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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
The competition in the premium card market continues to heat up after the Chase Sapphire Reserve debuted with great success last year. Many cards now have annual fees between $400 and $550 — and all of them claim to offer the holder unmatched benefits and service. Consumers can choose between the Platinum family of cards from American Express, the Citi Prestige Card, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card and the Luxury Card family from Barclaycard. Often overlooked is the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. Today I’ll review all the benefits of this American Airlines co-branded card to help you decide whether you should consider carrying it in your wallet.
Sign-Up Bonus and Annual Fee
The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles after you make $7,500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. For an idea of what the bonus can get you, business class to Hawaii is 40,000 miles one-way at the MileSAAver level.
You earn 2x miles on each dollar spent with American Airlines and 1x miles on all other spend. There’s no cap on how many miles you can earn in a year. The card carries a $450 annual fee, and there are no foreign transaction fees. Let’s look at all the benefits of the card that could justify that fee.
Benefits When Flying American Airlines
Enhanced Airport Experience — Up to eight customers traveling with the primary cardmember on the same reservation will also get priority check-in (where available), priority airport screening (where available) and priority boarding privileges. You can even check in at any business-class check–in position (or first class check–in when business class is not available) regardless of the class of service in which you’re traveling.
First Checked Bag Free on Domestic Itineraries — On domestic itineraries flown by American or any regional subsidiary, the first checked bag for you and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation will be free. The flight must be marketed, sold and operated by American in order to get the free checked bag.
Access to Reduced Mileage Awards — TPG covers these cheap award routes in depth each quarter they’re released. The MileSAAver discount is 7,500 miles round-trip or 3,750 one-way for flights greater than 500 miles in distance. If the flight is less than or equal to 500 miles in distance, which qualifies for a short-haul MileSAAver award, the mileage discount will be 2,000 miles round trip or 1,000 one-way. You must fly to or from the airports listed in the current quarter’s promotion in order to get a discount.
25% Off Eligible In-Flight Purchases — This essentially means 25% off in-flight food and beverages when you pay for them with the card (not including inflight Wi-Fi).
Bonus Elite Qualifying Miles — Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year. EQMs earned do not count toward million miler status, and you can only earn the bonus EQMs once per year.
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit — Get a $100 statement credit when paying the Global Entry fee with the card or an $85 credit when enrolling in TSA PreCheck. You’ll receive the credit once every five years. Because you also receive TSA PreCheck when enrolling for Global Entry, there’s no real reason you should ever just enroll in PreCheck.
Trip Delay Protection — This is an absolutely fantastic benefit. If a common carrier delays your trip by a mere three hours, you and your traveling companions are each covered up to $500 to purchase things like lodging, ground transportation, meals and person toiletries. It even covers delays on award tickets booked with American miles. As long as a trip was booked with either your miles or paid for with the card, your family members and others traveling are covered for this protection even if you aren’t with them.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Protection — If a trip is canceled, interrupted or extended for a covered reason, you may be reimbursed up to $5,000 per covered traveler per trip. A covered traveler is you, your family or other people on the same trip you paid for with the credit card. Covered reasons include a covered traveler getting sick or ill; a covered traveler’s family becoming sick, ill or passing away; a covered traveler being laid off or fired, called to active military service or having a pet that is injured and treated by a licensed veterinarian. Severe weather, an act of terrorism and mandatory evacuations are also covered reasons.
Rental Car Protection — Your rental car is covered up to $100,000 for damage caused during an accident or by a natural disaster, or if the car is vandalized or stolen. The coverage is secondary for rentals in the US and primary for rentals outside the US. There are no country exclusions. You must pay for the rental with your card and you have to decline the rental car agency’s coverage. This doesn’t include personal injury or liability protection.
Lost/Delayed Baggage Protection — If your baggage is delayed by three hours, you’re eligible for up to $500 in reimbursement for personal items to tide you over until your bag arrives. If your bag is lost, you may be reimbursed up to $3,000 per traveler ($2,000 per bag for New York state residents) up to a maximum of $10,000 per trip. You, family members and traveling companions are all covered as long as the ticket was booked with your miles or paid for with the credit card. Antiques, collectibles, tickets, rare and precious metals and currency aren’t covered with the protection.
Admirals Club Access (For up to 33 People)
The above listed benefits are nice, but Admirals Club access is what sets this card apart from the competition. The primary cardholder receives a full Admirals Club membership, which allows you and your immediate family (including children under 18) or two traveling companions access to the club no matter what airline you’re flying. Your credit card will be tied to your AAdvantage account number, so you don’t even have to carry the card with you to get access to the club. Cardholders do not receive Flagship or Arrivals lounge access.
Admirals Club membership costs between $550-$450 depending on your status level with American. That means the annual fee without all the other benefits covers the lounge access — but it gets even better. You can add up to 10 authorized users to your account for no additional cost. Each authorized user receives Admirals Club access for themselves and up to two traveling companions. That means you could add 10 authorized users, all travel together, and 33 people could have a great time in the Admirals Club together.
With the exception of Admirals Club access, the Citi Prestige’s benefits match or beat this card on the majority of fronts. Because you can earn up to 3 transferable points per dollar with the Prestige and take advantage of transfer partners, unless you’re an avid AA flyer who greatly values Admirals Club access, you should get the Prestige rather than the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. Personally, I want the sign-up bonus and continued Admirals Club access, so I’ll hang on to my Prestige and most likely pick this card up as well.
With the Citi Prestige losing Admirals Club access this past July, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard quickly came back to the center of many American flyers’ attention. I’m an AA Executive Platinum and I’d like lounge access back — especially if it includes the ability to add free authorized users who also get access. If you want Admirals Club access and want to boost your AA mileage balance by 75,000 miles while also possibly becoming 10,000 EQMs closer to the next status level, it seems like a good idea to pick up this card.
Is 75,000 bonus miles and club access enough to make you sign up?