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.

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Our Take

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

This is a cost-effective pick for travelers who fly American Airlines regularly.

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Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Credit Card
Annual fee
$0 intro for the first year, then $99
Regular APR
19.74%-28.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free checked bag

  • Early boarding

  • Bonus categories

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Annual fee

$450

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

19.74%-28.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

19.74%-28.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

19.74%-28.74% 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

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® can offer value for travel and everyday purchases, but it’s only an ideal match if you can make full use of the card’s benefits to offset the annual fee ($0 intro for the first year, then $99).

Making up that cost is easier to do if you typically check bags when traveling. The card offers free first checked bags for you and up to four people on the reservation, a potential value of hundreds of dollars if used often. And you'll also earn double miles on purchases in two big everyday categories: at restaurants and gas stations. Every purchase also earns points toward elite status on the airline.

If you’re an American Airlines loyalist who can make use of these benefits, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is a solid pick. But if you prefer flexibility when you travel, then a general travel credit card might be a better fit.

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 1.5 cents 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 1.5 cents or more in value from your American miles.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 19.74%-28.74% 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.

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.

Earn status through credit card spending

In 2022, American Airlines revamped the process to earn elite status. Following this change, you're able to earn points toward AAdvantage status when you make purchases with your Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. For every dollar you spend, you'll earn 1 loyalty point.

You’ll need at least 30,000 loyalty points to earn the airline’s lowest tier, AAdvantage Gold® and at least 200,000 to earn the highest tier, AAdvantage Executive Platinum®.

To learn more about elite status in the frequent flyer program, see NerdWallet's complete guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

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.

• 4 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through Dec. 31, 2022. After that 2 miles for every $1 spent on 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 2 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 might want 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-annual-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. And, of course, if you are a fan of the airline, there’s the $0-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card. It doesn’t offer free checked bags, but it does earn rewards. (See how it stacks up in the table above.)

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, like the $95 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, allow you to apply rewards toward several different kinds of travel expenses, including flights on any airline.

This card earns 5 points per $1 spent on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3 points per $1 spent on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout), 3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services, 3 points per $1 spent on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2 points per $1 spent on travel not purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases. You can also potentially transfer rewards to other loyalty programs for more value.

Simplicity

If you don’t want to worry about blackout dates, rewards expiring or other limitations, a low-maintenance travel credit card that earns a flat rate on all purchases can also help you reach your travel goals. The $95 Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, for instance, earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. You can redeem them for statement credit against any travel purchase.

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, double-miles categories and ability to earn loyalty points 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.

on Citibank's application

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.