending requirement, you’d take home a total of at least 65,000 AAdvantage miles. Those are worth $975 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, but they can become much more valuable if you use them for certain redemptions. Here are some examples of what 65,000 AAdvantage miles can get you:

  • Four round-trip economy flights under 500 miles (15,000 miles each, so 60,000 miles total)
  • Round-trip economy flight to South America Region 2 (60,000 miles)
  • Round-trip economy flight to Europe (45,000 miles from November 1–December 14 and January 10–March 14; 60,000 miles at other times)
  • Round-trip off-peak economy flight to Asia (65,000 miles)
  • One-way business-class flight to Europe (57,500 miles) or Asia Region 1 (60,000 miles)

Again, this new offer isn’t as high as past offers, but the days of 100,000-mile bonuses may not come back anytime soon. As you can see, there are some great values to be had with this new bonus.

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2. The Admirals Club Membership

Admirals Club lounge featured
Your airport travel experience can be much less stressful with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card thanks to the included Admirals Club membership.

One of the best perks of the card is the Admirals Club membership it includes. Note that this is different than the Admirals Club access offered on the Citi Prestige Card, which requires you to be flying American in order to gain entrance. With the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, you can enter the Admirals Club whenever you travel.

It’s also worth pointing out that the annual fee on the card ($450) is actually less than purchasing a membership outright, which currently costs $500 for those without status but will be jumping to $550 as of July 25 (note that AAdvantage elite members pay a discounted rate).

But this perk doesn’t stop here…

3. Authorized User Access to Admirals Clubs

Many credit cards give benefits to authorized users. This can often extend to lounge access when it comes to premium travel rewards cards. The Platinum Card from American Express(See Rates & Fees), for example, includes SkyClub access and Priority Pass membership for authorized users, though it costs you $175 to add up to three additional cardholders. The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, on the other hand, allows you to add authorized users for free, and those authorized users gain access to a full Admirals Club membership, just like the primary cardholder.

This has the potential to provide a ton of value for friends or family members who travel even a few times a year. Sure, you can bring in two guests or your immediate family as the primary cardholder, but what if your spouse, parent or close friend is traveling alone? Adding them as an authorized user will get them into the Admirals Club regardless of whether they are traveling with you (another notable difference from the Admirals Club access on the Citi Prestige Card, where the guest must be traveling on the same itinerary).

4. Elite Qualifying Miles

American Airlines plane over mountains.
The card can also help with your elite status qualification each year.

Another fantastic perk of the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the annual Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) bonus for spending $40,000 in a calendar year. There’s no question that this is a lot of money to spend, but if you're just shy of the next level of AAdvantage elite status (especially if you’re within 10,000 miles of top-tier Executive Platinum), it may make sense to push for this perk.

It’s important to note that Citi defines the calendar year as your January to December billing statement rather than a strict January 1 to December 31. As a result, if your statement closes on the 14th of the month, you have from December 15 to December 14 of the following year to hit this threshold. It basically puts you 40% of the way to AAdvantage Gold, 20% of the way to AAdvantage Platinum and 10% of the way to AAdvantage Executive Platinum. Not a bad boost!

5. Free Checked Bags

AA Baggage Tracking
If you open the card, you and up to eight travel companions can check a bag for free on all domestic American flights.

There are many ways to avoid checked baggage fees when traveling, and airline co-branded credit cards are a great way to accomplish this goal. With the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, you and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation can check a bag for free on all American-operated domestic flights. This saves each passenger $50 per round-trip flight, so the savings can really add up!

Keep in mind that this perk applies regardless of whether or not you actually use the card to book the ticket (a notable difference between the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and United MileagePlus Club Card). Many of you may want to use another credit card that provides valuable rewards on airfare purchases, or you may be required to book a ticket using a company card. Back in March, I flew to Chicago for work and was given the option to check a bag for free, even though I had paid for the ticket with my corporate American Express.

6. Global Entry Credit

Global Entry is a great way to gain faster entrance back into the US (and it includes TSA PreCheck to speed screening within the US).

A final great reason to apply for this card is the $100 statement credit you get for Global Entry (or $85 statement credit for TSA PreCheck) every five years, a perk that was added last year. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that my wife, daughter and I only signed up for Global Entry last year but have been totally satisfied with the membership. I’d strongly encourage you to go for the gold with Global Entry, as your Trusted Traveler number provides PreCheck regardless of the airline you’re flying. It’s no secret that TSA lines this summer are expected to be terribly long, and getting Global Entry is a terrific way to speed up your security experience.

One of the best things about this perk is that you can use it for anyone, not just yourself or an authorized user. Citi will simply look for an applicable charge on your statement and will credit you the membership fee, even if the card was used for a friend or family member’s application.

Bottom Line

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is offering an increased sign-up bonus for a limited time, but the benefits on the card go beyond the 60,000 bonus miles you’ll earn. The Admirals Club membership (which extends to authorized users), perks when flying American and Global Entry credit all make the card a terrific value proposition, even with the $450 annual fee. Hopefully this post has given you some insight into exactly why you should consider adding it to your wallet?

Are you planning on signing up for this card given the 60,000-mile bonus?

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

Featured image by Byron Totty
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.