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American Airlines is one of my favorite ways to travel through the sky.
Not only does it offer an abundance of routes to Latin America, which I love to visit, but I’ve also never had major customer service issues with the carrier.
So, with a trip to Argentina soon on the radar, I’m considering applying for an American Airlines credit card. But which one? Frankly, there are too many to choose from.
To help me — and you! — decide, I dug into the details of the different American Airlines card offers.
Let’s kick things off with my picks for the best American Airlines credit cards, depending on what you’re looking for.
We’ll get deeper into the details of each card later on.
|Best For||Card Name|
|All-Around Workhorse||Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (Review)|
|Generous Bonus Miles, Low Minimum Spend||AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®|
|Good, Fee-Free Airline Card||American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card|
|Business Owners||CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® (Review)|
|Frequent AA Flyers||Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®|
No matter how you look at it, this card is solid. Its annual fee is waived for the first year, it offers 2X miles in the high-spend categories of restaurants and gas stations, and it gets you a slew of AA-affiliated perks.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money for a lot of miles, this card’s low barrier to entry is super attractive. Essentially, you’ll pay $95 (the annual fee), and make one purchase of any size, to get 60,000 miles.
Most airline credit cards come with annual fees of at least $95 or thereabouts, so if you want an airline card without one, this is a smart choice. It earns good rewards for a fee-free card and even comes with a decent intro bonus.
This card’s introductory bonus is well worth the price of admission. Best of all, you can apply for it alongside the Platinum Select personal card, snagging you a ton of AAdvantage miles between the two. (Wondering if you’d qualify for a business card? Here’s what you need to know.)
Because of its $450 annual fee, this card’s only good for people who fly AA a lot. The free bags for up to eight companions are perfect for big families, but with this card, you’re mostly paying for Admirals Club airport lounge access for yourself and two guests.
American Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, so you can use AAdvantage miles to fly on any of its 12 partner airlines. You can also fly with several other partners outside the alliance.
The American Airlines AAdvantage program offers elite status to frequent flyers. You can use a combination of elite qualifying dollars (EQDs) along with either elite qualifying miles (EQMs) or elite qualifying segments (EQSs) to qualify for the four different tiers:
When it comes to elite status, credit cards unfortunately aren’t going to help much. The only cards that offer any assistance are the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator™ Business Mastercard®, but they require a lot of spending to earn bonus EQMs or EQDs.
The fastest way to earn AAdvantage miles is with the airline’s co-branded credit cards.
In addition to signup bonuses, all of them earn at least 2X miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1X mile per dollar on everything else. Most earn 2X miles in a few other bonus categories, too.
Another perk of being a cardholder is you won’t have to worry much about your miles expiring. Although AAdvantage miles generally expire after 18 months of inactivity, each mile-earning purchase resets the clock.
Here are two other big (but often overlooked) benefits:
As you probably know, basic economy tickets are the pits. You have to board dead last, meaning there probably won’t be any room for your carry-on bag.
But if you carry a co-branded American Airlines credit card, you’ll get priority boarding — even if you paid for the ticket with a different card.
When you’re a cardmember, you’ll get to board in at least Group 5 (rather than Group 9 with basic economy and Groups 6–8 with standard economy tickets). Executive cardholders will get to board even earlier, with Group 4.
While you still won’t get to pick your seat, you’re more likely to find overhead bin space. You’ll receive this benefit on all the AA-branded cards in this post, with the exception of the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.
Cardholders can also get discounts on tickets purchased using miles. For flights of 500+ miles, you could get 7,500 miles off, and on flights under 500 miles, you could get 2,000 miles off.
To qualify, you must be a cardholder who is:
Follow the instructions on the reduced mileage awards webpage to book an eligible flight, which includes finding and using the appropriate award code.
You can check availability on the AA website, but if you want to avoid a booking fee you’ll have to book over the phone at 1-800-882-8880. If you book at a travel center you’ll incur a $35 fee for domestic travel or a $45 fee for international travel.
While you might see lots of different AA cards floating around the interwebs — like the Aviator Silver or Blue — many aren’t accepting new applications.
Here are the six major American Airlines credit cards that you can apply for today, followed by a detailed breakdown of their features. The first four are issued by Citi, while the last two are issued by Barclays.
In addition to the features in the table below, all the cards offer:
|Card Name||Annual Fee||Perks|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card||$0||
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (Review)||$99 (waived for first year)||
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||$450||
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® (Review)||$99 (waived for first year)||
|AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®||$95||
|AAdvantage® Aviator™ Business Mastercard®||$95||
|Card Name||Intro bonus (in AAdvantage miles)||2X Mileage Categories|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card||10,000 and a $50 statement credit for spending $500 in 3 months||
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (Review)||50,000 after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months||
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||50,000 for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months; 10,000 EQMs for spending $40,000 in a year||
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® (Review)||70,000 for spending $4,000 in the first 4 months||
|AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®||60,000 and a Companion Certificate for making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee||
|AAdvantage® Aviator™ Business Mastercard®||50,000 for making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee||
Note the AA-affiliated perks can only be used on flights operated by AA — and, in some cases, on American Eagle-branded flights marketed by AA but operated by other airlines, like Envoy Air and Piedmont Airlines. Check your card’s terms before assuming a particular benefit will work for your flight if it’s not operated by AA.
Hoping to book American Airlines flights with frequent flyer miles? You don’t have to limit yourself to AA cards. If you earn miles with any of American’s partner airlines, you could use their miles to fly AA, too.
Here’s an example:
So you could explore the world of co-branded airline credit card offers to find good options for earning partner airline miles.
For a broader, more complicated strategy, you could use a credit card that earns a specific type of rewards points, transfer them to AA or one of AA’s partner airlines, and then use those miles to book an American Airlines flight. Only certain cards, provided by several different issuers, have this point transfer feature.
Here’s what that could look like:
As you can see, that method opens up a world of possibilities. Here’s how you could use cards from several major credit card issuers to snag seats on AA flights, plus some suggested cards from each.
How to use with American Airlines partners: Transfer Amex’s Membership Rewards (MR) points to British Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Etihad, or Iberia. The transfer ratio is usually 1:1, or it may change; take note that there’s a $0.0006 fee per point for transfers to U.S. airlines, so choose one of the others.
Key Features & Terms
How to use with American Airlines partners: Transfer Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways or Iberia.
Key Features & Terms
With Chase you have yet another potential strategy. Only three Chase cards allow point transfers to partner airlines and hotels — the Sapphire Preferred and two others noted below — but several other cards earn UR points without the transfer option. You can use one of those other cards to earn UR rewards, then move those rewards to a card that does allow partner point transfers, and be on your merry way.
How to use with American Airlines partners: Transfer Capital One miles at a ratio of 2:1.5 to Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Finnair, Qantas, or Qatar.
Key Features & Terms
How to use with American Airlines partners: Transfer Citi’s ThankYou (TY) points at a 1:1 ratio to Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, or Qatar.
Key Features & Terms
Like Chase above, several Citi credit cards earn ThankYou points, but only a couple allow point transfers to the relevant partner airlines. And again like Chase, you can move rewards from one card that doesn’t offer those point transfer options to another card that does.
(The Rewards+ only allows point transfers to JetBlue TrueBlue.)
If you’re not devoted to American Airlines, we recommend using a general travel credit card — like the ones listed in the “other cards” section above — instead. Since these flexible cards aren’t co-branded with any particular airline, they work well for a variety of travel spending.
No matter which American Airlines card you choose, be sure to pay your bill in full each month — and enjoy the journey!
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.
American Airlines offers a host of co-branded travel rewards cards for personal and business use alike. Each card earns AAdvantage miles, and most include perks like free checked bags, discounts on inflight food and beverages, and no foreign transaction fees.
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The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, Citi Premier℠ Card, and Citi Prestige® Card have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.
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