Best American Airlines AAdvantage Credit Cards: Comparing the Benefits and Perks

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Do you fly with American Airlines and want the benefits associated with an American Airlines-branded credit card? Or are you just looking for a card to help you accumulate American Airlines miles for an upcoming vacation? Perhaps you’re a small business owner and want to make sure all your expenses are earning miles.

You’ll certainly have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting an American Airlines-branded credit card that fits your travel and reward-earning priorities.

Citi issues 4 of these American Airlines-branded credit cards (which have a lot of perks and benefits), while Barclays issues the AAdvantage Aviator Cards. In addition, Barclays’ AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercards are issued in both personal and business options.

Let’s take a look at the features/benefits of each of these cards, how they can help you earn miles, and which cards can accelerate your path to American Airlines AAdvantage elite status.

Citi® / AAdvantage® World and World Elite™ Mastercards

Each Citi AAdvantage card comes with a generous sign-up bonus, the ability to earn American Airlines miles on every purchase, and an array of premium-level travel benefits.

The miles you earn on your Citi AAdvantage Credit Card or Barclays Aviator Credit Card could take you on a warm relaxing vacation to Aruba. Image by Christine Krzyszton.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

The sign-up bonus offers fluctuate, but your bonus miles will be awarded after you reach a spending threshold in the first 3 months after card approval. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent with American Airlines and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases when using the AAdvantage Platinum card.

Travel perks include:

  • Free checked bag on domestic itineraries for you and up to 4 traveling companions
  • Priority boarding on all flights operated by American Airlines.
  • 25% savings in the form of a statement credit when purchasing food/beverages on board during your journey.

Cardholders have access to reduced mileage award travel for up to 7,500 fewer miles.

With no foreign transaction fees, this card can be a good choice for American Airlines travelers.

This card has a $99 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

We’ve also written in-depth about other credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

For the frequent traveler who wants the benefit of travel perks and lounge access, the AAdvantage Executive card may be a great choice.

The sign-up bonus offers fluctuate, but this generous miles bonus will be awarded after you reach the designated spending threshold in the first 3 months after card approval. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Travel perks include:

  • A free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority check-in, boarding, and screening for the primary cardholder
  • Complimentary membership for up to 10 authorized users to the American Airlines Admiral’s Club
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every 5 years

The card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee, but the sign-up bonus and Admiral’s Club membership more than offset this expense. A new annual household membership to the American Airlines Admiral’s Club costs between $1,150 and $1,250 (depending on your American Airlines AAdvantage program status), so the membership alone is worth the annual fee.

You’ll find that there are no foreign transaction fees charged on this card, and it comes with World Elite Mastercard benefits.

Hot Tip: To accelerate your progress toward elite status, you’ll receive 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles once you have spent $40,000 on the card in a calendar year. You’ll also have access to discounted award ticket pricing and a 25% savings on inflight food/beverage purchases rebated to your statement

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

If you’re looking for a card that earns miles for your business expenses, the CitiBusiness Platinum Select card might be a good choice.

Of course, you’ll get started with a bank of miles from your sign-up bonus once you meet the initial spending threshold after card approval.

You’ll then continue to earn 2 miles per dollar on:

  • All American Airlines purchases
  • Business expenses (such as telecommunications merchants, car rental merchants, and at gas stations)

All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar spent.

Since additional employee cards are issued for no extra charge, you can be sure all your business expenses (even purchases made by your employees) are earning miles. You can also use the online tracking tools to keep tabs on your business expenses.

Earn a $99 domestic economy American Airlines Companion Certificate after making $30,000 or more in purchases on the card during each account anniversary year. When you purchase a qualifying domestic American Airlines economy ticket, you’ll receive a companion ticket for $99 plus government taxes and fees. Travel is valid on flights within the 48 contiguous United States.

Travel perks for this card include:

  • A free checked bag on domestic itineraries for you and up to 4 traveling companions
  • Preferred boarding on all flights operated by American Airlines
  • Onboard, cardholders receive a 25% savings rebated to their statement when purchasing food/beverages with the card
  • Access to reduced mileage award travel of up to 7,500 fewer miles

This card does not charge foreign transaction fees and comes with World Mastercard benefits. There is an annual fee of $99, which is waived for the first year. 

Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

You’ll earn plenty of American Airlines frequent flier miles on the AAdvantage Aviator Red card. That’s because you’ll be jump-starting your earnings with a generous sign-up bonus after making your first purchase within 90 days of card approval. You’ll continue earning with 2 miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

You can effectively buy miles at 2 cents each with the Flight Cents program that rounds up your card purchases to the next dollar, subject to $500 per billing cycle cap (cardholders not wishing to participate should set their Flight Cents limit to $).

When redeeming AA miles for a ticket, you’ll also have access to discounted round-trip or one-way travel (up to 7,500 miles less) when redeeming miles for MileSAAver award tickets on certain routes.

Further, if you spend $20,000 on the card during the year between your card anniversaries, you will receive a $99 companion ticket.

While traveling, you and up to 4 companions receive a free checked bag for domestic itineraries and preferred boarding when traveling together on any American Airlines-operated flights. You’ll also receive a 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases. Plus, a $25 per year statement credits for American Airlines in-flight wifi purchases

The card does not charge foreign transaction fees and comes with World Elite™ Mastercard benefits.

This card has an annual fee of $99.

The Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®

You cannot apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card directly; you must have the AAdvantage Aviator Red card first and then subsequently upgrade. The fee for this card is $199, but it does offer more benefits than the Red Aviator card.

The Silver Aviator card has greater earning capacity with:

  • 3 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines
  • 2 miles per dollar on hotels and rental car purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases

You’ll receive all of the same benefits on the Silver Aviator card as you did on the Red Aviator card, plus several additional benefits:

  • Free checked bag and preferred boarding benefits are expanded to include up to 8 traveling companions.
  • The $99 companion ticket benefit, earned after spending $20,000 on the card annually, is expanded to include 2 traveling companions.
  • $50 per year statement credits for American Airlines in-flight wifi purchases
  • $25 per day statement credits for American Airlines in-flight food and beverage purchases
  • The card comes with a $100 Global Entry application fee credit that resets every 5 years.

One of the benefits of having the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card is the ability to earn more EQD (Elite Qualifying Dollar) credits and EQM (Elite Qualifying Miles) toward AAdvantage elite status. Having the card and spending $50,000 in a calendar year allows you to earn a total of $3,000 in EQDs. Spending $20,000 earns you 5,000 EQM, an an additional 5,000 EQM for spending a total of $40,000. The EQD maximum applies regardless of how many Aviator cards you have.

The card does not charge foreign transaction fees and comes with World Elite Mastercard benefits.

The Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®

Need a credit card that will earn you rewards on your small business purchases? The AAdvantage Aviator  Business card does that and more.

Sign-up bonuses fluctuate, but you’ll receive your bonus AAdvantage miles after meeting the required spending threshold. You’ll continue earning 2 miles per dollar spent on:

  • Purchases with American Airlines
  • Purchases with eligible office supply merchants
  • Telecommunications expenses
  • Purchases with car rental agencies

All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar spent.

When traveling, you’ll receive:

  • First checked bag free for you and up to 4 companions
  • Preferred boarding
  • 25% inflight savings on food/beverages
  • No foreign transaction fees

Once you spend $30,000 on the card between card anniversaries, you’ll receive a $99 companion airfare certificate.

This card also offers free employee cards and zero fraud liability. Additionally, on your card account anniversary, you’ll receive a 5% mileage bonus applied to your account based on mileage earned from your spending.

After spending $25,000 on purchases in a calendar year, you’ll receive $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars toward American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status.

The card comes with World Mastercard benefits and has a $95 annual fee.

A Faster Path to American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status

If accelerating your journey toward American Airlines elite status is a priority, the AAdvantage Aviator cards and the AAdvantage Executive card are good choices to help you do that.

Each level of American Airlines elite status qualification requires an EQD (Elite Qualifying Dollars) level of spending with the airline in addition to Elite Qualifying Miles/Segment qualifications (EQM/EQS). If you spend $50,000 on your Aviator® Silver card, you’ll receive credit for $3,000 toward the EQD requirement.

Additionally, if you have the AAdvantage Executive card, you receive 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 in a calendar year on the card.

American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status Requirements

American Airlines has also reduced qualification thresholds for 2021 by 20% to 33% from the pre-pandemic requirements.

2021            Qualifying MetricGold
Oneworld Ruby
Oneworld Sapphire
Platinum Pro
Oneworld Sapphire
Executive Platinum
Oneworld Emerald

You can find more information about the American Airlines AAdvantage loyalty system here. 

Where Can Your American Airlines Miles Take You?

Merida Mexico
Visit Mexico from the continental U.S. for as little as 25,000 miles round-trip. Image by Christine Kryzszton.

By planning ahead, the miles you earn with your Citi and Barclays AAdvantage cards can take you just about anywhere in the world.

Destination (One-way from the U.S.)Main Cabin (MileSAAver)Business (MileSAAver)
48 contiguous U.S. states12,50025,000
Canada & Alaska15,00030,000

Not pictured on this abbreviated award chart are off-peak travel awards, which can save you plenty of miles. A round-trip economy class ticket to Europe, for example, can be secured for 45,000 miles during off-peak travel times. A complete list of off-peak discounted award pricing can be found on this American Airlines AAdvantage award chart.

Head off for a weekend in Mexico or the Caribbean in coach class for as little as 25,000 miles round-trip for an off-peak award ticket, or 50,000 miles round-trip in business class for a MileSAAver award ticket.

In addition to booking flights on American Airlines, you can now book flights on 8 of the many Oneworld Alliance partner airlines directly on using your American Airlines frequent flier miles. Access the complete list of partner airlines with which can you can book award tickets here.

Hot Tip: Read our posts on how you can redeem your AA miles for max value or the best ways to redeem 100,000 AAdvantage Miles for lots of ideas!

Final Thoughts

Wondering which American Airlines-branded credit card is right for you? If you travel frequently on American Airlines and value travel perks and lounge access, the AAdvantage Executive card is an obvious choice.

If earning Elite Qualifying Dollars toward AAdvantage elite status is important to you, one of the Barclay Aviator cards might serve your priorities well.

And if you’re a small business owner who travels on American Airlines, either the Citi or Barclays business credit cards will ensure all of your expenses are earning miles while providing additional travel perks. 

The information for the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, and Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by Upgraded Points. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Frequently asked questions

Can I transfer American Airlines frequent flier miles to other airlines?

Unfortunately, American Airline miles cannot be transferred to other airlines. However, you can use them to book flights on other Oneworld Alliance member airlines, of which 8 can now be booked online at A complete list of partner airlines can be found here.

Can I earn $3,000 EQDs on several Aviator cards and combine them toward elite status qualification?

No. The maximum EQD you can earn, in a calendar year, is $3,000 across all Aviator credit cards.

Can I have more than one American Airlines-branded credit card?

Yes, you can hold more than one American Airlines-branded credit card.

Is the American Airlines credit card worth it?

If you currently fly or plan to fly on American Airlines and value the associated travel perks, having one of the branded cards can certainly be worth it. The sign-up bonus, travel benefits, and ability to earn frequent flier miles can more than offset the annual fee.

Which American Airlines credit card is the best?

The best American Airlines credit card for you depends on your spending habits, the level of travel perks you desire, and whether you’re looking for a business or personal credit card. Reviewing the features, benefits, and annual fee of each card will allow you to quickly match up the right card with your priorities.

How does the American Airlines credit card work?

You’ll earn American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier miles for each purchase you make on the credit card. These miles are deposited monthly to your AAdvantage frequent flier account, and at that point the miles are available for your use.

Do American Airlines credit card miles count toward elite status?

The frequent flier miles earned as a result of purchases made on American Airlines credit cards are bonus/redeemable miles and do not count toward attaining elite status. However, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard and the Barclays Silver Aviator MasterCard each offer the ability to earn a limited amount of elite status miles when specific spending thresholds are met.

Can I pay my American Airlines credit card online? How do I do that?

Once you receive your American Airlines credit card, you can set up an online account and track your purchases, manage your account, and make payments on your credit card. Adding your bank account information to the online credit card account allows you to easily make a payment online at any time.

When do AAdvantage credit card miles post?

Each month after your credit card statement closes, the miles you have earned for purchases on your American Airlines credit card during that statement period will be deposited into your AAdvantage frequent flier account. Once they are in your frequent flier account, the miles are available to use.

How do I cancel my American Airlines credit card?

If you need to cancel your American Airlines credit card, you can simply call the phone number on the back of the credit card. You can also sign in to your online credit card account and cancel via a secure message. Both of these methods ensure you are contacting the correct financial institution that issued your card, since cards are issued by both Citi and Barclays.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. Barry Allen June 18, 2018

    I am really disappointed that the MBNA AAdvantage credit card is to disassociate itself from AAdvantage. This was a widely accepted/recognised credit card which supported collecting air miles in the United Kingdom.
    I am not aware of an alternative UK card which supports AAdvantage air miles so am unsure how to continue using/collecting Americam air miles.
    Perhaps someone could advise me if there is an alternative UK credit card which does.

    Many thanks in advance
    Barry Allen


    • Unfortunately, I am not aware of an alternative UK card that earns AAdvantage miles. You may want to consider a credit card that earns Avios which can be redeemed on American Airlines if that is your intent. Thank you for the question.


  2. Jan Dalina March 9, 2019

    According to recent communication from Barclays, the $100 flight discount benefit is also being discontinued as of May 1, 2019 but a companion certificate for $99 is being offered after a $30k spend. Also, the annual fee jumps from $79 to $99 (not $95). Thanks for the good info. I will likely cancel my Red Aviator card and replace it with a Citi Mastercard.


    • Hi Jan and thanks for the heads up on those changes. The $100 flight discount wasn’t much of a reward for spending 30K but perhaps the new $99 companion fare is a slight step up. We’ll be updating the post with the information as it’s implemented. Thanks for reading and taking the time to share that information.


  3. To confirm, if I wanted to open the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and currently have a Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard, I could earn the opening bonuses for both? I am debating the Aviator Red because I am worried I will get duped out of the bonus somehow.


  4. I think the terms are different now for the Aviator Silver so you might want to update the post. It’s 5000 EQMs for $20k and another 5000 EQMs for the next $20k as of Oct. 2019


    • Hi Lillian. As mentioned in the article, you do earn $3,000 EQDs when spending $50,000 on the Aviator Silver. We were focusing on EQDs but you are correct, you do earn EQMs now too. We will update the article. Thank you for taking the time to add that information.


  5. Adria Kubica November 12, 2019

    American Airlines changed their Executive Platinum EQD requirements to $15,000 earlier this year.


  6. Kurt Jackson December 16, 2019


    In your article on page 14/18, you mention in the FAQs that “Unfortunately you can not exceed $6000 EQDs earned from all of your Barclaycard Aviator cards”. Barclays is telling me that limit is $3000 EQDs for all cards. You mention that you can earn $3000 EQDs on the Silver Aviator card (which I have and hit the 50K spending to get the $3000 EQDs) and earlier in the year I hit the spending and did received the $3000 EQDs from the business card spending. I hit the 50K spending threshold on 10/14 and we are 8 weeks after so I should see the EQDs and I called AA and Barclays and they say I only can get $3000 across all cards, but my understanding was the way you have listed it that you should be able to get $3000 EQDs on the personal silver card and $ 3000 EQDs on the business card. I have searched online and this seems to be a grey area, do you have anything in writing regarding this I can use to educate the employees of AA/Barclays assuming we are right and not them?


    • Hi Kurt, sorry for the confusion. The change was done in stages. In 2020 the limit across all cards will be $3,000. In 2019, it could be $3,000 or $6,000 depending on when you converted your Silver Aviator. Here is the corresponding verbiage for the Silver Aviator for 2019 “For the 2019 calendar year, cardmembers that upgraded January 1, 2018 through October 31, 2018 can earn up to $6,000 EQDs when spending $50,000 on purchases. Card members will earn $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000, and another $3,000 EQDs after spending $50,000. The primary cardmember may earn the maximum $3,000 EQDs once per calendar year, unless the cardmember has already earned the maximum number of EQDs through other Card Accounts and AAdvantage® co-branded credit cards.” For the Aviator Business card for 2019: “The primary cardmember may earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (“EQDs”) after spending $25,000 in Net Purchases that post to the AAdvantage® Aviator® Business account from January 1st through December 31st this calendar year.” We will update to reflect the 2020 requirements.


  7. Gary L Manka December 17, 2019

    Does the baggage fee waiver on “domestic” flights include flights to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands?


  8. What card is best for traveling to Europe with regards to baggage fees being waived and priority boarding?


    • Hi Christine. You would receive priority boarding with the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® on American Airlines flights. The credit card baggage waiver is good only on domestic flights which include Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, United States, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, according to the American Airlines baggage policy, you will receive a free checked bag when flying to Europe on American Airlines. Here’s our article for more information on AA baggage policies.


  9. Hi Christine. Do you know if you can ‘double up’ on EQM bonuses by having both the Citi Executive card (10,000 EQMs with $40k spend) and the Barclays Silver card (5,000 EQMs at $20k spend and another 5,000 miles at $40k spend), making a total of 20,000 EQM bonus between the two?


    • Hi Patrick. It appears not. Unfortunately the terms and conditions for the Silver Aviator card state that “The primary cardmember may earn the maximum 10,000 EQMs once per calendar year, unless the cardmember has already earned the maximum number of EQMs through other Card Accounts and AAdvantage® co-branded credit cards.”


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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