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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is an exclusive travel rewards credit card with a $450 annual fee, a solid miles-earning program, and a slew of luxury perks and convenient benefits for frequent American Airlines travelers, including complimentary access to Admirals Club airport lounge locations worldwide.
Though the annual fee may be startling for people used to lower-cost credit cards, these benefits can more than make up for the expense when used to the fullest. The Admirals Club membership alone is worth the annual price of admission.
The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is comparable to other high-end, travel-focused rewards cards, such as American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige. It’s also comparable to lower-end airline loyalty cards, including the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard.
When you spend at least $5,000 within three months of opening your account, you get 50,000 bonus AAdvantage miles.
At the lowest redemption rates, that’s enough to cover the cost of two round-trip domestic economy flights anywhere in the continental United States.
Admirals Club Membership
This card comes with complimentary membership (normally up to a $500 value) with Admirals Club, American Airlines’ airport lounge. Membership entitles you to free entry and use at any of the 50 or so Admirals Club locations, which offer free WiFi, comfortable seating, personalized attention from American Airlines staff, and various food and beverages.
All of your immediate family members (spouse and any children under 18) are allowed to accompany you for free. If you’re not traveling with your family, you can bring up to two ticketed traveling companions for free.
Earning AAdvantage Miles
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite earns an unlimited 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on American Airlines airfare and incidentals. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent.
Redeeming AAdvantage Miles
You can redeem your accumulated AAdvantage miles for airfare with American Airlines and its oneworld carrier partners, such as Cathay Pacific and British Airways.
Redemption minimums start as low as 7,500 AAdvantage miles for contiguous U.S. and Canada one-way flights less than 500 actual miles, and 12,500 AAdvantage miles for contiguous U.S. and Canada one-ways greater than 500 miles. However, these lower-priced flights (known as MileSAAver) come with blackout dates and seat restrictions.
To avoid blackout dates, you can opt for higher-priced AAnytime redemptions, which require 20,000 AAdvantage miles for all contiguous U.S. and Canada one-ways. Depending on when and how you redeem, AAdvantage miles are reliably worth between $0.01 and $0.015 apiece, and sometimes more, for flights in North America.
Miles redeemed for travel with international oneworld partners, such as LAN Airlines and Cathay Pacific, can be worth significantly more at redemption – upwards of $0.03 per mile – though these redemptions require greater numbers of miles.
Elite Qualifying Miles Bonus
When you spend at least $40,000 in one calendar year, you get 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). This is in addition to any EQMs you earn through regular airfare purchases.
EQMs get you closer to American Airlines AAdvantage’s various elite status tiers, which this card doesn’t automatically qualify you for, and which confer progressively more generous benefits not available to regular fliers. For instance, Gold status, which requires 25,000 EQMs, entitles you to complimentary class upgrades on flights 500 miles or less and 50% off Main Cabin Extra (basically, economy-plus seats).
Additional American Airlines Benefits
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard confers a host of additional benefits for American Airlines travelers, including:
- A $100 statement credit for either the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee (one credit every five years)
- Unlimited 25% off in-flight purchases with American Airlines
- Your first checked bag free (and for up to eight ticketed companions)
- Priority check-in and boarding
This card comes with a $450 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
This card requires excellent credit and a demonstrated ability to manage high credit limits responsibly.
- Excellent Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $5,000 within three months of opening your account, you get 50,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. That’s enough for two free round-trip flights anywhere in the continental U.S. and Canada (including Alaska).
- Complimentary Access to Admirals Club Airport Lounges. The complimentary Admirals Club membership, which includes free access for immediate family members or up to two ticketed traveling companions, more than justifies this card’s $450 annual fee (American Airlines pegs its value at $550 annually). If you enjoy flying in style and routinely fly American, this is the card for you.
- Awesome Airport and In-Flight Perks. This card has a slew of airport and in-flight perks, including TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement (up to $100 in value), 25% in-flight purchase discount, and priority check-in and boarding are more than enough to offset the card’s annual fee.
- Elite Qualifying Miles for Heavy Spenders. If you spend at least $40,000 per year with this card, you get 10,000 bonus EQMs in addition to the EQMs you already earn on airfare. That gets you 40% of the way to Gold Elite status (25,000 EQMs required), and is probably enough to push you into that tier if you haven’t gotten there already.
- Solid Rewards Earning Rate. This card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on American Airlines airfare and an unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else. While that’s nothing to write home about, it’s nothing to sneeze at either.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has no foreign transaction fee, a big perk for jet-setters looking to save on international travel.
- Hefty Annual Fee. The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has a hefty annual fee: $450. While the Admirals Club membership and other airport and in-flight benefits more than offset this fee for frequent American Airlines flyers willing to take full advantage of them, the fee is a deal-breaker for those who don’t fly American Airlines often. If you’re not super-loyal to American Airlines or simply don’t travel enough to make this card’s benefits worthwhile, consider a lower-priced general travel rewards card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture Rewards.
- Fewer Airport Lounges Than Some Competing Cards. There are only about 50 Admirals Club lounges out there. While most major U.S. airports have one, travelers who frequently pass through smaller airports aren’t likely to regularly encounter Admirals Clubs. For an airport lounge benefit with greater reach, consider the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card ($395 annual fee), which offers access to several hundred lounge clubs worldwide.
- Restrictive Rewards Redemption. AAdvantage miles must be redeemed for American Airlines or oneworld partner airfare. You can’t redeem for hotel stays, car rentals, non-travel items, or cash. If you’d like a more generous, versatile rewards program, opt for American Express Platinum or Citi Prestige instead.
- No Hotel Benefits. This card’s travel benefits are restricted to air travel. Some competing cards, including Citi Prestige, offer hotel benefits too: Prestige offers a fourth night free at any hotel worldwide, for instance.
- No Airline Travel Credit. Citi / AAdvantage Executive doesn’t offer an airline travel credit – a useful benefit for travelers who want to further boost their spending power in the air. By contrast, Amex Platinum offers a $200 travel credit that’s good for statement credits against purchases with the airline of your choice.
Like many branded airline rewards cards, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® isn’t for everyone. Setting aside the hefty annual fee and high sign-up bonus threshold, this card’s appeal is limited by a very basic fact of life: geography.
Though American Airlines is one of the world’s largest and most popular airlines, it’s not ubiquitous. If you live in one of the many cities or towns without decent American Airlines or partner routes, you’re unlikely to get your money’s worth out of this card. On the other hand, if you’re an American Airlines die-hard, there’s probably no card you’d rather carry in your wallet.