Best Credit Card For American Flyer In Philadelphia?

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Reader DanceDiscoInferno asked the following in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

Since I live in the Philadelphia area, should I get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® because it’s a hub city for American? It would allow me to use the Admirals Club. Is that worth the $450 annual fee? I fly for pleasure about 4 times a year. I have an AMEX Premier Rewards Card and a Chase United Mileage Plus Visa Card.

It’s an interesting question, especially since DanceDiscoInferno only flies a few times a year on American.

American-Plane

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card sign-up bonus is fantastic

The sign-up bonus on this card is fantastic, as it offers 75,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $7,500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. While that’s a big minimum spend, AAdvantage miles are extremely valuable, and that alone is more than enough for a one-way first class ticket between the US and Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines.

Japan-Airlines-First-Class-34

The card has a $450 annual fee, though it comes with an Admirals Club membership — it’s actually the only credit card to offer an Admirals Club membership. Ultimately I’d prefer accessing the Admirals Club through the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card than through directly buying a membership.

Admirals-Club-LAX-2

That being said, there’s still an all around better value proposition in this case.

The Citi Prestige® Card is an all around better option

Given DanceDiscoInferno‘s situation, I think the Citi Prestige® Card is still an all around better option. The card also has a $450 annual fee, but right off the bat offers a $250 annual airline credit, which can be applied to the cost of airfare, upgrades, etc. That’s an annual benefit, so if you value that anywhere close to face value, it more or less means the card is really costing you $200 “out of pocket” every year.

Citi-Airline-Credit

This card also offers Admirals Club access. The distinction is that it’s not technically a membership, since you have to be flying American same day in order to access the Admirals Club using your Citi Prestige® Card.

Westin

In addition to the $250 annual credit and Admirals Club access, the card also offers the following perks:

In the reader’s situation, he’d be spending ~$200 out of pocket for the card, which in and of itself might be worth it for Admirals Club access on four trips per year. Meanwhile I don’t think Admirals Club access on four trips per year would be worth the ~$450 annual fee on the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card.

Add in all the other perks (Priority Pass membership, a fourth night free hotel benefit, etc.), the excellent points earnings structure on the card, and the great sign-up bonus, and I think the Citi Prestige® Card would be a fantastic fit in the above situation.

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Comments

  1. Ah, Ben, you’re such an elitist.

    If I were he, I’d just get the $95 Citi AA card and call it a day so that I’d at least get to board first. Poor man’s pseudo-status via a card is nothing to sneeze at for regular folks even if it doesn’t mean anything at all to a high-flying “beyond category” elite like you. If club access is an issue, then maybe the Exec might be the way to go.

    Other than that, sure, the Prestige is the best choice (and it’s what I have).

  2. If you’re only flying 4 times per year, I’d suggest just toughing it out and forgoing lounge access. It’s not worth $450/year, nor worth the $200 “real annual fee” of the Prestige card. Unless you can get a lot out of the other perks of the card, spend your layovers at a decent airport restaurant and save $450/year.

  3. The question is, how often do you fly? If you only travel four times a year, stick with the $50.00 day pass. If you are in the airport every other week, then yes sign up for the membership.

  4. Well you actually get paid for the prestige the first year since you get 2 $250 credits in for the first annual fee.

  5. A day pass for $50 is definitely not worth it. Most admirals clubs are a terrible excuse. Certainly if the individual stays at a hotel for 4 nights or more for their trips, then the Prestige is a no-brainer with the 4th night free (as long as the hotel is listed on CWL). Also, the credit for global entry (and Pre Check) is another perk to make airports a little less painful.

  6. @Tom or he could have the best of both, get the Prestige for the club access plus the other benefits and the Platinum Select for free checked bags, early boarding, reduced mileage redemptions, etc. for a total of $295 a year out of pocket after the travel credit from the Prestige. That’s what I currently do. Ultimately I’m hoping Citi will add an additional tier of AA card that matches the Barclay’s Aviator Silver. Namely the 10k EQMs but without the Admirals Club membership for $195 a year.

  7. @William for short haul and/or Y travel you’re probably right. But for longer flights in premium cabins the Avios advantage goes out the window and you’re better off using AA miles, or ThankYou Points in conjunction with the Prestige. My flight last week round trip PHL-MSY in F cost about 46k TYP (what I ended up using) or 50k AA miles. That same trip with through BA costs a whopping 105k Avios!

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