American Introduces High-End Mastercard with Lounge Access, Help Towards Elite Status

American AAdvantage broke the news on Milepoint this morning that they’re launching a new high-end credit card through Citibank, the Citi Executive AAdvantage Mastercard.

Key card elements are:

  • Admirals Club Membership
  • No Foreign Currency Transaction Fees
  • 10,000 elite qualifying miles each year after $40,000 in spend
  • Double miles on spend with American

And then for elite members of the program, priority check-in and boarding and waived first checked bag fee.

For the most part, these are benefits that their competitors offer through at least some of their card products. United, Continental, and Delta all offer cards that bundle lounge access. All of their major domestic competitors have cards which offer progress towards elite status based on spend. And it’s fairly standard across both airline and hotel programs to bonus spend with the bo-branded partner.

It’s been amazing that American and Citi have taken so long to jump into this game. They haven’t done anything revolutionary with the product, but they’ve brought themselves up to par and this card will be of interest to American Airlines elites who want the boost towards status re-qualification, and certainly to folks who are buying lounge membership from American (since buying it through the card will help justify the hefty $450 annual fee).

Non-elites will find it cheaper to buy lounge membership through this card, and it’s at least a break-even proposition for Gold members who don’t already have lounge membership. Platinums and Executive Platinums still pay incremental cost over their lounge membership cost in order to have this card.

Now, I’m an AAdvantage Platinum based on lifetime miles earned in my account, I don’t expect to make a run at Executive Platinum status, and I get my American Airlines lounge access through an American Express Platinum card. So this one isn’t for me. But there’s a strong core of American’s elite flyers for whom it will make sense.

Unless one needs to make progress towards their spend for elite qualifying miles or their lounge membership is now expiring, it might make sense to hold off a bit to see whether there are new big signup offers for the card. But it’s great to see American doing this, it’s long seemed odd that cardmembers didn’t even earn bonuses for spending with American and that the oldest frequent flyer program was the only one not recognizing the importance of the credit card relationship by making it a part of earning elite status.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Right now the sign-up is 25k after $1k spending in 4 months. Might go up later.

    Interested in knowing whether such EQM’s for this card would be considered in accrual of LT Gold/Plat (I am already LT Plat)once the rules are changed presumably to permit only BIS (and perhaps bonus miles earned thereon) for qualification

  2. @Bob well we can’t really say whether card-generated status miles will count towards lifetime status under a new scheme that hasn’t been announced yet, my own guess is that they will be but I cannot promise of course!

  3. A good start, but wish those EQMs could roll over like the CO card (unless CO does “enhances” it tomorrow).

  4. Yawn. Wake me up when aa does something proactive instead of reactive. They continue to be content with just catching up.

  5. ETA: I just realized, you can only get the 10K EQM bonus once. At first glance, I thought it was every $40,000 you spent got you 10K. Not for me, but thanks for the post, Gary.

  6. It’s sad to see AA start down the slippery slope of giving EQMs for non-flying activity. Let’s just home they can resist the Delta model of giving EQMs out like candy.

  7. I’ve heard AMEX is discontinuing Admirals Club entry for their Platinum Card in December. Any truth to this?

  8. It’s worth noting that existing Admirals Club members that opt for this card will get a pro rata refund for the unused prepaid Admirals Club membership that is obviated with the new card. Thus, it’s not just a good deal for people whose Admirals Club membership are near expiration.

  9. No, but it’s so common these days – Continental card, chase sapphire, marriot rewards, hyatt, captial one that it is just keeping up with the pack in that regard.

  10. Watch out for low credit lines on this card. It was set about 30% less than another AA MasterCard I already hold. My plan was to transfer spend from AMEX Platinum and the other AA MasterCard to the Executive World Elite card, where I would meet the $40K annual spend for EQM’s in a short time. But it plays havoc with your credit score if your monthly spend eats up a high % of credit line. I complained about the low credit line. They went into a lecture about banking regulations. So I just told them to cancel the application, which they had already approved. I didn’t want to pay $450/yr for a card with a lower credit line than one I already had with a much lower annual fee. I then promptly called my travel agent and flipped all spend onto the AMEX Platinum card.

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