Citibank Testing Revamp Of Premium American Airlines Credit Card

The premium American Airlines credit card, the Citi Executive AAdvantage card, is a bit of a throwback. The card has been largely unchanged since it launched in summer 2011. So it doesn’t have many of the benefits of other airline premium cards. However,

  • The $450 annual fee hasn’t changed.

  • And it has the most generous club lounge access benefit – membership in the American Airlines Admirals Club for the primary cardmember (a good deal at the annual fee price point) and no annual fee authorized users of the card get access to American Airlines lounges with up to two guests when flying the airline, upon presentation of their card, as well. You can have up to 10 authorized users per account.

I’ve assumed that this would all change with a re-upped co-brand deal. The card needs a refresh, and it is “too cheap” at $450 once that happens as well. The reason to get a club membership is service during delays and flight cancellations, not food where the clubs lag competitors, though the new design template is gorgeous.

And this card has been the best way to gain a membership. American Airlines raised club prices in 2019 so even Executive Platinum members buying membership pay $550 now. Offering it for $100 less to anyone with a credit card doesn’t seem sustainable.

Now we’re learning that Citibank is, indeed, surveying what their premium American Airlines AAdvantage co-brand will look like going forward, at a $645 price point:

@garyleff Just got a survey about Citi exec card and noticed the following language at the bottom. Any rumblings they are increasing loyalty point thresholds soon?

— S.B. (@SRB8675309) October 25, 2022

The card surveyed here earns:

  • 4x on American Airlines purchases – and then 5x once you’ve spent $150,000 on the card with American Airlines. For nearly everyone you should consider this 4x on American spend, which still doesn’t hit what Amex Platinum offers you (but does give you Loyalty Points for the spend so probably worthwhile to put American Airlines purchases on the card)

  • 5x on hotels and car rentals booked through the American Airlines travel portal so – essentially – next to useless. You lose hotel loyalty program points booking through this third party site, don’t earn elite status credit in a hotel program, and don’t receive elite benefits. It’s conceivable this could make sense with a non-chain hotel property, but there are numerous rewarding and discounted options for that, it is a competitive space.

To be clear, the product discussed in this screen shot is not especially rewarding in terms of AAdvantage miles for spending. The key attractive remains 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent, and there are threshold benefits for hitting prescribed spend levels.

  • 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after $40,000 spend. It’s not clear what else is going on here, but this “puts you on a fast track to earn complimentary status with Avis PreferredPlus and Hyatt Discoverist.” There’s clearly a new Avis tie-in, and American AAdvantage partners with World of Hyatt and often provides status challenges so there may be a new cardmember offer here as well. 10,000 Loyalty Points after $40,000 spend is the 2022 benefit on the existing card.

  • 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after $90,000 spend. With this bonus “you’ll earn 10,000 Loyalty Points which gets you complimentary status with Avis President’s Club and Hyatt Explorist” again unclear whether this means 100,000 Loyalty Points (90,000 from spend + 10,000 bonus) will earn these things, whether these are threshold bonuses in and of themselves, or whether it just means these will be benefits of AAdvantage Platinum status and thus earned after 75,000 points.
  • The surveyed card offers several statement credits: $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every 4 years (as current); $120 Hyatt credit; $120 Avis/Budget Credit; $120 Lyft Credit ($10 off your 4th ride each month – presumably through the Mastercard/Lyft partnership and next to useless, use a Chase premium card instead); $120 DoorDash Credit. Of these new merchant-funded offers the Avis and Hyatt credits could be useful and help offset the fee increase.

    There’s the usual benefits like first bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries including all passengers on the reservation along with priority boarding. And it looks like this card could bring back some insurance benefits which Cit had taken away, though we’ll need details to know how useful they’ll be.

    As surveyed here, additional cardmembers would no longer be free. So it becomes a less useful tool than it has been. Not surprising, but hard to see the higher fee for less of the core product (where the card is even more costly than an upper tier elite buying access directly, and those are the prime target customers for the card).

    Ultimately this card offers a few ways to justify a higher annual fee, but the version of the new premium American Airlines co-brand isn’t a clearly better consumer value proposition than what’s offered today. However the reason to get this card is as an efficient way for some members to obtain club membership (though will no longer be the cheapest for top elites) and as a way to earn status via spend.

    American Airlines breathed life into its co-brand portfolio with the switch to a ‘most AAdvantage activity counts towards status’ model and that is the reason to get and spend on this card, not because it generates valuable currency quickly.

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