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Not all airline co-branded cards are created equal. Because several charge roughly $100 a year, you need to be sure the card you carry fits your travel patterns and delivers maximum miles and travel benefits. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard makes the life of an American Airlines flyer easier while also giving non-AA flyers an avenue to diversify the miles in their award portfolio. Today, I’ll review all the benefits of this American Airlines card to help you decide whether you should carry it in your wallet.

In This Post

Who Is This Card For?

You may believe you have to be a regular American Airlines customer to benefit from the card. While the travel benefits of the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard will make your AA flying more pleasant, whether you fly AA or not, you need to 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 fly many of American’s partners in and out of the Oneworld alliance such as Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Japan Airlines.

Sign-Up Bonus

The card is currently offering an increased bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening. The card has a $99 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, and it has no foreign transaction fees. You aren’t eligible for the bonus miles if you’ve opened or closed any Citi / AAdvantage co-branded card (other than a MileUp or CitiBusiness / AAdvantage card) in the last 24 months.

Earning and Redeeming

With the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select, you’ll earn 2x miles on American Airlines purchases and at restaurants and gas stations, and 1x miles on all other spend. There’s no cap on how many miles you can earn in a year.

50,000 miles is enough for a one-way economy award ticket to Europe at the MileSAAver Off Peak (22,500) and MileSAAver (30,000) levels. Also at the MileSAAVer rate, you can fly business one-way to South America Region 1 (30,000 miles). All of these routes and prices are for flights operated by American Airlines, not its partners.

The lowest round-trip tickets in the US start at 7,500 miles one-way (not including reduced mileage awards or economy web specials) for flights less than 500 miles long at the MileSAAVer level. That means the sign-up bonus is enough for as many as six one-way economy flights, which could be expensive regional routes.

The most valuable redemptions of AAdvantage miles are for premium-cabin partner bookings. If looking to fly domestically, I’ll turn to other programs like Southwest and JetBlue before I use American miles. I’d much rather save them for business or first class on Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Finnair, Iberia and other carriers with highly regarded international, long-haul service.

Perks

Preferred Boarding — As long as your Platinum Select card account is open seven days prior to departure and is still open at the time of flight, up to four customers traveling on your same reservation will receive boarding group 5 access for your flight. There are now nine boarding groups with AA, so you fall in the middle of the pack and hopefully will still have access to overhead bin space.

First Checked Bag Free on Domestic Itineraries — On domestic itineraries flown by American or any regional subsidiary, the first checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions on the same reservation will be free. The flight must be marketed, sold and operated by American in order to get the free checked bag.

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 mileage discount will be 2,000 miles round-trip or 1,000 one-way. You must fly to or from the airports listed in the current quarter’s promotion in order to get a discount.

25% Off Eligible In-Flight Purchases — This essentially means 25% off in-flight food and beverages when you pay for them with the card. It doesn’t include in-flight Wi-Fi.

10% Miles Back — Get 10% of all redeemed miles back in your account, with a calendar year limit of 10,000 miles received via the rebate. Even if you have another 10% rebate eligible AA co-branded card, you cannot stack the rebate to increase the limit. Note, this benefit will be discontinued on May 1, 2019.

$100 American Airlines Flight Discount — This is available after you spend $20,000 or more on purchases on the card in a membership year and renew your card.

The card also offers the following travel protections:

Trip Delay Protection —  If a common carrier delays your trip by 12 hours, you and your traveling companions are each covered up to $500 to purchase things like lodging, ground transportation, meals and toiletries. It even covers delays on award tickets booked with American miles. As long as a trip was booked with either your miles or paid for with the card, your family members and others traveling are covered for this protection even if you aren’t with them. This benefit is nice but not near as generous as the Citi Prestige Card’s protection, which only requires a six-hour delay.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption Protection — If a trip is canceled, interrupted or extended for a covered reason, you may be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip.

BOSTON - JANUARY 24: Airport personnel work to de-ice airplanes on Saturday morning at Boston Logan International Airport. A winter storm dumped 4 inches of snow by noon, and will continue throughout the day with total accumulation upward of 7 to 8 inches. (Photo by Sean Proctor for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
If snow prevents you from reaching your cruise port, trip cancellation protection will save the day. Photo by Sean Proctor for The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

Lost/Delayed Baggage Protection — If your baggage is delayed by six hours, you’re eligible for up to $100 in reimbursement for personal items to tide you over until your bag arrives. If your bag is lost, you may be reimbursed up to $3,000 per traveler ($2,000 per bag for New York state residents) up to a maximum of $10,000 per trip. You and your family members are covered as long as the ticket was booked with your miles or paid for with the credit card. Antiques, collectibles, tickets, rare and precious metals and currency aren’t covered with the protection.

Rental Car Protection — Your rental car is covered up to $50,000 for damage caused during an accident or by a natural disaster, or if the car is vandalized or stolen. The coverage is secondary for rentals in the US and primary for rentals outside the US. You must pay for the rental with your card, and you have to decline the rental car agency’s coverage. This doesn’t include personal injury or liability protection.

Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance — This policy essentially means if you have a catastrophic accident resulting in the loss of a limb, sight, hearing, or in the case of death, you or your beneficiary will receive a lump sum payment between $125,000 and $500,00 depending on the injury.

Which Cards Compete With the Citi AAdvantage Platinum?

In my opinion, the biggest competitor of this card is another Citi co-branded American Airlines card, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. You need to decide whether the substantially larger $450 annual fee in return for Admirals Club lounge access fits your travel needs. Other co-branded mid-level airline cards like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express can compete with the AAdvantage Platinum, but it’s important to remember they are not exclusive of each other. You should have miles in as many different programs as possible.

Bottom Line

Besides the sign-up bonus, I value access to reduced mileage awards the most. The travel benefits are nice but not at the same tier as the more premium Citi Prestige Card and Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard — as you’d expect with the significantly lower $99 annual fee of the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.

If you need Admirals Club lounge access this card unfortunately won’t help, but at the same time has a very reasonable annual fee. If you’re eligible for this card and the increased sign-up bonus, I wouldn’t hesitate to apply.

Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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