American Airlines perks at a lower cost: Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard review
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Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® Overview
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is a solid mid-level credit card for anyone who wants to earn American Airlines miles and enjoy elite-status-like benefits. Although this card won’t help you with Admirals Club access, fans of American Airlines can still get value out of the card. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Not all airline credit cards are created equal. Several have annual fees of roughly $100 a year, so you need to be sure a card fits your travel goals and delivers maximum miles and travel benefits. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard makes the life of an American Airlines flyer easier and gives non-AA flyers an avenue to diversify the miles in their award portfolio — all for an annual fee of only $99 (waived the first 12 months). Today, we’ll look at the benefits of this American Airlines credit card and who it is best suited to.
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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Who is this card for?
You don’t have to be a frequent American Airlines flyer to benefit from the card. The travel benefits of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select will make your AA flying experiences better. However, frequent travelers who are loyal to other airlines can still take advantage of it. Whether you fly AA often or not, you should diversify your loyalty portfolio.
I keep a stash of every legacy carrier’s miles in order to have the best chance of flying the itinerary I want at the lowest award cost. I also want access to many of American’s partners (in and out of the Oneworld alliance), including Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Japan Airlines.
A sign-up bonus worth $700
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select is currently offering 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening, which is worth $700, according to TPG’s valuations. Although there is a higher bonus currently available on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, the personal card has a lower minimum spending requirement. Keep in mind that you won’t be eligible for this bonus if you’ve earned a sign-up bonus from a Citi Platinum Select card in the past 48 months. The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The AAdvantage program has moved toward dynamic award pricing, following similar shifts by Delta and United Airlines. However, if you take advantage of AA’s off-peak pricing, you could book a round-trip ticket between the U.S. and Europe for just 45,000 miles (22,500 miles each way) under American’s current award chart. Or, depending on the web specials being offered, you may even be able to score a round-trip ticket to Europe for as low as 18,000 miles.
The card has a $99 annual fee (waived the first 12 months), but that cost can easily be offset by taking advantage of certain card perks.
Main perks and benefits
The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select isn’t a luxury travel card, but it does offer a few perks for those who fly on American Airlines. You’ll have access to preferred boarding, a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, a 25% discount on eligible inflight purchases, access to reduced mileage awards and a $125 flight discount when you spend $20,000 or more on your card during your membership year and renew the card.
Since some of these perks are also offered to AAdvantage elite members, they may not get much added value from this card. However, those who haven’t earned status yet can enjoy some elite-like benefits with this card. And for 2021, the Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) requirement is waived by spending $30,000 or more on this card (or another eligible Citi/AAdvantage card).
One of the more underrated benefits that comes with this card is access to reduced-mileage awards. TPG covers these cheap award routes in depth each quarter they’re released. The MileSAAver discount is 7,500 miles round-trip or 3,750 one-way for flights greater than 500 miles in distance.
If the flight is less than or equal to 500 miles in distance, which qualifies for a short-haul MileSAAver award, the discount will be 2,000 miles round-trip. You must fly to or from the airports listed in the current quarter’s promotion in order to get a discount.
Unfortunately, Citi stripped many valuable travel and purchase protection benefits from the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select a few years ago. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but it’s something to keep in mind before applying for this card.
Earning AAdvantage miles
With the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select, you’ll earn 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and at restaurants and gas stations. All other spending earns 1 mile per dollar spent. There’s no cap on how many miles you can earn in a year.
Earning 2x miles puts you at a 2.8% return on bonus category spending (based on TPG’s valuations). That’s nothing to write home about and you can certainly do better with cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® when you are booking airfare, which earn 10% and 6%, respectively. Once you hit the sign-up bonus on the card, you’ll likely want to use a different card for most purchases.
Redeeming AAdvantage miles
If you have some flexibility in terms of where and when you are traveling, there are some nice AAdvantage sweet spots for redemptions. The lowest round-trip tickets in the U.S. start at 7,500 miles one-way (not including reduced mileage awards or web specials) for flight distances under 500 miles. That means the sign-up bonus is enough for as many as six one-way economy flights. On expensive regional flights, you can get a lot of value out of your AAdvantage miles.
Web specials have become increasingly valuable and previously included domestic cross-country flights for 5,000 miles each way in economy or 15,000 miles each way in first class and flights to South America from 15,000 miles each way.
The most valuable redemptions of AAdvantage miles are for premium-cabin partner bookings. For domestic flights, I’d turn to programs like Southwest and JetBlue before using American miles. I’d much rather save AA miles for business or first class on Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Finnair, Iberia and other carriers with highly regarded international long-haul service.
Which cards compete with the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select?
American Airlines flyers have plenty of cobranded credit cards to choose from. One of the biggest competitors to this card is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. With the ability to earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and perks like Admirals Club membership, frequent AA travelers will likely get more out of this premium card. You just need to decide whether the $450 annual fee is worth it for you.
The one area where the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Card outdoes the Executive is in bonus earning. You’re getting the same 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases across both cards, but the Platinum also offers 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations. The Executive only earns bonus miles (and at an unimpressive rate) on eligible AA expenses.
Of course, if you’re a frequent flyer, you’ll likely put most spending on cards that offer big returns across categories while earning transferable rewards currencies. In that case, the fact that the Platinum earns 2x miles on gas and restaurant spending doesn’t really matter.
From the Barclays lineup of cobranded cards, there’s the Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard. The card offers a similar sign-up bonus as the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select similar travel benefits and charges the same annual fee. Plus, you only have to buy something as small as a can of soda to get the sign-up bonus.
It has unique benefits like an annual statement credit for inflight Wi-Fi and the possibility of earning a companion certificate through spending but doesn’t allow cardholders to rack up miles faster on everyday purchases. The card only earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x on everything else.
The information for the Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Besides the sign-up bonus, I value the access to reduced-mileage awards the most on this card. The travel benefits on the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Card are nice, but certainly not at the same tier as the more-premium Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. That’s to be expected since the annual fee on the Executive card is much higher at $450.
If you need Admirals Club lounge access, this card won’t help you. But if you’re a casual American Airlines traveler who just wants a few elite-like benefits when you fly with the airline, this is definitely a card you should consider adding to your wallet.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.
Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy.
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