Whether you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer or you only fly American a few times a year, having an American Airlines credit card in your wallet can pay off. Heck, even if you don’t plan to set foot on one of their planes at all, you can still get huge value out of holding one (or even several) of the best American Airlines credit cards.
For starters, American partners with some of the world’s best airlines, allowing you to use AAdvantage miles on flights with Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and more. For that reason alone, we think American Airlines miles are worth earning.
Additionally, some of these cards can get you free checked luggage on domestic flights, priority boarding, Admirals Club lounge access, start building toward American elite status, earn bonus AAdvantage miles on your everyday spending, or all of the above. Every card is a bit different, so there are plenty of options that can fit your needs.
Luckily, American makes it easier than many airlines to pile up miles thanks to the fact that they have co-branded credit cards from two different banks: Citi and Barclays. That means you can earn welcome offers on cards from both banks and earn a ton of American AAdvantage miles quickly.
Read on for our full list of the best American Airlines credit cards for travelers in 2021.
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
One of the key ingredients to earning a ton of American Airlines miles quickly is the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. We think it’s also one of the best cards for casual American Airlines travelers.
The card currently allows you to earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months of card membership. While that’s not the highest bonus we’ve seen on the card, it’s a solid bonus. And the card’s $99 annual fee is even waived for the first year.
Beyond the bonus, it allows you to earn 2x AAdvantage miles for every one dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and at gas stations and restaurants.
You’ll also get your first checked bag free on domestic flights operated by American Airlines – even if you don’t pay for the flight with the card.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.
The Barclays AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard
Thanks to the merger between American and U.S. Airways back in 2015, the airline still has co-branded credit cards issued from two different banks. And both credit card relationships have survived to this day.
Why does this matter? It means you can apply for and open credit cards from both banks – and earn the sign-up bonus on each.
And no credit card makes it easier to earn a big sign-up bonus offer than the AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard from Barclays. Forget about charging a few thousand dollars – just for opening the card, making a single purchase, and paying the $99 annual fee upfront, you can currently earn 50,000 American Airlines miles.
While most credit cards require you to spend $2,000 or more in the first three months to unlock a big welcome bonus, that’s not the case here. For less than $100, you can earn a quick and easy 50,000 miles that will be worth much, much more than that price. They’re some of the easiest points and miles you will ever earn.
Buy a cup of coffee, pay the upfront $99 annual fee, and bam! You’ve got 50,000 American Airlines miles.
And on the benefits front, you’ll receive 2x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases and 1x miles per dollar spent everywhere else. You’ll also get a free checked bag on domestic American flights.
But the value of this card largely boils down to how easy the miles are to earn.
Click Here to learn more about the Barclays AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard (for full disclosure this is not an affiliate link).
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
If you’re flying American regularly, looking to get in lounges, and chasing elite status, this is the card for you.
The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is AA’s top-of-the-line credit card. It helps you earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), a critical building block for American status. And it will also get you into American Airlines Admirals Club lounges – along with up to two guests.
But those extra perks don’t come cheap: It comes with a big $450 annual fee.
The card also offers 50,000 American Aadvantage miles after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. You’ll earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year. And like the other American Airlines cards, you’ll earn 2x AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend with American and 1x mile per dollar spent everywhere else.
If you’re just looking to pile up miles to redeem on flights, this isn’t the best American Airlines credit card. This one is all about frequent travel on American and getting lounge access.
Of course, the miles don’t hurt either. And it’s another option to build up your balance of AAdvantage miles.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
If you are looking to earn American Airlines miles without paying an annual fee, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card is for you.
The card offers 10,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $500 in the first three months of card membership. You’ll also earn a $50 statement credit.
You’ll earn 2x miles per dollar spent at grocery stores, and with American Airlines, and 1x mile per dollar spent on everything else.
But since this card waives the annual fee, you won’t get a free checked bag flying with American. And since American charges $30 each way to check a bag, that can add up fast.
In fact, since both the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and the Barclays AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard offer a free checked luggage benefit, you can come out ahead on the $99 annual fee each card charges if you check bags on just two round trip flights each year.
Click Here to learn more about the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card.
The Platinum Card from American Express
Now for something completely different.
Unlike Delta and United, American is not a transfer partner of any of the major bank points programs. Points from Chase, American Express, Citi, and even Capital One cannot be transferred to your AAdvantage account.
That said, we still feel the Platinum Card from American Express is a strong contender for anyone frequently flying with American Airlines.
To start, you’ll earn earns 75,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of card membership – or even 100,000 or 125,000 points if you’re targeted for an offer via CardMatch.
On top of that, the card earns 5x points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with American (or any other airline) or through the Amex Travel portal. That makes it the best card for booking flights, period.
But there’s more to this card that makes it a strong option for American airlines. The card comes with a $200 annual airline credit which can be used on one selected airline each year. Buying airfare outright generally won’t work with these credits, but they can cover other fees like checked bags, change fees, seat selection, award taxes and fees, or even buying miles.
But the best reason to give this card a hard look is because it will get you the best lounge access of any credit card out there – and it’s not particularly close. Just for holding the card, you’ll get access to American Express’ incredible Centurion Lounges, a Priority Pass Select Membership, access to the Delta Sky Club (when you are flying Delta), and the network of Escape Lounges growing throughout the U.S.
If you’re flying with American, you’ll likely be able to use the unbeatable Centurion Lounges quite often. You can find a Centurion in most of the major American Airlines hub airports throughout the U.S.: Charlotte (CLT), Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), New York City (both JFK and LaGuardia), Phoenix (PHX), and Los Angeles (LAX). The only big AA hub that misses the cut is Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
These lounges are one of the best ways to improve your airport experience before your next flight. And the Platinum Card is the only way to get in if you are flying with American Airlines.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
Own a small business? Citi has an American Airlines business credit card to help you earn even more AAdvantage miles.
It’s called the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard. After opening the card and spending $4,000 in the first four months of card membership, you’ll earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
You’ll also earn 2x miles per dollar spent on purchases with American Airlines, purchases with telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rentals, and at gas stations. The card comes with a $99 annual fee, but that’s waived for the first year of card membership.
And like the personal cards, there is even a Barclays business card that you can also earn 75,000 bonus miles with.
Click Here to learn more about the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard.
Why You Should Be Earning American Airlines Miles
Don’t want to fly American? No problem.
One of the best parts about AAdvantage miles – and all airline miles – is that they’re not just good for booking flights on American Airlines itself. Airline alliances and partnerships open up the world of using your miles, making them far more valuable and versatile. And if you ask us, American has some of the best partners out there.
From far more spacious seats in economy at the back of the plane to the incomparable service in first class at the front, Japan Airlines is one of the best ways to fly from the U.S. to Asia. You can book these flights from 35,000 AAdvantage miles each way in economy, 60,000 in business class, and 80,000 miles for first class.
But if you want to fly the best airline in the world, your best bet is … you guessed it, AAdvantage miles. Booking flights on Qatar Airways is one of our favorite ways to use AA miles – especially if you’re flying in their Qsuite business class.
There are so many great ways to use American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
If you are looking for one of the best American Airlines credit cards – look no further. They are some of the easiest miles to earn through credit card sign-up bonuses. And even if you don’t plan on setting foot on an American plane, they can score you some incredible experiences thanks to their network of OneWorld airline alliance partners.