Why I Signed up for the AA Executive Card Even Though I’m a United Flyer

Oct 13, 2017

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In September, I stepped foot in an American Airlines Admirals Club for the first time in years, to review the airline’s latest location at LAX. I had just signed up for the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, so it didn’t cost me a cent to get in — even though I had arrived on a United flight and would be flying Delta later that night. My new metal credit card hadn’t come in the mail yet, but I was able to get in just by providing my AAdvantage number and a photo ID.

Now, I rarely fly American Airlines, and since United’s my carrier of choice, I’m usually passing through a terminal with at least one United Club, and I can always get in thanks to the membership that comes along with my United Club Card — sometimes I even luck out and get to swipe my Platinum Card® from American Express to gain entry to a Centurion Lounge, in which case I’m in for a treat.

LAX Admirals Club Terminal 5 Review
I used my card to access AA’s new Admirals Club at LAX.

But even though I’m not hurting for options with my existing card portfolio, I decided to add the $450 Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard to my wallet, for a few reasons:

I recently burned a bunch of AA miles to book the Etihad Apartment, and my balance is lower than it’s been in years. With a recent promise of improved MileSAAver availability, American miles might become useful for domestic flights again — it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have 75,000 more at my disposal. We value AA miles at 1.4 cents apiece, making this bonus worth $1,050, which is more than two years of the annual fee.

I’ve gotten great use out of my AA miles, such as a redemption for Etihad’s A380 Apartment in 2015.

For now, I’m only committing to the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard for the first year — whether I renew will depend not only on my own travel habits, but those of the family members and friends I’ve added as authorized users, since the value they can get alone could make the card worth keeping indefinitely.

As for how to use my new stash of AA miles… I have a few ideas.

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