Yes, we know. A premium travel rewards card with a $450 annual fee won’t appeal to everyone. But for those looking for top-level perks, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® may fit the bill.
First things first: When you’re spending that much on the annual fee alone, it’s important to maximize your benefits to ensure you get the most value whether you’re in the air, at the airport or planning your next trip.
Chief among these benefits is the ability to rack up rewards miles with American Airlines’ frequent-flyer program, AAdvantage®.
With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, you’ll earn two AAdvantage® miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and one AAdvantage® mile for every dollar spent on purchases elsewhere.
From cardholders in the last year
But really, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Read on to see how you can squeeze every ounce of value out of this premium travel rewards card.
5 ways to maximize the benefits of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
1. Make sure you qualify for the sign-up bonus.
2. Spend at least $40,000 on purchases annually to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles.
3. Take advantage of reduced mileage awards.
4. Fly with a checked bag — they’re free for you and up to eight companions.
5. Get the most out of airport visits with Admirals Club® access and expedited screening.
A major perk of applying for this credit card is the limited time offer for the sign-up bonus: You can earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $7,500 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.
You’ll want to make sure you have those purchases totaling at least $7,500 posted to your account before the 3-month deadline so you won’t miss this huge bonus, as 75,000 AAdvantage® miles is enough for an international round-trip economy ticket to Asia or Europe when booking a MileSAAver award.
However, keep in mind that it’s crucial you don’t overspend just to hit the bonus.
Careful: You aren’t eligible for this offer if you’ve had any Citi® / AAdvantage® credit card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed within the last 24 months.
Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) can be extremely valuable to frequent flyers with American Airlines.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® can help you reach AAdvantage® elite status much more quickly. If you spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you’ll receive 10,000 EQMs, which gets you started on the path toward Gold status.
One way to qualify for elite status is to earn a combination of EQMs and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs):
- Gold (25,000 EQMs and $3,000 in EQDs)
- Platinum (50,000 EQMs and $6,000 in EQDs)
- Platinum Pro (75,000 EQMs and $9,000 in EQDs)
- Executive Platinum (100,000 EQMs and $12,000 in EQDs)
EQMs represent a percentage of how many miles you fly based on the qualifying airline and booking code purchased.
One way EQDs are awarded is based on the ticket price on American Airlines-marketed flights. You can earn these by purchasing American Airlines flights as an AAdvantage® program member.
Just remember: Once you achieve Elite Status, you don’t just get to keep it. Your benefits will last until the end of the next membership year.
This means that if you want to re-qualify for Elite Status level, you’ll need to have continued earning the required amount of qualifying dollars and miles during your previous membership year.
The good news is that you can continue earning the 10,000 EQM once-a-year bonus in subsequent years – not just the first year that you have the card – so if you can comfortably meet the $40,000 threshold, you may get an annual head start towards that elite status requalification.
If you have flexible travel plans, you may want to take advantage of the reduced mileage awards American Airlines offers for select destinations.
Cardholders can qualify for 7,500-mile discounts on certain round-trip flights of more than 500 miles, and 2,000-mile discounts on certain round-trip flights of 500 or fewer miles.
American Airlines changes the destinations that qualify for reduced-mileage awards monthly, but it’s usually an extensive list. Just be sure to check often to make sure your destination is available.
This is one benefit that folks who don’t pack lightly will appreciate. It represents a potentially incredible savings for large families, as it includes a free checked bag for the cardholder as well as eight companions on the same domestic American Airlines reservation.
That’s four more companions than you’d be eligible for with this card’s sibling, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.
From cardholders in the last year
At $25 for the first checked bag each way, this can save a group of nine up to $450 on a round-trip flight. That’s a lot of people to fly with, sure. But if you can pull it off, you’ll recoup the entire annual fee in just one trip.
With this card, you’ll get a credit of up to $100 every five years that will cover the application cost for either TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry.
Your best bet is going with Global Entry as it includes TSA Pre✓® membership (which costs $85 on its own) and helps you speed your way through security and immigration.
Once you’re at the airport, you and any authorized users on your card can kick back and relax in an Admirals Club® lounge, where you can grab a drink or snack before your flight.
The savings here alone outweigh the annual fee, as an annual individual membership currently costs between $450 and $550 depending on your AAdvantage® status.
At a glance: Other elite travel rewards cards to consider
|Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ **This offer is no longer available on our site||Earn 3x points on travel and dining purchases and more.|
|Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and more.|
|Citi Prestige® Card **This offer is no longer available on our site||Earn 3x points on air travel and hotels and 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment, and more.|
Even with a high annual fee, using the benefits on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® properly can pay off big time in savings and comfort.
James Estes, professor of finance at California State University San Bernardino, is a current cardholder and sees it as a good value option for most well-qualified applicants.
“(It) allows us access to Admirals Club® lounges, miles, one free bag each and first boarding,” says Estes, who also notes that it “makes required and personal travel much more pleasant.”
We won’t argue with that. Throw in the ability to redeem miles on flights with American Airlines or any of its oneworld® and partner airlines, and you’re left with one impressive travel rewards card.
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