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Citi AAdvantage Credit Card: A Good Choice for Long-Distance Air Travelers

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Citi AAdvantage credit card

When it comes to air carriers, loyalty has its benefits. If you usually fly American Airlines, getting the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® will help accelerate your AAdvantage mile earnings. This is especially the case if you usually fly long distances, because American Airlines is one of the few carriers left that award miles based on how far you fly (as opposed to how much you paid for the ticket).

Let’s take a look at some of the key features of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® to see if it belongs on your runway.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®: Basics and benefits

With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, you’ll earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent with American Airlines and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Take a look at the chart below for other card essentials.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

Apply Now on Citibank's secure website

Pros

  • Signup benefits
  • Free checked baggage
  • Early boarding group

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit

Bonus Offer

Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*

Annual Fee

$95, waived for first 12 months*

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • Min APR: 14.24%, Variable
  • Max APR: 22.24%, Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy Group 1 boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases1
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

Aside from the basics, here are a few features that really make the card shine:

Free checked bags: When you book a flight on American Airlines with your Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, you’ll get free checked bags for yourself and up to four people traveling on your reservation. If you check bags on even just a couple of flights each year, this benefit could easily make up for the card’s annual fee of $95, waived for first 12 months*.

Reduced Mileage Award program: American Airlines grants customers with select versions of its co-branded credit cards access to its Reduced Mileage Award program, which is a terrific benefit that comes with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®. By taking advantage of it, you could save 7,500 miles on certain domestic flights, with eligible destinations changing every month. You’ll have to book by phone, but this is a small inconvenience to deal with keeping more miles in the bank.

Citi benefits: Because the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is issued by Citi, you’ll get certain perks that don’t come with other co-branded cards. For example, Citi Price Rewind can help you get a better deal on an item you recently bought if you register it online and its price drops within 60 days of purchase. Citi Private Pass could help you get access to presale tickets to live events, such as concerts or sports games. While these features are by no means the most important ones that come with the card, they definitely sweeten the deal.

No foreign transaction fees: Toward the end of 2015, Citi dropped the foreign transaction fees from this card, making it a great card for overseas use.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®: Pitfalls and other possibilities

Although the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® offers a lot of value to frequent American Airlines customers, it does have some drawbacks. For instance:

No way to earn anniversary bonus: Many co-branded credit cards from other domestic carriers provide a way to earn bonus miles every year you’re a card member. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® doesn’t offer this perk, although you will get 10% of your redeemed miles back (up to 10,000 miles per year). Still, this isn’t quite the same as getting an annual windfall of miles, which makes other cards more attractive in comparison.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • $0 foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • $99 ongoing Annual Fee
  • Best for savvy travelers

Bonus Offer

Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Annual Fee

$99

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Chip-enabled cards with 24/7 fraud monitoring
  • Points Don't Expire, No Blackout Dates, Bags Fly Free®
  • 6,000 points after your Cardmember Anniversary every year
  • 2 points/$1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases and participating Hotel and Car Rental partners
  • 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases

For example, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card provides 6,000 Rapid Rewards points every year you own the card — no minimum spending amount required. You’ll also earn 2 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent with Southwest Airlines and select hotel and rental car partners, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The card’s annual fee is $99.

You’ll have to look at your travel habits to decide which co-branded card to go for, but the anniversary bonus that comes with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is certainly worthwhile.

Miles can’t be transferred to Star Alliance or SkyTeam partners: American Airlines is in the Oneworld Alliance, which means you can use your AAdvantage miles with its partners. But you won’t be able to transfer them to Star Alliance member programs (including United) or SkyTeam partners (including Delta). This means that if you’re not very dedicated to flying Oneworld, there might be missed opportunities to use credit card rewards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • A large bonus
  • $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Cool factor - metal card
  • Rewards redemption bonus through Ultimate Rewards

Cons

  • Introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95
  • Best for savvy travelers

Bonus Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

Introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Sleek metal card design
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • $0 foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance when used at a chip card reader
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
  • Travel confidently with premium Travel Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Trip Delay Reimbursement and more

For a more flexible travel credit card, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With it, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining out and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points can be used to book travel with nearly any airline through Chase’s travel platform, or transferred to a number of participating frequent traveler programs, including Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam partners.

Also, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides a hefty signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. It charges an Introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

Is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® right for you?

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® provides unique benefits that are hard to come by in other airline credit cards. If you’re an American Airlines diehard (or are planning to become one), this card is a worthwhile pick. Also, check out the other cards American Airlines offers to see if another one fits you better.

Last updated October 5, 2015.

Lindsay Konsko is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lindsay@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lkonsko.


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