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Premium credit cards carry hefty annual fees. Carrying more than one of them can be really expensive if you don’t maximize the benefits. However, depending upon your travel and spending patterns, this can be a no-brainer. In this article, we examine the pairing of the Platinum Card from American Express and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Annual Fee & Credits
The Citi Executive AAdvantage card carries a hefty $450 fee, but it’s a top credit card for American Airlines flyers. Think that’s expensive? The Amex Platinum carries an even higher $550 fee.
However, for most frequent travelers, the Amex ends up costing less. You can get back most of the annual fee in the form of rebates. But, these are hard to maximize. For example, you get two $50 “use it or lose it” credits per year at Saks Fifth Avenue, and a $15 “use it or lose it” per month Uber credit.
Meanwhile, the only fee credit Citi offers is toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck. However, Global Entry costs $100 so if you don’t already have this, it’s worth using the fee credit. Also, Amex matches this credit. Note that you can use the credit for anyone you like. If you sign up for both, you might consider using one fee credit for yourself and the other for a partner or spouse.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Points and Welcome Offers
The more options you have to spend your points, the better the chances of successfully arranging award travel.
American Airlines AAdvantage points can only be earned via hotel programs, airline partners, and American’s own credit card partners. No transferable points currency transfers to American Airlines. But, this is one of the best programs to use for Oneworld awards due to the generally lower priced award chart than competitors. The catch is that availability is usually worse than average with American and its partners.
American Express Membership Rewards Points, meanwhile, transfer to a wide variety of airline partners covering every major alliance. The catch is that award tickets are often more expensive in these programs.
The current public welcome offer for The Platinum Card® from American Express is 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. The public signup bonus for the Citi Executive AAdvantage is 75,000 points.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Earning Rates
The Citi Executive AAdvantage card isn’t a card to get for the earning rates. You earn only one AAdvantage mile per dollar on regular purchases and 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases. Given that the earning rates aren’t very advantageous, why would anyone use this card for day-to-day spending? You get 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 in purchases within the year. For the hardcore road warrior chasing status on American Airlines, this can be all the difference in attaining Executive Platinum status.
American Express offers 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. This is the most generous bonus category benefit of any card and is perfect for anyone who purchases a lot of airfare or hotels.
Overall, both cards offer comparable earnings rates for everyday spend. Amex is better for airline and hotel spending with its generous 5x bonus category. Citi is better for the potential of earning elite qualifying miles if you spend $40,000 per year.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Lounge Benefits
Both cards provide access to a worldwide network of airline lounges. The American Express Platinum provides access to American Express’ own Centurion Lounge network, along with a free Priority Pass. Meanwhile, the Citi Executive AAdvantage card provides a full American Airlines Admirals Club membership. This grants access to lounges with whom American has a reciprocal lounge access arrangement.
Which is better? That depends on the airport and your preferences. If you ask me, it’s “whichever lounge is less crowded.” If you carry both cards, it’s easy to lounge hop!
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Airline Benefits
The American Executive AAdvantage card provides benefits when flying with American Airlines. However, these are awfully stingy given the $450 fee: free checked bags only apply to US domestic flights (not to international flights). Pre-boarding is in Group 4.
There is a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, although you might not want to try the brisket sandwich. Plus, there is a Reduced Mileage Award program, but this is difficult to use, requiring telephone booking (which involves paying a phone booking fee). Most of the destinations for which these awards are good towards are unattractive (such as Yuma, Arizona in August and Fargo, North Dakota in November).
In short, Citi talks a good game, but the benefits don’t deliver much of real value beyond the limited bag fee waiver.
Meanwhile, Amex provides a very simple benefit: you can nominate any airline and offset up to $200 of their fees annually. Carrying both cards can be useful if you travel with American for some flights but prefer a different airline for others.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Hotel Status
The Amex Platinum offers Starwood gold elite status (which still exists, even though the program is merging with Marriott) along with Hilton Honors Gold Status. If you stay with either chain, you might score the occasional upgrade or get a free breakfast depending upon the property.
Citi doesn’t match this benefit.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Rental Car Status
You get Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, and National Emerald Club status when you’re an Amex Platinum member. These programs allow you to pick up your car without visiting a rental counter. Citi doesn’t match this benefit.
Platinum vs Executive World Elite: Bottom Line
For people who want to use most of the benefits from both cards, it can be beneficial to carry both. However, the most valuable benefit of the Citi Executive AAdvantage is the Admirals Club membership. If you’re not a frequent traveler on American Airlines but want to consider carrying one of their credit cards, it’s worth considering the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red card as a companion instead. This has a lower annual fee and provides the majority of the benefits offered by the Citi Executive AAdvantage.
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