Key card elements are:
- Admirals Club Membership
- No Foreign Currency Transaction Fees
- 10,000 elite qualifying miles each year after $40,000 in spend
- Double miles on spend with American
And then for elite members of the program, priority check-in and boarding and waived first checked bag fee.
For the most part, these are benefits that their competitors offer through at least some of their card products. United, Continental, and Delta all offer cards that bundle lounge access. All of their major domestic competitors have cards which offer progress towards elite status based on spend. And it’s fairly standard across both airline and hotel programs to bonus spend with the bo-branded partner.
It’s been amazing that American and Citi have taken so long to jump into this game. They haven’t done anything revolutionary with the product, but they’ve brought themselves up to par and this card will be of interest to American Airlines elites who want the boost towards status re-qualification, and certainly to folks who are buying lounge membership from American (since buying it through the card will help justify the hefty $450 annual fee).
Non-elites will find it cheaper to buy lounge membership through this card, and it’s at least a break-even proposition for Gold members who don’t already have lounge membership. Platinums and Executive Platinums still pay incremental cost over their lounge membership cost in order to have this card.
Now, I’m an AAdvantage Platinum based on lifetime miles earned in my account, I don’t expect to make a run at Executive Platinum status, and I get my American Airlines lounge access through an American Express Platinum card. So this one isn’t for me. But there’s a strong core of American’s elite flyers for whom it will make sense.
Unless one needs to make progress towards their spend for elite qualifying miles or their lounge membership is now expiring, it might make sense to hold off a bit to see whether there are new big signup offers for the card. But it’s great to see American doing this, it’s long seemed odd that cardmembers didn’t even earn bonuses for spending with American and that the oldest frequent flyer program was the only one not recognizing the importance of the credit card relationship by making it a part of earning elite status.