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If you enjoy spending time in airport lounges, there are many credit cards that can help you do so. In addition to the independent lounges you can access with a Priority Pass membership, you can also get credit cards that specifically give you access to a single airline’s entire lounge network. American, Delta, and United all offer credit cards with this option, but each one is from a different bank so there are major differences between them.
Here we’re going to take a look at the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offered by Citi and the United Club℠ Infinite Card from Chase. Both offer lounge access, discounts on inflight purchases, free checked baggage, priority boarding and significant welcome bonuses. But beyond the obvious question of which airline you fly, does one of these cards offer significantly better benefits than the other?
Let’s look at how these two cards compare and which card is the better choice for you.
Chase United Club℠ Infinite Card Overview
The annual fee for the United Club℠ Infinite Card is $525, and it is not waived the first year.
The United Club℠ Infinite Card comes with a lot of perks, but let’s look at the main benefits that can help offset its annual fee:
- United Club membership, which gives you access to more than 45 United Club lounges across the U.S. and in Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, and Tokyo, as well as Star Alliance partner lounges around the world. (You must have a same-day boarding pass on United or one of its partner airlines to access the Club.)
- Premier Access when flying United: dedicated lanes at check-in and security, priority boarding, and priority baggage tags
- Two free checked bags for you and a companion when flying United
- A Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment credit, worth up to $100, every 4 years
- A 25% rebate on United inflight purchases including food, beverages, and Wi-Fi
- 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $12,000 you spend, up to 3,000 PQPs per calendar year.
- Complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle membership
- Expanded access to economy award space on United flights, making it easier to use your miles
- Eligibility for complimentary upgrades on award tickets if you have United elite status
- Travel insurance, including trip interruption and trip delay insurance, which could be extremely valuable if your travel plans are affected by flight delays and cancellations
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
The card earns 4X United miles per dollar spent on United purchases, 2X on other travel including airfare, trains, local transit, cruise lines, hotels, car rentals, taxicabs, resorts, rideshare services and tolls, 2X on dining including delivery services, and 1X everywhere else.
There are no foreign transaction fees.
Note that this card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so keep that in mind when choosing between the two cards.
Citi AAdvantage Executive Card Overview
The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card’s annual fee is $450, and it also isn’t waived the first year.
The Citi AAdvantage Executive Card comes with a lot of similar perks to the United Club℠ Infinite Card, but focused on American Airlines travelers:
- Admirals Club membership, which gives you access to nearly 50 Admirals Club lounges across the U.S. and in Buenos Aires, London, Mexico City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Toronto, as well as over 60 partner lounges around the globe – including the Alaska Airlines lounge network (You must have a same-day boarding pass on American or one of its partner airlines to access lounges)
- Access to Admirals Club lounges for up to 10 authorized users (there is no fee for authorized users).
- Priority boarding on American flights and priority security lanes at select airports
- One free checked bag on domestic American flights for you and up to 8 companions on the same reservation
- A Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment credit, worth up to $100, every 5 years
- A 25% rebate on inflight food and beverage purchases
- 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
The card earns 2X on American Airlines purchases and 1X everywhere else. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Chase United Club Infinite vs. Citi AAdvantage Executive
Here’s a quick comparison of the two cards.
|United Club Infinite||AAdvantage Executive|
|Lounge access for primary cardholder||United Clubs and partner lounges||Admirals Clubs, Alaska Lounges, and other partner lounges|
|Lounge access for authorized users||None||Admirals Clubs|
|Points earning on United or American||4X||2X|
|Points earning on travel and dining||2X||1X|
|Inflight discounts||25% back on food, drinks and Wi-Fi||25% back on food and drinks|
|Trip delay benefit||Up to $500 per ticket for delays of 6 or more hours|
(or delays requiring an overnight stay)
|Trip cancellation/interruption benefit||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||None|
|Baggage delay insurance||$100 per day for delays over 6 hours, up to 3 days||None|
|Lost luggage insurance||Up to $3,000 per person||None|
|Rental car benefits||Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver and Hertz President’s Circle status||None|
|Damage and Theft Purchase protection||120 days, up to $10,000 per incident and $50,000 per year||90 days, up to $10,000 per incident and $50,000 per year|
|Extended warranty||One additional year on manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less||Two years in addition to manufacturer’s or extended warranty plans, up to 7 years from purchase|
Why Choose United Club Infinite
Still on the fence? If you can fly either United or American, here’s some reasons you might pick United.
Higher Earning Rates
The United Club℠ Infinite Card earns 4X on United purchases and 2X on travel and dining, while the AAdvantage Executive card only earns 2X on American purchases and 1X everywhere else. If you plan to actually use the card for purchases, you’ll earn more miles with the United Club℠ Infinite Card.
Better Luggage Benefit
The United Club℠ Infinite Card gets you and a companion two free checked bags on all United flights. The AAdvantage Executive card only gets you one free checked bag, and only on domestic flights.
25% Discount on Wi-Fi
The United Club card gets you a discount on inflight Wi-Fi, which can save you a decent chunk of money if you’d normally purchase it.
Premium Travel Benefits
The United Club℠ Infinite Card has excellent trip insurance coverage, including trip interruption insurance. If your trip is delayed by just six hours, you’ll be reimbursed $500 per ticket for delays of 6 or more hours. You’ll have to pay for the tickets with the card, or charge taxes and fees on award tickets to be eligible for the coverage.
Six hour delays are not uncommon, and it’s very reassuring to know that in case things go wrong, you’ll be reimbursed for a hotel room, meals and other incidental costs.
Longer Purchase Protection Coverage
When you make purchases with the United Club℠ Infinite Card, they’re protected from damage or theft for 120 days (about four months) versus just 90 days on the AAdvantage Executive card.
Why the AAdvantage Executive Card Might Be a Better Fit
Although the United Club℠ Infinite Card offers better travel benefits and earning rates, the AAdvantage Executive Card has a few distinct advantages.
Lounge Access for Authorized Users
This is probably the biggest benefit of the AAdvantage Executive Card. You can add up to 10 free authorized users to the AAdvantage Executive Card and each of them will have access to Admirals Club lounges when flying on American or one of its partner airlines. The United Club℠ Infinite Card lets you add authorized users, but they don’t get lounge access.
Lower Annual Fee
The annual fee on the AAdvantage Executive card is $450, $75 less than the United Club℠ Infinite Card.The annual fee is not waived the first year and will be charged on the first month’s statement.
Better Extended Warranty Coverage
When you use the AAdvantage Executive to purchase items that have a manufacturer’s warranty (and/or an extended warranty plan), you’ll get an extra two years of warranty coverage, up to 7 years from the date of purchase. The United Club card gives you just one extra year, and only on manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less.
Not Subject to Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Since this card isn’t issued by Chase, you can get it even if you’ve opened more than five new cards in the past 24 months.
Do I Have to Pick Just One?
No. If you’re willing to pay both annual fees – for a total of $975 per year – there’s no reason you can’t have both cards open at the same time. That’s a lot of annual fees though!
If you’re a frequent traveler, getting a credit card that offers lounge access and airline perks can make flying a much more comfortable experience.
For most people, choosing between these two cards should be driven primarily by which airline they fly most. Most of the benefits, including lounge access, are only available when you’re traveling on the respective airline (or in certain cases, one of their partners). But if you’re really airline-agnostic, the United card’s travel protections, luggage benefit, and earning rates are significantly better than American’s, but American lets you give lounge access to up to 10 people for free (as long as you trust them with being an authorized user). Which of these is more important is entirely up to you.
New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card to start with.
With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!
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after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
after $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.