Travel on Points

Review: American Airlines Personal Credit Cards

Citi's American Airlines credit cards can be quite useful for frequent AA flyers and those seeking AA status.
Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Review: American Airlines Personal Credit Cards

Citi's American Airlines credit cards can be quite useful for frequent AA flyers and those seeking AA status.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

The Citibank American Airlines family of cards, like most other co-branded airline cards, aren't typically viewed as high value or long-term keeper cards. At ToP, we much more prefer cards that earn transferrable currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards. But depending on the situation, airline credit cards can make sense. Citi's AA cards each compliment one another and make for a good combination for frequent AA flyers and may be worth considering.

Current offers

The American Airlines AAdvantage Mileup card offers 10,000 American Airlines miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening. This card has no annual fee.

The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard offers 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,500 within the first 3 months of account opening. This card has an annual fee of $99, which is waived for the first 12 months.

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has a sign up bonus of 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. This card has the highest annual fee of the three at $450. The fee is not waived the first year.

While the Executive and the Mile Up cards have had stagnant bonuses for quite some time, the Platinum Select‘s sign up bonus is often 60,000 or more and has even been as high as 75,000. For this reason, we suggest waiting for a higher offer.

If you choose to apply for any of these cards, remember that Citi has a few application rules to keep in mind. Citi will not approve you for more than one card every 8 days, and 2 cards every 65 days. Also, if you earned a sign-up bonus for a particular Citi AA card, you cannot earn a sign-up bonus for that same card for 48 months. However, you can still earn a sign-up bonus for another Citi AA card, since Citi does not consider AA cards to be part of the same family. This means that if you have already received a sign-up bonus for the Platinum Select card within the past 48 months, you can still earn a sign-up bonus for the Executive card.

Earn Rate

The MileUp card earns 2 miles per dollar on AA purchases and at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. It also earns 1x on all other purchases.

The Platinum Select card earns 2 miles per dollar on AA purchases and at gas stations and restaurants. The card also earns 1x on all other purchases.

The Executive card earns 2 miles per dollar on AA purchases and 1x on all other purchases.

Benefits

The benefits and perks vary among the three AA personal cards.

The MileUp card offers 25% savings on AA inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card. The card also has no annual fee, which helps explain the lack of additional benefits.

The Platinum Select card offers the following benefits:

  • First checked bag free on domestic itineraries for the cardholder and up to 4 companions on the same reservation
  • Preferred boarding
  • $125 AA flight discount after spending $20,000 or more during your card membership year and renewing your card
  • No foreign transaction fees

The Executive card offers the following benefits:

  • Admirals Club membership, with access for you and your immediate family (or up to 2 traveling guests)
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, and boarding when flying AA
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA itineraries for the cardholder and up to 8 companions on the same reservation
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 5 years
  • No foreign transaction fees

This is where the cards can really stand out depending on how highly you value some of the perks. The free checked bags for you plus up to 4 passengers can easily offset the annual fee on the Platinum Select if you can use it. The Admirals Club membership that comes with the Executive card can be extremely valuable. It allows the cardholder and up to two guests or immediate family access into the lounges as well. The best part about it is that all authorized users get the benefit and you're allowed 10 authorized users per account at no charge. If you have trusted family members or friends that could use that benefit, adding authorized users and could be an easy way to share the cost of the hefty $450 annual fee.

Our Analysis

Citi's AA cards generally serve two different purposes: earning AA miles or providing perks for AA flyers. AA miles are pretty difficult to earn, since American is not a transfer partner with any of of the major banks. So if you like to earn AA miles, having at least one of these cards would make sense. For earning, the the MileUp card and the Platinum Select card are your best options. The MileUp earns 2x at grocery stores, and the Platinum Select earns 2x at gas stations and restaurants. Depending on your spending patterns, either or both of these cards would make sense. It's interesting that the Executive card does not earn bonus miles on anything other than AA purchases, despite having the highest annual fee of the 3 cards.

American recently revamped its AAdvantage program. Starting in March 2022, members can earn elite status solely by earning Loyalty Points. Each AA mile earned via credit card spend is equal to one Loyalty Point. So if you earn 10,000 miles from a purchase through an AA card, you will also earn 10,000 Loyalty Points. Unfortunately, miles earned through credit card sign-up bonuses do not count towards Loyalty Points. This change to the program has made AA cards even more important for those getting elite status.

On the benefits side, the Executive card shines. Admirals Club membership alone more than offsets the card's $450 annual fee. Individual membership cost ranges from $650 to $550 per year, depending on your AA elite status. Household membership ranges from $1,250 to $1,150 per year. The card's other benefits are also pretty good. Free checked bag on domestic flights for up to eight companions on the same reservation is quite generous. And priority check-in, airport screening, and boarding can all be helpful, especially for families. In fact, these benefits all make the Executive card one of the most family-friendly airline cards in the market.

Another incredible perk of the Executive card is that you can add up to 10 authorized users at no additional cost. And each authorized user receives their own Admirals Club access! However, Admirals Club access differs from membership. Authorized users must present their authorized user card to access the lounge and must be flying AA or a oneworld partner the same day to access the lounges. Authorized users cannot access partner lounges, such as Alaska lounges, but they can bring immediate family.

The Platinum Select card's benefits are much more limited, but still helpful for AA flyers. Free checked bag and priority boarding is sure to make most flyers' lives easier. A $125 discount after spending $20,000 is a pretty bad deal. Compare this to hotel cards like the Chase World of Hyatt or the Amex Hilton Surpass, which give you a free night certificate after spending $15,000. Those free night certs are worth a lot more than $125.

Lastly, the MileUp card's only benefit is 25% off in inflight purchases. Even for a no-annual fee card, this is pretty limited. Basically, the MileUp card is worthy for those looking to earn AA miles through grocery spend.

Final Thoughts

Each of the Citi AA cards has its own merit. The MileUp is the card for those looking to earn AA miles through credit card spend without paying an annual fee. The Platinum Select card offers a good mid-point. It provides a couple of helpful benefits that offset the $99 annual fee while also having a compelling earning structure. And the Executive card is one of the most family-friendly cards on the market. Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder and Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users is a phenomenal benefit that more than covers the $450 annual fee. Frequent AA flyers can surely benefit from each of these cards.

Which of these Citi AA cards is most appealing to you? Come share your thoughts in our Facebook group!

 Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

SIGN UP TO RECEIVE
ToP TIPS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX

We promise to keep things short, sweet, and packed with awesome insights!