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Citi has two especially compelling “premium” credit cards for American flyers — the Citi Prestige Card and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. Both cards have $450 annual fees, which seem steep on the surface, though under the right conditions you can get way more value out of the cards than that.
Understandably a lot of people want to minimize how much they’re paying in annual fees, so I’ve been asked repeatedly which card is more valuable for American flyers. I figured I’d write a comparison between the two, factoring in the sign-up bonuses, return on everyday spend, and perks:
Comparing sign-up bonuses
The Citi Prestige Card has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months. I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.6 cents each, so to me that’s worth ~$800.
The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard has a sign-up bonus of 75,000 AAdvnatage miles after spending $7,500 on the card within the first three months. I value AAdvantage miles at 1.8 cents each, so to me that’s worth $1,350. It is worth keeping in mind that this card has a significantly higher minimum spend requirement for earning the sign-up bonus than the Prestige Card.
While I’ll talk more about the perks of the cards in a bit, I do feel like it’s worth specifically pointing out that the Citi Prestige Card offers a $250 annual airline credit. That credit is based on calendar years, so with your first year’s annual fee you’d end up getting $500 in airline credits. If you ever pay for airline tickets, that’s basically good as cash, as far as I’m concerned. So that is worth keeping in mind, given that for mental account purposes it can help offset the annual fee.
Comparing return on everyday spend
A great sign-up bonus is nice, but you also want to be sure you’re maximizing your return on everyday spend. In other words, how do you get the most points for the money you spend every day anyway. So which card is more compelling in that way?
The Citi Prestige Card offers:
- 3x Citi ThankYou points on air travel and hotels
- 2x Citi ThankYou points on dining and entertainment
- 1x Citi ThankYou point per dollar spent on everything else
Meanwhile the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard offers:
- 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American/US Airways tickets
- 1x AAdvantage mile per dollar spent on everything else
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.
When it comes to return on everyday spend, the Citi Prestige Card is almost unarguably more rewarding. That being said, if you’re an American flyer and could be short on status, the 10,000 bonus EQMs offered on the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard could be well worth it.
Not only do these cards both offer awesome sign-up bonuses, but they also shine when it comes to their long term perks.
Not factoring in the sign-up bonus, the Citi Prestige Card perks include the following
- A $250 annual airline credit (with your first year’s annual fee you actually get two of those — that’s $500 of airline credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee)
- Access to American Admirals Clubs
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
Meanwhile the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard perks include the following:
- An Admirals Club membership, giving you access to Admirals Clubs regardless of which airline you’re flying (as a point of differentiation, the Citi Prestige® Card only gives you Admirals Club access when traveling on American or US Airways, so it’s not a “true” membership)
- 25% savings on in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and headsets on flights operated by American Airlines and US Airways when purchased with the card
- Priority check-in, screening, and boarding on American and US Airways operated flights
- 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
Get an Admirals Club membership with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card
Which is better? I’d argue the Citi Prestige Card offers the single best suite of benefits of any credit card out there, once you factor in everything. The $250 airline credit really helps offset the $450 annual fee, so based on how I look at it, you’re paying $200 per year for a comprehensive Priority Pass membership, Admirals Club access, an incredible fourth night free hotel benefit, great return on everyday spend, and more. It really is an incredible card.
That being said, there’s huge value in the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard if you’re someone:
- Who doesn’t have status with American, and could take advantage of the priority services on American
- Who could use the 10,000 bonus EQMs offered upon spending $40,000 on the card
- Who often uses Admirals Clubs when not traveling on American (since this card comes with a full Admirals Club membership)
You can get both cards
The above two are separate products, so you can earn the sign-up bonus from and even hold onto both cards long term if you’d like to. Citi’s rules on applications are pretty straightforward:
- You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
- You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days
So for example, you could apply for the Citi Prestige Card today and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard nine days from now, if you wanted to. Of course if you want to reach the minimum spend on both cards, it could make sense to space them out more.
These are both extremely compelling credit cards, in my opinion.
The Citi Prestige Card is one which has a lot of long term value, and which I plan on holding onto long term. It’s not just useful for those flying American, but also for those that stay in hotels for four nights at a time, could use a Priority Pass membership, etc.
Meanwhile the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard offers a fantastic sign-up bonus and can also be valuable for American flyers, whether you’re after an Admirals Club membership, priority boarding/check-in, or the 10,000 EQMs offered on the card.
Which of the two cards do you find to be more valuable, either in terms of the sign-up bonus or long term value proposition?