Best for casual AA flyers: Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select card review

Oct 11, 2019

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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 Admiral’s 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 cobranded credit cards for airline miles are created equal. Since several charge an annual fee of roughly $100 a year, you need to be sure a card 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 and gives non-AA flyers an avenue to diversify the miles in their award portfolio — all for an annual fee of only $99 that is waived the first year. Today, I’m reviewing all the benefits of this American Airlines-branded card.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select 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.

In This Post

Who is this card for?

You don’t have to be a regular American Airlines customer to benefit from the card. The travel benefits of the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select will make your AA flying experiences better, but frequent travelers who are loyal to other airlines can still take advantage of it. Whether you fly AA often 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.

Further reading: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

A sign-up bonus worth $700

The card is currently offering 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months of account opening, which is worth $700, according to our valuations. While there is a higher bonus currently available on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, you can still get a solid redemption from the personal card’s 50,000-mile bonus.

If you take advantage of AA’s off-peak pricing, you could score a round-trip ticket between the U.S. and Europe for just 45,000 miles (22,500 miles each way) under American’s current awards chart. But be warned — there’s been no official announcement but we hear that the AAdvantage program is also moving toward dynamic award pricing, following similar shifts by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

American Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft seen flying on final approach, while landing at London Heathrow International Airport. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
This bonus alone can get you some nice redemptions on American Airlines and its partners. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.)

The card does have a $99 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, but that cost is easily offset by spending just $300 a month on bonus-category purchases or by taking advantage of certain perks.

Keep in mind that you won’t be eligible for this bonus if you’ve opened or closed certain cobranded Citi/AAdvantage cards in the past 24 months. That includes both the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.

Further reading: Best uses of American Airlines AAdvantage miles 

Main perks and benefits

The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select certainly isn’t a luxury travel card, but it does offer a few perks for those who fly American Airlines. You’ll have access to preferred boarding, which allows you to board during Group 5 (about halfway through the pack). You’ll also get a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, a 25 percent discount on eligible inflight purchases, access to reduced mileage awards and a $125 AA flight discount when you spend $20,000 more on your card each year.

Some of these perks are also offered to elite status members; they may not get much added value from this card. However, for those who haven’t quite hit status yet this year, you can enjoy some elite status-like benefits with it in your wallet.

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
By taking advantage of reduced mileage awards, you can save thousands of miles on award flights. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

One of the more underrated benefits that come 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 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.

Unfortunately, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select was one of the cards Citi stripped of valuable benefits this year. Those included car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, delayed and lost baggage protection, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance and more. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but it’s something to keep in mind before booking airfare with this card.

Further reading: Citi removes most travel and shopping protections

Earning AAdvantage miles

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 spending. 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. That’s nothing to write home about, and you can certainly do better with cards like 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 bonus on the card, you’ll likely want to use a different card for most purchases.

Further reading: When does it make sense to spend on a cobranded credit card?

Redeeming AAdvantage miles

The AAdvantage program is not known for being the easiest when it comes to finding and booking award-space redemptions. But if you have some flexibility in terms of where and when you are traveling, there are some nice 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 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.

In my eyes, the best redemptions for AA miles are for partner flights through Oneworld, such as business class on Etihad.

The most valuable redemptions of AAdvantage miles are for premium-cabin partner bookings. For domestic flights, I’d turn to other programs like Southwest and JetBlue before using 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.

Further reading: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum vs Citi/AAdvantage Executive

In my opinion, the biggest competitor of this card is another Citi cobranded American Airlines card, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. With a fast track to elite status and more perks, such as access to Admirals Club lounges, frequent AA travelers will likely get more out of the more premium card. You just need to decide whether the substantially larger $450 annual fee is worth it for you.

The one area where the Platinum supersedes the Executive is in bonus earning. You’re getting the same 2x on 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 AA expenses.

Of course, if you’re a frequent flyer, you’ll likely put most spending on cards that offer premium returns across categories while earning transferable rewards currencies. In that case, the fact that the Platinum earns 2x on gas and restaurant spending doesn’t really matter.

If you fly American enough to want those elite-like benefits and Admirals Club lounge access, I would go with the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard over its lower-cost counterpart.

Further reading: Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review

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 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 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.

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

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor

Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.

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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