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If you regularly fly American Airlines, this card will save you money in so many ways

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If you’re in the market for a personal premium credit card, competition for your business has been pretty intense for a few years now — with card issuers touting products like the Chase Sapphire Reserve that promise exceptional benefits and service. Sure, many of them have annual fees that can reach as high as $400 or $500, maybe even more, but the perks can more than make up for it, depending on whether something like, say, the Platinum family of cards from American Express or maybe the Citi Prestige Card has caught your eye, to cite just a few of the many examples out there. 

Coverage of these products often is tilted too heavily toward the usual suspects, from Chase, American Express, and the like, and what we’d like to do today is take a closer look at an often-overlooked American Airlines co-branded card that might be worth a spot in your wallet especially if you’re a frequent American flyer. That card is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, and here’s everything you need to know about it.

You need this card if …

Frequent American Airlines flyers, this one’s for you. The perks that come with owning this card make it a little like having status without getting the first-class upgrades. But if you do want actual elite status, the card offers an opportunity to fast-track it. 

The Citi AAdvantage Executive card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles once you’ve used the card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account. So, not only does this card offer a fast way to go ahead and grab a stash of American Airlines miles, but check out how you can put them to use — at the MileSAAver level, a round-trip ticket to Hawaii wouldn’t cost you anything at all, other than using 40,000 miles from your sign-up bonus. You also won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees (something that you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to start racking up quickly if you’ve never traveled overseas before).

The card does come with a $450 annual fee, but if all of the above hasn’t piqued your interest yet, let’s take an even deeper look at why this card deserves some consideration from American loyalists.

American Airlines lounge Image source: Zach Honig / The Points Guy

Perks and other highlights

With this card, you’ll earn 2x miles on each dollar you spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other spending. There’s also no cap on how many miles you can rack up in a year. The premium level Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express offers a comparable earnings rate, though American Airlines Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard card owners earn 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations, so that’s a shortcoming where the Citi AAdvantage Executive is concerned.  

However, as American doesn’t appear to have completed its move toward dynamic award pricing yet, given that the lowest round-trip tickets in the US tend to start at 7,500 miles one-way (not counting reduced mileage awards or economy web specials) for flights of 500 miles or less at the MileSAAVer level, that means this card’s sign-up bonus could help you score up to six one-way economy flights. Not bad.

Here are some of the card’s other valuable perks:

  • Complimentary Admirals Club access, for which membership normally costs between $550-$650 depending on your status level with American. The primary cardholder gets a full Admirals Club membership, which allows you and your immediate family including children under 18 — or two traveling companions — to enjoy access to the club when you have a same-day boarding pass for American or one of its partners.
  • 25% off of eligible inflight purchases like food and drinks when you use the card to pay for them (though the purchase of Wi-Fi is not included, unfortunately).
  • A $100 statement credit when you use the card to pay the Global Entry fee (or get an $85 credit when enrolling in TSA PreCheck).
  • And my personal favorite perk associated with this card — an enhanced airport experience that includes up to eight customers traveling with the primary cardmember on the same reservation being allowed to get priority check-in (where available), priority airport screening (where available) and priority boarding privileges.

The final word

If you’re looking for a card that offers you a great return every time you use the card for expenses, we’d argue that looking elsewhere to get the most bang for your buck is probably the way to go. However, if it’s the travel-specific benefits you’re after, like Admirals Club access and a quick 50,000-mile boost to your mileage balance, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has a lot to offer and is definitely worth checking out — and maybe even adding into one of the remaining slots in your wallet.

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Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.