Citi AAdvantage Credit Card: Dodge Baggage Fees and Earn Rewards
If you’re a loyal American Airlines customer, the Nerds are happy to deliver some great news: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® recently underwent a rebrand, and it’s better than ever before. With great perks like free checked bags, group 1 boarding and a killer signup bonus, AAdvantage members should definitely give this card a once-over. Ready to learn more about what it has to offer? Let’s dig in.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®: What you need to know
If you live near an American Airlines hub and fly frequently, you really need to know about the features and benefits offered by the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®. They include:
- A stellar signup bonus: For a limited time, earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- Great earning power: You’ll score 1 AAdvantage mile for every dollar you spend with the card, and double AAdvantage miles on every dollar spent with American Airlines
- One free checked bag per flight for you and up to 4 other travelers in your party
- Group 1 boarding
- 25% discount on in-flight food and drink purchases
- Get 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back every year, up to 10,000 miles per year
- Foreign transaction fee is 3%
- Annual fee is $95, waived for first 12 months*
Plus, you’ll also get the perks that come with having a Citi card. These include access to Citi Price Rewind, Citi Private Pass and, starting in 2015, free access to your FICO credit score. For these reasons and more, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is a card to keep on your radar.
The ins and outs of AAdvantage Miles
AAdvantage miles are fine if you know how to use them. The Nerds value American Airlines miles at around $0.01 cent apiece. You can, however, get more bang for your buck if you’re skilled at hacking award charts; this is especially true if you’re booking outside of the holiday season, when flights are pricey and award seats are scarce. Redemption is flexible, too, since there are no blackout dates.
It’s also worth noting that having the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® will make you eligible for the American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards program. You can save up to 7,500 AAdvantage miles per roundtrip on select destinations that change every other month. Many of these cities are admittedly obscure, but a few major destinations are featured on a rotating basis, including Nashville, Austin, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.
But remember that when you purchase a ticket through the Reduced Mileage Awards program, you will be hit with a service fee. We recommending booking through a ticket office, which will keep this fee to the minimum ($20). If you book through an airport agent you’ll have to cough up $35, which will cut the roughly $75 you saved by booking through the program in half.
The path to elite status
To earn elite status and its accompanying perks — higher mileage bonuses, upgrades, lounge access and more — you’ll have to hit certain thresholds of points or AAdvantage miles earned. As of November 2014, these thresholds are:
|Elite Status||Miles or Points Required||Segments Required|
|Executive Platinum||100,000||100 (120 in 2015)|
Remember, you’ll need to requalify for your elite status each year. But if you earn enough — 1 million AAdvantage miles to be precise — then you’ll earn lifetime status.
Alternative cards to consider
Again, the Nerds think that the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is a good choice if you’re a very loyal American Airlines customer. But it does have a few shortfalls to consider. For one thing, it charges a foreign transaction fee of 3%. This means that, if you travel overseas a lot, you’ll face a lot of extra charges if you use this card. Also, because its rewards currency is tied to the AAdvantage program, the miles you rack up could someday be worth less if American decides to devalue them.
With these drawbacks in mind, here are two other alternative cards to consider:
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is one of our favorite travel credit cards. With it, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend. Each mile is worth $.01, but since you’ll get 10% of your miles back as a bonus when you redeem for travel, your rewards rate is effectively 2.2%. Speaking of redeeming, one of the great things about this card is that you can use your miles for nearly any travel purchase you’d like. You simply book your trip as you normally would, then pay yourself back in the form of a statement credit. This provides a lot of flexibility, and you won’t have to worry about a frequent flyer devaluation cutting into what your rewards are worth.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is also a great choice for international travelers. It charges no foreign transaction fee, and comes chip-enabled with PIN capability. And don’t forget about the signup bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. It’s annual fee is $89 - Waived first year. We think this is a small price to pay for such a stellar card!
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
If you’re looking for a travel credit card that really stands out from the pack, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card fits the bill. With it, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend. If you’re a Bank of America® banking customer, you’ll also be able to earn a points dividend of up to 75% if you’re eligible for the Preferred Rewards program.
As with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, points can be redeemed for nearly any travel purchase you choose. You’ll simply book your travel with the card as you usually would, then pay yourself back with your points in the form of a statement credit. What’s more, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card provides a rare trifecta of travel benefits: It charges no foreign transaction fee, comes chip-enabled with PIN capability, and carries an annual fee of $0.
Finally, this card will get you started with a decent signup bonus: 10,000 online bonus points if you make at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $100 statement credit towards travel purchases. All in all, this card has a lot to offer, especially for current Bank of America® customers.
Plane landing image via Shutterstock