The new American Airlines Executive card. Is it worth the new fee?

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a money bag and a credit card on a scaleThe cost of doing business has gone up. Is it still worth paying for the ultra-premium American Airlines Executive card with its major changes? While I say on the show that I am not even remotely interested, I recognize that there are people who will be. What I think is most interesting is that the market for whom the card makes the most sense is shifting strongly away from those who wanted cheap lounge access to those who are sold on a wholistic approach to AAdvantage loyalty. Hear more of our thoughts on this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air.

Elsewhere on the blog this week, we have Greg’s first steps in buying group experiments, where to find expanded Singapore airlines business class award space, Marriott’s new partnership in Las Vegas, the Tokyo attraction that you just can not miss and a lot more. Watch or listen to the show or read on for more from this week at Frequent Miler.


00:42 Giant Mailbag #1
01:45 Giant Mailbag #2
03:41 What crazy thing . . .did Delta Airlines do this week?
06:13 Award Talk
06:15 MGM and Marriott to partner from October 2023
10:40 Air Canada has access to more Singapore Airlines space
13:49 AAdvantage Hotels
21:00 Main Event: The new AA Executive Card: Is it worth the fee?
50:03 Question of the Week

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This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

AA “enhances” the Citi Executive card and encourages spend elsewhere

a man sitting in a chair with a laptop

Citi has made huge changes to the American Airlines Executive card. Those who previously had this card primarily for the ability to share its lounge access benefit are getting hit pretty hard with the new fee structure, but is the card still worth having? Ironically, the new structure rewards you for your overall loyalty to American Airlines AAdvantage rather than your spend on this card. Greg has the details in this post.

Plans for rebuilding my point fortune

a hand holding a wallet with money and credit cards

Like Greg, I have burned through a lot of points this year. Unlike Greg, I didn’t burn through them on the Party of 5 trip :-). I am already working on replenishing each week that Staples offers fee-free cards and I can work in an excuse to pass by a store (harder for me since the closest store is ~70mi away). I’ve also been trying to take advantage of low-hanging-fruit and easy wins: I hit a welcome bonus on a new card with my recent trip to Europe and will continue to keep my eye out for the best new offers. I haven’t developed a set plan for what card(s) may be next, but if I can get one good trip on the books for 2024, I’ll probably then lay low in rebuilding mode for a while. Luckily, I still have several free cruise offers to book and I may look to use some of those in 2024 to save myself from using as many points on hotels.

My Buying Group Experiment: Day One Failures

a laptop with a logo on the screen

I like Greg’s commitment to using buying groups to meet minimum spending requirements. I also like that he made what I think is a common mistake in jumping into the deep end a little too quickly. It is annoying that Costco advertised a maximum quantity per deal and then cancelled his order when he ordered the maximum for a couple of items at once, but it was pretty predictable that they would do that. Separate orders for one of each likely would have met a different fate. I look forward to all of us learning from Greg’s experiments as he continues on this path.

MGM to partner with Marriott Bonvoy from October 2023 onward

a large building with a glass roof

We knew that the MGM and Hyatt partnership was set to end very soon, but this week we learned that Marriott will be taking up the mantle starting in October. As I mentioned on this week’s podcast, I don’t think this change has anything to do with Hyatt and everything to do with the fact that MGM was able to lure a much bigger fish in Marriott. We don’t yet know what this partnership will look like from an elite status and benefits perspective, but we do know that the agreement is for twenty years to start, so this isn’t going anywhere for a while.

An Air Canada advantage: far more award space with some partners

a screenshot of a flight

Readers point out that Air Canada appears to have less access to partner space with some airlines, but I was pleasantly surprised to see as many as nine award seats in business class on Singapore’s route from New York to Frankfurt for travel in summer 2023. I took advantage of some of this availability myself and at 60K one-way to Frankfurt, it would be a solid deal. In my case, I paid 70K miles per passenger to connect onward from Frankfurt, which is a bit less exciting — until you go back and remember that we found four seats in business class on what was recently once again named the world’s best airline for travel during the peak summer travel period.

 Air Canada Aeroplan: Reduce award price by switching from a flexible reward

a screenshot of a website

In other Aeroplan news, Greg covers a technique that several readers have mentioned in comments that can help you enjoy greater flexibility on your Aeroplan awards without ultimately paying more miles.

JetBlue’s bad math: awards to Canada are cheaper than they appear

a wall with a picture of a plane and a jet blue sign

I booked an award ticket from New York to Vancouver, but I had originally ignored booking via JetBlue because awards did not seem reasonably priced as compared to cash tickets. That was a problem that got resolved during the checkout process because it turns out that JetBlue’s website is incorrectly displaying award prices based on the cost of the ticket in Canadian dollars in initial search results. The good news is that the price adjusts before checkout — so be sure you don’t transfer more points than you need to JetBlue.

Our experience booking via Marriott STARS vs Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

a room with a bed and a chair

Platinum card benefit aside, does it make more sense to book through Marriott STARS or Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts? Based on our test, there isn’t much difference, but scoring the upgrade a day sooner and having our preference as to the type of upgrade are things that could be really useful under certain circumstances. I’d probably lean toward the chain-specific program if not for a desire to use a Platinum card credit.

ITA Airways bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles

a screenshot of a computer screen

There is a new way to get to Italy (or around Europe) using points: SkyTeam airline ITA Airways finally has its flights available for booking through a partner airline. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is the only partner that can book these so far (to our knowledge), but availability looked pretty good. That said, we’ve had mixed reports from readers — some have booked successfully and others have run into what appears to be phantom space. Your best bet might be to get a phone agent on the line who can confirm the space and then transfer points to book while on the phone.

Elevate your family travel without emptying your wallet: using points, miles, and the right credit cards to hack your family trip

a man and woman taking a selfie with two children

I updated this resource this week with information about splitting up ticket purchases, dealing with extra person charges at hotels, gear that I’ve come to love for traveling with kids, and several other tips that answer questions I frequently receive about award travel with a family.

Bottom Line Review: Grand Hyatt Macau (Standard & Premium Suites)

a room with a television and couches

Our Party of 5 trip made me realize that, apart from a couple of very brief stops during last year’s 3 Cards 3 Continents challenge, I haven’t spent time in Asia since 2019. The level of service at the Grand Hyatt Macau was a clear reminder of what I’ve been missing. From the moment we arrived, staff were very welcoming, the hotel was immaculately maintained, and the view of the Wynn fountains was a nice bonus. If I went back to Macau, I would absolutely stay here again.

What is TeamLabs (and why should you go next time you visit Tokyo)

Look at these nice folks in TeamLabs Tokyo hanging orchids exhibit
In this room live orchids hung from the ceiling and gently moved out of your way.

Everyone is different, so I’m sure that there must be someone who wouldn’t enjoy TeamLabs, but it was so good that I can’t imagine not recommending this to anyone visiting Tokyo. When I reflect on my favorite parts of our Party of 5 trip, I think this is #2 (only behind the street art experience in Buenos Aires, which was my favorite because of the combination of Carrie’s infectious excitement and for the fact that we left art behind that people are probably still passing on the street today, which is so cool). When I read Carrie’s post about it, I spent a good chunk of time looking at the other locations and thinking about where I could plan a trip next year just to visit another one. It was that cool. I know that the pictures might look weird — just trust me and if you are going to Tokyo do not miss this.


That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep a close eye on this week’s last chance deals as we approach the end of the month.

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BobLoblob

The 16% off Platinum Pro status is a nice touch for the new AA executive card.

Last edited 8 months ago by BobLoblob
Earl Lee

For those of us that have the American Airlines Executive card and have relatives that have the Admiral’s Club entry included with our additional cards, when does this benefit end? Is it when the card renews? I didn’t get any notice in the mail that this feature was ending. So do you know when it will end?

Hugh_Dumass

Renewals after July 23rd.