The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is a popular travel rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), a straightforward rewards program that favors regular American Airlines flyers, and a nice lineup of value-added benefits that appeal to convenience-seeking travelers. Despite the annual fee, it is definitely worth a closer look for anyone who flies often and lives near an American Airlines hub.
This card is comparable to a number of other airline-branded rewards credit cards, including British Airways Visa Signature, United MileagePlus Explorer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier, Gold Delta SkyMiles, among many others. It’s also comparable to general travel rewards cards that offer benefits for airline travelers, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, American Express Premier Rewards Gold, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, the Expedia+ and Expedia+ Voyager cards, and Capital One Venture Rewards.
If you own a business, consider applying for the very similar CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard. With many of the same benefits, it’s an ideal alternative for business owners and employees who take frequent work trips.
- Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 30,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. Depending on the dates and routes for which you redeem your miles, this is reliably worth anywhere from $300 to $450, and possibly more.
- Earning AAdvantage Miles: The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard earns an unlimited 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on American Airlines airfare and incidentals, and an unlimited 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Redeeming AAdvantage Miles: You can redeem your accumulated AAdvantage miles for airfare purchases and upgrades with American Airlines and its oneworld carrier partners, including British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Redemption minimums start as low as 7,500 AAdvantage miles for American Airlines one-way flights less than 500 actual miles in the contiguous U.S. and Canada, and 12,500 AAdvantage miles for one-way American Airlines flights longer than 500 actual miles in the contiguous U.S. and Canada. However, these lower-priced “MileSAAver” flights have blackout dates and seat restrictions, so they’re not ideal for flexible travel. To avoid blackout dates, you need to choose higher-priced AAnytime redemptions. These require 20,000 AAdvantage miles for all contiguous U.S. and Canada one-ways, regardless of flight length. When redeemed for airfare in North America, AAdvantage miles are reliably worth between $0.01 and $0.015 apiece, and sometimes more, depending on the routes and dates for which they’re redeemed. Miles redeemed for international travel, especially with oneworld partners such as LAN Airlines and Cathay Pacific, can have much higher redemption values – upwards of $0.03 per mile, in some cases. However, partner redemptions, particularly on long international flights, usually require more AAdvantage miles overall. Note that miles expire on a rolling basis after 18 months of account inactivity (defined as no earnings or redemptions).
- Redemption Bonus: When you redeem AAdvantage miles accumulated on the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Card, you get a 10% bonus (technically a rebate). For instance, if you redeem 20,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way flight, you receive 2,000 miles back in your account, for a net loss of 18,000 miles. This benefit is limited to 10,000 bonus (rebated) miles in a calendar year.
- American Airlines Benefits: Beyond the rewards program, this card features some solid benefits for American Airlines travelers. These include a 25% discount on in-flight purchases; priority (Group 1) boarding on American Airlines flights; and a free first checked bag for you and up to 4 companions traveling on the same reservation (a potential savings of up to $250 per trip).
- Additional Benefits: This card has a number of additional benefits not directly related to travel. Examples include Citi Price Rewind, which entitles you to a refund of up to $300 on any purchase for which you find a lower price within 60 days; 24/7 concierge service (including event and travel booking assistance); complimentary loss and damage coverage for charged-in-full car rentals; and lost baggage protection worth up to $3,000 per trip.
- Regular APR: This card’s purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 14.24% to 22.24%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
- Important Fees: This card has a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and late and returned payments both cost $35.
- Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit. Even a minor credit ding or two could affect your application.
- Decent Sign-up Bonus. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard’s 30,000-mile sign-up bonus is likely enough to cover the cost of an AAnytime round-trip flight in the continental U.S. and Canada.
- Redemption Rebate Reduces Cost of Award Travel. The 10% redemption rebate significantly reduces the actual cost of award travel, thereby boosting the value of AAdvantage miles earned and redeemed with this card. If you max out your annual rebate allowance of 10,000 miles, you’re going to have more than enough miles for a free short-haul domestic flight.
- Can Redeem With Numerous Partner Airlines. You can redeem your accumulated miles with more than a dozen American Airlines partners, including many overseas carriers that fly to exciting, exotic destinations. This is a big advantage relative to airline cards not tied to global alliances, such as the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card.
- Solid Airline Benefits. This card comes with a nice lineup of in-flight and in-airport benefits, including priority boarding, in-flight discounts, and free first checked bags. The free checked bag benefit alone is worth up to $250 per round-trip when used by four eligible traveling companions, and priority boarding can save valuable time.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee. If you regularly travel overseas, this benefit can lead to significant savings. Many competing rewards cards charge foreign transaction fees up to 3%.
- Has an Annual Fee. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard has a $95 annual fee. If you don’t spend heavily enough or travel frequently enough to offset that expense, consider a no-annual-fee alternative such as Expedia+ or Discover it Miles.
- Some Competing Cards Earn Miles Faster. This card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent with American Airlines. That’s lower than some direct competitors, including the British Airways Visa Signature and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature. Both earn 3 miles per $1 spent on airfare.
- Miles Expire After Periods of Inactivity. If your account lapses into inactivity for 18 months, your AAdvantage miles expire. While it’s not that hard to earn miles by making purchases (or, if you’re a frequent traveler, redeeming for airfare) at least once every year and a half, it’s still annoying to have to keep this in mind. Miles earned with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier and Chase Sapphire Preferred never expire.
- No Airport Lounge Benefits. This card doesn’t offer any discounts on airport lounge access. That’s a drawback relative to competing cards such as United MileagePlus Explorer, which offers 2 complimentary lounge passes per year, and Gold Delta SkyMiles, which offers unlimited discounts of roughly 50% on à la carte access.
- No Hotel Benefits. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard’s travel benefits are limited to the airport and airplane. If you want benefits that you can use on hotel stays around the world, look into competitors such as American Express Premier Rewards Gold, which offers complimentary room upgrades (when available) and $75 hotel credits on stays of 2 nights or more, and United MileagePlus Explorer, which offers free breakfast and extended check-in/check-out hours at about 700 partner hotels.
- Mile Values Vary at Redemption. This card’s point values vary widely at redemption, with short- and medium-haul flights longer than 500 miles offering poorer values than coast-to-coast and international flights. This calls for some tricky math at booking time: Does it make more sense to use accumulated points to redeem for a flight that offers mediocre value, or to use the Citi / AAdvantage card to rack up more points in the expectation that a better deal awaits at the next redemption opportunity? By contrast, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards has a fixed dollar value, so you always know how many points you need to redeem for a given flight. Keep in mind, however, that if you are willing and able to redeem for longer, more expensive flights, you may realize a better value than cards, such as Southwest, with fixed rate rewards.
It’s never a good idea to apply for a credit card on a whim. Even so, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® definitely isn’t the sort of card you’d want to obtain in haste. Despite its myriad benefits, this card simply isn’t a good fit for people who don’t fly frequently.
It also isn’t particularly useful for travelers who don’t live or work close to American Airlines hubs, such as Dallas and Miami. While the oneworld partnership greatly expands the award travel horizon for Citi / AAdvantage cardholders, there are simply too many other airline credit cards out there that offer more flexibility for those who need it.