American Airlines Credit Cards
$95-99, Citibank cards waive first year
Aviator Personal: 60,000 miles on initial purchase.
Aviator Business: 65,000 miles with $1,000 initial spend, plus an additional 10,000 miles with first purchase on an employee card. Offer Link.
Citibank Personal: 60,000 miles ($3,000 initial spend). Offer Link.Citibank Business: 75,000 miles ($5,000 initial spend in first 5 months) via offer link.
Aviator cards: 40,000 AA miles, on initial purchase.
Citibank Personal: 30,000 AA miles, with $1,000 initial spend.
Citibank Business: 50,000 AA miles, with $3,000 initial spend.Signup Bonus Chart
2x American Airline Purchases (3x with Aviator Silver)
2x Additional categories with some cards
1x Everywhere Else
No Foreign Transaction Fee
If you frequently travel on American Airlines, you should get ine of the American Airlines cards to take advantage of free checked bags and other American Airlines benefits. These cards are also interesting just for their often valuable signup bonuses. Just don't use them for your everyday spending.
American Airlines Credit Card Options
The "standard" American Airlines card is available from both Citibank and Barclays in both a personal and business version.
Each has an annual fee of $95-99. If you are planning to keep one of these cards for the long term, the Barclays Red has slightly better features. But you might want to rotate through different versions to maximize the number of signup bonuses you receive.
Aviator Red. If you spend $20,000 in a year, you'll receive a $99 companion certificate (rather than the Citibank card's $125 fight discount). The $95 fee isn't waived the first year, but the normal signup bonus is often better than the Citibank version's. Barclays Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Aviator Business. If you spend $30,000 in a year, you'll receive a $99 compaion certificate, good for up to 2 companions. It also comes with an annual $25 WiFi credit. Barclays Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
In addition, there are three other American Airlines cards.
Aviator Silver. You can't apply for this card directly. Instead, you apply for the regular Aviator card and then upgrade to the Silver card. The additional benefits are covered in more detail below. $195 annual fee. AA Webpage.
Citibank Executive Card. Includes some valuable additional benefits, such as an Admiral Club Membership. The additional benefits are fully covered in its own guide American Airlines Executive Card. $450 annual fee.
Collecting American Airlines Signup Bonuses
- It is worth signing up for these cards, just to collect the signup bonuses. Typical signup bonuses are around 30-50,000 American Airline miles.
- You can take advantage of signup bonuses from multiple different American Airlines cards. You can earn the bonus from each Citibank card and the Barclays card. And if you have any type of small business, you can collect bonuses from both the Citibank and Barclay business cards as well. Unlock Extra Reward Points with Business Credit Cards
- You can only receive the signup bonus for each Citibank card once every 48 months. Each card has its own separate "clock". Some targeted offers bypass this rule.
- Barclays doesn't have a specific signup bonus limit, but it is hard to get more than one or two cards per year. This limits your ability to cancel and apply for the Aviator card over and over again. If you are collecting signup bonuses, it is sometimes hard to get approved for new Barclays cards.
- If you are interested in the standard benefits and want to optimize your rewards, you can rotate through the various cards. Rather than getting the cards all at once, spread them out over time. Make sure to apply for the new card before it is time to cancel the previous one. Assuming you are eligible for business cards and can continue to get approved for the Barclays card, you should be able to get a new bonus every year to offset the cost of holding onto one of the cards.
Remember to only cancel an existing Citibank card right after getting approved for a new one. If you need to get rid of it at another time, downgrade to the no-annual-fee version so that you don't reset the 48 month clock.
Big Spend Bonus (Companion Certificates)
The main difference between the different versions of the card is the extra benefit you get for using the card for a lot of spending.
- The Citibank personal card gives you a very flexible $125 flight discount certificate if you spent at least $20,000.
- The Barclays personal card give you a potentially more valuable $99+tax companion certificate with the same $20,000 spending requirement. This certificate can only be used on domestic economy flights, but is otherwise pretty flexible (and likely to be worth more than the Citibank's card $125 discount. Get 2 for 1 Airplane Tickets with Credit Card Companion Certificates.
- The business cards from both Citibank and Barclays also give you a $99+tax companion certificate, but require $30,000 of spending (instead of $20,000).
- The premium Barclays Silver Card gives you a $99 companion certificate with $20,000 of spending (like the Barclays Red card). But the Silver Card's certificate can be used for up to two companions, rather than for one.
All of the certificates expire one year after you earn them. Keep in mind that you only receive these benefits weeks after you pay the annual fee to renew the card.
Other Notable Benefits
The personal and business versions of the AAdvantage Platinum and Aviator Red card have the following benefits.
- Free checked bags. The first checked bag is free for the primary cardholder and up to four companion. Get Free Checked Bags with Airline Credit Cards.
- Priority boarding.
- Access to reduced mileage awards. Cardholders can book a rotating set of awards for 7,500 fewer miles than normal. This is in addition to any rebate you'll receive. Current set of reduced mileage awards.
- 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases.
- $25 inflight Wi-Fi credit, every anniversary year. (Aviator Red card only).
- $3,000 elite qualifying dollars if you spend $25,000 on the card during a calendar year (Aviator Business card only).
- Elite car rental status. As with all World Elite MasterCards, you get free National Emerald Club Executive and Sixt Platinum status. Instant Car Rental Elite Status.
- Access to Mastercard's luxury hotel program. Another benefit of high-end MasterCards is access to MasterCard's luxury hotel program. When you use the program to book one of the participating hotels, you'll get a number of valuable benefits, like free breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and late checkout.Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks.
- Free ShopRunner membership. Like all World Elite MasterCards, your card entitles you to a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day and return shipping from around 150 of the largest online retailers. ShopRunner.
- DoorDash and Hello Fresh discounts. Cardmembers who have a DoorDash membership get $5 off their first two orders each month when paid for by their Mastercard. If you don't have a free membership from Chase, you can get your first three months membership for free through Mastercard. You also get a 5% credit back on each HelloFresh purchase.
- Some additional discounts. If you pay for at least 5 Lyft rides each calendar month with your Mastercard, you'll receive a $10 Lyft credit good for the following month (once you enroll in the Lyft app). You also receive double Fandango points, a 5% reward rebate at Boxed, and $5 off every Postmates order of $25 or more.
- Primary Rental Car Insurance (Business Platinum Card only). The Business Platinum card comes with primary rental car insurance. Unlike the secondary insurance that comes with most other credit cards, if you get in an accident, you won't need to involve your personal auto insurance company. The personal version of the Premier card doesn't come with this benefit. Credit Cards That Provide “Primary” Rental Car Coverage.
- Flight Cents. (Barclays cards only). You have the option of rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and using the extra money to purchase American Airlines miles at 2 cents each. In their example, if you bought a cup of coffee for $3.10, your purchase would be rounded up to $4.00, you would receive an additional 45 miles plus the normal 3 miles from the original purchase. We wouldn't buy AA miles at this price, but some people may want to.
The MileUp version of the card doesn't provide the key benefits that make getting one of the other cards worthwhile. However, it does come with the Elite Mastercard benefits (rental car elite status and luxury hotel access), a smaller discount on reduced mileage awards, and the 25% inflight food and beverage credit.
|Benefit||Platinum||Platinum Business||Aviator||Aviator Business||MileUp|
|Free checked bag (total passengers)||5||5||5||5|
|Reduced mileage award discount||7,500||7,500||7,500||7,500||5,000|
|Inflight purchase discount||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|$25 annual Wi-Fi credit||yes|
|Elite car rental status||yes||yes|
|Luxury hotel program||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|$99 companion certificate||$30K spend||$30K spend|
|$100 flight discount||$20K spend|
|$3,000 elite qualifying dollars||$25K spend|
Additional Benefits of the Aviator Silver
Once you've had your Aviator Red card for 90 days, you can call and upgrade it to the Aviator Silver card. Your annual fee will increase to $195, but you'll get a number of additional benefits. Aviator Silver webpage.
- Earn up to 10,000 qualifying miles per year. You'll receive 5,000 qualifying miles for every $25,000 you spend, up to a maximum of 10,000 miles. You can combine these with qualifying miles from the premium AAdvantage Executive card to earn up to 20,000 miles per year (by spending a total of $90,000).
- Earn additional qualifying dollars. If you spend $50,000 with the card, you'll earn $3,000 qualifying dollars.
- The $99 companion certificate is good for 2 people.
- $25 inflight food and beverage credit EVERY day you fly. Based on an Eastern Standard Time calendar day. Only on American (and their regional affiliate) operated flights. This can add up if you fly American a lot. Plus your annual Wi-Fi credit is $50, rather than $25.
- Earn 3x AA miles on AA purchases. This makes the card a much more competitive option for your American Airline purchases compared to cards that generally earn good rewards on general airfare purchases. If you are a big American Airlines fan, this can be a reason to get this card.
- The free baggage benefits applies to nine, instead of five passengers.
- $100 TSA fee credit. Every five years, you can receive an automatic reimbursement of your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100).
- You are better off making your American Airlines purchases with a card that earns a high reward rate on all your airfare spending, rather than with one of the American Airlines cards (other than the Aviator Silver). 2x American Airlines are not as good as what you'd earn from a card that earns high bonus rewards on airfare purchases. The 3x rewards you can earn from the Aviator Silver card (if you have it), is more compelling and better than what you can earn from most other cards, but still not as good as the best travel rewards cards.Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- Most American Airlines cards offer 2x miles on some additional categories. These are probably more than what you can earn from your general-purpose card. But other cards earn more valuable rewards.
- The Citibank personal card offers 2x miles on restaurants. Best Credit Cards for Restaurant Spending.
- Both Citibank personal cards offer 2x miles on gas. Best Credit Cards for Gas Spending.
- Both business cards offer 2x miles on telecommunication providers and car rentals and the Barclays business card offers 2x miles at office supply stores. This might be useful if you don't have any cards that offer more valuable rewards on this common "business categories. Credit Cards that Offer Bonus Rewards on Less Common Categories.
- The Aviator Silver offers 2x miles on hotels and car rentals. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- You don't want to use these cards for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
Getting Rid of the Card
- You can cancel without worrying about losing your American Airlines miles. Once you earn them, they are treated like any other miles in your American Airlines account. As long as you hold your card for 45 days after the anniversary date, any unused companion certificates should be safe as well.
- You can wait to cancel your card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of the statement closing date, both Citibank and Barclays will refund the fee. After 30 days, Citibank will give you a pro-rated refund when you downgrade to a lower-priced card.
- Cancelling your Citibank AA card resets the clock for earning another Citibank Aadvantage signup bonus. You aren't eligible if you've opened or closed account within the last 48 months. Product changing, rather than cancelling, shouldn't reset the clock. But sometimes it does and there is really no rhyme or reason to it. You should theoretically be able to product change to any other Citibank personal credit card, such as the no-annual-fee MileUp or Rewards+ Card.
- You can product change between the personal versions of the Aviator Card and you can product change between any personal Citibank cards. There is a "secret" no-annual-fee Aviator card and a not-so-secret no-annual-fee Citibank card, so both types of personal cards can be temporarily converted to no-annual-fee versions.
- You might be able to receive a retention offer to keep your card. It could be enough to make it worthwhile to keep the card.
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