Is an American Airlines Credit Card Worth It?

If you're an American Airlines die-hard, getting a co-branded card might be worth it.

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If you regularly fly with American Airlines and you’re in the market for a new credit card, you may be wondering if an American credit card is worth it. Many American loyalists find the airline’s credit cards to be valuable. There are several credit card options, which means you can choose the right card for your travel needs and rewards goals.

In this guide, we’ll help you decide if an American credit card is right for you.

Available American credit cards

If you’re an American fan, you'll have several credit card options to consider, including personal and business cards.

Here’s a brief overview of each American card:

Personal American credit cards

Annual fee

$0.

$0 intro for the first year, then $99.

$99.

$450.

Rewards

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services.

  • 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. • 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible mile earned from purchases.

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants.

  • 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

  • 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

  • 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible mile earned from purchases.

Free checked bag perk

None.

First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 4 traveling companions on your reservation.

First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 4 traveling companions on your reservation.

First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 8 traveling companions on your reservation.

Sign-up bonus

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.

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

Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

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

Knowing which card is right for you takes a little digging. Consider which card has benefits that meet your needs, if that card fits your budget, and if redeeming its perks feels manageable.

How American credit cards work

When you apply for an American credit card, your card will be attached to your American AAdvantage loyalty number. If you don't already have one, a new member number will be created for you.

You'll earn a welcome bonus if you meet the minimum spending requirements as a new cardholder. All of your purchases will earn additional points as well. Depending on which card you applied for, you'll receive more points for spending in certain categories, like dining or purchases with the airline.

Each American AAdvantage point is worth about 1.2 cents on average, according to NerdWallet’s most recent valuations.

All of the points you earn with your American credit card are redeemable for flights on the airline. The airline offer three types of award seats: MileSAAver, AAnytime and Web Special awards.

American still uses award charts for its redemption options. This gives travelers the chance to get higher-than-average value out of their points with the right award flights. Note that all award flights still incur taxes and fees of $5.60 for each one-way flight.

Miles will expire after 18 months of inactivity in your account unless you're under the age of 21. You can keep your miles from expiring by earning or redeeming miles with the airline or an AAdvantage partner once every 18 months.

How to decide if an American card is worth it

Before choosing a card, you’ll need to decide if getting an American credit card makes sense for your financial situation, spending habits and goals. The following guidance can help you better decide if an American credit card is worth it:

Consider the annual fee

Before getting any credit card, you should consider the annual fee and the value proposition of the miles. While American does offer a $0-annual-fee card option (the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card), it may not be worth it for the 2x miles on American purchases and the 2x miles at grocery stores. For instance, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card card also has a $0 annual fee but earns 3% cash back on dining and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

The annual fees vary significantly from there, all the way to the ultra-premium cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, which charges a $450 annual fee.

Ensure that you can comfortably afford to pay the yearly fee and that the card benefits offered are worthwhile for your goals. If you want to keep the card for a long time, you’ll need to pay this fee every year.

Consider your spending and flying habits

An American credit card will reward you for everyday spending, but you’ll earn rewards at a higher rate when making American Airlines purchases (2x versus 1x). The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® also earns bonus points on gas stations and restaurants.

Do you often pay out-of-pocket to check luggage on your flights? The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® holders get a first checked bag free perk — eligible for the traveler and up to 4-8 travel companions, depending on the card. This is an ongoing expense that goes away when you add one of these cards to your wallet.

If you would like a more convenient and comfortable airport experience, you might be happy with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and its built-in access to Admirals Club lounges.

If you’re already flying with American and have a few trips in the pipeline that you haven’t booked yet, getting an American credit card may make sense.

Determine if you can meet the welcome bonus spend requirements

Before getting a new credit card with a bonus offer, it’s a smart idea to determine if you can meet the minimum spend requirements to earn the bonus points. A new cardmember bonus offer can make a credit card more valuable.

Consider the net value of the card’s welcome bonus

When you first get an American credit card, the new cardmember bonus can make the card even more valuable than usual.

But if you want to carry the card in your wallet for the long term, you should think about the value of the welcome bonus when compared to the annual fee — and how you will justify paying the fee in the years following when there is no welcome bonus in sight.

Card

Points earned via welcome bonus

Value of welcome bonus in cash

Annual fee

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

10,000 miles.

$120.

$0.

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

50,000 miles.

$600.

$0 intro for the first year, then $99.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

50,000 miles.

$600.

$450.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

60,000 miles.

$720.

$99.

Who should skip an American credit card?

While an American credit card can make sense for the airline's most frequent fliers, not everyone is a wise candidate for these cards. Keep shopping around if:

  • You don't live near or fly often to an American hub. Having access to frequent (and affordable) American flights will make or break your satisfaction with an airline-specific credit card.

  • You already have elite status with the airline: Even the program's lowest elite status tier, Gold, gets one free checked bag. This makes the value proposition of one of the airline’s credit cards with an annual fee considerably lower for elite status members.

  • You prefer to optimize flight selection for cost, not benefits. If you tend to select the most affordable flight to your destination regardless of carrier, then a more general travel credit card will likely better serve your needs.

If you’re considering an American credit card

So, is an American credit card worth it? For the right travelers, American credit cards can be valuable. However, the benefits that come with these cards aren't that helpful if you can't use them, and if you don’t fly American regularly, you might be better off earning points and miles with a more general travel credit card.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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