Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® review

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® review

Updated: August 2, 2022

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Updated: August 2, 2022

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When you click “See my approval odds” we’ll run a soft credit check to determine if you have Excellent, Good, Low, or Poor odds of being approved for cards on our site. Approval Odds serves as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
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Ratings Policy
Luxury Rating:
4.1 rating
4.1 rating
4.1 / 5
Rewards Value:5.0
Annual Percentage Rate:5.0
Rewards Flexibility:3.0
Features:4.0
Issuer Customer Experience3.0

In a Nutshell:

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

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

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

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

Average

Annual Fee
$450

Very Good

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

Average

APR
18.24%-27.24% (variable)

Average

Citi Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2020 customer satisfaction rating: 801 (50% of issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: Yes
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.6/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.9/5
Very Good

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:5.0
Rewards Flexibility:3.0
Features:4.0
Issuer Customer Experience3.0

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

  • 2 AAdvantage® miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 AAdvantage® mile per dollar on other purchases
Very Good

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

Excellent

Annual Bonus

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

Annual Fee
$450

Poor

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

Excellent

APR
18.24%-27.24% (variable)

Poor

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
Very Good

Citi Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2020 customer satisfaction rating: 801 (50% of issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: Yes
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.6/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.9/5
Very Good

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 make you wonder if the card is worth such a formidable fee. The short answer is yes – for a select group of cardholders. Read on to see where this card shines and where it falls short.

Why you might want the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

If you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer, you should have this card on your radar, especially if you’re an airport lounge enthusiast and are trying to reach elite status in the AAdvantage loyalty program. The card may not have the highest rewards rate on the market, but it does include a weighty sign-up bonus and elite benefits with one of the largest airlines in the world.

While some competing cards carry more obvious value with their rewards and perks, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard earns its keep with benefits like priority boarding, a credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry and access to Admirals Club lounges.

Large sign-up and ongoing bonus

The card offers a large 50,000-mile bonus for spending $5,000 within the first three months of card ownership, which can be worth up to $950 according to a 1.9 cent value per point. While this is among the largest offers currently available, we estimate that the spending requirement puts it out of reach for the average cardholder.

Heavy spenders could meet this spending requirement relatively easily, but they may miss out on rewards in key categories like groceries and gas, which the AAdvantage card does not reward for. In order to reach the threshold, you would need to spend an average of $1,667 per month for three months. Even if you pool all of your monthly spending, this may still fall beyond your spending expectations if you’re an average consumer. Then again, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard isn’t designed for the average person.

Along with the sign-up bonus, cardholders can also enjoy an additional 10,000 Loyalty points if they spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year, once per year. This is a good offer that puts you a step toward your next tier of elite status, but affirms that the card is geared more towards heavy spenders.

Many places to go if you can deal with the quirks

One benefit of American Airlines is that it’s 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 with one of the most popular airlines. However, you will have to deal with American Airlines’ 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 low as 7,500 miles. There are ways to maximize your AAdvantage miles, so be sure to remain aware of what options are available to you to best reap the benefits of your card’s perks.

Admirals Club lounge access

Complimentary access to American Airlines’ Admirals Club lounges is one of the primary reasons to get this card. You, any members of your immediate family and up to two guests traveling with you get unlimited access to these lounges when you fly American Airlines or any Oneworld carrier. According to American Airlines, an Admirals Club membership is worth up to $650, so the lounge access alone can justify the card’s annual fee.

On the downside, there are only around 50 Admirals Club lounges worldwide. If you travel frequently, it’d be wise to make sure the airports you visit most have an Admirals Club lounge so you can take full advantage of this perk.

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 lines where available. You get a credit of up to $100 toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every five years, which is a pretty standard offering on a travel card. 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.

These benefits are nothing extraordinary, but do bring value to cardholders who plan to utilize them. Still, they fall short of the perks available on some other elite travel cards, including annual travel credits, airline incidental fee credits and wider lounge access via a Priority Pass membership.

Why you might want a different card

Unlike many elite cards, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard doesn’t offer enough in the way of travel credits to fully cover its annual fee and the airline perks on the card may not be worth it unless you travel frequently with American Airlines. If you are seeking an elite card simply for luxury perks, there are far more impressive cards on the market.

Lacks important travel perks

Compared to other cards in its class, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is missing some features that come on other cards with elite benefits. The AAdvantage card offers a mere 25 percent discount on in-flight purchases while competing cards typically have a large credit for travel purchases. There are also no opportunities for discounted airfare or upgrades, unless you reach a higher elite level in the loyalty program.

Additionally, 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.

Meager rewards rate

While the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard may be a decent fit for American Airlines loyalists who fly often and are looking for airline-specific perks, the card rewards rate leaves a lot to be desired.

Its rates are typical for a co-branded airline card, but it will be difficult to rack up a ton of AAdvantage miles on everyday expenses with this card since it only earns more than 1 point on direct airfare bookings. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar. Unless you allocate a large portion of your budget to American Airlines purchases, you’re going to have a hard time mustering many miles with this card and an even harder time offsetting the card’s annual fee with rewards earned via card spend.

High annual fee

The $450 annual fee is likely to be a major barrier for most cardholders. The card offers a few credits and perks that help make up for the fee, such as up to $100 in credits for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck and a free checked bag on American Airlines. However, these perks are not nearly as flexible as the travel credits you’ll find on other elite cards, and the card’s credits alone probably won’t cover the fee.

When you’re spending this amount on a card it’s reasonable to expect high quality perks and benefits that offset fees even before you factor in rewards earnings. Whether the annual fee is justified with this card depends largely on whether you plan to use Admirals Club lounges. If you aren’t, then steer clear of this card. If, on the other hand, you plan to frequent Admirals Club lounges, then this card could certainly be right for you.

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

How does the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard compare to other travel cards?

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Rewards rate

2X miles on grocery store purchases and eligible American Airlines purchases; 1X miles on other purchases

Rewards rate

5X points for flights booked directly with airlines using American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year); 5X points for eligible prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 2X points for prepaid car rentals made using American Express Travel; and 1X points for all other purchases

Rewards rate

10X points on hotels and rental cars and 5X on air travel for purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on general travel and restaurants; 1X points on all other purchases (travel rewards only apply after the first $300 spent on travel purchases)

Welcome bonus

10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit if you spend $500 in the first three months

Welcome bonus

100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months

Welcome bonus

50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$695

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

18.24% – 27.24% (variable)

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR (See rates and fees)

Regular APR

18.49% – 25.49% (variable)

Other things to know

25% savings on in-flight purchases, Citi Concierge, extended warranty, 90-day return protection, Citi Private Pass, $0 liability on unauthorized charges

Other things to know

Free airport lounge access, CLEAR membership credit, $100 Global entry and TSA PreCheck® credit, no foreign transaction fees, up to $200 Uber credit, $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credits, up to $300 Equinox credit, luxury hotel loyalty status and perks

Other things to know

Receive a $300 annual travel credit, up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck® credit, no foreign transaction fees, complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard vs. American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard

If you aren’t ready to dish out a lot of money for an annual fee but are loyal to American Airlines, you should consider the no-annual-fee AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard. This card could be either a great supplement to your AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard if you want to earn some extra miles for grocery purchases, or a standalone travel card for those who don’t travel frequently or wouldn’t use the benefits of a luxury card.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard vs. The Platinum Card from American Express

If you’re a frequent traveler who doesn’t mind spending money on an annual fee card, then you should consider The Platinum Card from American Express. The Amex Platinum card’s $695 annual fee is much easier to justify than the Executive World Elite Mastercard’s $450 fee as the Platinum Card features more luxury perks and hundreds of dollars’ worth of credits. If you take advantage of these benefits, you can more than cover the Platinum Card’s annual fee.

The Platinum Card also earns rewards at a higher rate across a wider range of categories, giving it the edge in ongoing rewards value. Plus, Amex Membership Rewards points are some of the most flexible and valuable points available, transferable to over 15 travel partners worldwide.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card will be an ideal choice for the consistent traveler who doesn’t want to be limited to one airline and eats out at restaurants frequently. While the AAdvantage card earns just 1 mile per dollar on all purchases outside American Airlines travel, the Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points per dollar at restaurants, making it an ideal general travel card for the cardholder who is as much a foodie as they are an explorer.

Along with its generous rewards rates, rewards earned with the Sapphire Reserve benefit from a 50% increase in value when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Cardholders will also benefit from a $300 annual travel credit that puts you more than half way to earning back the card’s annual fee.

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 Admirals 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 can use any card to book your flight with American Airlines and still get free checked bags and priority boarding, but your card account must be open for at least seven days prior to your flight.
  • 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 cardholder benefits to them.
  • Use MileSAAver awards to book rewards tickets for as few as 7,500 miles.

Is the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard right for you?

Deciding if a card is right for you depends largely on how you plan to use it. If you travel often and value perks like Admirals Club lounge access, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard may be the right airline rewards card for you.

Stephanie Zito, Creditcards.com Travel Rewards Expert Contributor, makes a solid argument for the card’s value for the American Airlines loyalists: “If you’re an Admirals Club user or a very frequent or elite American Airlines flyer, you’ll likely want this card in your portfolio for its lounge and status-earning benefits. Not only is the annual fee of the card less than the cost of an annual Admirals Club membership alone, the card will quickly help you boost your earnings of Loyalty Points to help you keep your status year after year.”

On the other hand, if you don’t have the money for the annual fee or want more flexibility with your travel card when it comes to earning and redeeming points, another card may be a better choice. If you don’t spend heavily with American Airlines or don’t care about the Admirals Club Lounge, then consider a general travel card that carries more value with its perks and higher rewards rates.

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All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.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.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.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.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

Partner Offer: Citi is an advertising partner

When you click “See my approval odds” we’ll run a soft credit check to determine if you have Excellent, Good, Low, or Poor odds of being approved for cards on our site. Approval Odds serves as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
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