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Travel is ramping up and so are travel card benefits. Premium credit cards carry hefty annual fees, but also have great perks and bonuses. Carrying more than one of them can be really expensive if you don’t maximize the benefits. However, depending upon your travel and spending patterns, this can be a no-brainer to help you maximize your travel. In this article, we examine the pairing of The Platinum Card® from American Express and 100k+ bonus and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.
Annual Fee & Credits
The Citi Executive AAdvantage card carries a hefty $450 fee, but it’s a top credit card for American Airlines flyers.
Think that’s expensive?
The annual fee for The Platinum Card from American Express is $695 (See Rates & Fees) but can be offset with the perks, which are valued at over $1,400. Get the full details and learn more in our in-depth The Platinum Card from American Express review.
However, for most frequent travelers, the Amex ends up costing less. You can get back most of the annual fee in the form of rebates. But, these are hard to maximize. For example, you get two $50 “use it or lose it” credits per year at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Meanwhile, the only fee credit Citi offers is toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck. However, Global Entry costs $100 so if you don’t already have this, it’s worth using the fee credit. Also, Amex matches this credit. Note that you can use the credit for anyone you like. If you sign up for both, you might consider using one fee credit for yourself and the other for a partner or spouse.
Points and Welcome Offers
The more options you have to spend your points, the better the chances of successfully arranging award travel.
American Airlines AAdvantage points can only be earned via hotel programs, airline partners, and American’s own credit card partners. No transferable points currency transfers to American Airlines. But, this is one of the best programs to use for Oneworld awards due to the generally lower priced award chart than competitors. The catch is that availability is usually worse than average with American and its partners.
American Express Membership Rewards Points, meanwhile, transfer to a wide variety of airline partners covering every major alliance. The catch is that award tickets are often more expensive in these programs.
New The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. New cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms apply.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
The public signup bonus for the Citi Executive AAdvantage is the ability to earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, you can enjoy an Admirals Club® membership (a value of up to $650), including complimentary access for authorized users.
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard isn’t a card to get for the earning rates. You earn only 1x AAdvantage mile per dollar on regular purchases and 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases.
The Platinum Card earns 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, and earns 5x Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Both cards provide access to a worldwide network of airline lounges. The American Express Platinum provides access to American Express’s own Centurion Lounge network, along with several other lounge networks (enrollment may be required). American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks. Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.
Meanwhile, the Citi Executive AAdvantage card provides a full American Airlines Admirals Club membership. This grants access to lounges with whom American has a reciprocal lounge access arrangement.
Which is better? That depends on the airport and your preferences. If you ask me, it’s “whichever lounge is less crowded.” If you carry both cards, it’s easy to lounge hop!
The American Executive AAdvantage card provides benefits when flying with American Airlines. However, these are awfully stingy given the $450 fee: free checked bags only apply to US domestic flights (not to international flights). Pre-boarding is in Group 4.
There is a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, although you might not want to try the brisket sandwich. Plus, there is a Reduced Mileage Award program, but this is difficult to use, requiring telephone booking (which involves paying a phone booking fee). Most of the destinations for which these awards are good towards are unattractive (such as Yuma, Arizona in August and Fargo, North Dakota in November).
In short, Citi talks a good game, but the benefits don’t deliver much real value beyond the limited bag fee waiver.
Meanwhile, Amex provides a very simple benefit: you can nominate any airline and offset up to $200 of their fees annually. However, it will be in the form of statement credits (terms apply, enrollment may be required). Carrying both cards can be useful if you travel with American for some flights but prefer a different airline for others.
The Amex Platinum offers Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status along with Hilton Honors Gold Status. If you stay with either chain, you might score the occasional upgrade or get a free breakfast depending upon the property. Cardholders can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®. Also, get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
Citi doesn’t match this benefit.
Rental Car Status
You get Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, and National Emerald Club status when you’re an Amex Platinum member. These programs allow you to pick up your car without visiting a rental counter. Citi doesn’t match this benefit.
For people who want to use most of the benefits from both cards, it can be beneficial to carry both. However, the most valuable benefit of the Citi Executive AAdvantage is the Admirals Club membership. If you’re not a frequent traveler on American Airlines but want to consider carrying one of their credit cards, it’s worth considering the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red card as a companion instead. This has a lower annual fee and provides the majority of the benefits offered by the Citi Executive AAdvantage.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 03/31/22.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.