- 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3x 3x on dining.
- 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full review of the Platinum Card from American Express.
- 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 5x Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
- 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, bonus points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
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|Card||Best for||Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus||Earning Rate||Annual Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Best for travel insurance||60,000 points||
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Best for lounge access||Earn 80,000 points||
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Best for travel credits||60,000 points||
With 850+ mainline aircraft in its fleet flying to more than 350 destinations in 50 countries, American Airlines is the largest carrier in the world.
Heck, the name “America” is even in the airline’s name, so if you live in the U.S., the odds are high you’ve at least occasionally found yourself flying on American Airlines.
Whether you’re an avid or occasional American Airlines flyer, it can be a good idea to strategize about having a credit card that makes flying cheaper, easier or more rewarding.
American Airlines has revamped the way flyers can earn elite status with its new “Loyalty Points” program, which not only rewards flying but other qualifying activities such as spending on co-branded credit cards and other non-flying activities. You can read more about the changes here, but essentially, you’ll earn one Loyalty Point for each qualifying AAdvantage mile earned from qualifying activities.
Here are the elite status qualification requirements for:
- Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points.
- Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points.
- Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points.
- Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points.
These changes are especially beneficial for co-branded cardholders, since your spend can directly help you move up the ranks of elite status. Here are the best American Airlines credit cards of 2023, and why you may want to consider applying for one, now more than ever.
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Best American Airlines cobranded credit cards
If you’re in the market for an American Airlines-issued credit card, you’ve got choices. Due to the US Airways and American Airlines merger in 2013, there are still two different banks that issue American Airlines credit cards: Citi and Barclays. This means you have more choices as an American Airlines flyer than you would as say, a United Airlines flyer, since all United credit cards are issued by Chase.
Here’s a comparison of the available Citi- and Barclays-issued American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards currently available for new sign-ups:
|Credit Card||Welcome bonus||Annual fee||Earning capabilities|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card||Earn 10,000 American miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||$0.||2 miles for every $1 spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and paying your annual fee, both within the first 90 days of card opening.||$99.||2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.|
|Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard||Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases the first three months of account opening.||$99 (waived the first 12 months).||2 miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard||Earn 80,000 miles and a $95 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days.||$95.||2 American Airlines miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, office supply stores, telecom expenses and car rentals, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®||Earn 65,000 American Airlines bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening.||$99 (waived the first 12 months).||2 American Airlines miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, telecom, cable, satellite, car rentals and gas stations, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.|
|Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard||Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||$450.||2 American Airlines miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.|
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, AAdvantage Aviator Red and the AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Note that these are the cards available for new customer sign-ups, but some other Barclays-issued American Airlines cards may only be available for current Aviator cardholders. Note: Bonus valuation is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
Those are the basics. Now here’s a closer look at the best American Airlines cobranded credit cards and what type of American Airlines flyers they serve best.
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Bonus valuation: $885.
Annual fee: $450.
Benefits: In addition to the sign-up bonus, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard comes with the following perks:
- Full Admirals Club membership, including access privileges for authorized users to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. You are required to show a same-day boarding pass for American or a partner airline to use these lounges.
- First checked bag free for yourself and up to eight traveling companions when traveling on a domestic American Airlines flight,
- Priority check-in, airport screening and boarding privileges.
Who should get it: This is a card for American Airlines elite flyers — or those who fly American a lot but just not quite enough for a meaningful status level. Having this card is a lot like having elite status — without the first class upgrades.
For more information, read our AAdvantage Executive card review.
Official application link: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
Sign-up bonus: 10,000 AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.
Bonus valuation: $227 (including statement credit).
Annual fee: $0.
Benefits: This card rounds out Citi’s American Airlines card lineup as the no-annual-fee, entry-level option. It’s light on benefits but offers the following in addition to the current sign-up bonus:
- 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases — equal to a 3.54% return based on TPG valuations.
- 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
- 25% savings on food and beverages on AA inflight purchases made with the MileUp card.
Who should get it: This card is good for those who want to earn American Airlines miles but absolutely don’t want an annual fee and also don’t fly American Airlines with regularity, so don’t care about waived check bag fees.
For more information, read our AAdvantage MileUp card review.
Official application link: AAdvantage MileUp Card.
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening.
Bonus valuation: $885.
Annual fee: $99 (waived the first 12 months).
Benefits: In addition to the current sign-up bonus, you also receive:
- 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on restaurants, gas stations and on eligible American Airlines purchases.
- First bag checked free on domestic AA itineraries for yourself and up to four companions on the same reservation.
- $125 American Airlines flight discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card year and renew your card.
Who should get it: With a lower annual fee and minimum spending requirement than some of the higher-tier American Airlines cards, such as the Executive World Elite card, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select is the best card for the casual American Airlines flyer who isn’t invested in earning elite status, but wants a better experience when flying American.
For more information, read our AAdvantage Platinum Select card review.
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and paying your annual fee, both within the first 90 days of card opening.
Bonus valuation: $885.
Annual fee: $99.
Benefits: This Barclays-issued card offers an annual $25 annual statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases, an annual $99 companion ticket after you spend $20,000 on the card, waived check bag fees for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same American Airlines reservation, and a 25% statement credit for eligible onboard AA purchases. The category bonuses are fairly standard:
- 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.
- 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
Who should get it: The AAdvantage Aviator Red card is a fantastic option for those who want a big sign-up bonus that can be earned after buying something as small as a pack of chewing gum. The perks are solid for the occasional American Airlines flyer.
AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 miles and a $95 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days.
Bonus valuation: $1,511 (including statement credit).
Annual fee: $95.
Benefits: The AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard offers benefits that improve the business traveler experience:
- Free checked bags for you and up to four people on the same American Airlines reservation.
- Annual $99 companion voucher awarded after $30,000 in spending.
- 5% bonus on American Airlines miles earned on the card each year.
- 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on eligible office supply stores, telecom expenses and car rentals, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.
Who should get it: This small business card is good for frequent American Airlines travelers who want an extra push toward elite status or a chance to earn a companion certificate each year with their small business spending. The 5% annual bonus on miles earned on the card also boosts the effective earning rate above other options on this list.
CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening.
Bonus valuation: $1,151.
Annual fee: $99 (waived the first 12 months).
Benefits: The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard offers fewer benefits than the Barclay Aviator Business Mastercard, but small business owners will still find them valuable:
- $99 companion certificate after you spend $30,000 or more on the card in a calendar year and renew the card (account must remain open for at least 45 days after the anniversary date).
- 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.
Who should get it: The additional spending category bonuses on this small business card make it an attractive option for small business owners who want to earn extra American miles on various charges.
For more information, read our CitiBusiness AAdvantage card review.
Good cards for buying American Airlines tickets
You’ll earn American AAdvantage miles just about anytime you fly with a paid ticket, calculated on the base price of your ticket minus taxes and fees. The amount of miles you earn also varies based on your AAdvantage elite status. And while it can make a whole lot of sense to have and use an American Airlines cobranded credit card for your American ticket purchases, there are also situations where other credit cards may be an even better choice.
For example, if you want to earn more flexible rewards, you could pay for your American Airlines ticket with a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards Points. Consider the following cards for your American Airlines tickets, some of which carry generous built-in travel protections compared to some of the Barclays or Citi cobranded American Airlines cards.
|CREDIT CARD||WELCOME BONUS||ANNUAL FEE||EARNING CAPABILITIES|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.||$95.||5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, 3 points per dollar on select streaming services, 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2 points per dollar on all other travel, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||80,000 Membership Rewards points after new cardholders spend $6,000 on purchases within six months of card membership. Terms apply.||$695 (see rates & fees).||5 points per dollar spent on airfare booked through Amex or directly with the airlines on up to $500,000 per calendar year and on prepaid hotels booked directly with Amex, 1 point per dollar on other purchases. Terms apply.|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||$550.||10 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and Chase Dining purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points per dollar on all other travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on everything else.|
Let’s take a closer look at these alternate options to see how well they’d work for an American traveler.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Bonus valuation: $1,200 according to TPG valuations.
Annual fee: $95.
Benefits: This card offers 2 points per dollar on all other travel and 3 points per dollar on dining purchases (not just American tickets) at a reasonable annual fee. The Ultimate Rewards points earned can be transferred to United, British Airways, Southwest Airlines, and several other airline and hotel programs.
You can also book flights and other travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also features primary rental car insurance and some travel and purchase protection benefits.
For more information, read our Sapphire Preferred card review.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Platinum Card from American Express
Welcome offer: 80,000 Membership Rewards points after new cardholders spend $6,000 on purchases within six months of card membership. You may be targeted for a higher welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time).
Bonus valuation: $1,600.
Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).
Benefits: Although the Membership Rewards points earned by this card can’t be transferred to American, they can be transferred to Oneworld partners — such as British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific — along with Etihad Guest, one of American’s non-alliance partners. You can use points transferred to any of these programs to book award tickets on American-operated flights.
The Platinum Card earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on all flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), as well as prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Other cardholder benefits include an up to $200 annual statement credit toward incidental airline fees (although not airfare), monthly Uber credits, biannual Saks credits, Marriott elite status, Hilton elite status, Centurion Lounge access, Priority Pass Select membership and much more. Enrollment is required for select card benefits. For more information, read our Amex Platinum card review.
Official application link: Amex Platinum.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Bonus valuation: $1,200 according to TPG valuations.
Annual fee: $550.
Benefits: Chase Ultimate Rewards points don’t transfer to American Airlines, but you can actually use them to book American-operated flights via Ultimate Rewards transfer partners such as British Airways, starting at 7,500 Avios points each way. This card is a great choice if you’re eyeing future award travel with a diverse group of airline partners. Or if you prefer the simplicity of cash fares. You can redeem your points for 1.5 cents each for airfare, hotels, car rentals or cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
The Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points per dollar on all other travel purchases (excluding its $300 travel credit) and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. If you spend a lot in these two categories, you could be ready to book an award flight in no time.
The card also awards 10 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2025. Its $550 annual fee is offset by a $300 annual travel credit that is automatically applied to any eligible purchases — from airfare to hotel stays to sightseeing tours. You get lounge access through Priority Pass Select membership, plus excellent travel protections if you put the airfare or the taxes and fees on award flights on your card.
Here’s an example of how using a card like this to book a flight resulted in Chase picking up the tab for a $1,000 last-minute hotel when flights were canceled.
For more information, read our Sapphire Reserve card review.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Who should get an American Airlines credit card?
I wouldn’t recommend building your entire points-earning strategy around an American Airlines cobranded credit card since having all your eggs (er, miles) in one basket is very limiting. American moved to dynamic pricing on award tickets, which has made some awards more affordable but others extremely expensive.
However, if you fly even a few times a year with American, you can save a lot of money with some of the perks provided by the cobranded cards. Perhaps the most valuable is the free checked bags. Many American Airlines cobranded cards offer free checked bags for four or even eight additional people on the reservation, making it a money saver for the whole family.
I like to think of airline credit cards as offering “elite-lite” perks, such as priority boarding and lounge access, similar to the benefits you might receive if you have elite status. If you frequently travel with American but don’t fly enough (or don’t spend enough) to earn AAdvantage elite status, these credit card perks become even more valuable.
Related: How to avoid checked bag fees
How much are AAdvantage miles worth?
In TPG’s latest monthly valuations, American Airlines AAdvantage miles are pegged at 1.77 cents each. The carrier has been rapidly expanding economy web special deals utilizing miles, which can be a steal when they line up with your needs. AAdvantage miles are worth slightly more than United (1.21 cents) and Delta (1.41 cents), partly because of the value you get redeeming them for Oneworld partner awards.
For just 70,000 miles, you can fly Cathay Pacific’s excellent business class to anywhere in Asia. You can also fly Iberia business class to Europe for 57,500 miles and avoid some of the nasty fuel surcharges that British Airways is known for.
Can you have more than one American Airlines credit card?
Yes! That was easy.
Thankfully, unlike the very complex rules with Marriott credit cards that are issued by both American Express and Chase (also a result of a merger, in that case between SPG and Marriott), having a Citi American Airlines card doesn’t automatically impact your eligibility from getting a Barclays-issued American Airlines card, and vice versa.
Additionally, you can theoretically have more than one Citi-issued American Airlines card if you wish. For example, if you have the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard but decided you also wanted to get the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard for its lounge access, nothing is stopping you from having both. However, it’s important to note that you can’t get a sign-up bonus on a new card if you previously received one on that same card within the previous 48 months.
As always, read the fine print in the terms and conditions carefully, but there are ways to have more than one American Airlines branded card if you wish.
When travel is more normal, deciding which American Airlines credit card is best comes down to how often you fly the carrier, how much you value lounge access, whether you need help achieving elite status and what other cards you have in your wallet.
For most occasional American Airlines flyers, the Aviator Red is the way to go. The card provides a sizable 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after you hit the spending requirements to boost your account from the beginning and some nice perks like your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries.
For those who want Admirals Club access, you may prefer the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, while if you have a small business, the answer on which is best will be different.
Then there’s also option B: Get a more flexible travel card. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express awards 5 points per dollar spent on American Airlines ticket purchases (made directly with the airline) and includes Priority Pass access. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another great choice for travelers who want some built-in travel protections and bonus points without being locked into earning miles with American Airlines.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.
Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.