Editorial Review

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

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

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Our Take

3.9

NerdWallet rating

The Bottom Line: This is a cost-effective pick for travelers who fly American Airlines regularly — or who could choose to do so.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Citi<sup>&reg;</sup> / AAdvantage<sup>&reg;</sup> Platinum Select<sup>&reg;</sup> World Elite<sup>&#8482;</sup> Mastercard<sup>&reg;</sup>

on Citibank's secure application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Annual Fee 
$99

Waived first year

Regular APR
17.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Quick Facts

Annual Fee 
$99

Waived first year

Regular APR
17.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free checked bag
  • Preferred boarding
Cons
  • Has annual fee
  • Best for frequent American Airlines flyers only

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: More flexible rewards

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Use rewards to pay for any travel expense

A general-purpose travel credit card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® gives you more flexibility than a card that locks you in to a single airline. This card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles can be redeemed for credit against any travel expense. Book travel however you want, then use miles to pay for it. There's a great sign-up bonus, and the annual fee is $89 (waived first year).

Read our review

Full Review

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

It offers far more than frequent flyer miles. The card can help smooth your flying experience with American, particularly when it comes to stashing luggage, whether you typically check bags or carry them aboard.

» MORE: How to choose an airline credit card

The right airline credit card mostly depends on which carrier you’re able to fly often, so many people don’t compare among credit cards from different airlines.

But a comparison would show the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is similar to competitors, with each offering slightly different benefits. For example, this card refunds 10% of redeemed miles, up to 10,000 miles in a calendar year, and offers a discount on in-flight purchases.

And notably, this card 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 you use only occasionally for its airline benefits.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Basics and benefits

  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $99
  • First checked bag free for you and four companions on your reservation
  • 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
  • $100 American Airlines flight discount after $20,000 in purchases within a year and card is renewed
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles: 40,000 AAdvantage® miles after making $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months and 10,000 after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening*
  • 10% of redeemed miles refunded, up to 10,000 miles per calendar year
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • APR: The ongoing APR is 17.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

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

CHECKED BAGS

Having free checked bags is valuable. 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.

» MORE: Airline fine print might leave you holding the bag

PREFERRED BOARDING

If you don’t typically check bags, you might find that the preferred 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. Or you might just enjoy the ability to get settled into your seat before the cabin fills up. And, like free checked bags, the privilege applies to up to four others on your reservation.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best airline credit cards

2X REWARDS on Gas and dining

Average flyers 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 than a rewards card you 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 rewards — miles racked up from credit card purchases is a good way to do that.

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

» MORE: American Airlines AAdvantage program review

SIGN-UP BONUS

Bonuses change, but this card generally gives you enough miles to get a free 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 up to 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles: 40,000 AAdvantage® miles after making $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months and 10,000 after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening*.

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

REDUCED MILEAGE AWARD PROGRAM

Cardholders of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® shines have 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, a 7,500-mile discount on longer destinations and 2,000-mile discount on shorter ones. It’s not easy to use, though. Eligible destinations change monthly, MileSAAver seats are limited and you’ll have to book by phone or visit a ticket office.

OTHER PERKS

Redemption bonus. When you redeem miles, you’ll receive 10% of those miles back, up to 10,000 miles per calendar year.

Flight discount. $100 American Airlines flight discount after $20,000 in purchases within a year and card is renewed. (Discount expires in a year.)

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

No foreign transaction fees. You won’t have to worry about paying a fee (often 3%) for making international purchases. Travel cards typically don’t charge foreign transaction fees. The card also uses the widely accepted Mastercard network.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® shines: Pitfalls and other possibilities

there’s an ANNUAL FEE

Even though the annual fee — $0 for the first year, then $99 — is about typical for this type of airline card, you’ll want to be sure it makes sense for you.

Your REDEMPTION options are limited

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.

other cards offer more EXTRAS

Double miles on restaurants and gas and the redemption bonus are nice, but other large airlines pony up benefits this card does not. For example, the comparable card for United Airlines, the United℠ Explorer Card, offers two free airport lounge passes per year and primary rental car insurance, which kicks in before your personal auto insurance. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers a more generous checked-bag benefit, which applies to the cardholder and up to eight other passengers on the reservation.

there may be a better ALTERNATIVE

For dedicated American Airlines flyers, the other choices among American’s consumer credit cards come from both Citi and Barclays:

  • The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® comes with upgraded benefits and access to American’s Admirals Club airport lounges for the cardholder and authorized users.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® is a lower-tier and less expensive card that can earn frequent flyer miles but doesn’t come with free checked bags.
  • The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card is the choice for those who want an annual fee of $0. It earns double miles for spending at grocery stores and American Airlines, and 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else. However, it does not come with free checked bags and preferred boarding.
  • The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is similar to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.

If you aren’t especially loyal to American Airlines, a general travel card might be a better choice. Good picks include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. If you fly a different airline more frequently, its own co-branded credit card would be a better fit.

Visit NerdWallet’s top credit card offers page for more information on how credit cards compare.

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, preferred 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 find that a cash-back or general travel credit card would work out best.

Information related to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.