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Best American Airlines Credit Cards for August 2022

Get Admirals Club lounge access, TSA Precheck or Global Entry, checked bags and more with these AAdvantage credit cards.

Citi is an advertising partner.

If you prefer to fly on American Airlines, there are a number of co-branded airline credit cards -- cards issued by a credit card provider on behalf of American Airlines -- that earn you AAdvantage rewards. But there isn't one card designed for all American Airlines loyalists; instead each is tailored for a specific type of traveler.

For example, if you're someone who travels solo and only packs a carry-on, you won't gain much out of the free checked bags benefit some AAdvantage cards offer -- you're likely to get more out of a good welcome bonus and rewards program. Likewise, if you have kids or like to rest in an Admirals Club lounge between flights, the free checked bags and lounge benefit might stretch a lot further than rewards points. Below we lay out each American Airline card's offer to help you pinpoint the best credit card for your flights.

Best overall American Airlines credit card

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full within the first 90 days.
APR18.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% variable based on your creditworthiness
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
Annual Fee$99
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro for first 15 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
Balance Transfer APR18.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% variable based on your creditworthiness
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee Up to $40 (the amount of the fee varies by state)
Foreign Transaction Fees 0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Our Take

The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®* offers the best overall value for most travelers. This card offers the best welcome bonus of American Airlines consumer cards: You earn 60,000 AAdvantage miles when you make your first purchase and pay the annual fee in the first 90 days of card ownership. Most welcome bonuses make you spend hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars to unlock the welcome bonus, so this is quite accessible.

Aside from that, you'll get free bags for up to five people (you and four travel companions), 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, and up to $25 in statement credits for in-flight Wi-Fi annually. If you're able to spend $20,000 per calendar year on the card, you can also earn a Companion Certificate on each account anniversary. This will enable you to take one guest on a flight with you for $99 (plus taxes and fees).

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 0%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

Our Take

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®* is similar to the AAdvantage Aviator Red card with two main differences: It offers a lesser welcome bonus, but also waives the $99 annual fee for the first year. Otherwise, you get 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, a free checked bag for you and up to four additional travel companions on the same reservation, preferred boarding and 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases.

It's a good general American Airlines card that will suit most travelers, except those looking for Admirals Club access or who travel in groups larger than five people.

Best American Airlines credit card with no annual fee

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 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
APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases

Our Take

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card* is a pretty basic American Airlines credit card, but its simplicity includes no annual fee. This card offers 2x miles on eligible American Airlines flights and 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases. It also offers a welcome bonus of 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit after spending just $500 in the first three months of card membership. The MileUp is an easy way to earn some extra AAdvantage miles and save some money on in-flight purchases, but it won't get you any extra travel perks like some of the other cards on this list.

For airport lounges, TSA Precheck and group travel

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
Annual Fee$450
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 0%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

Our Take

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is geared toward extras and travel comforts rather than earning rewards miles. The AAdvantage Executive credit card, which has a $450 annual fee, offers cardholders access to American Airlines' Admirals Club lounges, which normally costs $650 per year for an annual membership. Keep in mind, a one-day pass costs $59, so unless you visit a lounge more than seven times per year, the AAdvantage Executive will not save you money, if lounge access is your primary motivation.

This card also offers a credit for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry -- programs that can help you speed through airport security lines. You can also take advantage of a free checked bag for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation, so if you travel with between six and nine people, this card could save you a significant amount of money compared to the Platinum Select.

For more details, see our full review of the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

Best American Airlines card for business travel

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
APR18.24% - 27.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Additional Details
Late Payment Fee $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 0%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*

Our Take

The Business version of the Platinum Select is similar to its consumer counterpart, but has a few key differences. The main differentiator is the welcome bonus -- 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first four months of card ownership -- which offers more bonus miles than any of the consumer cards. You'll also get discounted Wi-Fi on flights and a personal travel assistant to help with arrangements.

As for rewards, you can earn miles in additional business-oriented categories, including cable and satellite providers, gas stations, telecom merchants and car rentals, but you'll likely earn more with another business credit card if your goal is to maximize rewards.

How do airline credit cards compare to other travel rewards credit cards? 

As a general rule, we don't really recommend using an airline credit card as your main credit card. Instead, think of airline cards as a way to improve your flight experience with perks and credits. They can be a great way to maximize flight purchases, but usually won't offer the best overall value for other purchase categories.

Some of the perks might not seem glamorous at first glance -- like free checked bags -- but the benefits can add up over just a few flights. If you're not an airline loyalist, though, travel credit cards offer more widely applicable rewards categories and perks, without restricting you to specific brands.

How do American Airlines cards stack up against other airlines' cards?

Not very well. The co-branded cards from airlines like Delta and JetBlue generally offer better value overall through welcome bonuses, reward rates and other perks. 

But if you're already a loyalist to American Airlines, it may make sense to stick with an AAdvantage credit card or a general travel credit card -- the better rewards with other airlines won't help you much if you don't want to switch airlines.

Do AAdvantage cards offer any annual credits?

Yes, but they're not easy to unlock. Most of the cards listed above offer an annual credit of some kind, but given the high spending thresholds required to unlock them, and their relatively low value, we don't factor them in as a major attribute.

That being said, if you're a high spender ($20,000 and up annually), they could be relevant.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: $99 AA Companion Certificate (plus taxes and fees) for one guest after spending $20,000 on purchases in one year.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: Earn 10,000 additional Loyalty Points after you spend $40,000 in purchases during the qualifying status year.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: $99 American Airlines Companion Certificate (plus taxes and fees) for domestic travel after you spend $30,000 or more in purchases each card membership year and card membership is renewed.

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card doesn't offer any annual credits.

Do any of the American Airlines cards accelerate your AAdvantage status?

Not really. The Executive World Elite card offers 10,000 additional Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 in purchases during the qualifying status year, but there are very few situations where that perk will be relevant toward bumping you up a status tier. 

The reward rates will also help you toward status -- though slowly -- since those extra miles also earn you extra Loyalty Points. For every mile earned, you earn one Loyalty Point. If you're earning 2x or 3x miles on certain purchases, you'll earn 2 or 3 loyalty points, respectively, instead of the 1x mile you'd earn if you were just an AAdvantage loyalty member without a credit card.

FAQs

Where are American Airlines Admirals Club airport lounges?

There are nearly 50 Admirals Club locations across five continents. For the latest list and updates on American Airlines airport lounges, check out the Admirals Club locations page.

How much do checked bags typically cost with American Airlines?

In most situations, your first checked bag will cost $30, though some routes may charge more or less. Your second and third check bags will typically cost a lot more. American Airlines offers a list of its routes with associated baggage fees if you need more details.

What is the definition of a travel companion?

A travel companion is defined as someone who's traveling with you on the same reservation. This can be a family member, business partner or even an acquaintance, as long as you've booked your flights together. 

How do you apply for the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®?

A once fruitful option, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®* from Barclays is no longer accepting new applications. This product is only being serviced for existing card members.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card.

*All information about the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card, CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard and AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.