Is the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard Worth Its Annual Fee?

Because the annual fee is waived the first year, cardholders have some time to try out the benefits.

Anya KartashovaAugust 13, 2020
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American Airlines and Citibank issue a number of co-branded credit cards for consumers and small businesses. The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® is designed for the business owner who occasionally flies with American Airlines. An overview of the perks can help you decide whether the card is worth the annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

A nice welcome bonus

A card’s welcome bonus is a major factor to consider when opening a new account. The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®’s current welcome bonus is one of the card’s best attributes. Limited Time Offer: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

American AAdvantage miles are worth about 1 cent apiece, which means that the welcome offer will net you plenty of value. You can get even more value by using the miles to book travel in business class on partner airlines.

Ongoing rewards earning rates

After you meet the minimum-spending requirements and earn the welcome bonus, you’ll continue earning AAdvantage miles at the following rates:

  • 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases.

  • 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on cable and satellite providers and select telecommunications merchants.

  • 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at gas stations and car rental agencies.

  • 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Features and benefits

American Airlines companion certificate

By spending $30,000 on your CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard every card membership year, you’ll qualify to receive an American Airlines companion certificate.

The certificate can be exchanged for a ticket that costs $99 plus taxes when you purchase another ticket at full fare in the domestic Main Cabin. You must use the certificate within one year and fly within the 48 contiguous United States.

The best way to maximize this benefit is by booking an expensive flight and bringing along a companion for $99. For example, by purchasing a $400 flight and booking a companion to come along for $99, you bring down the average cost of two tickets to about $250 and save over $300 on a trip for two. Bring a spouse, a friend or a coworker with you and save money.

First checked bag free

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® member and up to four companions on the same reservation are eligible to check one bag each for free on domestic itineraries marketed by American Airlines.

Normally, the first checked bag on a domestic flight costs $30. Five people traveling together on the same booking will save $300 on a round trip.

Preferred boarding

As a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® holder, you and everyone in your party booked on the same reservation will be eligible to board the plane in Group 5, which boards after the Priority group but before the rest of the economy passengers.

Boarding in the middle group will help ensure there’s space in the overhead bins for your carry-on bag.

25% savings on in-flight purchases of food, premium drinks and Wi-Fi

Hungry on a long flight? Purchase snacks and premium beverages onboard an American Airlines plane with your co-branded AAdvantage credit card and receive a 25% discount on your in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit. A $15 meal will cost you $11.25 after the discount.

Keep in mind that this benefit isn’t as useful in the coronavirus days as American Airlines has scaled back service.

No foreign transaction fees

This is an underappreciated perk. Traveling abroad with a card that charges no foreign transaction fees can save you 3% in additional charges per transaction. If you travel internationally often, using a no-transaction-fee card like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® can save you quite a bit of cash.

Is it worth the annual fee?

Because the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®’s first annual fee is waived, it’s a good value for the first year. But before that fee hits your statement after 12 billing cycles, you have to decide whether the card is worth it.

Start by considering which benefits you’re likely to use the most.

The most attractive feature of the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® is the American Airlines companion pass. However, you must spend $30,000 on the card to earn it. If you (or your business) will use the card enough to hit that minimum, this companion pass alone can offset the annual fee when applied to a flight that costs $200 or more.

The checked bag perk could also make this card worthwhile for American flyers who don’t have elite status with the airline. If you’re an American AAdvantage elite member, you already get a free checked bag, so this card perk doesn’t benefit you. But if you don’t fly American often enough to earn elite status, this card can save you $60 round trip per passenger on a checked bag. More travelers on the same reservation checking luggage mean more savings. For a solo traveler, two round-trip flights per year will more than offset the fee.

Who is this card right for?

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® is a good rewards card for business owners who prefer traveling with American Airlines. Checking bags for free and taking advantage of the companion pass will be enough to offset the annual fee year after year. However, if your business doesn’t spend $30,000 annually, you might look for other card alternatives.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:

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