Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® review
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For a $450 annual fee, American Airlines loyalists can fly in style with perks like Admirals Club membership, priority boarding on flights, credit for TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry and more.
You’ll get 2 AAdvantage® miles per dollar when spending on eligible American Airlines-related purchases and 1 point for everything else. Plus, there’s a sizeable sign-up bonus when you meet the qualifying spend within the first three months.
Here are the details
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offers 2X AAdvantage® miles for eligible American Airlines purchases, 1X AAdvantage® miles per dollar for other purchases and a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus when you spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
The $450 annual fee may seem costly, but the benefits that come with it justify the fee for those who travel enough. One of the biggest perks of the card is its built-in Admirals Club membership (an American Airlines lounge with locations across the globe), which includes guest access for immediate family or two traveling companions for no extra charge.
A lesser-known perk of the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is that by spending $40,000 on your card within a calendar year, you’ll earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles. These miles count towards elite status qualification for American Airlines’ AAdvantage® program. If you’re curious to learn more about the rewards and how to best utilize the program, check out our guide to American Airlines AAdvantage.
You’ll also enjoy up to $100 application fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®, which will get you 5 years’ worth of access to either perk (but not both), plus one checked bag free for you and up to eight of guests traveling with you on the same reservation.
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard doesn’t have the best rewards structure compared to more general rewards cards, but it’s one of the best in terms of airline cards — especially if you’re already a frequent American Airlines flyer.
Is this card right for you?
To start, it’s best that you’re already an American Airlines loyalist when applying for the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.
The annual fee is hefty, so unless you’re looking to fully utilize the Admirals Club membership for you and your guests, you might as well go with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, a slight step down in travel benefits for a drastically lower annual fee ($99, waived for first 12 months). The Platinum Select also offers Double Miles (2 AAdvantage Miles per every $1 spent) on eligible American Airlines purchases and at restaurants and gas stations.
How much are the rewards worth?
The 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 in your first three months of account opening is worth around $500, or enough to cover a domestic, round-trip flight with American Airlines.
A family Admirals Club membership is worth $675 to $925 for the first year, depending on how many guests will be utilizing the membership. This completely covers the cost of the card’s annual fee, and for that, you and two guests or your immediate family members can use the space while waiting for your flight.
10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles gets you a little under halfway to Gold oneworld® Ruby status, which will get you access to a 40% elite mileage bonus, priority check-in, security and boarding, complimentary preferred or pre-reserved seating and more (priority boarding, check-in and security are automatically available to Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard cardholders). Preferred seating can be around $30 per flight and priority check-in hovers around $10, so you’d be saving little by little through utilizing the gold status perks.
The Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application credit adds to the savings, along with a first checked bag free (on domestic American Airlines flights) for you and up to eight guests. That’s a potential additional savings of up to $270 if you fully extend the benefit.
In addition to the rewards laid out here, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard grants you eligibility to join the American AAdvantage dining program, where members can earn miles by dining out at some of their favorite bars and restaurants. Our American AAdvantage dining rewards guide gives a deeper look into the program, detailing how to set up your account, where you can earn points, and more.
How to use this card
One of the biggest perks of the card is the household Admirals Club membership. With access to Admirals Club® lounges around the world and partner lounges, you’ll be able to relax with snacks, business center access, travel assistance and more. To gain entry to a lounge, all you need is your AAdvantage® number or Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and a photo ID.
Make sure to take advantage of the TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry statement credit. You’ll receive the credit 8-10 weeks after charging one of the application fees to your Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.
For your guests to qualify for the free checked bag feature, they must be listed on the cardholder’s reservation. On American Airlines flights, you’ll also receive a 25% discount on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases.
With this card, you’ll receive priority boarding on American Airlines flights, priority check-in and airport screening (where available) and boarding privileges for not just you, but up to eight guests on the same reservation. The priority boarding benefit will be added to your American Airlines boarding pass and labeled as “Group 4.”
A few Citi-specific perks to look out for include price protection and presale access to live events. Cardholders are also eligible to redeem their accrued miles for reduced mileage awards when available. (Note: Mile-saver flights can only be booked by phone.)
To redeem your miles, go to the American Airline site, log in to your AAdvantage account and book your travel. You can redeem your miles for gift cards, magazine and newspaper subscriptions or donate them to charity.
The bottom line
American Airlines loyalists will find plenty of ways to fully utilize the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, but if you’re a casual traveler, you might want to look for a more general travel rewards card.
The large annual fee may seem startling at first, but it can easily be justified by using the card’s built-in benefits, such as Admirals Club membership.
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.