Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® review

Published: November 6, 2019

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Published: November 6, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Luxury Rating:
3.1 rating
3.1 rating
3.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.2
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 4.0
Customer Experience 3.3

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

  • AAdvantage® miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • AAdvantage® mile per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($75,000 spend)
$1,995

APR
17.24%-25.24% (Variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as you earn or redeem miles 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

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Free Admirals Club lounge access, up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck every 5 years, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority airport screening, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, extended warranty

Rewards Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.3
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 4.0
Customer Experience 3.3

In a Nutshell:

The AAdvantage Executive 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

  • AAdvantage® miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • AAdvantage® mile per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck every 5 years
  • Admirals Club access

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$756

APR
17.24%-25.24% (Variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as you earn or redeem miles 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

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Free Admirals Club lounge access, up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck every 5 years, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority airport screening, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, 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 miles 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 Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard regularly offers bonuses of 30,000 miles or more, with more manageable spending requirements and a much lower annual fee. (This offer is no longer available on our site)

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 up to $100 credit for Global Entry/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.

See Related: How to use your card’s Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit

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.

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 up to $100 of credit toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application 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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