In the battle to offer high-end credit cards to airline passengers, American and Citi have fallen behind. Their standard Citi Platinum AAdvantage card worked well for some travelers, but it lacked many of the perks featured by the Delta Reserve and the Continental Presidential Plus cards.
In response, Citi offers their Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. The card offers many of the same benefits of competitors’ rewards credit cards, and includes a few novel features as well.
The Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard differentiates itself from other cards with amenities for travelers, and new technology that helps ensure cardholders’ safety. The key features of the Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard include:
- Earn AAdvantage Miles. Like most other airline cards, users earn one mile per dollar spent on most purchases, and two miles on purchases from American Airlines.
- Sign-up Bonus. New cardholders receive 25,000 bonus miles when they spend $1,000 within four months.
- Earn Status Miles. After spending $40,000 in a calendar year, cardholders receive 10,000 elite qualifying miles to help them reach the next status level.
- Business Lounge Membership. Cardholders receive access to the American Airlines Admirals Club for themselves and a companion. Usually, Admirals Club members pay membership fees costing hundreds of dollars a year, and pay additional fees to add a spouse to the membership.
- Other Non-Mileage Perks. Cardholders receive a free checked bag for themselves and eight other travelers on the same itinerary. Travelers also enjoy priority boarding, check-in, and security privileges.
- Chip and PIN Technology. This is one of the first cards offered to customers in the United States that features this technology, already popular outside of the U.S. These cards have an embedded microchip to increase security and to reduce the risk of credit card fraud.
- Interest Rate. Card members receive an APR equal to the Prime Rate plus 11.99%.
- Fees. This card has an annual fee of $450, and has no foreign transaction fees.
The Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard offers benefits frequent travelers appreciate. Advantages of using this rewards credit card include:
- Earn Elite Status. AAdvantage members can earn elite status miles by purchasing airline tickets or by using this card. Once you reach the next level of status in American Airlines’ program, you can receive first class upgrades and other perks.
- European Compatibility. Americans often can’t use their credit cards at automated kiosks outside of the U.S. at gas and train stations. By incorporating Chip and PIN technology, Citi has ensured that travelers can use this card around the globe.
- Admirals Club Access. The free membership to the Admirals Club mitigates the steep annual fee. If you have already considered purchasing a club membership, apply for this card to receive the other benefits, too.
- Virtual Elite Status. Cardholders receive most of the priority access and baggage fee waivers enjoyed by American Airlines’ most loyal customers, with the exception of first class upgrades.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. This card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. Many cards include foreign transaction fees totaling 3% on every transaction made outside of the U.S.
Carefully weigh the disadvantages of any rewards card before you apply. Rewards cards offer a number of benefits to cardholders, but the tradeoff typically includes higher interest rates and fees. Disadvantages of the Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard include:
- Difficult to Earn Elite Points During the First Year. Citi only offers elite status points to those who spend $40,000 during the first calendar year, regardless of sign-up date. If you open an account in August, you may not spend $40,000 by year’s end.
- Steep Annual Fee. This card charges cardholders a steep annual fee. Those who want lounge access may want to consider the comparably priced American Express Platinum Card which offers access to the same American Airlines lounges along with those of several other carriers.
- High Interest Rate. Like most reward cards, this product does not offer a competitive interest rate. Cardholders that carry a balance should look for a low APR card instead.
While this card appears to compete with other products from Delta and Continental, its real rivals are other American Airlines cards as well as the American Express Platinum card. Travelers using other American Airlines affiliated cards may wish to upgrade to this card if the lounge benefits and other perks pay for the $450 annual fee. No matter how you look at it, this premium product will undoubtedly enjoy popularity among American Airlines’ most frequent customers.
Do you have a Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard? Do the benefits offset the high annual fee?