Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard Review

Best for loyal American Airlines customers who want access to American’s Admirals Club. 

If you’re a die-hard American Airlines flyer, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard will be the perfect addition to your wallet. While the basic rewards rate of 2x miles per dollar spent at American Airlines and one mile per dollar on all other purchases probably won’t have you bragging to your friends about how many miles you earn, you can still earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months after your account is opened. 

The big draw for the Executive World Elite card isn’t in its rewards, but its perks — specifically the Admirals Club membership you automatically receive as a cardmember. If you walk by the Admirals Club during your layovers wishing you could stop in for a quick drink and a hot shower, this credit card is your ticket in. Your only membership cost is the card’s $450 annual fee.

The basics 

  • APR: 17.49%-26.49% variable
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Rewards Rate: 2x miles on American Airlines purchases and 1x mile on everything else.
  • Intro Offer: Take home 50,000 bonus miles after you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months.

Standout features

  • Exclusive club access: The AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard earns you automatic membership to American’s exclusive Admirals Club. No other rewards credit card gets you free access to the club, whose membership fees usually cost $650 annually.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit: After you apply for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry, Citi will post an automatic statement credit on your account to cover your application fee. You can cash this in for one of these services every five years, up to $100.
  • Free checked bag: You can check your first bag for free when you book a domestic American Airlines flight with your Executive World Elite credit card. Up to eight people traveling with you can also enjoy this benefit as long as they are listed on the same reservation.
  • In-flight savings: You will save 25% percent on all in-flight food and drink purchases.
  • One step closer to Elite: If you spend $40,000 during a calendar year, you’ll earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, moving you one step closer to additional free checked bags, complimentary upgrades and more.
  • No foreign transaction fees: Spend as much as you want abroad without fear of paying extra.
  • Better airport experience: You’ll enjoy priority check-in, expedited airport screening and earlier boarding for you and up to eight of your companions.

Best way to use this card

Do you bleed red, white and blue and know your way through the American Airlines terminal at your four favorite airports with your eyes closed? Then the Executive World Elite Mastercard will make you fall even deeper in love with American Airlines.

Putting your card to good use starts in the first three months after opening your account. Use your card to buy everything from plane tickets to playing cards until you hit $5,000. This will unlock the 50,000 bonus miles — enough to take you round trip from New York to Los Angeles in Business Class when you book a MileSAAver ticket.

Once you earn the sign up bonus, its best to keep your card holstered unless you’re making purchases with American Airlines, where you’ll earn 2x miles for every dollar you spend. Every other purchase only earns one mile per dollar, so you’ll be better off using a different rewards card for those purchases. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re loyal to American Airlines and travel often. You’ll still get plenty of value from the card’s perks even when you don’t use it for your everyday purchases.

The biggest benefits of the Executive World Elite card start at the airport. Sign up for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck so you can get past security even faster, and enjoy the statement credit you’ll earn to cover the application fee. Check your first bag for free each time you fly, and settle in for a hot meal or a cold drink in the Admirals Club while you wait for your flight to board. The membership to the Admirals Club alone is enough for American Airlines frequent fliers to justify this card’s $450 annual fee, since Club membership usually costs $650 per year. 

In a nutshell

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard should come with a big disclaimer that reads, “For American Airlines Aficionados Only,” because you’ll only find this card to be worth the premium annual fee if Ameican is your ride-or-die.

Compared to other premium travel rewards credit cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express (which offers 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels) and the Citi Prestige Credit Card (which offers 5x points on air travel and restaurants, along with 3x points on hotels and cruises), the Executive World Elite is only average at best when it comes to rewards rates. Even worse, the card also lacks the flexibility of transferrable points and miles.

This card’s one saving grace, membership in American’s Admirals Club, only makes the $450 annual fee worth it if you fly American often and are tired of chilling in the general seating area while you wait for your flights to board. However, if the whole idea of paying $450 for a credit card annual fee makes you laugh, you can find many of the same American Airlines benefits (although without Admirals Club access) in the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. You’ll earn the same 50,000 miles sign up bonus after spending $2,500 in the first three months and earn the same rewards plus 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations all for a $99 annual fee. 

Trevor Wallis

Contributing Writer

Trevor Wallis is a St. Louis-based personal finance writer who teaches people how to achieve freedom through good money practices. He’s written for The Simple Dollar, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Rewards Credit Cards and Online Loans. When he isn’t writing, he’s roasting specialty coffee and planning new ways to use credit card rewards to explore the world with his wife and newborn son.