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Best American Airlines credit cards

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Best American Airlines credit cards

Meghan HunterBest American Airlines credit cardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Citi is an MMS advertising partner.

If you want to earn American Airlines miles quickly, open a cobranded airline credit card. Very few of the top travel credit cards and the best rewards credit cards earn miles that transfer to American Airlines, but there are plenty of American Airlines cards issued by Citi and Barclays. American Airlines miles are useful even if you don’t fly American Airlines because you can use the miles to book flights on partner airlines like Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and British Airways.

The best American Airlines credit cards of 2020

Information for the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator and AAdvantage Aviator Red has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets and has not been reviewed by the card issuer.

Comparing American Airlines credit cards

Card nameBonusAnnual fee
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®Earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 on the card in the first three months from account opening.$99, waived for the first 12 months
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®65,000 American Airlines miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first four months of account opening.$99, waived the first 12 months
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ CardEarn 10,000 miles and get a $50 statment credit after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening.$0
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months from account opening.$450
Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®Earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Earn 10,000 miles after adding an employee card to the account (within 30 days) and making a purchase on an employee card within the first 90 days. $95
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®Earn 60,000 miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee.$99
There are many American Airlines credit cards to choose from. (Photo by ajuangon/Shutterstock)

Best American Airlines credit cards

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: Best for earning miles from everyday spending

Bonus

You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months from account opening.

Benefits and perks

This card earns 2x miles at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar. You’ll also receive priority boarding (Group 5), the first checked bag free for you and up to four companions, and a 25% statement credit for inflight food and beverage purchases.

On top of that, you earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount for any cardmember year if you spend $20,000+ on your card and renew it.

Annual fee

$99, waived the first 12 months.

Our take

Although the Citi American Airlines credit card is the best of the American Airlines credit cards for most spending categories, that doesn’t mean it’s best to put most of your spending on the card. You can get much better earning rates on flights by using other top rewards credit cards or some of the best travel credit cards. And there are plenty of better credit cards for restaurant spending.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®: Best for businesses

Bonus

You’ll earn a bonus of 65,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of opening the card.

Benefits and perks

This card earns 2x American Airlines miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations. You’ll earn 1x on all other purchases.

The card also gives you perks on American Airlines flights, including the first checked bag free for you and up to four companions, priority boarding (Group 5), and no foreign transaction fees. You will also earn 25% back on eligible inflight purchases, including Wi-Fi. If you spend $30,000 or more on the card every cardmember year and renew your account (account must remain open at least 45 days after account anniversary), you’ll earn a $99 domestic economy companion certificate, which allows you to bring a guest on an eligible American Airlines flight for only $99 plus taxes.

Annual fee

$99, waived the first 12 months.

Our take

The CitiBusiness AAdvantage card is an excellent business credit card with an easy-to-earn introductory bonus. You’ve got four months to meet the minimum spending requirement for the bonus, which averages $1,000 a month in spending – not bad at all. With the annual fee waived for the first year, there’s nothing to lose by applying if you qualify for business credit cards. This card gets you savings on certain award flights because you will have access to AA Reduced Mileage Awards. This business card also won’t add to your Chase 5/24 count.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Best for no annual fee

Bonus

Earn 10,000 American Airlines miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Benefits and perks

Every dollar you spend with the card at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases will earn 2x miles, and 1x on all other spending. Inflight food and beverage purchases will receive a 25% statement credit.

Annual fee

$0

Our take

The Citi American Airlines MileUp card is the only no-annual-fee credit card on the list. Even though it’s light on benefits it helps keep your American Airlines miles from expiring. I’ve had this card for years and don’t plan to get rid of it. Keeping cards open long term increases the age of your accounts, which helps maintain a healthy credit score.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®: Best for airport lounges access

Bonus

Earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Benefits and perks

The best benefit of this card is membership in the American Airlines Admirals Club airport lounge (must have same-day boarding pass for eligible American Airlines or partner flight for club entry). You can even add up to 10 authorized users to the card (at no charge) and they’ll also get Admirals Club lounge access (although they won’t have access to partner lounges). An Admirals Club membership can cost up to $650, so opening this card is much cheaper because the annual fee is only $450 and includes the membership.

The card also makes your airport experience more pleasant with priority check-in, security (where available) and boarding. You’ll get a statement credit for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every five years (worth up to $100). The first checked bag is free for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation.

This is also the only American Airlines card that helps you earn American Airlines status. Every calendar year in which you spend $40,000+ on the card, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).

This card earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x miles on everything else.

Annual fee

$450

Our take

If you frequently travel with American Airlines, the Citi AAdvantage Executive card is a great option for getting access to airport lounges because the card comes with an Admirals Club membership that gets you and up to two guests unlimited access. Keep in mind that American Airlines has changed its lounge access rules. You can only visit an Admirals Club lounge if you have a same-day boarding pass for American Airlines or one of its partner airlines.

The card’s basic benefits are better than what you’ll get with other cards. For example, you get a free checked bag for you and up to eight travel companions (compared to four with other cards) and you get Group 4 boarding (compared to Group 5 boarding with other cards). This is the only American Airlines card (currently open to applications) that earns bonus EQMs.

Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®: Best for the largest welcome bonus

Bonus

Earn up to 75,000 bonus miles. You’ll earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and you can earn an additional 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card within the first 90 days. The employee card must be added within the first 30 days from account opening.

Benefits and perks

This card comes with all of the standard American Airlines card benefits. You’ll get priority boarding (Group 5) and the first checked bag free for you and up to four travel companions. Any eligible inflight purchases (food and beverage) will get a 25% discount in the form of a statement credit.

If you’ve got a lot of business expenses you can also unlock other perks. Every calendar year when you spend $25,000 or more on the card, you’ll get $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) toward earning American Airlines elite status. During any cardmember year in which you spend $30,000 or more on the card, you’ll earn an American Airlines economy companion fare (bring along a guest for $99 plus taxes).

This card earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and on eligible spending at office supply, telecom and car rental merchants. You’ll earn 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. You’ll also earn bonus miles every year you renew your card. The amount of bonus miles is 5% of the total miles you earned from purchases in the previous year.

Annual fee

$95

Our take

If you can add an authorized user, this card has the biggest introductory offer of any of the American Airlines cards and it has a small minimum spending requirement. The biggest drawback is that it’s a Barclays card. If you’ve opened lots of other credit cards, it can be hard to get approved for a Barclays card. Check out our Barclays application approval tips before you apply.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Best for low minimum spending requirement

Bonus

Earn 60,000 bonus miles and a companion fare after making one purchase and paying the card’s $99 annual fee within the first 90 days from opening the account. The companion fare is valid for a single use on American Airlines in economy and costs $99 plus taxes.

Benefits and perks

Every year you’ll get a $25 credit for inflight Wi-Fi. This is the only American Airlines card that comes with this credit, although the CitiBusiness American Airlines card gets you 25% off inflight Wi-Fi.

All benefits are nearly identical to what you’ll find on other American Airlines cards. You’ll get 25% back on eligible inflight purchases, priority boarding (Group 5) and the first checked bag free for you and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation.

Annual fee

$99

Our take

You can’t beat a welcome offer that only requires a single purchase. Even though the annual fee isn’t waived the first year, this is still an great deal. This card is issued by Barclays, so it can be harder to get approval.

How we chose the best American Airlines credit cards

With six American Airlines cards, all offering slightly different benefits, it can be hard to figure out which card is the right one for you. The best card depends on your travel and spending habits. That’s why we’re here to help. We reviewed every perk from the American Airlines cards to see which one is best for several popular categories.

Keep in mind, this list will change as the welcome offers fluctuate on the cards listed. Another thing to consider is if you’re applying for Chase credit cards. If so, then either of the business cards listed are excellent options because they won’t add to your Chase 5/24 count.

We always recommend paying off your cards in full and on time each month. It is good to keep an eye on your credit score through a free online tool because you’ll get an idea of the likelihood of getting approved for a card. Remember that banks have the final say in all approval decisions and they consider many factors other than just credit score.

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CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

  • Designed for businesses
  • Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries to reduce travel costs and boost your bottom line.
  • 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi when you use your card
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations.
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Both the Barclay personal and business cards have $95 annual fee for first year. Anyway one can apply, get welcome bonus and downgrade to no annual fee card and get refund of the annual fee? If yes to which products for Personal and Business versions to convert to?

Also any worry of them clawing bonus back, one has to be careful about?

Am I misreading something…the Executive World Elite Mastercard is discussed twice above as the best card for both Priority Boarding and Airport lounges? But I don’t see the Barclay’s Aviator Red World Elite card discussed in the article itself?

I’d have to respectfully disagree with the Citi Platinum Select for everyday spend. I have the Barclay Aviator SILVER Card and with its 3X miles for AA purchases, up to 6,000 EQD’s and 10,000 EQM’s after meeting the limits PLUS, the 2 $99 companion certificates after meeting the spend requirements, 2X miles on hotels and rental cars, and $100 Global Entry reimbursement, it blows the Citi Platinum Select out of the water. There’s no comparison in my opinion. If you fly AA regularly and are going for status, there’s no better card if you don’t want to spend $450 for the AF.

Where is the Barclay Aviator silver card? I do not see any such product that provides such benefits you have described above including $100 Global Entry Reimbursement…..Kindly specify and provide link for the card………….Thanks in advance