Best American Airlines Credit Cards

How to choose the best American Airlines credit cards

Unlike typical rewards cards, choosing the best credit card for American Airlines is going to be more about the perks than the purchase rewards. (Though the rewards can still be useful!) Here are a few questions to ask yourself to narrow down your choices.

Do you want to use the Admirals Club airport lounges?

The first thing to decide is how often – if ever – you use Admirals Club airport lounges. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard® is so expensive because it comes with complimentary Admirals Club membership. This gives you – and up to two guests – unlimited access to Admirals Club lounges when you’re flying with American or a partner airline.

One-day passes to Admirals Club lounges cost $ 59 each. At this rate, it would take eight visits a year to make up for a $ 450 annual fee. If you don’t travel with American (or another oneworld® airline) often enough to take advantage of the membership, you may want to consider one of the less expensive cards.

Related: Best Credit Cards With Airport Lounge Access

Do you check bags?

The main difference between the mid-tier American Airlines cards and the no annual fee option is the checked bag waivers. Essentially, you get a free checked bag on eligible domestic American Airlines itineraries. This also extends to up to four people on your same reservation.

At $ 30 per bag, one way, you could easily make up for an annual fee in a single family trip. If you never check bags, however, then this perk isn’t worth anything at all – let alone a $ 99 annual fee.

How much is the annual fee?

No matter what kind of rewards credit card you get, you need to consider the annual fee. As mentioned above, it may be easy enough to make up the annual fee with perks. But if you don’t fly enough to use those perks, then what are you paying for? You should also remember that you need to pay the annual fee out of pocket. If you can’t afford to pay the fee, it doesn’t matter how many perks you get.

What’s the sign-up bonus?

For some travelers, the sign-up bonus alone is enough reason to get a new credit card. A good bonus may even make up for an annual fee even if the card’s perks aren’t worth it. For example, if you can redeem the miles from your sign-up bonus for $ 500 in flights paid with points, then a $ 99 annual fee may be worth the investment.

Related: How to Travel for Free With Credit Card Points

Can you take advantage of the bonus categories?

If you’ve answered all of the previous questions and you’re still on the fence between two cards, take a look at the bonus categories. All AAdvantage cards earn bonus miles on eligible American Airlines purchases. But many also earn bonus miles in other categories. One card may offer better bonus rewards than the other, which can help you decide between two similar options.

What benefits do American Airlines credit cards offer?

The exact benefits you get from your American Airlines card will depend on which card you have. You’ll pay a premium for some of the best perks.

Earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles

One great thing about American Airlines cards is that you can earn AAdvantage miles on your everyday purchases. Many American Airlines cards even offer bonus miles for certain category purchases. This ranges from groceries to gas to telecom purchases, depending on the specific card. You can also earn a good chunk of miles as a sign-up bonus. These miles can then be used to book free flights.

Learn more: How Do Credit Card Miles Work?

Admirals Club membership

The premium Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard® comes with a complimentary Admirals Club membership. Lounges can turn a stressful airport visit into a pleasant wait. Not only do you get more space to spread out away from the crowds, but you’ll also get free food and alcoholic beverages

Free checked bags

Checked bag fees can get expensive, especially if you’re flying as a family. American Airlines charges $ 30 a pop, one way, on domestic flights. At that rate, a card with free checked bags can pay for itself in one family trip.

Loyalty Points

Loyalty Points are the currency used to get American Airlines elite status. Cardholders can earn one Loyalty Point per base dollar spent on their cards. This could mean you earn elite status without needing to fly a single mile.

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit

As with most of the best travel rewards cards these days, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard® offers a statement credit to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Learn more: TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry

If you travel internationally, then Global Entry can be a priceless benefit. It speeds up the immigration process. It also comes with TSA PreCheck for free.

Related: Best Credit Cards for International Travel

Preferred boarding

Although economy flights can often be great deals for your wallet, they often mean being the last to board. And when that happens, you risk not finding overhead space for your carry on. Several American Airlines credit cards offer preferred or even priority boarding. This lets you get on the plane earlier no matter which fare you book.

In-flight discounts

Unless you’re in a premium class, you’re going to pay a premium for food and drinks during your flight. An American Airlines credit card can help. All AAdvantage cardholders get 25% back on in-flight food and beverage purchases made with their card. The savings are posted as a statement credit on your card within 10 weeks of the transaction.

What are American Airlines miles worth?

In general, American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth between $ 0.01 and $ 0.015 per mile. However, the value you get for your American Airlines miles will depend entirely on how you redeem them. Some flights offer a better per-mile return than others.

Learn more: How to Redeem American Airline Miles

For example, if you redeem your miles for a costly business class trip to Europe, a good deal could net you $ 0.03 or more per mile. Whereas a budget, short-haul domestic flight may only net a value of $ 0.01 per mile.

To calculate your per-point value, divide the cash value of your ticket by the number of miles. So, if your flight is worth $ 1,000 and it costs 100,000 miles, you earned $ 1,000 / 100,000 = $ 0.01 per mile.

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