Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Review
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The promise of airline frequent flier credit cards relies on a premise — cardholders will actually be able to redeem a reasonable amount of their miles for award flights a reasonable amount of the time. Yet too many airlines have such poor award availability at the lowest mileage levels that customers feel rightfully betrayed by the airlines and the credit cards that offer their frequent flier miles. On the other hand, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® offers American Airlines miles that are still somewhat easy to redeem.
How This Card Works
For each dollar spent, cardholders earn one mile in the American Airlines AAdvantage program, and double miles are earned on purchases from American Airlines. New cardholders also start off with 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Citi and American are leading other airline credit cards by offering cardholders a broad array of non-mileage benefits. Cardholders receive priority boarding, a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases, and their first eligible checked bag is free. Customers also receive a 10% rebate on their award redemptions, up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each year.
Cardholders also receive benefits such as extended warranty coverage, lost luggage insurance, and retail purchase protection. In addition, this card is equipped with an EMV smart chip that makes it compatible with a growing number of unattended kiosks overseas.
MasterCard offers their customers access to Priceless Cities experiences. These are exclusive adventures and experiences, including activities like tours, sporting events, concerts, fine dining, and more. Another special perk for travelers is access to the World Card Hotel and Resorts Program, which has added benefits like best pricing, VIP status, complimentary breakfast, and early check-in.
Cardholders who carry a balance will incur interest at a rate of 13.99% - 21.99% (Variable). There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and there a 3% foreign transaction fee imposed on all charges processed outside of the United States.
The strength of this program rests on the foundation of the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier program, which is one of the best.
American's website efficiently searches for seats on American and many of its other OneWorld partner carriers, and it is much easier to find award seats at the lowest mileage levels than it is with competitors such as Delta. And with its announced merger with U.S. Airways, cardholders will eventually have access to award seats on that carrier as well.
Furthermore, this card features a healthy number of benefits. Cardholders who have yet to reach elite status in American's program will enjoy free checked bags and priority boarding, as well as reduced mileage awards.
Like all reward credit cards, this product has a higher interest rate than the most competitive non-rewards product. Therefore, those who need to carry a balance should look for a card with a lower interest rate and a promotional financing offer. Nevertheless, this can be a good card to have for its benefits, even if another card with a lower interest rate is used for most spending.
A word of caution is in order regarding award flights on American's partner British Airways (BA). BA imposes very large fuel surcharges on awards using American Airlines miles. In some cases, the surcharges on award tickets can be almost as much as the cost of a coach ticket. So while this may still make sense when traveling on BA in business or first class, cardholders should understand that award tickets on BA flights will be anything but free. Fortunately, American has plenty of its own flights to London and cardholders can book award flights with other partners that do not require these onerous surcharges.
Finally, it is unfortunate that Citi still imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee, especially on a card offered in partnership with an international airline and equipped with an EMV smart chip. Customers who have another card without foreign transaction fees should probably leave this card at home as American Airlines miles are valuable, but not worth paying three cents each when making purchases outside the United States.
Who This Card Is Best For
This is a great card for customers of American Airlines that want to enjoy some additional convenience when traveling. But this card is also a good way to earn some additional miles that cardholders can use for award flights.
By continuing to offer a valuable frequent flier program, American Airlines and Citi make this credit card well worth carrying.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.