Best American Airlines Credit Cards of 2020

Best American Airlines Credit Cards of 2020

We evaluated all of the American Airlines credit cards to find out which one offers the best rewards and free flights. Here are the cards that will get you the most bang for your buck.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Citi is an advertising partner.

If you're a frequent flyer with American Airlines, you should take a look at the airline's array of co-branded credit cards. Signing up for the right American Airlines card could get you valuable airline perks, such as preferred boarding status, free checked luggage, lounge access and a faster track to elite status with the airline. You can also accelerate your miles earnings since American Airlines cards — unlike most co-branded airline cards — offer a pretty generous earning rate. We've analyzed every American Airlines card on ValuePenguin and on issuers' websites to help you determine which will give you the best value.

Best American Airlines credit cards 2020

Recommended CardsBest ForCredit NeededAnnual fee
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®Best for most peopleExcellent$99, waived for first 12 monthsRead Review
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card$0 annual feeExcellent$0
Apply Now
  • On Citibank's Secure Website
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Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Lounge AccessExcellent$450
Apply Now
  • On Citibank's Secure Website
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CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®BusinessExcellent$99, waived for first 12 monthsRead Review
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®Honorable mentionExcellent$95Read Review

Recommended Cards

Best forAnnual fee
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®Best for most people$99, waived for first 12 months
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card$0 annual fee$0
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Lounge access$450
Apply Now
  • On Citibank's Secure Website
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See our comparison tool at the bottom of the page to calculate how much each card will earn you based on your spending habits.

American Airline Card benefits | FAQs

Best American Airlines credit card for most people

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

Welcome offer

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Our thoughts on this card

We consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® to be the best all-around American Airlines credit card because of its generous sign-up bonus and solid ongoing rewards program.

Earning AAdvantage® bonus miles

After earning your 50,000 miles bonus, this card offers the best miles-earning potential, with bonus miles on gas station and restaurant purchases. Cardholders Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

Other benefits

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® also offers perks that could save you even more money and make flights a little more enjoyable. Cardholders get preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and a free checked bag on domestic flights. Just keep in mind that the card does charge an annual fee: $99, waived for first 12 months. However, the free checked bag benefit alone can quickly offset the fee.

You’ll also earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases each year.


Best American Airlines credit card with no annual fee

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

  • On Citibank's Secure Website
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Welcome offer

Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Our thoughts on this card

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is our top pick for American Airlines customers searching for a $0-annual-fee airline card. It's actually one of the few airline co-branded cards on the market to not charge an ongoing membership fee. While frequent flyers won't get the same level of perks they would with an annual fee card, this card is still worthwhile thanks to its strong rewards program.

We estimate the card's sign-up bonus to be worth $150 toward your next flight. While we've seen higher sign-up bonuses from other cards, remember that the bonus is available at no cost to cardholders.

Earning AAdvantage® bonus miles

You'll Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. The generous grocery bonus stands out in the realm of no-annual-fee airline cards.

Other benefits

The card also gets you a 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights. This isn't the most glamorous benefit around, but it's still nice to save a bit the next time you decide to order snacks or drinks on your flight.

Best American Airlines credit card for lounge access

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

  • On Citibank's Secure Website
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Welcome offer

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Our thoughts on this card

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is the best American Airlines credit card for people who want lounge access and premium benefits. The card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee, but it also grants cardholders access to the Admirals Club (a $650 value). Admirals Club gives you access to airport lounges with complimentary snacks, drinks, shower suites and business centers. Luxury cards like this are meant for frequent travelers who find themselves in airports several times per month.

Though its sign-up bonus requires a high minimum spend, it's well worth it since we estimate the bonus to have a value of more than $500. Not only is that more than other American Airlines cards, but it's one of the more generous sign-up bonuses among travel cards.

Earning AAdvantage® bonus miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® only lets you Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. However, part of the appeal of this card is that it fast-tracks you toward earning status with American Airlines since it awards users with elite qualifying miles (EQMs), provided certain spending thresholds are met. The primary credit card member will earn 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year.

Other benefits

The card also allows users to breeze through security, thanks to the application fee credit that can be used for Global Entry or TSA Precheck**. Cardholders will also be able to take advantage of early boarding when flying with American Airlines since they'll get to board as Group 4. Priority check-in and airport screening applies for up to eight companions traveling in your party as well.

Best American Airlines credit card for businesses

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

Welcome offer

Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

Our thoughts on this card

The CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® is the best American Airlines credit card for businesses that frequently travel with the airline. That's because it awards miles for a wide variety of purchases, making it a highly versatile card for any business.

Earning AAdvantage® bonus miles

Cardholders 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. 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.. Any purchases that fall outside of bonus categories earn you 1 mile per dollar. Another lucrative perk: You can get authorized user cards for your employees, and their purchases will earn you miles, too.

Other benefits

The card is ideal for businesses that can spend enough to qualify for the American Airlines companion certificate. The certificate effectively functions as a deeply discounted domestic ticket for a companion, and it's available to businesses that spend $30,000 or more in purchases each card membership year. This is a huge money-saver for people who fly with co-workers to conferences or to meet clients around the country. Provided you can meet the spending requirement, the companion certificate can be worth hundreds of dollars, easily offsetting the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.

Even if you don't spend enough to earn the certificate, there are other valuable benefits the card allows you to take advantage of, such as preferred boarding and free checked bags.

Honorable mention

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

Welcome offer

Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee.

Our thoughts on this card

The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is a solid card for American Airlines customers. However, for everything it does well, you can find another American Airlines card that performs better. Still, it can be a solid card for someone who would rather conduct business with Barclaycard as opposed to Citi.

The card comes with one of the easiest sign-up bonuses to qualify for. Just make any purchase and pay the card's fee, and you'll earn bonus miles worth enough to cover a free flight or two.

Earning AAdvantage® bonus miles

In terms of ongoing rewards, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is out-earned by the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, which provides more categories to earn bonus miles. Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases only. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar.

Other benefits

Cardholders will receive a companion certificate each year good for a guest at $95 (plus taxes and fees). You must spend $20,000 on purchases and your account must remain open for 45 days after your anniversary date to earn the certificate. This is less than the $30,000 spending requirement for the companion certificate on the CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, so that’s one for the win column.

You’ll also get up to $25 back as statement credits on in-flight Wi-Fi purchases every anniversary year on American Airlines flights.

The information related to AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, and CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

American Airlines card benefits explained

If you are an American Airlines loyal flyer, then it’s probably a good idea to consider one of its co-branded cards to help you earn miles and score perks. Here are a few of the key benefits to consider.

Lounge access

As noted above, a free membership into the Admirals Club is worth up to $650, as it gets you access into American Airlines Admirals Club locations around the world. This benefit is only available with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.

American Airlines priority boarding

Enjoying a little VIP treatment and convenience can be something valuable if you’re a frequent flyer. Being a cardholder will unlock access to this perk, with the more elite cards putting you closer to the front of the line.

First checked bag free

This benefit can save you a lot of money if you’re a bag-checker who flies frequently. Since the airline charges $30 domestic for the first checked bag and the card allows you to waive this fee for yourself and up to four travel companions, every time you use the perk you’re saving $150. Note that this benefit is not offered on the $0-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.

Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee credit

Those who do a lot of air travel know that getting Global Entry or TSA Precheck can save a lot of time and help you speed through the check-in process. And if you can get it for free, as you can with this card, then it’s even better. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers this credit once every five years (up to $100).

American Airlines companion certificate

Saving money when traveling with a guest is another common benefit of airline credit cards. The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® and the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card each provide a yearly certificate as long as you meet certain spending requirements.

American Airlines credit cards FAQs

Who should get an American Airlines credit card?

Anyone who flies regularly and prefers American Airlines can benefit from one of its card programs. Whether you want to earn miles toward free flights or enjoy luxury perks, there is a card for all travel and spending styles.

How much are AAdvantage miles worth?

According to our valuation, AAdvantage Miles are worth 1 cent each.

Can you have more than one American Airlines credit card?

Yes, you can. The real question is if it’s worth it to carry two cards for the same airline. Since some have overlapping benefits and you won’t be able to earn a second sign-up bonus (unless you wait more than 48 months), chances are if you’re looking for a second card, you will be better served getting one that rewards you for non-airline spending.

Will the American Airlines credit cards keep American miles from expiring?

As long as you earn or redeem miles on American or with an AAdvantage partner at least once every 18 months, your miles will not expire.

What is the best American Airlines credit card?

As you can see above, our choice for overall best American Airlines card for most people is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®. Of course, each card is geared to meet the needs of different spending and travel styles, which is why you should explore each one to find the one right for you.

What credit score is needed for an American Airlines card?

These cards all require applicants to have excellent credit.

How many miles do I need for a free flight from American Airlines?

American Airlines has a flight award chart that breaks down how many miles you’ll need for different types of flights. Free flights start as low as 7,500 miles.

Dawn Papandrea is a writer specializing in personal finance topics including credit cards, family finances and consumer issues. Her work has appeared on a number of financial websites including LendingTree, ValuePenguin, MagnifyMoney, CreditCards.com, BankRate.com, U.S. News & World Report, as well as publications including Family Circle. Dawn has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University. Follow her on Twitter: @dawnpapandrea.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).