The Best Thing An American Airlines Flyer Can Give Their Family For Christmas

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The best thing that makes American Airlines travel easier is an Admirals Club membership. The most effective way to get one is with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.

And Citi lets you give authorized user cards for no additional annual fee – those cards get each cardholder and two guests into Admirals Clubs as well. So you can give this as a gift to loved ones without spending anything beyond the cost of lounge membership for yourself.

I’ve had the Citi Executive card for several years, and I’ve been putting $40,000 worth of spend on purchases each calendar year for several years as well. This is a card for regular American Airlines flyers that can help earn elite status and make travel far more comfortable. There are 8 key benefits to having the Citi Executive card.

  1. 50,000 miles initial bonus means the first year more than pays for itself. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is offering 50,000 miles after $5000 spend within the first 3 months of cardmembership.

    I value American miles at 1.4 cents apiece so you’re ‘making money’ on the card in year one, which makes getting the card an easy decision.

  2. American Airlines Admirals Club membership I find Airlines Club access indispensible during irregular operations, aside from having a place to sit and work during connections or delays (and aside from the improved food and beverage offerings in the lounges). Agents are much faster and more helpful in the lounges keeping me on my way.

    citi executive card provides admirals club access at LAX terminal 4
    LAX Terminal 4 Admirals Club

  3. Giving lounge access to friends and family. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers up to 10 authorized user cards at no additional annual fee. Authorized users get access to American Airlines clubs as well (for themselves and up to two guests flying American or its qualifying partners same day). With your card, that of 10 authorized users, and everyone bringing in 2 guests that’s lounge access for up to 33 people at a time off of one card membership and annual fee.

  4. Admirals Clubs still have showers unless their United Club counterparts. Coming off an overnight flight after Thanksgiving the private space to clean up and refresh gave me a second wind and kept me going the rest of the day – which is why I didn’t suffer any jet lag.

    dallas fort-worth admirals club access with citi executive card
    American Airlines Admirals Club DFW Concourse A

  5. 10,000 elite qualifying miles after $40,000 spend on the card each year. As I’ve given American less and less of my business I’ve only re-qualified for Executive Platinum status with the boost that spending on its co-brand cards gives me.

  6. Priority airport services makes this card good for non-elites who fly American semi-regularly too. It comes with Priority check-in, Priority screening (where offered, useful if you don’t have PreCheck) and early boarding on American Airlines flights so you can avoid gate checking your bags.

    american airlines at chicago o'hare
    American Airlines at Chicago O’Hare

  7. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit every 5 years. You may already have this, but remember that you can have anyone you wish charge their application fee to your card, so you can give the benefit to family or friends.

  8. A lot of free checked bags the first checked bag is free for cardmembers on domestic American Airlines itineraries including for up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation.

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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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Since you are Austin based and apparently also fly Southwest a bit these days. Have you missed having access to the Austin Admirals Club Lounge now when flying on Southwest as they now require same day AA travel? Just wondering if this has impacted you at all. I am a big fan of the AA Citi Exec card but I used it at least 50% of the time when flying other airlines until the recent same-day boarding pass requirement came into effect.

  2. As an authorized user on this card do I also have priority check in and free luggages if I travel without the primary card holder? I know I can access the Admiral, but I am not sure if these other benefits extend to the authorized user. Does anybody know?

  3. I keep considering this card, but the spend earning rates are just so sad. I wish it at least matched the United card (1.5 mpd) or at a minimum matched the other AA Citi card. I can’t justify lounge access for me and my wife @ $450 / year, esp when we already have priority pass thanks to CSR.

  4. I’d this post a freaking hike. Who the hell wants this in light of the shutdowns. Completely irresponsible troll post oblivious of the state of your readers

  5. @Gary

    That’s not strictly true. Plenty (hundreds?) of people with currently frozen AAdvantage accounts had a sign-up bonus from the Executive card. With current evidence showing that only 2 or 3 AAdvantage signup bonuses in a single year is enough to get your account frozen, perhaps you should be adding a disclaimer.

  6. One has to hope that only a tiny minority of Gary’s readers were engaged in the kind of fraud that led to those AAdvantage shutdowns.

    Personally, I appreciate AA miles as mileage currency for trips to and from Asia. That said, I think the value of this card decreased enormously when they restricted lounge access to same-day American ticket holders. I get the AA benefits that really save me money (eg, a free bag) from cards at a lower price point.

  7. Unless you have tons of spend (i.e., with a business), spending $40K on this card is throwing away a lot of points. Most of that $40K spend is likely to be in the 1X category (is anything 2X+ other than AA spending?). So getting 30-40,000 points on AA vs. getting 60K-120K using another card seems pretty pointless. You are probably paying $500-2000+ just to get the 10K miles for status.

    Only something a blogger or someone with a huge amount of spend would do, or someone more obsessed with status getting actual value.

  8. Are you a bit Nervous? Gary-This post has the appearance of a plea to AA not to shut your account down.
    BTW. great blog and thanks for the years of good reading Gary 🙂

  9. @LarryInNYC,

    Where’s the fraud in completing a credit card application with your full name, SSN, DOB, address, email, phone number, AAdvantage #, income, etc. and then meeting the minimum spending requirements to receive the promised signup bonus?

    Fraud implies illegal activity. Nobody was doing that. Nobody was hiding anything.

  10. @AHG: The fraud is in knowingly circumventing the 24 month restriction on receiving the same credit card bonus by generating offer codes using false information or purchasing such codes from others.

  11. @KL: AA has been shutting down AAdvantage accounts of users who were churning cards monthly by generating offer codes that by-passed the regular restrictions on how often you could receive the sign-up bonus. Accounts closed, points confiscated, and any award travel booked from that account canceled.

  12. @Red

    Color me extremely doubtful. I’m honestly not sure what it would take (given the nature of the internet and the fact that most of the people who got shut down are fraudsters to begin with) to convince me that that happened even once — at the very least, a believable AAdvantage account summary for the last two years without suspiciously high credit card bonuses.

    I guess it’s possible that in their zeal that American swept up a few people operating at the theoretical maximum number of card signups you could generate within the rules in two years but I’m going to guess they checked these out pretty carefully before taking the severe action they did. Despite the “we can do whatever we want to your account” language, I would expect a few genuinely innocent people to challenge this legally. Make sure to come back and comment when that happens.

  13. @Gary: I’m aware of the general process that was used (create an AA account similar to your own, receive a sign-up offer without the exclusion, then use that offer with your original AAdvantage number) but for some reason people get extremely upset when you mention it!

  14. I’m confused — you note that authorized users get lounge access when flying AA — isn’t it the case that anyone with the card has to be flying AA same day to get lounge access?
    Planning to cancel when my fee comes up again as it just isn’t worth it for me anymore with the new lounge restriction.

  15. Given the stories circulating on the internet this month, I think this would be a TERRIBLE time for most folks to get an AA Executive card. After all, I would assume, this is no one’s first AA Citi card! I would at least wait for the dust to settle and see what’s going on. Gary — do you actually disagree?

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