Posted by William Charles on March 3, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on March 3rd, 2015 | by William Charles

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All Of The American Airlines Credit Cards Compared

Yesterday we found out that there would be four Barclaycard issued American Airline credit cards. Citi issues four different American Airlines credit cards as well. I thought it would be interesting to compare all of them and see which cards come out on top.

Comparison Table

This table will compare all six of the different credit cards, keep reading after the table for specific card vs card comparisons.

 Barclaycard AviatorBarclaycard BlueBarclaycard RedBarclaycard SilverCiti GoldCiti Platinum SelectCitiBusiness Platinum SelectCiti Executive
Earn rate on AA1x2x2x3x1x2x2x2x
Earn rate on hotels & car rentals0.5x1x1x2x1x1x1x1x
Earn rate on office supply, telecommunication and car rentals0.5x1x1x1x/2x1x1x2X1X
Earn rate on all other purchases0.5x1x1x1x1x1x1x1x
Annual fee04989195$50, waived first year$95, waived first year$95, waived first year450
Sign Up BonusN/AN/AN/AN/A25,000 miles after $750 in spend within three months50,000 miles after $2,000 in spend in three months50,000 miles after $2,000 in spend in three months50,000 miles after $5,000 in spend within three months
10% of redeemed miles backNoNoYes (10,000 mile limit)Yes (10,000 mile limit)NoYes, (10,000 mile limit)NoNo
Free checked bagNoNoYes, for you and up to 4 companionsYes, for you and up to 8 companionsNoYes, for you and up to 4 companionsYes, for you and up to 4 companionsYes, for you and up to 8 companions
Priority boardingNoNoYes, group oneYes, group oneNoYes, group oneYes, group oneYes, group one
$100 flight discountNoNoYes, must spend $30,000+ in a calendar yearNoNoNoNoNo
25% in flight savingsYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Additional Redemption FlexibilityYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNo
Reduced Mileage RewardsNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYes
Elite qualifying milesNoNoNo5,000 for $20,000 in spend (10,000 for $40,000+ in spend)NoNoNo10,000 EQM when you spend $40,000 or more
Companion CertificateNoNoNoYes, requires $30,000 spendingNoNoYes, requires $30,000 spendingNo
Global EntryNoNoNoYes, $100 statement creditNoNoNoNo
Anniversary bonusYes, 10,000 miles if you card originally came with this bonusYes, 10,000 miles if you card originally came with this bonusYes, 10,000 miles if you card originally came with this bonusYes, 10,000 miles if you card originally came with this bonusNoNo5% bonus on all points earnedNo
Foreign transaction feesYesNoNoNo0.030.030.03No
EMV ChipYes, PIN Back UpYes, PIN Back UpYes, PIN Back UpYes, PIN Back UpYesOptionalNoNo
Admirals Club MembershipNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Concierge ServiceNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes

Barclaycard Blue Vs Citi Gold

Currently we do not know the annual fee on the Barclaycard Blue card, I suspect it will be $50 or $49 annually The annual fee has been confirmed as $49, which means it will be competing directly with the Citi Gold card which has an annual fee of $50. Let’s compare some of the other card benefits and see which card is better. Note: We will be comparing from year two onwards, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sign up for the Barclaycard Blue card directly.

 Barclaycard BlueCiti GoldWinner
Annual Fee4950Draw
Earning Rates2x on AA/UA, 1x on all other purchases1x on all purchasesBarclaycard
10% Redemption BonusOfferedNot OfferedBarclaycard
Free Checked BagsYes (up to 4 companions)Not OfferedBarclaycard
Priority BoardingYes, group oneNot OfferedBarclaycard
25% in flight savingsYesYesDraw
EMV ChipYesYesBarclaycard (will have PIN as backup)
Reduced Mileage RewardsNoYesCiti
Foreign Transaction FeesNone0.03Barclaycard

As you can see the Barclaycard Blue is superior in nearly every category. The only way it won’t be a better option is if the annual fee is higher than $50, given that the Barclaycard Red will be priced at $89 per year I can’t imagine them going much higher than $50. It’s entirely reasonable that it will be at $60 per year though.

Barclaycard Red Vs Citi Platinum Select

These are the two mid tier cards both credit card issuers are offering, let’s see how they compare.

Barclaycard RedCiti Platinum SelectWinner
Annual Fee$89$95Barclaycard
Earning Rates2x on AA/UA, 1x on everything else2x on AA/UA, 1x on everything elseDraw
10% Redemption BonusYes, 10,000 mile limitYes, 10,000 mile limitDraw
$100 flight discountYes, must spend $30,000+NoBarclaycard
Anniversary BonusYes, 10,000 miles (must have this version of the card)NoBarclaycard
Free Checked BagsYes, up to 4 companionsYes, up to 4 companionsDraw
Priority BoardingYes, group oneYes, group oneDraw
25% in flight savingsYesYesDraw
EMV ChipYesNoBarclaycard
Foreign Transaction FeesNone3%Barclaycard

Barclaycard comes out slightly ahead, but in most of the key categories it’s a draw. Barclaycard is more attractive for those who have the version that comes with a 10,000 mile annual bonus.

Barclaycard Silver Vs Citi Executive

These are the premium cards both of these card issuers offer. The Barclaycard Silver is invite only, so cardholders won’t have the choice to automatically receive one of those cards.

 Barclaycard SilverCiti ExecutiveWinner
Annual Fee195450Barclaycard
Earning Rates3x UA/AA, 2X Hotels/Car Rentals, 1x elsewhere2x UA/AA, 1x elsewhereBarclaycard
Admirals Club MembershipNoneYesCiti
10% Redemption BonusYes, 10,000 mile limitNoBarclaycard
Elite Qualifying MilesYes, 5,000 EQM after $20,000 in spend and another 5,000 after $40,000 in spendYes, 10,000 EQM after $40,000 in spendBarclaycard
Global Entry Credit ($100)YesNoBarclaycard
Companion CertificateYes, must spend $30,000+NoBarclaycard
Free Checked BagsYes, 8 companionsYes, 8 CompanionsDraw
Priority BoardingYes, group oneYes, group oneDraw
25% in flight savingsYesYesDraw
EMV ChipYesNoBarclaycard
Foreign Transaction FeesNoneNoneDraw

You’d need to get a lot of value out of the Admirals Club for the Citi card to be the better option. The annual fee difference is $255 before taking into account things like the 10% miles refund and global entry credit.

Final Thoughts

Whoever negotiated the Barclaycard contract deserves a raise, they’ve done a great job in offering these competing products. It’ll be interesting to see how Citi deals with this, they can either wait for the number of Barclaycard cardholders to dwindle or to go after them aggressively by improving their own products.

Normally I’d say they would just wait, but Citi has been making a number of improvements recently so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them overhaul their American Airline cards as well. Barclaycard is still yet to tell us what will happen to US Airways business cardholders, but I imagine that’s a fairly small base.

Please feel free to point out any errors I’ve made in this post and I’ll do my best to promptly fix them. What are your thoughts on my analysis? Where did I go wrong?

  • Updates:
    • Added the annual fees for the Barclaycard AA cards
    • Added the reduced mileage rewards for the Citi cards
    • Added that EMV chips are optional on some of the Citi cards



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Jay
Jay

Just a slight correction, I have Citi AA Platinum Select card that came with EMV chip.
Citi cards also come with the Reduced Mileage Awards which is great.

Chucks
Chucks

Though not AA branded, the Citi Prestige really fares very well against the Executive for the frequent AA flyer. Both have Admiral’s club access, but the Citi also has Priority Pass Select for even greater access. Redeeming for AA flights, Citi Prestige gives 4.8% back on flights AND hotels, which, considering the value of award miles and elite miles you gain versus booking an award flight, tops the Aviators 3X/2X miles. No it doesn’t give 10k EQM with $40k, but you could easily wind up with 10k more EQM by booking award flights with TYP rather than miles. The other AA benefits of the Executive aren’t going to matter to a frequent flyer with at least gold status. Plus the $250 airline credit basically makes it a win.

Michael

You can request a Citi Platinum Select World Mastercard with an EMV chip. You might be able to for the others, but that’s the only one I know of from personal experience. (See )

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[…] All Of The American Airlines Credit Cards Compared  –  Doctor of Credit     This blog is on fire lately, I am impressed. […]

Prasanna R
Prasanna R

Thanks for the comparison chart.

jjmac
jjmac

fyi, the Citi Select is now a 3k spend in 3 months for 50K miles. I’m waiting on my card now. My wife’s card last month was 2k spend in 3 months for the 50k miles.

Chucks
Chucks

AA just listed the Aviator Silver and Red cards as qualifying for the 7500 mile discount and the Blue as qualifying for the 5000 mile discount.

https://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/reduced-mileage-awards.jsp

AirD0c
AirD0c

FWIW, I believe the Citi exec offers “priority” airport experience, which includes check in, security and boarding via the priority lane, which no other AA card (including the Aviator Silver) offers.

Also, it would be helpful to list the travel insurance benefits, I know the Citi exec offers some kind of trip delay/cancellation benefit, not sure of the other cards though.

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[…] 2017 and the program will run from October 1st until March 31st, 2017. The problem with the current Barclaycard American Airline cards is that they earn 1x miles on all purchases, this means most people won’t want to use them […]

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