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American introduced its Citibank-issued Citi Executive/AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard three years ago, to compete with other premium travel-rewards cards like the American Express Platinum card, the Delta Reserve card, and the United Mileage Plus Club Visa.
With a $450 annual fee, it’s among the most expensive rewards cards available. But that’s more than offset by its signature benefit: a one-year Admirals Club membership, normally priced at $500 for non-elites.
Additional benefits include the following:
Since the card’s introduction, the sign-up bonus has generally hovered around the 25,000-mile mark, occasionally rising above that.
But for a limited time, new cardholders are being offered 100,000 bonus miles after charging $10,000 to the card within three months of signing up. That’s the highest it’s ever been for this card, and likely the highest it will ever be.
There’s no published end date to this sign-up bonus, so it could be ratcheted back down at any time.
Deal or No Deal
On paper, this is a solid deal. The lounge membership alone is worth more than the annual card fee. And 100,000 miles are worth $1,200, at 1.2 cents per mile (my rule-of-thumb valuation of an average frequent-flyer mile).
How much of that hypothetical value translates into real-world value depends on your travel frequency and priorities. Do you fly often enough to justify the expense of a lounge membership? Do you normally check a bag? Are the airport perks meaningful to you?
Even if the card-linked benefits aren’t compelling, however, the outsized sign-up bonus makes this a deal worth serious consideration.
And don’t forget: Beginning on March 22, complimentary access to American’s lounges will no longer be included among the benefits bundled with the American Express Platinum and Centurion cards.
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