Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard Review [2020]

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is a popular premium airlines credit card. If you’re an American Airlines flyer, or you are interested in Admirals Club access, this is definitely the travel rewards card that you want to check out. In this article, I’ll go over the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard benefits likes its bonus, airport lounge access, free checked baggage, priority boarding, and more!

Welcome bonus

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers a welcome bonus that changes from time to time. You’ll often find it at 50,000 miles after making $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months but we’ve seen even higher offers in the past.

In fact, in years past, we’ve seen 75K and even 100K offers! I’m not confident we’ll see 100K return soon (in the same form we’ve seen it) but I do think this card is due up for an increased offer sometime soon. So personally, I’d probably wait until the offers get to around 75K to apply. However, if you really need or want Admirals Club access, I think it makes sense to jump on the 50K offer — it’s still not a bad deal. 

American Airlines will be implementing a new dynamic pricing system for their miles soon. This means that there will not be a set price for redemptions between certain destinations. Instead, the price will fluctuate similar to how a cash price fluctuates for a plane ticket.

But you can still get a great value for your AA miles right now. 50,000 miles could cover a road trip in domestic first class.

We’ve also had some great flights thanks to AA miles, especially on partners like Etihad, Qatar, British Airways, etc. I would highly suggest that you read my article on AA sweet spots as it highlights some of the best uses for American Airlines miles.

Related: Top Travel Credit Cards

Book partners like Qatar with AA miles.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Application rules

Citi has some complicated application rules (which by the way is something that WalletFlo will help you have to not worry about in the future). In addition to Citi application rules, once you pick up a bonus on this card, you can’t get its bonus again for 48 months, as the rules state:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive account in the past 48 months.

This means that you can get other AA cards without violating this rule. Also, I should point out that sometimes targeted mailers go out without this language so be on the lookout for those.

Credit card strategy tip

I’d be sure to hit up the best Chase cards first like the Chase Sapphire Preferred which offers 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. As long as you haven’t opened up five accounts in the past 24 months, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve are going to be better options to go with first.

Bonus earning

The Citi AAdvantage Executive earns the following rates:

  • 2X on purchases on American Airlines
  • 1X on all other purchases

Obviously, the Citi AAdvantage Executive is not a great card for bonus category spend since it only offers 2X on AA purchases. Instead, if you want to earn AA miles with your spend consider the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, which earns the following rates:

  • 2X on purchases on American Airlines
  • 2X at restaurants (including cafes, bars, lounges, and fast food restaurants)
  • 2X at gas stations 
  • 1X on all other purchases
Citi AA Card

Admirals Club membership

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard grants cardholders 18 years of age or older with full membership privileges to Admirals Club lounges, which may also include access to other airline lounges and clubs (e.g., Alaska, Qantas Clubs, oneworld or partner lounges, etc.). This membership is worth $650 so getting it as a perk is a huge deal! 

Note: Starting November 1, 2019, same-day boarding passes on American Airlines or partner airlines will be required for entry.

Admirals Club lounges are pretty standard domestic lounges. In these you might expect to find comfortable spots to relax in along with modern and fresh decor. As far as drinks go, you’ll find coffee, tea, soft drinks, house wine, beer, and spirits (premium drinks will cost you).

And for complimentary food, it’s usually lighter snacks, fruits, yogurt, breads, oatmeal, although some will serve up something special like avocado toast. You can also order dishes from the menu but you’ll generally have to pay for those.

Some Admirals Club lounges will have shower suites and children play areas. You can read more about my Admirals Club experience here. 

Admirals Club breakfast.

Authorized users

Authorized users can get into the Admirals Clubs but they don’t get the full membership. Citi states, “Full Admirals Club® membership privileges do not apply to a credit card authorized user,” so authorized users don’t get access to the partner lounges.

Note: To access an Admirals Club lounge, authorized users must present their credit card (along with other needed things like an ID, boarding pass, etc.). Primary cardmembers need only show their AAdvantage number.

Flagship Lounges

Neither membership nor the credit card authorized user access benefit provides access privileges to the Arrivals Lounge, International First Class Lounges, or Flagship Lounge facilities, including Flagship First Dining.

Guest policy

This card has a pretty good guest policy. You can get your immediate family members in for free (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18) or you can bring along up to two guests traveling with the primary credit cardmember or authorized user. The fact that authorized users can bring in guests is pretty awesome.

Admirals Club at IAH.

Authorized users

One of the biggest features of this card is that you can add up to 10 authorized users to your account for no additional cost. That’s some crazy value when you consider how many people could get Admiral’s Club access for essentially nothing.

Elite Qualifying Miles (“EQMs”)

The primary credit cardmember will earn 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 in eligible purchases that post to the credit cardmember’s account during a calendar year. 10,000 miles will almost get you halfway to the 25,000 EQMs needed for AA Gold status (you’ll still need to meet the Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) which for Gold is $3,000).

First checked bag free

Primary credit cardmembers may check one bag and avoid AA baggage fees when traveling on domestic itineraries.

All flights on the itinerary must be domestic flights marketed by American Airlines and operated by American Airlines or American Eagle. (This benefit will not be available for travel on codeshare flights booked with an American Airlines flight number but operated by another airline — see the terms and conditions for more on eligible airlines.)

The cool thing about this perk is that it offers the free first checked bag to up to eight companions traveling with the eligible primary credit cardmember (as long as they are listed in the same reservation). That’s a ton of value if you can utilize this perk for a large group of people.

Airport experience

The Executive card can help upgrade your airport experience with the following benefits:

  • Priority check-in (where available)
  • Priority airport screening (where available)
  • Priority boarding privileges

Up to eight companions traveling with the eligible primary credit cardmember will also get these perks if they are listed in the same reservation. For benefits to apply, your account must be open seven days prior to air travel and the reservation must include the primary credit cardmember’s AAdvantage number seven days prior to travel.

These benefits apply when traveling on flights marketed and operated by American Airlines, or on flights marketed by American Airlines and operated as other eligible airlines.

Priority check-in (where available)

Priority check-in offers you a special counter area for you to check in at many airports. These check-in areas (seen below) can have much smaller crowds than the standard check-in areas so you can save a lot of time.

American Airlines priority check-in at DFW.

Priority airport screening (where available)

Priority airport screening will allow you to bypass the main security line. This can save you a lot of time in some cases but I’d generally just go with the TSA Pre-Check line or even CLEAR if you have it.

Priority boarding privileges

The priority boarding benefit will display on your American Airlines boarding pass as “Group 4.” This is the final group in the priority boarding group, so you’ll be boarding before all the economy passengers but you’ll likely still have some elites in boarding in front of you. To find out more about the American Airline boarding groups click here. 

American Airlines boarding area at IAH.

25% Discount

The Citi AAdvantage Executive offers a 25% savings on inflight purchases of food and beverages on flights operated by American Airlines when you use your Citi AAdvantage Executive card. Keep in mind that the discount does not apply to any other inflight purchases like in-flight wifi. 

Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit

The Executive will grant you a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee, every five years up to $100.

TSA Pre-Check is a program that costs $85 to join and allows approved passengers to go through a separate security screening process that is less demanding than the security screening open to the public. Meanwhile, Global Entry provides you with TSA Pre-Check in addition to expedited entry back into the US. You can read about how to get approved here. 

No foreign transaction fees

This card has no foreign transaction fees which is pretty standard for a major airline cobranded credit card.

Annual fee

  • $450

This is a very reasonable annual fee considering how much lounge membership is worth and the fact that you could add up to ten authorized users for free.

Benefits and protections

Just in case you have not heard, Citibank dropped pretty much every major travel benefits and protection from their cards as of September 22, 2019. Some of the benefits and protections that were dropped consisted of:

  • Worldwide Car Rental Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection
  • Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
  • Citi Price Rewind
  • Trip Delay Protection
  • Baggage Delay Protection
  • Lost Baggage Protection
  • Roadside Assistance Dispatch Service

For this reason, you don’t want to use this card for purchases that you really need or want built-in travel insurance/protections for. So when it comes to purchasing flights and prepaid hotels, you would be much better off with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred which provides you with much better protections.

This was a major blow to the Citi AAdvantage Executive and you might be wondering how it won’t have these perks given that it’s a World Elite Mastercard. The answer is that Citi can apparently do what it wants when it comes to offering benefits. Maybe we’ll see the World Elite Mastercard status rolled back at some point because it’s definitely now missing a lot of those perks.

Final word

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the card to get if you’re interested in Admirals Club access and/or have a family or group of people who want in on the travel savings. If you have people you trust as authorized users, the ceiling for your value with the Citi AAdvantage Executive can be very high. It’s also great for groups because you can get all of those travel perks for up to eight companions, which again means a lot of value.

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