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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is the top-tier credit card in the Citi® / AAdvantage® family. This card has been a great selection for American Airlines loyalists for years because of its premium travel perks and access to the coveted Admirals Club collection of airport lounges. 

However, Citi and American Airlines announced some major changes to this card. To simplify as much as possible, the new version of this card will have higher fees as well as better spending bonuses and more benefits. 

To get more specific, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard’s annual fee and authorized user fees have increased. However, the new version of this card will also offer better spending bonuses for travel and up to $360 more in statement credits. Plus, the sign-up bonus offer has been increased significantly.  

All in all, there are a lot of things to consider in terms of how the changes to the American Airlines premium credit card will affect existing cardholders and those interested in signing up for this card. So, to make things a bit easier on you, let’s break down all of the changes and how they might affect you. 

american airlines

The New Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® Explained

Of course, both Citi and American Airlines characterized the upcoming card changes as wholly positive. 

“We designed this refreshed card with elevated travel benefits to get cardmembers to their next getaway sooner along with new ways to reward cardmembers for day-to-day luxuries,” Pam Habner, CEO of U.S. branded cards and lending at Citi, said in a press release.  

However, there are definitely some negative aspects to these changes to be aware of. So, to make things a little easier, let’s take a look at all of these changes as either pros or cons. 

Pros:

  • 10X miles on rental cars booked through aa.com/cars and hotels booked through aa.com/hotels
    • No similar offer is currently available before July 23.
  • 4X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases for the first $150,000 in spending per calendar year, then 5X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases once you surpass $150,000 in spending per calendar year
    • This card currently offers 2X miles in this category.
  • 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after you reach 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year, then an additional 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after you reach 90,000 Loyalty Points
    • The current offer is 10,000 Loyalty Points after you spend $40,000 in a status qualification year.
  • New statement credits of up to $360
    • $120 towards Avis and Budget rental cars annually
    • $10 per month on Lyft
    • $10 per month on Grubhub 
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay protection, lost baggage protection and worldwide car rental insurance
    • The card currently doesn’t offer any of these benefits.
  • 100,000-mile sign-up bonus for spending $10,000 in the first three months after account opening
    • Current offer is 50,000 miles for spending $5,000 in the first three months. 

Cons:

  • Annual fee increasing from $450 to $595.
  • Annual authorized user fee will be $175 for the first three authorized users.
    • The current annual authorized user fee is $0 for the first three authorized users and then $175 for each authorized user after that.

As you can see, there are more items on the list of pros than the list of cons. However, the cons are still fairly significant. The annual fee will be increasing by $145, which could put a strain on existing cardholders’ wallets and could put this card out of reach for potential new cardholders. 

The fact that the authorized user fees are changing is also a big deal, especially because authorized users also get complimentary access to Admirals Club airport lounges and can also earn miles and Loyalty Points for the primary cardholder. 

So, before the changes take effect, you could have up to three authorized users for free and all three of them could enter Admirals Club lounges for free and also earn miles and Loyalty Points by spending on your card. Now, after the changes, the first three of those authorized users will cost you an additional $175 annually. 

On the other hand, these changes also come with the ability to earn a whole lot more miles and Loyalty Points. For one, the sign-up bonus will be bumped up to 100,000 miles, which is worth $1,000 if you value AAdvantage miles at 1 cent each (and most value them at slightly more). 

Additionally, with the spending bonus for eligible American Airlines purchases doubling from 2X to 4X and the new 10X spending bonus for renting cars and booking hotels through the American Airlines portals, you can earn way more miles and Loyalty Points on travel. 

The new version of the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard will also come with up to $360 in annual statement credits. So, if you’re willing to take full advantage of those credits, you can instantly offset the $145 increase in the annual fee twice-over with these statement credits alone. 

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®  Overview 

To help you decide if the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is a good addition to your wallet (or if you want to keep it in your wallet), we’ve included this easy-to-understand chart explaining what the new version of this card will look like. 

Please note that in addition to earning AAdvantage miles, this card also earns 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 mile earned through purchases. 

Annual fee$595
Authorized user fee$175 for the first three authorized users per year, $175 for each after that
Sign-up bonus100,000 miles if you spend $10,000 on your card within three months of account opening
Foreign transaction feeNone
Spending bonuses• 10X miles on cars and hotels booked through American Airlines booking portals
• 4X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases for the first $150,000 in spending per calendar year, then 5X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases once you surpass $150,000 in spending per calendar year 
• 1X miles on all other purchases
Other notable benefits• Admirals Club membership airport lounge access (for primary cardholder and any authorized users)10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year, then an additional
• 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year
• Up to $120 in statement credits toward on eligible Avis or Budget car rentals
• TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement of up to $100 every four years$10 per month in Grubhub statement credits (up to $120 per year)
• $10 per month in Lyft statement credits (up to $120 per year)
• First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to eight companions on the same reservation on American Airlines domestic flights
• 25% savings on eligible American Airlines in-flight food and beverage purchases when using the card
• Priority boarding, check-in and screening on American Airlines flights for the primary cardmember and up to eight companions on the same reservation
• Travel protections including trip cancellation and interruption, trip delay, lost baggage and car rental insurance worldwide 

As you can see, with the excellent benefits and spending bonuses, you can easily get enough value out of the Executive World Elite Mastercard to make up for its new annual fee of $595. However, if you don’t foresee yourself taking advantage of all of the perks and spending bonuses that come with this card, then you may want to look for a lower-cost option. 

It’s also worth noting that if you’re an existing AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard cardholder with authorized users on your account, you’ll be charged for them appropriately the next time your annual fee comes due. So, if you don’t think that your authorized users are getting more than $175 worth of benefit from being on your account, you’ll probably want to remove them. 

Are These Changes Good for Consumers?

While the news issued by Citi and American Airlines painted these changes as 100% positive, the fact that the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard’s annual fee and authorized user fees are increasing is definitely not good for consumers. So, the real question is whether or not the new benefits, higher spending bonuses and larger sign-up bonus make up for the increase in fees. 

If you’re an existing cardholder with three authorized users on your account, all of whom use your account to earn you miles and Loyalty Points and gain access to Admirals Club lounges, then these changes are probably bad for you. Those three authorized users, which are currently on your account for free, will now cost you $175.

These changes are also probably negative if you’re an existing cardholder who isn’t going to use the new statement credits. If you rarely make purchases from Avis, Budget, Grubhub or Lyft, then these statement credits won’t benefit you whatsoever. Plus, if you don’t foresee yourself booking hotels or rental cars through American Airlines portals, then the new 10X spending bonus won’t benefit you, either. 

With all that being said, the new changes to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® are going to be good for a lot of consumers. In particular, the new 100,000-mile sign-up bonus is going to be great for those who are signing up for this card for the first time. While you will have to spend $10,000 in three months to get this bonus, which is a high spending requirement, 100,000 miles is a huge sum worth at least $1,000. 

If you’re willing to take advantage of the new statement credits, then the changes are also good for you. In total, the $360 in new annual statement credits is more than double the increase in the annual fee, which is $145 (from $450 to $595). 

Not to mention, you’ll also be able to rack up even more miles and Loyalty Points with the new elevated spending bonuses for American Airlines purchases and the new Loyalty Points bonuses when you reach the 50,000-points and 90,000-points milestones. 

So, these changes are going to be good for new cardholders who can earn the sign-up bonus and will take full advantage of the new benefits and the higher spending bonuses. However, if you’re an existing cardholder (and therefore can’t earn the sign-up bonus) with authorized users on your account, then these upcoming changes might be bad news. 

Best Ways to Use 100,000 AAdvantage Miles

If you do choose to sign up for the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard after the changes take effect, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus of 100,000 AAdvantage miles. This bonus is worth a minimum of $1,000 when redeemed for flights through American Airlines. However, if you do a bit of searching, you may be able to get even more value out of those 100,000 miles. 

To help you on your search, here are two of the best ways to use 100,000 AAdvantage miles. 

Fly Round-Trip to Maldives on Qatar Airways

One of American Airlines’ most luxurious partners is Qatar Airways, which is known for providing an excellent onboard experience. For 80,000 miles, you could book a round-trip award flight in economy class to the island nation of Maldives, one of the best vacation destinations in the world. 

You’ll also need to pay $155.35 in taxes and fees, and this itinerary is rather long. However, the cash price of this same flight would be $4,219. 

So, if you were to book this award flight, you’d be getting a value of more than 5 cents per mile, which is excellent. 

Fly Round-Trip to Europe on American Airlines

American Airlines has some affordable award flights between the United States and Europe, particularly in the off-peak winter season. For instance, you could fly round-trip from Washington, D.C. to Barcelona in economy class for just 42,000 AAdvantage miles. That means that you could book two round-trip tickets for 84,000 miles, which you’ll have once you earn the 100,000-mile sign-up bonus from the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard from Citi. 

Taxes and fees for this award ticket would cost you $50.85, which isn’t bad, considering this flight would cost you $2,137 if you booked it with cash. 

That means that you’d be getting a value of more than 5 cents per mile with this redemption, which is exceptional. Plus, you can escape the cold winter months and soak up the sun in Barcelona.  

The Bottom Line

Depending on whether you’re an existing cardholder or you’re interested in signing up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, the upcoming changes may or may not be good news for you. 

The card’s annual fee is going to increase from $450 to $595, and you’ll no longer be allowed to have up to three authorized users on your account free of charge.

However, the upcoming changes also include up to $360 in annual statement credits, higher spending bonuses for booking travel through American Airlines, travel protection benefits and a new massive 100,000-mile sign-up (which can be earned by spending $10,000 in three months after account opening). With these benefits, you should easily be able to make up for the increased annual fee. We still don’t recommend adding authorized users to your account, though. 

In deciding whether to sign up for the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard for the first time or whether to keep it in your wallet, you should assess which benefits of the card you’ll take advantage of and then compare the value of those benefits to the fees you’ll be paying.

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