American Airlines’ top-tier Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has been a favorite of many American Airlines loyalists for years — especially for its generous authorized user and lounge benefits.
But there have been rumors for months that the annual fee on the card would increase and the benefits change. Now, Citi has made it official.
Here is a breakdown of what existing and new cardholders can expect from the card when the changes kick in on July 23.
Increase in annual fee
The annual fee will increase from $450 to $595.
Existing cardmembers will be notified directly in the coming weeks about their new annual fee and when the increase will take effect. (We expect this to be when your next annual fee posts on or after July 23.)
Increase in authorized user fee
As leaked last month, the card will go from allowing cardholders to add up to 10 authorized users to their account for no additional cost to charging:
- An additional $175 annual fee for the first three authorized users
- $175 for each authorized user thereafter
Existing cardholders with authorized users on their accounts will be charged the new fees when their next annual fee posts. If you have this card and do not have authorized users on your account, you’ll want to add them before July 23 to lock in the complimentary benefit until next year.
Increase in earning rates
Right now, cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American purchases. That will double to 4 miles per dollar spent. Then, if you spend $150,000 on purchases in a calendar year, you’ll earn a boosted rate of 5 miles per dollar spent on American purchases for the remainder of the calendar year.
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There will be no change to the non-bonused earning rate of 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
New Loyalty Point bonuses
Cardholders will earn a bonus of 10,000 Loyalty Points after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year. They will receive another bonus of 10,000 Loyalty Points after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year.
New statement credits
The three new statement credits will be:
- Up to $120 back on eligible Avis or Budget car rentals every calendar year
- Up to $120 back on eligible Grubhub purchases (up to a $10 statement credit each monthly billing statement)
- Up to $120 in Lyft credits ($10 Lyft credit each month), but you have to take three eligible rides each month first to receive this credit
Reintroduced travel protections
Travel protections are returning to this card, and we’ll post the full details when we receive them from Citi:
- Trip cancellation and interruption protection
- Trip delay protection
- Lost baggage protection
- Car rental insurance coverage
Upcoming limited-time offer
As often occurs with card “refreshes” or “enhancements,” there will be a limited-time welcome offer of 100,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $10,000 within the first three months of account opening. This offer will launch July 23 and run through Sept. 6.
For comparison, the current offer is 50,000 miles after making $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. The highest offer we’ve seen on this card in recent years is 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,500 within the first three months of account opening. So, the upcoming offer will be the best we’ve seen but will require almost double the spending.
If you’re considering applying for this card and can reach the $10,000 spending requirement in three months, it is worth holding off until July 23.
The up-to-$100 credit on a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee will be available every four years (currently five), which is a positive change.
As part of the changes, American says an Admirals Club membership (included with this card) will increase in cost from $650 to $850 for a base-level AAdvantage member. Renewals will also be increasing in cost. Day passes will increase by $20 from $59 to $79. Read this page for more information.
The airline will refresh its food and drink offerings and designs at Admirals Clubs over the next few months.
The writing has been on the wall for changes to this card for a while. The ability to pay a flat $450 annual fee for a top-tier airline card with Admirals Club access for the primary cardholder and up to 10 authorized users was too good to last much longer in today’s highly competitive premium credit card market.
For those who could maximize these benefits, these changes — kicking in from July 23 — will be a hit to their wallet. When your next annual fee and authorized user fees come up, it will be worth asking Citi for a retention offer and doing the math to decide whether to keep the card. Still, paying the annual fee on this card will continue to be cheaper than buying an Admirals Club membership outright.
If you are considering getting this card, even with the upcoming annual fee increase, it will be worth holding off until the 100,000-mile bonus comes around. Even factoring in the $145 increase in the annual fee, the doubling of miles offered for signing up for the card will boost its value from $885 to $1,770, per TPG’s points and miles valuations.
More information: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review