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Why the Citi Premier is now the best card for AA flyers

July 20, 2021
6 min read
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The miles and points world experienced a big change over the weekend. For the first time ever, American Airlines credit cards are not the most efficient way to earn American Airlines miles.

AA has been a conspicuous omission on the transfer partner list of flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, and Capital One miles. But through November 13, 2021, Citi ThankYou points transfer to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. That catapults cards like the Citi Premier® Card to the top of the list for American Airlines flyers.

Related: Citi Premier Card review

This news comes at the perfect time, as Citi has boosted the Citi Premier bonus to an all-time high of 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Here's what you need to know about this temporary transfer partnership.

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(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Citi Premier is an American Airlines flyer's sidekick (temporarily)

As counterintuitive as it sounds, cobranded airline credit cards are often not the best products to use with whichever airline logo graces their surface.

American Airlines offers six cobranded credit cards across two banks (Citi and Barclays), and none of them can hold a candle to the Citi Premier, in terms of sheer earning potential. The card earns 3x points in useful bonus categories and 1x points on everything else.

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Because you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio through November 13, 2021, you're effectively earning 3 American Airlines miles per dollar in prevalent everyday categories. There's no American Airlines card in existence that earns 3 miles per dollar on anything -- even American Airlines flights! Here's a look at what you'll earn with the Citi Premier vs. other popular American Airlines credit cards. I've bolded the winner of each category.

Spending categoriesCiti Premier® CardCiti® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
Welcome bonus80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within four months of account openingEarn 80,000 miles after you spend $5,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within four months of account opening50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 within three months of account opening10,000 bonus miles + $50 statement credit after spending $500 within three months of account opening
Air travel3x4x on eligible American Airlines purchases through 12/31/22, then 2x on eligible American Airlines purchases.2x on eligible American Airlines purchases2x on eligible American Airlines purchases2x on eligible American Airlines purchases
Rental cars1x1x2x1x1x
Gas Stations3x1x2x2x1x
Supermarkets3x1x1x1x2x at grocery stores
Cable/satellite providers1x1x2x1x1x

The information for the Citi Business AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you've been in the miles and points world for a while, you likely already have had at least one American Airlines credit card. You keep it because it's got one or two worthwhile ongoing benefits that offset the card's annual fee. For example, The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has a $450 annual fee, but comes with:

  • Free checked bag for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation. If you check a bag when you travel, that'll save you at least $60 roundtrip
  • Admirals Club® airport lounge membership for you, with guest privileges (immediate family, otherwise up to two guests), worth up to $645 annually

Those benefits are nothing to sneeze at. Free checked bags are a significant boon for anyone traveling on American Airlines regularly. However, you would never swipe that card for everyday spending. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and earns 300% the rate of the Citi AAdvantage Executive on most everyday purchases.

Related: 4 reasons the Citi Premier Card should be on your short list

What can the Citi Premier Get you with American Airlines?

Let's take a quick look at some real-life examples for how much money you'd have to spend on your card to accrue enough rewards for free flights on American Airlines compared to actual AA credit cards:

  • Business class flight to Peru for 30,000 miles:
  • $10,000 in bonused spending with the Citi Premier
  • $15,000 in bonused spending with AA cards
  • Economy flight to Europe for 22,500 miles (off-peak dates):
  • $7,500 in bonused spending with the Citi Premier
  • $11,250 in bonused spending with AA cards
  • Domestic flight for 12,500 miles:
  • $4,167 in bonused spending with the Citi Premier
  • $6,250 in bonused spending with AA cards

Not only does the Citi Premier require you to spend significantly less to achieve a free flight, but you've also got much broader bonus categories to work with. Again, Citi ThankYou has scheduled this transfer partnership to end in mid-November, so this is certainly a short-term strategy at the moment. It is interesting to know that Citi has the means to add AA as a transfer partner, so perhaps this is a "pilot" of things to come. That would make Citi much more relevant in the travel credit cards market.

Related: A best-ever offer: Here’s how you can earn 80,000 points on the Citi Premier card

Bottom line

You've got until November 13, 2021, to transfer Citi ThankYou points to American Airlines. This temporary partnership makes the Citi Premier the best card for earning AA miles on everyday purchases.

If you're thirsting for AA miles, the Citi Premier currently comes with a highest-ever 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. When you convert those points into AA miles, you'll instantly have enough for several economy seats to nearly anywhere in the world! Read our post on how to maximize American Airlines miles to see what we mean.

Application link: Citi Premier Card with an 80,000-point sign-up bonus.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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