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Do In-Flight Credit Card Applications Offer Better Bonuses?

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TPG reader Jay tweeted me to ask

@thepointsguy – “Is there any benefit to applying for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Card when the flight attendants pass out applications onboard vs. applying online?” 

I would not recommend applying for a credit card on a plane or in an airport. The signs you see set up in the airport stay the same, even if the offer improves elsewhere. For example, Citi recently raised the sign-up bonus for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard from 30,000 miles to 40,000, and then to 50,000 miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months, but the airport kiosks may still have the old sign-up bonus of 30,000 bonus miles. I’ve seen a similar discrepancy in the bonus offers available onboard, where you’ll generally get a lot less than if you were to apply elsewhere.

There’s a also a lot more room for error. Flight attendant are generally incentivized to submit applications, but there’s always a chance they (or you) will forget to hand yours in, or that someone could see your social security number. It’s a much better idea to apply securely at home after you’ve done your research to make sure you’re getting the best offer possible.

I wouldn’t recommend applying for credit cards onboard a flight or at the airport. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The TPG Hot Deals page is updated regularly and you can find some amazing offers there, so take a look when doing your research. Generally, the best offers are almost always online. Last year, American offered a bonus of 100,000 miles for the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard in Admirals Club lounges, but the offer was also available online. Also, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele discovered a useful card offer while on a Southwest flight last year, but what he found was a URL — the application itself was online.

The short answer is that I don’t recommend applying on airplanes or in the airport. If anyone has received superior offers through those channels, please share your stories in the comments below, but I’m not expecting much of a response!

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

Apply Now
  • 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 purchases.1
  • 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*
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 14.24% - 22.24%* (Variable) $95, waived for first 12 months* 0% Excellent/Good