Citi Prestige Vs. Citi Executive AAdvantage Card

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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.

Citi-Airline-Credit

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.

Comparing perks

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

Westin
Get a fourth night free hotel benefit with the Citi Prestige Card

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

Admirals-Club-LAX-2
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)

American-777

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.

Bottom line

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? 

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Comments

  1. Hey Lucky, saw the article about you in the British Daily Mail and how you have conned airlines out of thousands of bucks….They also confirmed what I suspect all along that you are gay…you broke up with your boyfriend…Good luck

  2. @ Jonathan. Homephobe much? The article showed he knows his stuff and uses his brain to make it work. Gay, straight, bi, Thai; you can all make it work.

  3. David – what do you expect with Chase clamping down and Lucky losing losing American Express links awhile back?

    Gotta make up that revenue somewhere.

    I’m guessing we’ll see Discover soon. LOL.

  4. @David, @lopere, I dislike credit card pumping and dumping as much as the next guy, but I also enjoy reading what Lucky puts out. It’s his job, and he has a right to make as much (or as little) $$$ from this job. His blog isn’t a charity, and if you don’t like his posts, STOP reading his blog. All the snide comments on credit cards are unnecessary and just downright rude.

  5. Does anyone really know about the enhanced airport experience benefit on the executive card? Do you get priority aacess printed on boarding pass for being a card holder? I’m a delta elite considering a switch. Thanks all, love the site.

  6. @Lucky – please spend more time on speaking about how AA Miles are becoming worthless. I am at over 400K AA miles and unless you can book 2 weeks out on CX or pay massive YQ on BA, they are becoming worthless. LA only has availability for 1 or 2 days before it disappears. IB J availability has become very poor. AY J is almost never available. JL J/F is okay but not spectacular.

    AA/US metal availability is almost 0.

  7. @P: Yes, that’s how it works. The card effectively gives you Gold status, minus these five things (a) free upgrades, (b) free standby, (c) 25% mileage bonus, (d) no sub-21-day award fees, and (e) free Main Cabin Extra at the 24-hour check-in mark. So think of it as getting half the stuff a low-level elite gets. Nice, for flying zero miles.

    I agree with the above posters, by the way. Lucky should work for free. The difference between me and them, I suppose, is that I’m sophisticated enough to understand that that ain’t ever gonna happen. Not in this world, at least.

    Maybe in Heaven? Who knows. In the meantime, all you can do is stop reading. Really. You should try it. Go ahead. Start now.

  8. Ben,
    I am sure I am not alone when I say that I am noticing whole lot of Credit card comparisons/reviews, and not enough trip reports.
    You are not “One Card at a Time”

    -loyal reader

  9. To all who are crying about the credit card posts:

    We’re going to see more of them, especially with the rolling stone article. I’m guessing every day for the next week. We’ll just have to suck it up.

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  10. Lucky – OT, but read the fascinating Rolling Stone article…congrats. Were you disappointed at all with the author’s portrayal of your actual travels? We all know you do leave the airport, but the commenters don’t seem to understand. Even at what seemed like a million words, I was surprised at the lack of context on that subject.

  11. I will actually answer Ben’s question to his readers.

    I got the Citi Exec Aadvantage last year with a 100K signup bonus. I did it for both the signup bonus and the Admirals Club access. I got the Citi Prestige card 2 months ago, mainly for the Admirals Club access since I knew Prestige was going to be cheaper annually than Exec Adv. I just cancelled my Exec Adv. when the $450 renewal fee came due. They tried to keep me with a 15k retention bonus but not worth it to me.

    Somewhat related: I have been trying to cancel my “regular” Citi Aadvantage Visa for 2 years now. This is the one that just earns you Aadvantage points, but carries no other major benefits. Each time the $95 annual fee comes due, I call to cancel and they end up waiving the fee and giving me 1000 bonus miles each month I put $1000 on the card. So I guess I’m keeping that one for now.

  12. Has anyone else had issues with the Citi Prestige card not swiping correctly? Mine has to be manually entered every single time–and this is the replacement card for the first one that did the same thing.

  13. You left out the best perk of all (for me anyway) for the Citi Prestige. 3 free rounds of golf at world class courses all over the world; including access to private courses we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. With courses costing as much as $360/round, this perk is worth over $1000.

  14. We used Citi Prestige to get into Admiral Club in London while flying BA. Maybe we just got lucky as from what I understand this card doesn’t come with membership but just access.
    Priority passes for us have been useless so far – one from Citi Pratige and the other from Amex Platinum. Either a lounge doesn’t participate any more or access hours are everely restricted.

  15. My favorite kind of post (just above trip reports). I prefer strait forward credit card discussion over travel talk and love comparisons. Citi ThankYou is becoming a very innovative program with solid products and it’s good to see it being leveraged.

    I check this blog and TPG.com every morning before any other website, it’s my coffee reading. Thank you 🙂

  16. My experience is the same as Chris’s. I’m an elite AA flier, and so the Prestige made more sense for me. My Citi account also gives me $100 off the price and a 25% annual Thank You Points bonus.

    I cancelled my Executive card when the anniversary came up. I’m still glad I signed up, though, because of the $200 statement credit and the 100,000 miles — both one-time special bonus offers.

    I used to have an actual Admirals Club membership but, with the cards, those are essentially uneconomic and therefore obsolete.

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