Which Credit Card is Best for American Airlines Fliers?

CREDIT CARDS - AIRLINE CREDIT CARDS
These credit cards cater to American Airlines frequent fliers, but each comes with its own unique perks.
Updated July 17, 2024
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If you fly with American Airlines often, it might make sense to opt for a credit card that gives you special perks for flying with this carrier. There are lots of credit cards that allow you to earn miles to use on different airlines, but there are also some cards that specifically cater to American Airlines customers.

These cards let you get special perks, such as free checked bags — helping you avoid American Airlines baggage fees — extra points on purchases with American, free companion airline tickets on American flights, and more. Finding an American Airlines-branded card can make a lot of sense if you’re loyal to this airline, but if you prefer more flexibility, you may prefer one of the best all-around travel cards that’s also a good fit for American Airlines customers, such as the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

This guide will show you all the key cards designed for American Airlines customers so you can find the card that’s best for your specific situation.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • American Airlines co-branded cards earn miles on American Airlines flights, and many offer additional perks like free checked bags.
  • The best travel cards can be used for a variety of airlines, and some offer perks like lounge access.
  • The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® is a $0 annual fee co-branded card option, while the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a $0 annual fee general travel card option.

The best credit cards for American Airlines

The best American Airlines credit cards 

Co-branded cards are cards that exclusively earns points or miles for a specific company. In this case, it’s American Airlines, and you earn AAdvantage miles. American Airlines cards are issued by Citi and Barclays.

American Airlines miles can be redeemed for flights on American Airlines and any other oneworld airline, flight upgrades on American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia, and car rentals, hotels, activities, and tours. 

Each of the American Airlines credit cards differs in annual fees and the perks it provides. For example, while they all offer earn bonus points on purchases made with American Airlines and allow you to redeem miles with American or partner airlines, there are big differences in the annual fees, airline lounge access, savings on inflight purchases, and other cardholder perks.

The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® card offers a $0 annual fee, for example, but charges foreign transaction fees and offers few cardholder perks besides the chance to earn rewards points. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, on the other hand, has a $595 annual fee but comes with Admirals Club membership, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, a free checked bag, and many other valuable perks.

The table below shows more details about each of these cards so you can better select which may be the best airline credit card for you.


American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Annual fee $0
$99 (waived first year)  $99 $595
Welcome offer Earn 15,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase and pay the annual fee in the first 90 days Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
Rewards rate

2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services; 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases     

2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases 2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases 10X miles on hotels booked through aa.com/hotels and eligible car rentals booked through aa.com/cars, 4X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases (after spending $150,000 per calendar year this increases to 5X for the remainder of the calendar year), and 1X miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

Earn 10,000 Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 within the year

Free bags None First checked bag free for you and up to four companions First checked bag free for you and up to four companions First checked bag free for you and up to eight companions
Boarding perks None Preferred boarding Preferred boarding Priority boarding
Lounge access No No No Yes
Other perks
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverages
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverages
  • $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 and renewing your card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases
  • Annual $99 companion certificate after spending $20,000 and keeping your account open 45 days past your card anniversary
  • $25 statement credit on inflight Wi-Fi
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (on balance transfers that post within 45 days of account opening), then 21.24% to 29.99% (variable)
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases
  • $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Dedicated concierge
  • Admirals Club membership, valued at up to $850

Which card is right for you?

The right card for your situation will depend on how often you travel, how much you spend, and how you prefer to travel.

While the Citi / American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card is the only one without an annual fee, opting for one of the other cards can make more sense if you and a guest fly more than twice with checked bags. That’s because the American Airlines fee for a single checked bag is $35 on domestic flights if you book online — so two bags on two flights would cost you $140 in checked bag fees. That’s well above the $99 annual fee for the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® and the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select, which both offer free checked bags for you and up to four companions on domestic itineraries.

For many, the Barclays card may win over the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select. Both have the same annual fee, but the Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® also offers a companion certificate if you spend $20,000 on purchases each year and keep your account open for 45 days past your card anniversary.

Otherwise, you may prefer the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select if you often spend at gas stations and restaurants since this Citi card provides double miles for these purchases, which the Barclay card doesn’t.

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive card is in a class by itself regarding the cost, thanks to its high annual fee. But if you were going to buy Admirals Club membership to get access to American Airlines lounges, this card provides a great value.

Other rewards cards that are great if you fly American Airlines


Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card The Platinum Card® from American Express Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee $0 $95 $695
Terms apply
$550
Welcome offer Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new card in the first 6 months Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Rewards rate 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases
Free bags None None None None; but you can use the $300 annual travel credit to cover baggage costs
Boarding perks None None None None
Lounge access No No Yes Yes
Other perks
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Visa Signature benefits like lost luggage insurance and travel cancellation and interruption insurance
  • $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year toward hotel stays purchased through the Chase travel portal.
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the Chase travel portal
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, and primary auto rental collision damage waiters
  • Up to $85 in statement credit toward TSA PreCheck® every 4.5 years (five-year plan only) or up to $100 in statement credit for Global Entry every four years; up to $200 in Uber Cash each year (terms apply; enrollment required for select benefits)
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck; points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Travel℠

While these general credit cards won’t get you any boarding perks or free bags, they do come with benefits that can make your time at the airport more comfortable and offset the costs of baggage. Plus, you’ll be able to use them to earn points on travel even when you’re not flying American Airlines.

If you’re looking for a straight-forward travel card with a $0 annual fee, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is an excellent choice. You earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, which you can use toward American Airlines or other flights. If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn even more.

Read our Bank of America Travel Rewards card review for more details.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

4.1

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Annual Fee

$0

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a relatively modest annual fee of $95, but it provides a lot of value. You can redeem points for 25% more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. While American isn’t a direct Chase partner, you can book American Airlines flights through the Chase travel portal.

You can also indirectly use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to redeem on American through its partnership with British Airways. British Airways is a part of the Oneworld Alliance, which includes American Airlines. So you could transfer points to the British Airways rewards program, then redeem them for American Airlines flights.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more details.

Great for Flexible Travel Rewards

4.9

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Frequent travelers who want the best perks should consider the Amex Platinum or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Both cards offer annual credits to help offset the costs of travel, plus complimentary airport lounge access and ridesharing perks. 

Read our Amex Platinum review and our Chase Sapphire Reserve review for more details.

Luxury Travel Benefits

5.0

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Current Offer

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new card in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$695

Rewards Rate

5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Premium Travel Benefits

5.0

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Bottom line

With several options to choose from, American Airlines customers will love the flexibility their favorite airline’s cards provide. But you need to consider which of these cards is best suited to your specific needs — or if something other than an American Airlines credit card, like another one of the best travel credit cards might be the best way to go.

For some, one of the cards with an annual fee might represent a better value thanks to free checked bags, special boarding privileges, and no transaction fees when using the card abroad. But domestic travelers who don’t fly often on American may prefer not to pay a fee for the card — although, in this case, picking a more general travel card altogether may be a better bet.

Methodology

To select the best credit cards for American Airlines fliers, we compared a variety of co-branded cards with benefits for American Airlines passengers, as well as cards from other issuers. We assessed rewards rates, welcome offers, perks, and annual fees to recommend the best cards for frequent American Airlines customers. We did not include all cards available.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

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Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.