Which Travel Credit Card to Maximize Miles Earned for American Airlines Flights?

Which Travel Credit Card to Maximize Miles Earned for American Airlines Flights?


Which travel credit card will maximize miles earned for for American Airlines flights? TravelSort reader Kenji writes: “I'm writing to glean some of your travel savvy expertise. I'll be flying from Washington DC DCA to Memphis MEM once a month for the next several months and will fly USAir / American Airlines. I want to capitalize on the mileage and ticket purchase and am looking into a credit card that will maximize benefits. Do you have any recommendations?”

I do have some recommendations, although the best credit card(s) will depend on which miles or points Kenji prefers to earn, as well as whether he values other benefits of the cards. Here are the travel credit cards I'd focus on now to use for paid American Airlines / US Airways flights:

1. 75K Citi Executive AAdvantage 

Pros

  • 75K bonus AAdvantage miles
  • 2X miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Enjoy Admirals Club membership (value of $475) for you and immediate family members (or up to two guests accompanying you)
  • Priority check-in and boarding privileges on domestic American and US Airways flights
  • $100 Global Entry Statement Credit
  • No foreign transaction fees 

Cons

  • $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year
  • High $7500 minimum spend within first 3 months of account opening, to earn the signup bonus
  • Not eligible if you have had a Citi AAdvantage World Elite card opened or closed in the past 18 months. 


2. 50K Citi Prestige

Pros

  • $250 air travel credit each calendar year
  • 3X ThankYou points per $1 of air travel and hotel spend
  • Enjoy Admirals Club membership (value of $475) for you and immediate family members (or up to two guests accompanying you)
  • $100 Global Entry Statement Credit
  • Reasonable $3000 minimum spend within first 3 months to earn the 50K signup bonus

Cons

 

  • $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year
  • 50K signup bonus is less than some other cards (be on the lookout, however, for the targeted 100K Citi Prestige offer)
  • ThankYou points' main value is transferring to Singapore KrisFlyer; I value them lower than AAdvantage miles and AMEX Membership Rewards points


3. 75K AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card (Targeted)

Pros

  • 75K bonus AMEX Membership Rewards points
  • 3X AMEX Membership Rewards points for airfare, if you choose it from 5 different categories (other choices include U.S. advertising in select media, U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping, U.S. computer hardware)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee the first year; thereafter $175 per year

Cons

  • High spend: $10,000 minimum spend within first 3 months of card membership (at least these are the terms for the offer I see)
  • No eligible if you have or have had this card within the past 12 months

 

The Bottom Line 

The best miles and points credit card to get and use for paid American Airlines and US Airways flights will depend on how much one values American miles vs. Citi ThankYou points vs. AMEX Membership Rewards points, as well as some of the other card benefits relative to their annual fees, not to mention whether 

If starting from scratch, without any of these cards, I'd likely apply for the Citi Prestige since the $250 per calendar year airfare credit actually makes you money ($50) in the first year, minimum spend of $3000 is reasonable, 3X on all airfare is good, and I always find good uses for Singapore KrisFlyer miles, which Citi ThankYou points transfer to. This card will also get you access to American Admirals Club lounges, although it won't get you priority check-in, screening or boarding as the Citi Executive AAdvantage card would, which Kenji may well value if he isn't an AAdvantage elite frequent flyer member. 

If you're only interested in earning AAdvantage miles to supplement those you earn by flying, and the priority check-in/boarding privileges are important, than the 75K Citi Executive AAdvantage makes sense, although it comes with a hefty annual fee and only 2X miles are earned for American / US Air flight purchases.

If minimum spend isn't an issue and the preference is to earn AMEX Membership Rewards points (which transfer to partners such as Singapore KrisFlyer, British Airways, Aeroplan, Delta, etc. but NOT to American AAdvantage) and you're targeted for the 75K or higher signup bonus offer, the AMEX Business Gold is a good bet, since you can choose airfare as your 3X category and there is no fee for the first year of card membership.

Which credit card bonus offer would you choose, to maximize miles earned for American Airlines flights?

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