Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard

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An entry-level travel card where the rewards start off strong but, after the first year, slow to a trickle.

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If you want to earn American Airlines miles without paying a big annual fee, then the Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard will do the job. This isn’t a powerhouse travel card; there are no luxury perks like lounge access or complimentary upgrades — but there are a couple sign-up bonuses that might make this card worth your while.

Review

For the casual domestic traveler, the Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard offers a way to earn modest miles on purchases, just 1 mile per dollar, and save some money on in-flight food and beverages.

The annual fee is $50 per year, but it’s waived the first year. In fact, this card’s most attractive features happen in the first year. Along with the waived annual fee, there’s also a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months; after that it’s between 16.99% and 24.99% based on your creditworthiness

New cardholders also are eligible for 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $750 within the first three months, which is enough for a round-trip domestic flight. There are no blackout dates on American Airlines and American Eagle carriers, so you can fly anytime.

The downside is that, over the long term, this card doesn’t measure up to other travel cards. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is a step up, offering benefits the Gold World Elite doesn’t, such as free checked bags and preferred boarding. Additionally, the Platinum Select offers 2x the points on American Airlines purchases.

Another drawback is the point expiration system. If you don’t earn or redeem points through American Airlines, an affiliated carrier, or with an American Airlines AAdvantage participant within 18 months, then you lose them. This can be challenging as it can take time to earn enough to buy a ticket, especially since you’re only getting 1 mile per dollar.

Who should get this card

With the 0% intro APR and balance transfer for the first 15 months, this card is a terrific option for people who want to pay off a loan or finance a big purchase while eschewing interest. After the introductory period, the APR is between 16.99% and 24.99% based on your creditworthiness

For those who want a great travel rewards card, there are certainly better options out there — especially if you’re not tied to one airline. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are superior in almost every way, from the rewards system to the annual bonuses.

Advantages
  • You don’t have to pay an annual fee for the first year.
  • There’s an intro 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers within the first 15 months.
  • New cardholders can earn enough miles in three months for one round-trip ticket if they spend $750 on their card.
Disadvantages
  • The 1 mile-per-dollar rewards system is below average.
  • You must earn or use your points on American Airlines travel within 18 months or you will lose them.
  • After one year, you must pay a $50 annual fee.

Fees and APR

    • This card charges a $50 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.
    • For the first year, there is a 0% intro APR; after that it’s between 16.99% and 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.
    • You will have to pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% if you use this card outside of the U.S.
    • Both the late and returned payment fee is $35.

Extras, perks and using rewards

Cardholders will earn 1 mile per dollar spent.

This card comes with a 25% discount on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases.

This card also offers Citi Price Rewind, which automatically searches for a lower price on the registered items you pay for with your card at hundreds of online merchants. If Citi finds a cheaper price online within 60 days of purchase, you may receive the difference.

Complimentary travel protection is included with this card, including insurance, emergency assistance and lost baggage protection.

How this card compares

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and guests with you*
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.74%-24.74%* (Variable)
Annual Fee $450
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has a $450 annual fee, and gives 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. With that hefty price tag also comes membership to the swanky Admirals Club, a $100 Global Entry application fee reimbursement and one free checked bag for you and up to eight of your traveling companions.

Citi Prestige® Card

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our 0% apr category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at airlines and hotels.
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at restaurants and select entertainment merchants.
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point for every dollar you spend on all other purchases.
  • Cardmembers with a Citigold® or Global Client relationship will earn an additional 15% in ThankYou Points based on purchases made on your card during that cardmembership year, and those with a Private Bank relationship will earn an additional 25% in ThankYou Points.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.74% to 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $450.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

The Citi Prestige Card gives air travel rewards at a rate of 3x points to the Amex Platinum’s 5x points. But, it comes with one perk that could make it worth more to you: on hotel stays of four or more nights booked through the Citi concierge, get the fourth night free. For some, this benefit could exceed the cost of card ownership.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Card Details
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will likely appeal to those who want the most flexible redemption options for their miles.  You can use your earnings to book travel, get a statement credit for travel purchases, or for gift cards and select merchandise.  This may be of greater value to you depending on your spending habits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s hefty sign-up bonus, boosted redemption value when using the Chase portal, and a generous rewards program make this card a stand-out among travel rewards cards offering big value for minimal cost. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards.

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.