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The American Airlines AAdvantage program is chock full of value, especially for those that know how to use its nifty award map that shows places you can travel for the cheapest number of miles. And you can earn a nice amount of miles with the best American Airlines credit cards.

Despite being the largest airline in the world, using American’s long list of airline partners like Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, Qantas, and Qatar Airways can prove to be quite fruitful. But what are the best credit cards for American Airlines fliers?

Johnny and Natalie on LAX-HNL on American Airlines in 2016.

Best Credit Cards for American Airlines Fliers

American’s redemption chart is among one of the best of North American airlines. It hasn’t been devalued to the level of United (Delta doesn’t have one anymore, which is especially confusing). But you can’t really benefit until you rack up those miles.

Below you’ll find a few credit card strategies to help exemplify the best credit cards for American Airlines fliers. This guide is for everyone – from the infrequent flier to the loyal American Airlines road warrior. See where you stack up and start collecting the miles with some of the best credit cards for travel miles. Note that you don’t necessarily need to be traveling anytime soon to earn rewards. You may even find yourself earning and saving rewards for future use.

Whichever card you get, be sure to take advantage of the generous discounts American gives to many of its co-branded credit cardholders.

The information for the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®, and AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best Credit Cards For AA Fliers: The Occasional Fliers

Even if you don’t take to the skies on a regular basis, American miles can provide incredible value for your next dream vacation. They can also be used for a variety of redemptions from merchandise and magazines to hotel stays. Read on to learn about the best credit cards for American Airlines fliers.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® comes with a large 60,000-mile sign-up bonus after first purchase and payment of the low $99 annual fee. This makes it popular for infrequent fliers looking to rack up lots of miles from the get-go. Cardholders get double miles for American Airlines purchases, but only a single mile per dollar spent on everything else.

This card is often promoted, but there can be better signup offers online that are worth considering. There are also benefits that are akin to having elite status, such as preferred boarding for you and up to four companions and waived check bag fees. Even if you travel a few times a year, this can cover the annual fee cost easily. If you spend at least $20,000 on the card and your account remains open for at least 45 days after your card anniversary date, you’ll earn a Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus fees and taxes).

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® also comes with a 50,000-mile signup bonus, but it requires that you spend $2,500 within the first 3 months of having the card to score the extra miles.

Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard

For a card with a low annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® is a decent “starter” card. But it should be noted that its perks are quite limited with only one mile per dollar spent on all purchases. It also earns 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights.

While its annual fee is waived the first year, it does not come with waivers for foreign transaction fees or checked bags. That alone significantly reduces its value. Its best feature is the option to redeem as few as 5,000 miles for one-way, short-haul awards.

AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Business owners may find that the AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard® is a solid earner because it earns double miles not only on American purchases, but also on several other bonus categories like office supply stores, rental cars, and telecom purchases. If you travel infrequently, these categories could help your mileage balance to add up much more quickly. Plus at the end of the year, cardholders get a bonus reward equal to 5% of all the miles they earned that year.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is another good option for those that don’t fly a lot but spend in other categories. It does not have an annual fee and offers double miles at grocery stores and American Airlines purchases. It even has a signup bonus of 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit for spending $500 within the first three months. That’s pretty good considering how little you have to spend. This deal makes this card one of the best credit cards for American Airlines fliers.

Best Credit Cards For American Airlines Fliers: The Frequent Fliers

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard (Best Overall for American Airlines)

Most American Airlines flyers can benefit the most from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®. This is the best of the Citi credit cards for American Airlines for these perks:

  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 companions on the same reservation
  • Preferred boarding
  • $125 American Airlines flight discount after $20,000 in annual card purchases during your card membership year and renew your card
  • Earn 2x AAdvantage miles for eligible American Airlines purchases, gas stations purchases, and restaurant purchases
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when you use your card

New cardholders can earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. The annual fee is $0 for the first year then $99. There are no foreign transaction fees.

The free checked baggage waiver can be the best reason to own this card. Plus, every purchase earns American Airlines miles.

Note that the business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® is also available. Cardholders earn 2x miles spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants, and at gas stations.

New cardholders can also earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

If you travel a lot and put all of your eggs in the OneWorld basket, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® can be worth its weight in gold. While it comes with a $450 annual fee, it brings Admirals Club lounge access. While the Citi Prestige card also comes with lounge access, it requires that you fly American to gain access.

This card brings lounge access no matter what airline you are flying. You can even use it on arrival after landing from a flight. Authorized users (free to add them) get lounge access and the associated perks (free checked bags, priority boarding, etc). Plus it has one of the best offers available. The 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of card ownership is a good deal.

This card is a solid option for frequent American fliers is that it earns two miles per dollar spent on AA flights. It only earns one mile per dollar spent on everything else though. This is the kind of card to use when buying flights, but not when spending on other things since the mileage earning is weak on non-flight purchases. If you do plan to use the card for everything, note that there are no foreign transaction fees if using the card overseas.

If the chase for elite status is important, this card comes with the opportunity to score 10,000 elite qualifying miles (EQMs) after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. This is especially important because the only other way to earn EQMs is by flying. This can help some travelers reach elite status more quickly.

AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard

There’s also the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®, which is a Barclays premium card. You can’t apply for it right away either. It’s typically an upgrade from the Aviator Red card. The $195 annual fee has some nice benefits for frequent fliers. It comes with priority boarding and free checked bags for as many as eight people. It also offers $25 back a day as statement credits on inflight food and drink purchases on AA flights.

Earn up to 10,000 miles at the end of the year annually. Earn 5,000 EQMs after spending $20,000 on purchases and another 5,000 EQMs after spending an additional $20,000 on purchases to earn the 10,000 bonus miles.

Other perks of the card include two $99 companion certificates (plus taxes and fees) after having spent $20,000 on purchases and your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date. There’s also a $100 statement credit for Global Entry every 5 years.

Bottom Line When Deciding on the Best Credit Cards For American Airlines Fliers

When it comes to choosing the best credit cards for American Airlines fliers, knowledge is power. Knowing your spending patterns becomes especially important as you’ll want to earn for what you’re already spending on. Infrequent travelers are not putting a lot of airfare charges on their cards while frequent fliers probably are. Find a card with a bonus point earning in different categories that best fits you.

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