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When the American AAdvantage program was unveiled in 1981, it was one of the first airline loyalty programs in the entire world. These days, you can use this program to travel to nearly 1,000 global destinations. If you fly frequently enough with American Airlines, you can earn elite status and qualify for special perks like priority check-in, priority boarding on your plane, free checked bags and more.
If you’re a business owner, you’ll be happy to know you can earn American AAdvantage miles on your business-related flights, as well as on each dollar you spend. This is made possible thanks to the American AAdvantage program’s co-branded business credit cards.
AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard*: Best for earning a sign-up bonus
If you’re looking for elite status benefits without having to earn a specific tier, the AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard® is worth considering. Just carrying this credit card qualifies you for a free checked bag for you and up to four companions (on domestic American flights), and you’ll automatically qualify for preferred boarding and complimentary employee cards. You’ll also get 25 percent off select in-flight purchases and a 5 percent AAdvantage mileage bonus each account anniversary. There’s a $95 annual fee, but you won’t pay foreign transaction fees.
This card comes with a generous welcome bonus of 60,000 miles when you spend $2,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening, plus another 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card. Plus, you’ll earn 2X miles on American Airlines purchases; 2X miles at eligible office supply, telecom and car rental merchants; and 1X miles on other purchases. Also, keep in mind this card offers a $99 companion ticket after your account anniversary each year, but you need to spend $30,000 on eligible purchases within a calendar year to qualify.
Overall, the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard offers some of the main perks of elite status without requiring you to earn it. And with the generous welcome bonus and a boost toward elite status requirements, you can easily get plenty of value out of this card the first year.
CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard*: Best for first-year savings
The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® offers quite a few cardholder perks, including a free checked bag for you and up to four companions (on domestic American flights), preferred boarding and 25 percent off select in-flight purchases. You can also add employees as authorized users, access a personal business assistant to help with travel needs and view streamlined online account summaries.
The companion certificate this card offers helps it stand out even further. When you spend $30,000 on your credit card within a calendar year, you can qualify for a certificate that’s good for a $99 domestic economy companion fare. Do note, however, that redeeming the companion fare will also require a payment of $21.60 to $43.20 in government taxes and fees (depending on the itinerary).
This card charges a $99 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. You also won’t have to pay foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. As for rewards, you’ll earn 2X miles on eligible American purchases; 2X miles on purchases with telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations; and 1X miles on all other purchases. Finally, the initial bonus on this card is extremely generous, letting you rack up 65,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on your card within four months of account opening.
How to choose an American Airlines business credit card
When deciding between the two American Airlines business credit cards above, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the details. After all, both cards offer very similar basic travel and mileage benefits and let you rack up miles for each dollar your business spends.
With that in mind, here are some factors to consider as you choose the best business credit card for your needs:
- Which sign-up bonus is easier to earn? The sign-up bonus on the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard is definitely easier to earn, and it requires less monthly spending to earn the bonus. With this card, you can earn 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 within 90 days of account opening (plus another 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card). With the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard, you can earn 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 within four months of account opening. If your business doesn’t make many purchases each month but you want to earn a generous bonus, the spending requirements for each card are definitely worth considering.
- How do the categories align with your spending? Both cards have similar categories that let you earn 2X miles for each dollar you spend, but the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard includes gas stations. This makes it a better option if your business spends a lot of money on fuel each year.
- Will you use the cardholder perks? Both American AAdvantage business credit cards offer free checked bags, priority boarding, 25 percent off select in-flight purchases, a companion certificate and similar earning structures. But the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard also offers 2X miles at gas stations, whereas the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard offers a 5 percent AAdvantage mileage bonus each account anniversary.
- Do you want to pay an annual fee the first year? Finally, don’t forget that the annual fee on the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard is waived the first year (then $99), whereas the $95 annual fee on the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard is not waived.
Should you get a business card and a personal card?
If you’ve been researching American Airlines credit cards, you may have noticed that some versions are geared toward individuals while others are geared toward business owners. Either a personal card or a business card can be a good option if your goal is to score frequent flyer perks and free flights, but keep in mind you can also pick up a personal card and a business card to earn even more miles over time.
For example, you could consider pairing either of the above American AAdvantage business credit cards with an American Airlines consumer credit card like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®*. This card lets you earn miles on all of your spending, as well as 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,500 within three months of account opening. The $99 annual fee is waived the first year, and this card also offers a free checked bag on domestic flights for you and up to four companions, preferred boarding, 25 percent off select in-flight purchases and other perks.
You may also want to consider other American AAdvantage credit cards from Barclays, like the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®*. This can be an especially fruitful option when it comes to earning miles quickly since you can rack up 50,000 bonus miles after paying the $99 annual fee and making a single purchase within 90 days of account opening. You’ll also qualify for up to $25 in statement credits for in-flight Wi-Fi services, 25 percent back (in the form of statement credits) on in-flight food and beverage purchases, a first checked bag free, priority boarding and other perks.
While having both a personal and a business credit card may seem complicated, this strategy actually works rather well. Using a business credit card for business purchases can help you keep your expenses separate, thus simplifying your finances for bookkeeping and tax purposes.
Having both types of cards can also help you double up on bonus offers and gain access to different perks and earning rates that can help you grow your miles balance over time.
The bottom line
If you’re a business owner interested in earning miles for free flights with American Airlines, you may want to consider getting one of the above AAdvantage business cards. Alternatively, getting both a business card and a personal card can help you to maximize earnings and perks. But if you still don’t see the card for you, our CardMatch feature can help you find a card that better fits your needs.
*The information about the AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.