Citi AAdvantage Platinum Card Review: Worth the Fee for Airline Loyalists

This card earns double miles on American Airlines purchases and at gas stations and restaurants, and it makes flying less of a hassle with a free checked bag benefit and other perks.

Gregory KarpOctober 1, 2020

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Our Take

4.8

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: This is a cost-effective pick for travelers who fly American Airlines regularly.

Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Credit Card

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free checked bag

  • Preferred boarding

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Best for frequent American Airlines flyers only

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Annual Fee

$450

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

If you're an American Airlines loyalist, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® can provide benefits to easily offset its annual fee.

The card offers free first checked bags for you and up to four people on your reservation, a benefit that could be worth hundreds of dollars if you use it often. It also comes with a good sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. And notably, it gives double the frequent flyer miles on purchases at restaurants and gas stations, making it an easier choice to use as an everyday credit card, instead of one used only occasionally for its airline benefits.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: Basics

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Rewards:

  • 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent with American Airlines.

  • 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at restaurants and gas stations.

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

NerdWallet values American miles at 1 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1 cent or more in value from your American miles.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other perks:

  • First checked bag free for you and four companions on your reservation.

  • $125 American Airlines flight discount after $20,000 in purchases within a year and after the card is renewed.

  • Early boarding when flying with American Airlines.

  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.

  • Access to American’s Reduced Mileage Award program: If you use frequent flyer miles to book certain round-trip domestic MileSAAver award flights, you can get a discount of 7,500 miles on longer flights or 2,000 miles on shorter ones.

Where the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® shines

Free Checked bags

With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, you’ll get a first checked bag free for you and four companions on your reservation. That saves you $30 per person each way, or up to $300 on a round-trip flight for you and traveling partners. Assuming you would have otherwise paid to check bags, this could quickly justify the annual fee.

One important note: You must include your frequent flyer number on your reservation to get the checked-bag fee waiver.

Early boarding

If you typically don’t check bags, you might find that the early boarding perk that comes with the card can be beneficial. You're more likely to find space in the overhead bin for your carry-on if you can board the plane earlier, in a lower-number group than you might otherwise be in. Or you might just enjoy the ability to get settled into your seat before the cabin fills. And, like free checked bags, the privilege applies to up to four others on your reservation.

2X rewards on gas and dining

Many travelers might find an airline's card perks more valuable than its frequent flyer miles. As a result, they might hold the card more as a membership card than a credit card to use for daily purchases. But if your goal is to earn free flights or upgrades to a premium cabin — two of the most valuable ways to use AAdvantage miles — racking up rewards from credit card purchases is a good way to do that.

American makes this easier by not only giving double miles on airline purchases but two additional — and useful — categories of spending: restaurants and gas stations.

Sign-up bonus

Bonuses change, but this card generally gives you enough miles to get a domestic award flight, or at least enough to get close to one. That could translate into savings of several hundred dollars.

The current bonus is: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

How it compares with other American Airlines cards

Among American Airlines credit cards, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is the mass-market option. It comes with good airline benefits and charges an annual fee. If you're looking to earn miles with American Airlines but want more premium benefits or want to skip paying an annual fee, consider going with one of the other cards. For more analysis, read NerdWallet's comparison of American Airlines credit cards.

Here's how the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® stacks up with some of its sister cards on key benefits.

• 2 AAdvantage miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services, and on eligible American Airlines purchases.

• 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

• 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases.

• 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

• First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 4 traveling companions on your reservation.

• 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. • First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 8 traveling companions on your reservation. • Admirals Club airport lounge membership and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with the cardholder.

• 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

• 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

• First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 4 traveling companions on your reservation.

Why you should choose a different card

Annual fee

The annual fee on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®$0 intro for the first year, then $99 — is about typical for this type of airline card. But if it's not worth the cost for you — say, because you rarely check bags on American, or can't earn enough rewards to make up for the fee — go with a different card.

No-fee alternatives include the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and the Discover it® Miles. Each offers an unlimited 1.5 points or miles per $1 spent on all purchases.

Lack of flexibility

Usually, the best redemption options for AAdvantage miles are award flights and seat upgrades on American and its Oneworld partners. General travel cards, on the other hand, allow you to apply rewards toward several different kinds of travel expenses, including flights on any airline.

Good picks include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. If you fly a different airline more frequently, its own co-branded credit card would be a better fit.

Is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® right for you?

If you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is worth a look. Its free checked bags, early boarding and double-miles categories can help make up for the annual fee. However, if you shop by price and fly several airlines, you might prefer a cash-back or general travel credit card.

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