The best credit card for American Airlines flyers is Citi AAdvantage Platinum — here’s why


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Most of the major airlines in the US offer at least one co-branded credit card that lets you earn miles whenever you use the card. These cards often come with perks when traveling on the airline, too.

There are two main American Airlines cards, both issued by Citi; however, there’s an alternative issued by Barclays, too, and a few “carrier-agnostic” cards you can consider if you’re just after any kind of travel reward, rather than specifically American Airlines miles.

The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

As the “flagship” American Airlines card, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select offers a number of useful perks — plus, for a limited time, it’s offering an increased sign-up bonus for new cardholders.

When you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months, you’ll get 60,000 AAdvantage frequent flyer miles. You can use those miles toward a ton of different free travel options, like a round-trip to Europe, or even a flight in business or first class.

Aside from the sign-up bonus, the card makes it easy to build up your miles with 2x miles earned per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, at restaurants, and at gas stations, and 1x mile on everything else.

Benefits include:

  • A free checked bag for you and up to four travel companions on your reservation
  • Priority boarding (which helps you around the basic economy baggage restriction)
  • 25% off in-flight purchases
  • A rebate of 10% of all miles you spend (up to 10,000 miles per year)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • An annual $100 discount on an American Airline flight when you spend $20,000 on the card within a calendar year (that’s in addition to the miles you’ll earn on those purchases).

The card has a $99 annual fee, although that’s waived the first year.

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

The Citi/AAdvantage Executive is similar to the Platinum Select, with a few significant differences.

The primary feature of this card is that it offers a complementary Admirals Club membership to cardholders and authorized users. That means that you can access the more than 50 American Airlines Admirals Club airport lounges around the world.

You’ll also get priority check-in, screening, and boarding at participating airports, a statement credit to cover enrollment in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every five years, and you’ll earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 in purchases within any single year.

The sign-up bonus is a bit lower that the Platinum Select, though: you’ll earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

While the Executive features the same free checked bag and priority boarding as the Platinum Select, it only earns 2x miles on American Airlines purchases; restaurants and gas stations are only 1x each, along with everything else.

The Executive card’s annual fee is $450, but if you value the lounge access, this can absolutely be worthwhile.

The Barclays Aviator Red

American Airlines also partners with Barclays to offer a consumer credit card. Its benefits are virtually identical to the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select, except for a few key differences First, it only earns 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, not restaurants or gas stations. Everything else earns 1x mile.

Second, its annual fee is slightly lower at $95 (vs. $99), but it’s not waived the first year. To soften the blow, it’s easier to earn the sign-up bonus (which is slightly lower): All you need to do is make a single purchase in the first three months.

The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select card is generally a better option, especially because of its waived annual fee.

Bottom line

If all you’re interested in is earning rewards, regardless of what kind, you may be better served by an airline-agnostic card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to build your stock of American Airlines AAdvantage miles, or to get useful perks when you fly on the airline, the Citi/AAdvantage cards are the best pick.

For most flyers, the Platinum Select should do the trick. However, if you’re a true road warrior, you may want to consider the Executive so that you can access lounges before your flights.

Click here to learn more about the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about the Citi/AAdvantage Executive card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citi.