AA Credit Cards: Which American Airlines Credit Card is Best?

You might be surprised to find out that there are many American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards (“AA credit cards”). In fact, there are a total of 14 different types of AA credit cards out there. However, you can only apply for about a handful of them. This article will take a look at all of the different options you have for earning AA miles via credit cards.

To make things simple, I’m going to first cover the different AA credit cards that you can apply for and then discuss some of the alternative cards that you can downgrade, upgrade, or product change to.


Application rules to note for AA credit cards

In this article, you will see AA cards issued by both Barclaycard and Citibank.

Pay special attention to which bank issues each card. You need to know that Citibank restricts you to one sign-up bonus per 24 months per brand. This means that once you get one AA Citi sign-up bonus, you can’t get another one from Citi for 24 months.

There are two exceptions to this.

  • You can still get the sign-up bonus from both the personal and the business credit card within 24 months.
  • You can find targeted offers that don’t restrict you to one bonus per 24 months.

You can read more about the Citi application rule restrictions here.

The Citi restrictions do not affect your eligibility for any Barclaycard AA cards. 

AA credit cards
Photo by Eric Salard.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

AA Aviator Card.
AA Aviator Credit Card.
  • Earn 60,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase.
  • Earn 2X on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines
  • Preferred boarding for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on their reservation
  • Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year
  • 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back on redemptions (up to 10,000 miles per calendar year)
  • $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $30,000 or more in Purchases on your Account during your cardmembership year
  • Reduced Mileage Awards — Fly to great destinations on American Airlines operated flights for up to 7,500 fewer AAdvantage® miles for flights in the US and to/from Canada
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee $95 (not waived)

The best AA credit card?

The Barclaycard Aviator Red it is the grandfathered version of the Barclaycard US Airways card but it’s also a new card you can apply for even if you never had the US Airways credit card. This card stands out because it offers you a lot of AA miles for just making a single purchase with your card. Sign-up bonuses don’t get much easier than this and that’s why I feel this might be the best AA credit card.

The Aviator Red does come with a $95 annual fee that’s not waived though. So you can think of this card as allowing you to pay $95 for 50,000 or 60,000 AA miles (whatever the bonus is set at when you apply). Either way, that’s a great deal and the additional perks like a free checked bag for up to 4 companions along with preferred boarding are additional reasons why I really like this card.

And finally, Barclaycard equips their credit cards with chip+pin technology so the Aviator Red can come in handy when you’re traveling and come across kiosks and other places where you need to enter a pin to process your transaction. These are common in certain parts of Europe.

  • You can find out more about this card HERE
Use AA miles to fly on the Etihad Apartment!

AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®

Aviator business credit card.
  • Earn 40,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase.
  • Earn 2X on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X on for every one dollar spent at eligible office supply, telecom, and car rental merchants
  • First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
  • Preferred boarding for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on their reservation
  • 5% AAdvantage mileage bonus earned every year after your account anniversary date based on the total number of miles earned using your card
  • Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99, issued each year after your account anniversary when you spend $30,000 or more on eligible purchases
  • Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year
  • 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights
  • Reduced Mileage Awards 
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee $95 (not waived)

Lower sign-up bonus and reports to personal credit report

The business version of the Aviator card was unofficially available to apply for a while but it’s now open to the public. This card is very similar to the Aviator Red but it offers some additional perks like: bonus earning potential for office supply, telecom, and car rental merchants, an opportunity to earn a companion certificate when you spend $30,000 or more, and a 5% annual bonus on miles earned with the card.

Those additional perks are nice but the sign-up bonus is lower than the personal card, so it’s not quite as good of a deal from that perspective. You also lose out on the 10% rebate on rewards. And although this card offers the companion pass option, spending $30,000 for that perk just isn’t worth it to me.  

With the additional perks, this is a decent business credit card but Barclaycard usually reports its business credit cards to your personal credit report so this card will likely affect your 5/24 status, which can be a bummer. Overall, I’d prefer the personal version to this card but earning 40,000 AA miles with a single purchase will always be an attractive option in my book.

  • You can find out more about this card HERE

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

Citi AA Credit Card
Citi AA Credit Card.
  • 60,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights  for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back – up to 10, 000 AAdvantage miles each calendar year.
  • Receive a 25% savings on eligible in–flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
  • Reduced Mileage Awards 
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee waived the first year

The most well-known AA credit card?

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite MasterCard® is probably the most well-known AA credit card. The sign-up bonus for this card can vary but when you find it at 60,000, it’s a fantastic deal, especially since the $95 annual fee is usually waived (unlike the Aviator card). This card also recently received an upgrade when preferred boarding was allowed for both domestic and international itineraries.

Overall, this card is very similar to the Aviator Red but doesn’t come with the ability to earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars. The Platinum Select used to stand out for its superior protections like trip delay coverage but Barclaycard recently introduced many of those benefits so they are on more equal footing. 

  • You can find out more about this card HERE
British Airways first class booked with AAdvantage miles.

Citi® / AAdvantage®Gold Mastercard

citi aa credit card.
Citi AA Gold Card.
  • 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $750 spent on purchases within the first 3 months
  • 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on purchases
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines operated flights
  • Reduced Mileage Awards
  • $50 annual fee (waived the first year)

Might disqualify you for the Platinum Select bonus

This Citi AA credit card is one step down from the Citi Platinum Select. The 25,000 sign-up bonus is not bad but obviously you can get much more lucrative sign-up bonuses with other AAdvantage cards. Since Citi implemented its 24 month rule on bonuses of the same brand, I don’t think that it makes sense to pursue this credit card in most instances since the Platinum Select will be so much more valuable.

Still, sometimes targeted offers for this AA credit card roll around and those might be worth jumping on, especially if there is no language restricting you to the 24 month rule.

  • You can learn more about this card HERE

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage®Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

citi aa card.
The Platinum Select.
  • 60,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on select business categories including gas stations, telecommunications, and car rentals
  • Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights  for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate each year after spending $30,000 or more
  • Receive a 25% savings on eligible in–flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
  • Reduced Mileage Awards
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee waived the first year

The best AA business credit card?

As you can tell, this AA card is very similar to the business Aviator Red with the only major difference being that this AA credit card won’t earn you $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases. I still think this is the better AA business credit card for a few reasons, though.

First, this card usually comes with a higher sign-up bonus and the annual fee is waived, so you get more value right off the bat (though you have to hit a minimum spend). Second, this business card does not report to your personal credit report so you can get this credit card without it affecting your 5/24 status, which is huge for many people.

And finally, I like the 2X on gas better than the 2X on office supplies offered by the Barclaycard version.

  • You can find out more about this card HERE
Use AAdvantage miles to fly the new Qatar Suites.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard®

AA credit card Executive
The premium AA credit card by Citi.
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Admirals Club access (free for authorized users)
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, and early boarding (where available) for you and up to eight travel companions.
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight travel companions.
  • Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after spending $40,000 in eligible purchases that post to the cardmember’s account during a calendar year
  • Reduced mileage awards
  • TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry $100 credit
  • 2X on every American Airlines purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee

Best AA card for lounge access

Sometimes the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard® offers an even higher sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles making it one of the strongest contenders for best AA credit card. This card also offers the free checked bag and priority boarding perks to up to 8 travel companions versus the 4 that the other Citi cards offer the perk for. Also worth noting is that you receive priority boarding versus the preferred boarding offered by the other AA cards (Group 4 vs Group 5).

But since this card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee, this card is really made for those who value having Admirals Club access. Being able to add authorized users for free is also a huge perk of this credit card. Although they don’t get “full Admirals Club access” they still get lounge access which can prove to be extremely valuable if you end up adding multiple authorized users.

  • You can find out more about this card HERE
American N849NN
Photo by Andrew W. Sieber.

All of the cards below cannot be applied for directly. Instead, you”ll need to hold a card issued by that bank and then inquire into downgrading or upgrading it. Sometimes you’ll need to hold on to the card for one (with Citi) but Barclaycard is more lenient and will allow you change your card in as short as 60 days in some cases.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®

AA credit cards
AA Aviator Silver.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 you spend when you use your card on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend on select hotel and car rentals
  • Get 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles for every $20,000 you spend annually (up to 10,000 miles each year)
  • Earn $6,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars when you spend $50,000 on purchases each calendar year. You’ll earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000, and another $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $50,000.
  • Earn a companion certificate good for up to 2 guests at $99 each, issued annually after your account anniversary when you spend $30,000 or more in purchases (taxes and fees apply)
  • Get 10% of your redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 miles, each calendar year.
  • Reduced Mileage Awards
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free for you and up to 8 traveling companions on your reservation, when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
  • You and up to 8 people traveling with you can board with preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines operated flights
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $189 annual fee

Great card for high AA spenders

The Aviator Silver card cannot be applied for directly. Instead, you’ll need to upgrade your Aviator Red to this card after holding it for at least 90 days (though some say 60 days). The Aviator Silver is an attractive option to people who want to earn additional AA miles with their spend since you earn 3X on American Airlines purchases and 2X on hotels and car rentals.

Something else that makes this card a popular option is that you can earn 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles and $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars. If you like to chase after airline status with American but sometimes need a little extra push to move you beyond the line, the Aviator Silver is a fantastic option. You also get the companion pass benefit along with enhanced priority boarding and checked bag benefits that cover up to 8 traveling companions on your reservation.

If you spend a decent amount on AA flights and care about obtaining elite status with them, then this can be one of the most valuable AA credit cards for you (but note the higher annual fee).

  • You can find out more about this card HERE

AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard®

AA credit cards
No annual fee AA card.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend when you use your card on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines operated flights
  • No annual fee

Best no annual fee AA credit card

This card is also only available when you already hold an Aviator card. This is the no annual fee version of the Aviator Red which means that it comes with stripped down benefits. The earning rates and perks of this card are not very impressive but they are better than Citi’s no annual fee AA card. Since you still earn 1X on American purchases, this would be my preferred no annual fee card for American Airlines.


Citi® / AAdvantage®Bronze Mastercard

AA credit cards bronze Citi
No annual fee AA card.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $2 you spend on all purchases with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights
  • No annual fee

Not the best no annual fee card for AA miles

This is one of the Citi AA credit cards that you can probably only downgrade to. (At certain times in the past, you could apply for it directly.)

This is only a card you should consider if you don’t want to pay an annual fee (much like the basic Aviator card). The bonus earning is poor at 1 mile for every $2 and it will offer you no benefits like preferred boarding or free checked bags. So in many cases, it will only make sense to hold on to this card if you want to age your accounts without worrying about paying an annual fee.

  • You can learn more about this card HERE

AAdvantage® Aviator® Blue Mastercard®

AA credit cards.
Aviator Blue.
  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend when you use your card on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on every other purchase
  • Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars when you spend $25,000 on purchases each calendar year
  • Save 25% on in-flight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $49 annual fee

AA card with a limited market

This card is only available as a downgrade or upgrade product from another Aviator credit card. It comes with almost all of the same perks as the Aviator Red except for the preferred boarding and free checked bag for up to four companions and the 10% rebate. With the loss of those benefits, however, you get the reduced annual fee.

I struggle to see where this card makes sense. I think a lot of people who spend money on American flights would want the perks of the Aviator Red. And if you weren’t going to spend money on American flights, then the no annual fee Aviator would earn you the same 1X on all other purchases. I’m sure some people could find this card useful but you’d need to seriously weigh your alternatives if you were thinking about applying for this card.

  • You can find out more about this card HERE.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Select Card

AA credit card.
Citi business AA card.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on all purchases
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights
  • Reduced mileage rewards

A business card with little to offer

This is the stripped down version of the business Platinum Select that comes with no annual fee. There are not many perks to this AA credit card other than saving 25% on purchases and earning the basic 1X on all purchases. This really is only a card to downgrade to if you don’t want to pay the annual fee of the CitiBusiness Platinum Select.


Final word on AA credit cards

As you can see there are many different options for choosing cards that earn American Airlines miles. AA credit cards come in all sorts of different varieties with many different tiers of annual fees and benefits. Personally, I like the Aviator Red the most followed by the Cit Platinum Select and Citibusiness Platinum Select. However, you might be inclined to go with other options depending on your spending habits and travel preferences.

Cover Photo by Clément Alloing via Flickr

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