Which Citi AAdvantage Card Is Best For You: Platinum Or Executive?

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As I wrote about yesterday, at the moment we’re seeing limited time increased sign-up bonuses on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®. Both of these cards are offering sign-up bonuses of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months, with the $95 annual fee waived for the first year.

I value American miles at ~1.5 cents each, so earning a sign-up bonus I value at ~$750 for a card with no annual fee the first year and a reasonable minimum spend represents an exceptional value, in my opinion. However, there’s another Citi AAdvantage card to be aware of — the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard® — so I figured I’d talk a bit about who should be considering which version of the card.

Comparing sign-up bonuses

These cards all offer the same 50,000 mile sign-up bonus upon completing minimum spend, though the amount of spend required varies:

So the Platinum versions of the card require less spend, though the difference isn’t huge.

Comparing annual fees

Comparing benefits & return on spend

This is where the two cards differ significantly. They have some things in common, like that they all offer a first checked bag free on domestic flights and priority boarding, but there are also some significant differences in terms of the benefits.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Personal Card offers a 10% refund on redeemed miles, up to 10,000 miles per year. In other words, on the first 100,000 miles you redeem annually you get a 10% refund. Since I spend more miles than that every year with American, I consider that to in and of itself more than justify the card’s annual fee, and it’s a reason I hold onto the card long term. It’s the equivalent of picking up American miles for less than a penny each.

However, the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card comes with one killer perk, which is arguably the most generous lounge benefit offer by any co-branded airline credit card. The card comes with an Admirals Club membership, meaning you can access the Admirals Club with your immediate family or two guests in conjunction with a same day ticket (even if it’s on another airline).

That’s a fairly standard perk for many premium co-branded credit card, but what sets this card apart is that authorized users on the card also get Admirals Club access. You can add up to 10 additional users on the card at no extra cost, so this is a great way to get you and many of your friends/family members Admirals Club access.

Furthermore, some will value that you can earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles annually when you spend $40,000 on the card.

Admirals-Club-Honolulu-Airport-11
Receive Admirals Club access with the Executive Card

Comparing card eligibility

First it’s worth understanding Citi’s general rules on new card applications:

  • You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
  • You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days

On top of that, the eligibility requirements on these cards are as follows:

If you have none of the above cards, that means you could potentially pick up the Platinum Personal and Platinum Business, or the Executive Personal and the Platinum Business. However, you couldn’t get the bonus on both the Platinum Personal and the Executive Personal.

Bottom line

The 50,000 mile sign-up bonuses on all of these cards are worthy of consideration, especially in conjunction with the long term perks offered by these cards:

  • The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Personal Card offers a refund of up to 10,000 miles per year when you redeem miles, which more than justifies the annual fee for many
  • The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card offers an Admirals Club membership, and best of all you can also get Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users, making this an incredible benefit
  • While getting the bonus on the above two cards is mutually exclusive, you can sign-up for one of them in addition to the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Business Card, given that it’s a business card

So to simplify it further, the Platinum Card is worth considering if you’re not an especially frequent flyer with American, while I think the Executive Card offers outsized value if you’re a frequent American flyer who would benefit from Admirals Club access.

Getting Admirals Club access through the Executive Card is a better value than outright buying an Admirals Club membership. When you remember that you can get up to 10 other people Admirals Club access, that’s potentially like paying an average of just ~$40 per person for Admirals Club access annually.

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Comments

  1. Have Platinum card and keep getting offers from Citi to convert it to Executive. Not taking them up on it since I don’t need access to Admirals Club. For most infrequent travelers 10000 mile refund is a lot more useful; or if you have club/lounge access through other means, like Amex Platinum.

  2. Hi Ben,
    I applied yesterday for the Platinum Business card and was immediately denied. I have a SPG Amex, CSP, Chase Ink Plus, so not sure why I was denied, they will send a letter on the mail with reasons for the decision. Any suggestions?

  3. Hello Ben,

    In your article you state:

    “However, you couldn’t get the bonus on both the Platinum Personal and the Executive Personal.”

    I applied for both and received the bonus for both earlier this year. Originally, I applied for the Platinum Personal card last November when they had the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus. Subsequently they sent me a letter asking for additional information which I provided to them via fax in December 2015. I didn’t hear back from them. In early 2016 I followed up. They advised they never got the information so it was provided again and I received my cards in the mail. After meeting the minimum spend in the first month I was only credited with a 30,000 mile sing-up bonus because apparently the 50,000 mile bonus had expired by that time. I called them and explained the series of events and immediately my account was adjusted adding the extra 20,000 miles.

    Once I had the Platinum Personal I was seeing a promotion on AA’s website for the Executive Personal card with a 60,000 mile sing-up bonus. I am from Kelowna British Columbia which is serviced by Alaska/Horizon with three daily flights to SEA. As such, Alaska Airlines is my “go to” airline and I often fly through SEA. I have MVP Gold with AS. The Admirals Club access with the Executive Personal also gives me access to the Alaska Boardroom Lounges. (although for the primary cardholder only) I saw a lot of value in the Executive Personal card and called to apply less than 3 month after receiving the Platinum Personal. My application was accepted and I soon received my Executive Personal. After reaching the minimum spend in the first month, I received the 60,000 sign-up bonus.

    I obtained the required spend by purchasing AA miles. There was a promotion going on shortly after I received my Executive card which was a combination of reduced fee and bonus miles. I purchased the the 150,000 and received 100,000 bonus for $4311 all inclusive. Since this was charged to the Executive card I received double miles for the AA purchase.

    In total, 50,000 Platinum, 60,000 Executive, Purchased 150,000, purchase bonus 100,000, $4311 charged to Executive 4311 & 4311 bonus for AA purchase = 368,622 or 1.17 cents each.

    I used 12,500 miles for a flight from PHX-LAS on AA metal and LAS-BLI on Alaska Metal. I charged the $5.60 in taxes to the Platinum personal and was refunded 1,250 miles.

    James

  4. Ben,
    Dont forget each AU gets 2 guests or family as well. So if you wanted to (while pissing of AA tremendously) have a family+friends party in a Admirals Club booked on refundable tickets that you cancel past security.

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