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Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review

Published: December 12, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Airline Rating:
2.1 rating
2.1 rating
2.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.5
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Flight Options: 4.8
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the card of choice for American Airline loyalists seeking Admiral Club access, but, if you’re looking for elite perks, there are much better cards to be found.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 American Airlines purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$(119.28)

APR
16.74-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as card is active every 18 months
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Free online redemption
  • Wide network of airlines, including American Airlines and other Oneworld Alliance airlines, and other partner airlines
  • Stretch your miles further with MileSAAver awards

Cons

  • Blackout dates on some awards
  • Fee for phone award booking
  • Travel on many partner airlines can’t be redeemed online
  • Various fees for award redemptions and cancellations
  • Restrictive routing rules

Flight Options

  • Airline partners: 25
  • Daily flights: 14,250
  • Destinations: 1,000
  • Countries served: 150

Other Notable Features: Free Admiral Club lounge access, $100 credit for TSA PreCheck every 5 years, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority airport screening, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost baggage protection, extended warranty

Luxury Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.9
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

For frequent flyers of American Airlines, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the go-to card for Admirals Club access and a boost toward elite status; however, other travelers may find the rewards and the benefits on the card lacking.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 American Airlines purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($75,000 spend)
$1,185

APR
16.74-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as card is active every 18 months
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Free online redemption
  • Wide network of airlines, including American Airlines and other Oneworld Alliance airlines, and other partner airlines
  • Stretch your miles further with MileSAAver awards

Cons

  • Blackout dates on some awards
  • Fee for phone award booking
  • Travel on many partner airlines can’t be redeemed online
  • Various fees for award redemptions and cancellations
  • Restrictive routing rules

 

Other Notable Features: Free Admiral Club lounge access, $100 credit for TSA PreCheck every 5 years, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority airport screening, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost baggage protection, extended warranty

Rewards Rating:
2 rating
2 rating
2 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.9
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

The Aadvantage Excecutive World Elite Mastercard offers a host of great airline benefits and a large sign-up bonus with a spending requirement that — unfortunately — puts it out of reach of most cardholders.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 American Airlines purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$(119.28)

APR
16.74-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as card is active every 18 months
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Free online redemption
  • Wide network of airlines, including American Airlines and other Oneworld Alliance airlines, and other partner airlines
  • Stretch your miles further with MileSAAver awards

Cons

  • Blackout dates on some awards
  • Fee for phone award booking
  • Travel on many partner airlines can’t be redeemed online
  • Various fees for award redemptions and cancellations
  • Restrictive routing rules

Other Notable Features: Free Admiral Club lounge access, $100 credit for TSA PreCheck every 5 years, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority airport screening, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost baggage protection, extended warranty

Travel Rating:
2 rating
2 rating
2 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.6
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is an elite travel card that includes most of the usual perks, including Admiral Club access, but the high costs of the card put it out of reach for most travelers, and — for elite travelers — there are better elite airline cards.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 American Airlines purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$(119.28)

APR
16.74-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as card is active every 18 months
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Free online redemption
  • Wide network of airlines, including American Airlines and other Oneworld Alliance airlines, and other partner airlines
  • Stretch your miles further with MileSAAver awards

Cons

  • Blackout dates on some awards
  • Fee for phone award booking
  • Travel on many partner airlines can’t be redeemed online
  • Various fees for award redemptions and cancellations
  • Restrictive routing rules

Other Notable Features: Free Admiral Club lounge access, $100 credit for TSA PreCheck every 5 years, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority airport screening, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost baggage protection, extended warranty

A glance at the $450 annual fee for the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard may cause you to wonder if the card is worth such a formidable fee. The short answer is – yes, for a select group of cardholders. If you fit the following profile, this may be the card for you:

  • You are a frequent flyer on American Airlines.
  • You are an airport lounge enthusiast who wants unfettered access to Admiral Club lounges.
  • You are trying to reach elite status in the AAdvantage loyalty program.

Other sorts of card users may have difficulty seeing the value. Unlike many elite cards, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard doesn’t offer enough in the way of travel credits to cover the annual fee. The airline perks on the card aren’t worth it unless you travel frequently enough on American Airlines and use them. Furthermore, if you are seeking an elite card simply for luxury perks, there are far more impressive cards on the market.

Meager rewards rate

The rewards earnings on the card are typical for a co-branded airline card. You get two miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases. The rest of your spending earns only one mile per dollar. Unless you allocate a large portion of your budget to American Airlines purchases, you are going to have a hard time mustering many miles with this card.

Large sign-up bonus

The card offers a large bonus of 50,000 points for spending $5,000 within the first three months of card ownership. While this is among the largest offers currently available, we estimate that the spending requirements put it out of reach for most cardholders. In order to reach the threshold, you would need to spend an average of $1,667 per month . But then, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard isn’t designed for the average cardholder.

Note, if you are simply looking for a large number of AAdvantage miles, the American AAdvantage Platinum card regularly offers bonuses of 30,000 miles or more, with more manageable spending requirements and a much lower annual fee.

High annual fee

The $450 annual fee is likely to be a major barrier for most cardholders. The card does offer a few credits and perks that help make up for the fee, such as the $100 credit for TSA PreCheck and a free checked bag on American Airlines. However, the card is not nearly as liberal with travel credits as other elite cards, and the credits alone probably won’t cover the fee.

Many places to go, if you can deal with the quirks

One of the major pluses of American Airlines is the fact that it is a large airline with a massive global footprint and a huge network of airline partners. Your AAdvantage miles will take you just about anywhere you want to go. However, you will have to deal with American Airline’s restrictive routing rules to get there. For example, the loyalty program requires you to book the most direct route possible and prohibits traversing through a third travel zone when crossing from one zone to the next. Also, as with many airline loyalty programs, stopovers are not permitted with rewards tickets, though you are allowed to book open-jaw tickets (an airline return ticket in which the destination and/or the origin are not the same in both directions).

One good option to stretch your miles further are MileSAAVer awards. If you are flexible with your travel dates, you can book flights within the contiguous 48 states for as few as 7,500 miles.

Admiral Club lounge access

As mentioned above, access to American Airlines’ Admiral Club lounges is the primary reason to get this card. An Admiral Club membership on its own would cost $475 or more, so, if you intend to use the lounges, the lounge access alone justifies the annual fee. And, note, the card gives you full-fledged access to the Admiral Club, which means you can use the lounges whether or not you fly American Airlines. You also can bring up to two guests with you – or unlimited members from your immediate family – without having to pay an extra fee.

On the downside, the number of lounges —only 50 worldwide – is pretty limited, plus some Oneworld partner lounges.

Numerous travel benefits

The card comes with the usual list of travel and purchase protections that you would expect from a premium travel card. These benefits include worldwide car rental insurance, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, baggage protection and extended warranty. One great benefit for world travelers is the lack of a foreign transaction fee.

Elite benefits are just OK

A high-fee travel card usually entitles you to some pampering, and the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard mostly meets expectations. On top of free lounge access, the card promises an “enhanced airport experience” – which means, mainly, that you get priority check-in and boarding, and a faster route through airport security line where available. You get a $100 credit toward TSA PreCheck every five years. Also, you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation are entitled to one free checked bag. This benefit applies whether or not you use your card to book the ticket.

The card also helps you reach elite status in the AAdvantage loyalty program. For current AAdvantage members, this may be another great incentive to sign up for the card, though the spending requirement is substantial: You have to spend at least $40,000 in a year to earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles.

Compared to other cards in its class, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is missing some features. While some cards offer a large credit for travel expenses, the AAdvantage card offers a mere 25 percent discount on in-flight purchases. There are no opportunities for discounted airfare or upgrades, unless you reach a higher elite level in the loyalty program. Finally, the card is lacking in hotel benefits. Most elite cards include a luxury hotel program that showers you with valuable perks, including automatic room upgrades, priority check-in and $100 credits for hotel expenses. If you are truly looking for the red-carpet experience, you may want to examine other options.

Why get the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard?

  • You are a frequent flyer with American Airlines and you want the royal treatment, including access to Admiral Club lounges.
  • You are looking for a card with lounge access.
  • You are trying to earn elite status with American Airlines.
  • You are looking for a large sign-up bonus.

How to use the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard:

  • Be sure to spend $5,000 in the first three months to earn your 50,000 bonus miles.
  • You don’t have to fly with American Airlines to use your Admiral Club membership – use the lounges any time you fly.
  • You can use any card to book your flight with American Airlines – your card benefits, including free baggage, still apply.
  • Assign authorized users to your account to give them access to the card’s benefits – and increase your miles.
  • Book your companions on the same reservation to extend your card’s benefits to them.
  • Use MileSAAver awards to book rewards tickets for as few as 7,500 miles.

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