American Airlines and Citi have increased marketing recently for the lightly touted Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®. It’s the least expensive version of the airline card and comes with less robust benefits than its pricier siblings.
Seemingly aimed at infrequent flyers, the big attraction is an easy-to-get sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $750 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening* (This offer is no longer valid on our site).
That’s typically enough miles for a free domestic flight. You also get access to what American calls reduced mileage awards, discounted award seats on select routes that could mean spending 5,000 fewer miles on a roundtrip fare.
Compared with other American Airlines cards, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® costs less: $0 for the first year, then $50. The airline’s premier card with airport lounge access is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, with an annual fee of $450.
To crunch the numbers on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®’s annual fee, try our calculator:
No free checked bags
Positives mostly stop there for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®.
Notably, the card does not include free checked bags. That’s a key perk with airline cards that can quickly compensate for an annual fee. It also doesn’t come with early boarding privileges. So if you carry a bag onto a crowded flight, you might have trouble finding overhead bin space. The airline’s other cards include those perks.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® earns 1 mile per dollar spent on the card, with no accelerated earning for purchases at American Airlines. That means spending more than $2,000 per month on the card to earn 25,000 miles, enough to get a typical free domestic flight per year. The card also charges a fee for foreign transactions, 3% of the amount charged. Many travel cards carry no foreign transaction fee.
But the card offers minor benefits that some flyers may find appealing. They include:
- 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases charged to the card
- A decent 0% period for balance transfers and new purchases, but relatively high ongoing APRs: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. The balance transfer fee is 3% or at least $5.
- Travel perks, such as travel accident insurance, car rental insurance and lost bag protection
Citi says you cannot get the sign-up bonus if you opened or closed an American Airlines consumer card in the past 24 months.
To find out more out how this card stacks up against other competitors, browse our list of best credit card deals.
Is it for you?
After earning the sign-up bonus, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® doesn’t distinguish itself for use in everyday credit card spending. Frequent travelers might reap more value from a general travel card. See NerdWallet’s 2017 Best Travel Credit Cards.
Gregory Karp is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart.