Why The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card?
For those that don’t live their life dreaming about what travel credit cards make sense, the choices can be bewildering at best and absolutely frustrating at worst. You need a combination of a better travel experience, baseline benefits, and a points currency that you can actually use. The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card includes all of those things and provides an upfront value proposition without jumping through a lot of hoops.
To keep things simple, you have to ask yourself: will getting this (or any) premium credit card improve my travel and airport experience, and will I be able to use (redeem) the bonus points?
80k Miles – Miles You Can Use
The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card currently has an 80k point bonus after spending $5500 within three months of opening the account. Airline Redemptions are tough, but there are many savvy ways to redeem Advantage Miles. The very short story is that even without stellar aspirational redemptions, you can still redeem for everyday flights at decent redemption levels.
Totally random; I chose a midweek date in November to poke around a few flight options from Philadelphia to Vegas and NYC to Miami. Perhaps, I should buy a lottery ticket since the date I chose randomly, November 16th, yielded some amazing offers. Yes, you can redeem flights (economy class) for as low as 9.5k miles, and there are even desirable nonstop options for 12.5k miles.
The thing with American Airlines is you don’t have to win the lottery to find decent awards for a quick getaway. Advantage Miles are still valuable for all types of redemptions.
Another great point that should not be forgotten is that American miles are tough to obtain. There are no major points currencies such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Awards that transfer to American Airlines.
Final redemption thought: remember, you can use those miles to upgrade long-haul flights!
Pair the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card with Bilt Rewards
If you pay rent, you need to have the Bilt Rewards Mastercard. Not only do you earn no-cost points for your monthly rent payments, but Bilt also provides an envious selection of transfer partners that include American Airlines and Hyatt.
If you are not “chasing” American Airlines Status, use your Bilt Card when the bonuses make sense (such as dining), and you have a fabulous way to further add to your American Advantage Miles balance.
If You Want AA Status – Focus on the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card
Loyalty Points are what counts if you want AA Status, but AA has given folks multiple paths to earning Loyalty Points. If you do not buy expensive fares, moving up the status ladder on AA will be tough without a boost, and this Citi Card can provide that boost. In addition, this card provides 10,000 additional Loyalty Points after spending $40k during the qualifying year.
You will focus (most spend) on this card to earn Loyalty Points if status is a priority. Just be aware of the different levels and thresholds. You often can’t tweak it perfectly, but once you feel you have enough Loyalty Points to qualify for the status level you desire, but sure to consider your other cards for bonus category spending.
Lots of focus here on “if” you want AA status since the most compelling factors of this card allow you to have a better travel experience without status. This means that you do not need to “stress” over status and just take things naturally.
Lounge Benefit Is Huge – Admirals Club Access
Status or no status, things will go wrong when you fly. It is going to happen with all airlines, and you just hope that it doesn’t happen to you on any given day.
Having access to a lounge is great, but sipping a martini in a lounge and getting an alert that your flight has operational issues, or worse, is canceled, doesn’t provide a lot of value if you can not jump from your seat and get rebooking assistance.
If you have at least two family members (one authorized user), this benefit is amazing and of great value. More (free) authorized users, and the value-prop is “off the charts.”
Primary Cardholder versus Authorized Users
The primary cardholder gets full Admirals Club Access, so they don’t even have to show their card to access the Admirals Club. The primary cardholder also gets access to all the partner lounges, such as Alaska and British Airways Lounges.
The authorized user benefit is also pretty solid, but you must show the card to access the lounges. Authorized users also can bring immediate family or up to two guests. The main difference between authorized users and the primary cardholder is that authorized users cannot access partner lounges.
Don’t forget about JetBlue
Not just for redeeming miles, JetBlue is positive with regard to lounge access. You can be traveling on AA, a OneWorld partner airline, or JetBlue, on the same day to access the Admirals Club Lounges.
Not a Lounge – A Travel Support Team
If you fly these days, you need a support team, seriously. The most valuable benefit of American Airlines Admirals Club access is the ability to have reservation and booking assistance. I am always assisted professionally when things go wrong with my flights, and I am in an Admirals Club Lounge. Sure, elite members have access to phone support, but that can also be a drain during busy periods. Here you have access to awesome support for your travels without even having elite access.
So, yeah, food and beverage are nice, but the best benefit of any lounge and your number one priority is assistance getting you from point A to point B. Isn’t that the reason you go to the airport? OK, sure, the guacamole ain’t bad.
$450 – Are You Insane?
I refuse to bang you over the head with “voodoo math.” Ya know, like my friend Michael will tell you that his Wynn Black Status only cost him $25k, but he has enjoyed more than that in caviar, iced espresso, Champagne, and free rooms to make it worthwhile.
Simple maths: 80k Advantage Miles are easily worth $800 (truthfully, much more), and an Admirals Club membership costs $650 (no status). But, you can add authorized users “for free,” so in most situations, you would probably have a significant other and at least one other person as your AU who also gets access to the Admirals Club.
For the first year, you do not even have to think about it that much. The 80k bonus totally covers the annual fee. If you fly and your authorized users fly AA more than a few times a year, the benefits are going to exceed the cost of the annual fee.
This is especially true since there are additional benefits that add to the value proposition.
What Else? – Citi AAdvantage Executive Card
You will currently earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, the base earning is 2 miles for every $1 spent on AA. Important note, these are redeemable miles you earn in addition to Loyalty Points.
In addition to Admirals Club access, you will get automatic priority (Group 4) boarding and priority security screening in certain airports. You get a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to 8 companions on the same reservation. This benefit does not even require the primary cardholder to use the card for the purchase; the card just needs to be linked to their AA account.
Global Entry or TSA precheck credit for $100 to use for yourself or a friend once every five years. The card has no foreign transaction fees, which should always be a top requirement for any travel credit card.
In addition, the primary cardholder gets some expanded lounge access, but truthfully the lounge access benefit is extremely solid for the additional cardholders.
Is It Worth It?
If you never plan to fly American and if you never plan to accumulate AAdvantage Miles, stop reading. This is not the card for you. But, if you have a few members in your family that fly several times a year on AA, the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card is an absolute no-brainer.