Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Bankrate Score
Learn about the Bankrate score

Only worth it if you value Admirals Club membership.

Advertiser Disclosure: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertising partners.

For high-flying frequent travelers who want elite airline perks, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is calling your name.

For a $450 annual fee, this card comes with Admirals Club membership for you and your authorized guests, a perk that normally would cost nearly $1,000 in the first-year alone. There’s also a fat sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening the account. That bonus is worth about $750 towards an American Airlines flight, enough for a free, main cabin round-trip flight from anywhere in the contiguous U.S. to Hawaii.

Review

You’re the kind of person who commutes via airport instead of highway. Or you have a passion for collecting stamps in your passport. If either of these descriptions sounds like you, and your heart goes pitter-patter for American Airlines, then it pays to fork over the $450 annual fee for the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

For the price of the card, you get your money’s worth in elite airport-based perks.

The card gives you Admirals Club membership — the American Airlines-owned lounge with more than 90 locations worldwide. Out of pocket, a family membership will cost you $925 the first year. For that, you and two guests or your immediate family members can relax in style while waiting for your flight. You’ll also be reimbursed for a Global Entry pass, which is valued at $100, and will receive one checked bag free for you and up to eight of your traveling companions.

The card pays an unexceptional 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines and US Airways purchases, and 1 mile per $1 on all other spending. There are other cards with better rewards rates, but if you’re flying on American enough to justify owning this card, you’re probably going to want the miles for even more travel or upgrades.

All these perks are great — if you’re a frequent flier on American. If you’re not both of these things, look for a card that gives you more flexible rewards to use where you please. The only reason to pay this pricey annual fee is if you want the Admirals Club access; otherwise, go for its little sister card — Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, which is much cheaper, but pays out the same rewards level.

Who should own this card

Anyone who wants access to the Admirals Club lounges and to accrue mileage on American Airlines can benefit from this card’s features.

Advantages
  • The included Admirals Club membership is worth more the cost of the card’s annual fee.
  • The sign-up bonus is enough for at least one free flight, and possibly more depending on how to choose to redeem your miles.
  • If you spend more than $40,000 a year on the card, you earn $10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, which can lead to even greater perks and redemption values.
  • Free checked bag for you and up to eight travel companions.
Disadvantages
  • The card’s benefits are only good for American Airlines loyalists who fly often.
  • The rewards rate is just so-so.
  • The annual fee is steep.

Fees and APR

• This card carries a variable APR of 16.74% to 24.74% on purchases and balance transfers.
• You’ll pay a $450 annual fee.
• Purchases made outside the U.S. carry no foreign transaction fee.
• A penalty APR of up to 29.99% will apply indefinitely if you pay late or miss a payment, plus a late fee of up to $35.

Extras, perks and using points

Enjoy priority check-in, priority boarding and one free checked bag for you and up to eight travel companions.

Get a 25% discount on in-flight purchases including food, beverages and headsets.

The card comes with Citi perks like price protection and presale access to live events like concerts or sporting events.

Citi AAdvantage cardholders are eligible to redeem their accrued miles for reduced mileage awards when available. These mile-saver flights can only be booked by phone.

To redeem miles, go to the American Airline site, log into your AAdvantage account and book your travel. You also can redeem your miles for gift cards, magazine and newspaper subscriptions or donate them to charity.

How this card compares

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Card Details
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases1
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back — up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)
Annual Fee $95, waived for first 12 months*
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

If you don’t want to fork over the $450, the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard has the same perks and rewards, minus the lounge access and Global Entry reimbursement. With that smaller annual fee, you’ll also qualify for a smaller sign-up bonus.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®
Card Details
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months; after that, the variable APR will be 16.99% - 24.99% based on your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Earn 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $750 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on purchases
  • Reduced Mileage Awards: Fly for 5,000 fewer AAdvantage® miles roundtrip to select destinations
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)
Annual Fee $50, waived for first 12 months*
Purchase Intro APR 0%* for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0%* for 15 months

The Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard has a $50 annual fee, and gives a generous 25,000 miles for just $750 in purchases within the first three months. It also has a 15-month 0% APR introductory offer on purchases and balance transfers, which the other Citi AAdvantage cards do not. The biggest downside with this card is it pays an unimpressive 1 mile per $1 spent on all purchases. There’s no free checked bag either, so if you usually travel with a big suitcase, look for another airline card.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.