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Million Mile Secrets reader Mike comments:
I’m trying to figure out the best credit card for accruing miles for the American Airlines AAdvantage program. I travel quite a bit and charge about $15,000 to $20,000 per month. I charge just about everything I can to my current card (AMEX) and I pay my balance off in full each month. My credit is solid. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
There are a lot of ways to earn American Airlines miles through credit cards. Mike has some choices to make!
Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard
Link: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
By far the best way to earn a lot of American Airlines miles easily is through the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. You’ll get 100,000 miles after completing the minimum spending requirement. That’s enough for a round-trip Business Class ticket to Europe!
- 100,000 miles after spending $10,000 in the 1st 3 months
- 2 miles for every $1 you spend on American Airlines
- 1 mile for every $1 you spend on everything else
- $200 statement credit
- Access to American Airlines Admirals Club and US Airways Club lounges
- A free checked bag, priority check-in (where available), and priority boarding
- No foreign transaction fees
- Chip-and-signature technology (good for overseas travel)
- Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying miles after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
- Annual fee of $450, not waived for the 1st year
The $450 annual fee is quite expensive, but you’ll get $200 in statement credit. So this is really a $250 annual fee card ($450 annual fee – $200 statement credit). I’ll gladly pay $250 for 100,000 American Airlines miles and access to lounges!
Here’s my full review of the card. And remember, even though $10,000 in spending over 3 months sounds like a lot, there are lots of ways to meet minimum spending requirements!
But What About Regular Spending?
Mike says he charges between $15,000 and $20,000 per month. So he’ll meet the minimum spending on the Citi Executive AAdvantage card quickly, and get 100,000 American Airlines in his account.
Regular spending on the Citi Executive card earns 1 mile per $1 you spend, so $20,000 a month in spending would earn him 20,000 American Airlines miles. That said, some folks have been able to get more than 1 Citi Executive card.
Beyond getting the sign-up bonus (and the perks from this card), there’s another card that’s better for earning American Airlines miles for regular spending.
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (Personal)
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (Business)
Did you know the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express earns you more American Airlines miles from your regular spending?
That’s because for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer to American Airlines, you get a bonus of 5,000 extra miles. So you’re earning 1.25 American Airlines miles for every Starwood point you transfer!
Until June 30, 2014, the sign-up bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cards is increased to up to 30,000 points. And Starwood points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to American Airlines. This card gives you:
- 10,000 points after your 1st purchase
- 20,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the 1st 6 months
- 2 points per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels (includes Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meredien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels)
- 1 point per $1 you spend on everything else
- 2 stay or 5 night credit toward Starwood Elite Status
- $65 annual fee, waived for the 1st year
- Terms & Conditions apply
So if you signed-up for both the personal and business versions of the card, you’d have 60,000 Starwood points. If you transfer Starwood hotel points to American Airlines miles, you’ll get 75,000 American Airlines miles (60,000 miles + 15,000 mile transfer bonus).
That’s enough for 2 round-trip coach tickets to the Caribbean!
And if Mike spends $20,000 a month on this card, he’ll end up with 25,000 American Airlines miles (20,000 miles + 5,000 mile transfer bonus).
That’s a better deal for regular spending than the 20,000 miles he’d earn for the same amount of spending ($20,000) on the Citi Executive card.
Mike has a few ways to earn American Airlines miles from his regular spending through credit cards.
He’ll get a lot of miles quickly with the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard because of the large sign-up bonus. But he’ll only earn 1 mile per $1 he spends afterwards on his regular spending.
His better choice for regular spending is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card. The sign-up bonus is less, but he’ll effectively earn 1.25 American Airlines miles per $1 he spends because of the 5,000 mile transfer bonus for each 20,000 Starwood points he converts.
So for regular day-to-day spending, the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card is a better choice. But the sign-up bonus on the Citi American Airlines card is better.
Thanks for commenting, Mike!