Full Review of Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Valuable one-time offer, if with a high spending requirement
Admirals Club membership included
Other American Airlines perks
High annual fee
Rewards more limited than for some other American Airlines cards
- Valuable Bonus, If With a High Spending Requirement: You earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles if you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months after opening an account. While that’s among the highest spending requirements out there, it does earn you a fairly rich reward. Based on our valuation of AAdvantages miles at an average of 2.1 cents, the bonus is worth up to $1,050. That makes it among the richest bonus offers currently available.
- Admirals Club Membership Included: This card's complimentary Admirals Club membership gives you and up to two guests access to more than 50 clubs worldwide. The locations provide complimentary snacks, house drinks, digital magazines and newspapers, personal travel assistance, and more. Buying a new Admirals Club membership if you’re an AAdvantage member without status costs $650, although the price decreases with successively higher levels of elite status with the AAdvantage loyalty program.
- Other American Airlines Perks: In addition to the Admirals Club membership, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers some other American Airlines extras. These are usually available only with elite AAdvantage-program status and not offered with less-expensive AAdvantage cards. You're able to take advantage of American’s Reduced Mileage Awards discounts, which for this card lower the required return-trip requirements for shorter flights by 2,000 miles and for longer flights by 7,500 miles. Also, card users who spend at least $40,000 a year on the card receive 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles. That figure represents 40% of the EQMs required to qualify for Gold AAdvantage status, which in turn entitles you to mileage bonuses on each flight, along with other perks. As with cardholders of most other AAdvantage cards, you get flight perks. Up to 8 companions traveling on your reservation may check one bag free of charge on domestic flights operated by American and select other operators. You also receive priority check-in, screening, and boarding privileges.
- High Annual Fee: The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard costs a hefty $450 a year. By comparison, the next-priciest American Airlines card, the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard, costs $195 (but is only offered as an upgrade option to the Aviator Red Mastercard by Barclays) and most other AAdvantage cards cost $99 a year, sometimes with the fee waived for the first year (which isn't the case for the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard).
- Rewards More Limited Than for Some Other American Airlines Cards: The only purchases that earn bonus miles on this card are those with American Airlines, which make you 2 miles per dollar spent. All other purchases earn a flat 1 mile per dollar. Many rewards credit cards, including some other AAdvantage cards, allow you to earn bonus points or miles in more than one bonus category. For example, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard allows you to earn 2 miles per dollar spent on both American Airline purchases and those at gas stations and restaurants. The CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select® World Mastercard extends its 2 points-per-dollar spent rewards to car rentals, gas purchases, and cable and satellite expenses.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard best suits frequent American Airlines travelers who don’t already have elite status with the airline and want to enjoy some of the perks of status through this card.
For example, if you’re without status and seek access to Admirals Club lounges, the card allows you to get it without paying a membership fee that would otherwise cost $650. Big spenders can also earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles for spending at least $40,000 a year with the card, a boost that would help get them closer to earning Gold AAdvantage status. Other card perks include a first checked bag free, a statement credit against the costs of Global Entry or TSA Precheck security programs ($100 and $80, respectively) every five years and priority boarding on American Airlines flights.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard Bonus
You earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles if you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months after opening an account. Based on our valuation of AAdvantages miles at an average of 2.1 cents, the bonus is worth up to $1,050.
The bonus miles typically take eight to 10 weeks to appear in your American Airlines AAdvantage account after you meet the purchase requirements. While any spending on the card by authorized users counts toward the $5,000 minimum spending requirement in the first three months, bonus miles are posted to the primary credit cardmember's AAdvantage account.
Rewards Earning Details
The rewards of the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard are very easy to understand. You earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. American Airlines purchases include those through AA.com, American Airlines reservations, American Airlines Admirals Club, and American Airlines airport and city ticket counters. Car rentals and hotel reservations, spending on renewing or boosting elite status, and on AA Cargo products and services do not qualify.
While these rewards rates may seem modest, they’re actually fairly generous when you consider our calculated average value for AAdvantage miles of 2.1 cents. While the precise reward varies by the flight selected, that valuation promises typical earnings when buying flights of 4.2 cents per dollar spent. Provided you’re happy to redeem rewards for flights on Americans and its partners, that return makes the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard competitive with cards that earn 4 cents per dollar spent, and far more rewarding than the many cards that award only a cent per dollar in most spending categories.
Miles earned will typically appear in the primary cardmember's AAdvantage account eight to 10 weeks after they're earned. To keep your miles from expiring, you have to earn or redeem miles on American Airlines or with an AAdvantage partner at least once every 18 months. While there are no blackout dates where you cannot use your miles, there may be limited reward availability.
Rewards Redemption Details
You redeem the miles you earn through American Airlines' AAdvantage program. The program offers many options to use your miles, but booking flights generally gives you the highest value per mile. Other options include cabin upgrades, car rentals, hotel stays, vacation packages, magazines, newspapers, identity theft protection, and charitable donations.
You can book award flights directly, online, for American and most of its partner airlines. While American Airlines does offer a reward chart that details the cost per flight, they've recently rolled out Economy Web Specials which have added flexible pricing for some of their award flights.
Other award types include MileSAAver awards and AAnytime awards. MileSAAver awards have no blackout dates, but they may have limited availability. For AAnytime awards, certain dates require more miles but there are no blackout dates. You do have to pay taxes and carrier-imposed fees for your award flights, though.
American Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance of airlines. That means you can use your miles to directly book award flights online with these alliance partners:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- LATAM Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
American Airlines also partners with other airlines for which you can't book online, but can do so by phone or in-person at offices or airport counters. These airlines:
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air
- Cape Air
- China Southern Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Fiji Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Seaborne Virgin Islands
The number of award flights are limited, as with the programs at other airlines. You also have to pay taxes and carrier-imposed fees for flights on these partner airlines.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The first way to make the most of the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is to ensure you earn the bonus; that requires spending at least $5,000 on the card within the first three months you own it. Then, of course, you can use the card widely, and not necessarily only for American Airlines purchases.
When it comes to booking flights, redeeming miles for longer flights in better seats can often yield the best value, especially if the destination is outside the U.S.
For example, let's say you and your spouse want to visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida from Seattle, Washington. Using the MileSAAver-bonus award category, a round trip flight for two of you would require redeeming 50,000 miles plus $22.40 in taxes and fees. If purchased instead, the flight would cost $1,278, including taxes and fees. The mileage redemption, then, yields a value of roughly 2.5 cents per mile.
Now let's compare the value you receive if you instead fly one-way from Boston, Massachusetts to London, United Kingdom in business class. If redeemed with miles, your ticket will cost 57,500 miles plus $628.70 in taxes and fees. While the taxes and fees may seem expensive, the same ticket would cost you $7,155.70 including taxes and fees. Consequently, this redemption yields a value of about 11.4 cents per mile.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard's Outstanding Benefits
- Admirals Club full membership: This allows the cardholder to visit not only American Airlines lounges bearing this name but those of other airlines with which American has a reciprocal arrangement to allow elite members to share their respective lounges.
- Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) toward status: Spend $40,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year to earn these EQMs to help you earn elite status with the airline.
- First checked bag free: You and up to 8 companions traveling on your reservation may check one bag free of charge on domestic flights operated by American and select other operators.
- Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit: Earn one statement credit (of up to $100) per account every five years for either the Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee. The credit covers the cost in full.
- Priority check-in, airport screening and boarding: This benefit, too, covers both you and up to 8 travel companions, where available.
- Concierge for help with travel, shopping, dining, household and entertainment needs
- 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights
Citi ranks sixth among national credit card issuers in the J.D. Power 2019 Credit Card Customer Satisfaction study. Its overall rating is slightly below average.
The bank offers free access to your FICO credit score, which can come in handy if you’re working on building or maintaining your credit history.
If you have a question, you can reach customer service via phone 24/7, which is standard in the credit card industry. You can also chat with someone through your online account, which isn’t a feature you’ll get with some other major card issuers. You can manage your account online or through Citi’s mobile app.
The security features offered on this credit card are standard for the industry.
Fees to Watch Out For
The biggest fee to be aware of is the steep $450 annual fee which, unlike with some other cards, is not waived in the first year. However, one positive as far as fees go is this card’s absence of a foreign transaction fee, which on some other cards can add 3% to the cost of transactions made outside the U.S.
As befits a card with a $450 annual fee, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has fairly narrow appeal. It's a card for those with deep pockets who fly American Airlines often enough to want the perks enjoyed by the carrier’s elite fliers—but not so often that one earns them through acquiring status in the AAdvantage program. If you want unlimited access to airport lounges, for example, and are willing to pay for that privilege, this is the card for you.
If you aren't focused on such benefits, but still want to earn AAdvantage miles, other co-branded American Airlines cards allow you earn the same or better rewards as this card for less, and sometimes with comparable bonuses. The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, with a $99 annual fee, offers the same rewards rates and actually has a better one-time offer: 60,000 miles and a certificate for a $99 companion certificate when you make your first purchase with the card. The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, also $99 a year, allows you to earn 2 miles per dollar spent with the card not only on spending from American but on gasoline and in restaurants. However, neither of these American AAdvantage cards offers complimentary Admirals Club access.
Finally, for no fee at all, the Citi AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard rewards you with 2 miles per dollar spent in grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases, as well as 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases.