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Best American Airlines credit card in 2017? It might not say American on it

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American Airlines credit card

The information related to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. These offers and/or promotions may have changed, expired, or are no longer available since publication.

There are more ways to earn American AAdvantage® miles from credit cards than you think. And not all of them involve cards that say American on them. In fact, American branded credit cards aren’t always the fastest way to earn miles on American, though they do offer special perks that give them an advantage over other cards. For you, the fastest credit card for American mile earning could be the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

 

There are four personal credit cards that earn full value AAdvantage® miles open for new applicants online:

Here’s how they compare.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

 

You might not think of this one first, since it’s the credit card for Starwood Hotels…including Westin, Sheraton, and W hotels. But it’s unique because the Starpoints® you earn can be transferred 1:1 directly into your American Airlines AAdvantage® miles account at any time.

And it can earn you more points than a card that only earns American AAdvantage® miles. It’s one of our favorite travel cards overall because the points you earn are so flexible.

Here’s how…

  • 25% bonus on mile transfers. When you transfer miles to your American Airlines account in 20,000 mile increments, Starwood will add an extra 5,000 miles for each 20,000 you transfer. That’s a 25% bonus, and there is no limit on this in any year. This is what makes this card earn faster than the other American Airlines credit cards. Click to learn how airline mile transfer works with SPG®. It’s like earning 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend. Mile transfers generally take about a week.
  • Choose hotels or transfer to over 20 other airline mile programs. You can use the points for free nights at any of the Starwood affiliated hotels (which are often better deals than flights). Or you can transfer your points into the miles of over 20 other airlines besides American, including Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, Lufthansa, Hawaiian, Air France, and many more.

What you trade off are the baggage fee waiver and airport priority of the AAdvantage® branded cards. You’ll also need to wait about a week from when you request a mile transfer for the miles to show up in your American Airlines account, but that’s not a big deal if you are regularly accumulating AAdvantage® miles and can earn them 25% faster thanks to the bonus on transfers.

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

 

This card is helpful if you take advantage of the first checked bag waiver on domestic flights. You earn Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*.

Here are the details on benefits:

  • First checked bag free of charge. On domestic flights, the $50 roundtrip charge for your first checked bag is waived when holding the card. This benefit also applies for up to 4 other people in your reservation. You don’t need to use the credit card to purchase you travel as the benefit is tied to your AAdvantage® frequent flyer number. Just book your flights, put your AAdvantage® number in the reservation, and the free bag will be automatically applied.
  • If you check bags more than twice a year, this card will save you money even without using it to earn miles. You’ll avoid over $100 in bag fees for an annual fee of $95. And if you travel with family that can add up even faster.
  • Priority boarding. You’ll board just behind American’s own elite frequent flyers, and ahead of general boarding in Group 5. Again, this benefit is tied to your AAdvantage® frequent flyer number once you get the card, so you can enjoy the benefit whether or not you use the credit card to purchase your ticket.
  • 10% rebate on miles redeemed. When you use your miles for an American Airlines flight, you’ll get 10% of what you spent back. So when you spend 25,000 miles on a mile ticket, you’ll get 2,500 miles deposited back into your account. There is a cap of a 10,000 mile rebate each year. This is a nice discount versus the prevailing rate.
  • Trip cancellation and trip delay coverage. You’re covered for up to $5,000 if you have to cancel a trip purchased with your card for a covered reason, or up to $500 for hotels and meals if your flight is delayed 12 hours or more.
  • No foreign transaction fees. So you don’t get hit when you travel abroad.

All in, it’s a decent card, but we wish there were more mile earning bonuses, though the 10% rebate is a nice touch.

> Click here for a secure link to the best offer

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

 

This is the premium level card and you’ll want it if you value Admirals Club access or want elite qualifying miles. Otherwise it’s not worth keeping with a $450 annual fee. Here’s a rundown of benefits:

  • Full Admirals Club access for you and 2 guests. Authorized users of your account, which are free to add, also get access to American Admirals Clubs even when you’re not traveling with them.
  • First bag checked free of charge. Same benefit as the regular Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® above.
  • Priority boarding. Similar to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, though you board one group earlier (Group 4 vs Group 5 for the other cards).
  • Priority check-in and security. This is a point of difference; you can use the business class check-in line (first class if no business class line exists) to check in for American Airlines flights. You can also use the priority security lanes where designated for American Airlines fliers.
  • Elite qualifying miles. This is the only credit card that can earn elite qualifying miles on American, which are useful if you’re a very frequent flier. You earn 10,000 each year you spend $40,000 on the card.
  • No foreign transaction fees. It’s a $450 a year card, so it would be absurd if they charged these fees.

This card is for you if you travel American frequently enough to value the lounge access or want to hit the next tier in the AAdvantage® elite program. But if you want to earn the most AAdvantage® miles overall it’s actually not a great choice. There’s no 10% annual rebate on miles you use like with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®*, and as we’ll show you below the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express can earn miles even faster.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®

This card isn’t widely publicized, but it’s the lowest fee credit card that earns AAdvantage® miles, with an annual fee of $50, waived for first 12 months*.

There are no priority boarding or baggage benefits, but you’ll earn full one mile per dollar on all of your spending. If you rarely check luggage on American this may be a better bet for you than the higher annual fee Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® card.

But for $15 more per year there’s an even better choice that doesn’t say American on the front…

Consider more than one card to maximize your value

There’s no reason you have to hold only one card that earns AAdvantage® miles.

For example, if you check bags several times per year it may make sense to carry the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® for the baggage fee waiver, and use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express for your daily spending to are created equal.

You’ll save more than the annual fee of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® in baggage fees, and earn more miles than if you only carried the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® by choosing the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express for your earning, since it can earn miles 25% faster. And you can still take advantage of the annual 10,000 mile rebate on miles you use as a perk of holding a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, even if the miles came from your Starwood account.


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