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Do you find yourself almost exclusively traveling with American Airlines or Oneworld Alliance carriers?

Molly McArdle
April 08, 2018

The world’s largest airline, American Airlines, offers a number of different credit cards from various banks. Airline credit cards such as these can be a great way to quickly earn frequent flier miles — and to redeem points on free travel. As with a frequent flyer program, travelers see the most benefits if they consistently fly with a single airline or alliance.

American Airlines credit cards can be a smart option for travelers based in or near one of their major domestic hubs, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, North Carolina. Jetsetters who frequently fly with American Airlines' partner carriers in the Oneworld Alliance (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, and Air Berlin, among others) can also benefit from carrying one of these cards in their wallet. 

If neither of these is true, it may be more beneficial to stick with a basic, no-fee, cash-back card, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Citibank Costco Anywhere Visa, or a more deluxe credit card with a flexible, travel-friendly rewards program (think: the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the American Express Platinum cards).

Figuring out whether an AAdvantage card is the right fit — and then figuring out which of the TK AAdvantage cards is best for your spending style — can be tough. Citibank, for example, issues several American Airlines-branded credit cards, that you can apply for online. (Check out the AAdvantage cards Citibank currently has available.) For an AAdvantage Barclaycard, you'll have to apply on an AA flight and in person, at an airport.

Regardless of the card you choose, be sure to confirm the details of the latest sign-up bonuses, as they change often.

An American Airlines Credit Card Without Fees

The Citi AAdvantage Bronze Card is a no-fee card, which means there’s zero cost for signing up. But potential cardholders will enjoy only a fraction of the rewards they’d receive from a comparable no-fee, cash-back credit card. The Bronze Card earns miles at a tedious snail’s pace, but traveler will enjoy a discount on inflight food and beverage purchases.

Benefits:

  • One mile for every two dollars spent
  • Save 25 percent on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights

Annual Fee: None

American Airlines Credit Cards With Low Fees

Best For: Temporary American Airlines Frequent Fliers 

The low-fee Citi AAdvantage Gold Card offers more perks than the Bronze Card, including a generous sign-up bonus and a fee waiver for the first year. It's an especially attractive short-term option for travelers who may anticipate a series of upcoming American Airlines flights. After potentially collecting tens of thousands of AAdvantage miles, cardholders may find the Gold Card (with an average earning rate of one mile per dollar) in need of an upgrade.

Benefits:

  • Earns one mile for every dollar spent
  • Reduced mileage award of 5,000 miles

Sample Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 miles after you spend $750 in the first three months

Annual Fee: $50 (waived the first year)

Best For: Novice Points and Miles Earners 

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Card will immediately make traveling with American Airlines easier and more enjoyable, offering cardholders priority boarding, a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to four companions, and many opportunities to earn miles. With no foreign transaction fees, it’s a good card to use abroad as well. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, making it a guilt-free way to get into the points and miles game.

Benefits:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earns two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases
  • Earns one mile for every other dollar spent
  • Get the first checked bag free for cardholder and up to four companions
  • Priority boarding
  • Reduced mileage award of 7,500 miles
  • Get 10 percent of redeemed miles back annually

Sample Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months

Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)

American Airlines Credit Cards With High Fees

Best For: Frequent (and Fancy) American Airlines Fliers  

The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card charges a considerable $450 a year in annual fees. But for frequent American Airlines travelers, the price is fair. The Executive Card offers not only priority boarding, but also a free checked bag for the card holder and up to eight companions, as well as automatic membership into the Admirals Club, which gives the cardholder free access to any of its 50 locations worldwide. There are also ample opportunities to earn AAdvantage miles and no foreign transaction fees to worry about. Travelers who are not AA-loyal, however, may opt instead for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which has a more flexible set of benefits for the same price.

Benefits:

  • Admirals Club Membership
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earns two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases
  • Earns one mile for every other dollar spent
  • Get first checked bag free for cardholder and up to eight companions
  • Priority boarding
  • Enhanced VIP experience, including private check-in areas and expedited security
  • Reduced mileage award of 7,500 miles
  • Get 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spent $40,000

Sample Sign-up Bonus: 75,000 miles after you spend $7,500 in the first three months

Annual Fee: $450

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