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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 World Elite 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.
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!