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Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® is designed for regular American Airlines flyers looking to reduce the cost of air travel and enjoy some useful travel benefits in the process. Though it’s not on our best travel rewards credit cards list, it could still be a worthy addition to your wallet – if you use it properly.
Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard earns 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on all purchases, with no caps or restrictions on how much you can earn. When you spend $750 within 3 months of opening your account, you’ll get an additional 25,000 bonus AAdvantage miles – good for a round-trip flight anywhere within the continental United States, and sometimes more.
There’s an excellent 0% APR introductory promotion that waives interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from sign-up. And you can count on a slew of Citi- and Mastercard-backed benefits to add even more value.
If you’re a loyal American Airlines flyer (or can be made to convert) and you’re in the market for a new credit card, Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard is worth a closer look. Here’s what you need to know about its features, benefits, drawbacks, and overall suitability.
When you spend at least $750 in qualifying purchases within 3 months of opening your account, you get 25,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. That’s good for one round-trip award journey anywhere in the continental United States.
This card has a 0% APR introductory promotion on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening.
Once the introductory period ends, this card’s regular APR rises to range between 17.24% and 25.49% for purchases and balance transfers. Your APR will depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates.
Earning and Redeeming AAdvantage Miles
Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard earns unlimited 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on all purchases, with no caps or restrictions on how many miles you can earn. The most cost-effective redemption option is American Airlines award airfare.
- Mileage Redemption Thresholds for Award Travel: You need 12,500 miles to redeem for a one-way economy flight within the continental U.S. The redemption threshold is just 7,500 miles for one-way economy flights of less than 500 miles. Round-trip award flights within the continental U.S. start at 15,000 miles (less than 500 miles each way) or 25,000 miles for longer flights. Business and first class one-ways start at 15,000 miles for short-haul flights and 25,000 miles for long-haul flights. There are no blackout dates or other restrictions on award travel.
- Mile Values and Other Redemption Options: When you redeem for airfare, you can generally expect your points to be worth $0.005 to $0.02 per mile, but values may be higher on longer-haul and international flights. If you have at least 1,000 AAdvantage miles, you can combine miles and cash to redeem for discounted fares. When you use this option, your miles are always valued at $0.01 apiece ($10 for every 1,000 miles). You can also redeem your miles for car rentals and hotel stays, typically at a value of $0.01 per mile, or toward an annual membership with Admirals Club, American Airlines’ airport lounge club. Finally, you can redeem for magazines, newspapers, gift cards, LifeLock identity theft protection, and other non-travel items. However, these redemption methods usually value miles well under $0.01 apiece, so you’re probably better off redeeming for travel. If you’re earning miles too fast to redeem them for airfare, it may be time to think about another credit card.
As an AAdvantage member, you’re entitled to reduced mileage award travel to select destinations that rotate every other month. MileSAAver destinations require up to 5,000 fewer miles (for round-trip long-haul flights within North America). If your travel dates and destinations are flexible, this is a great way to save money on travel. Check with American Airlines for up-to-date information.
When you use your card to pay for in-flight food and beverage purchases, you get 25% off the list price. There’s no limit to how much you can save.
Additional Travel and Purchase Benefits
This card comes with a nice lineup of travel and shopping benefits backed by Citi and Mastercard. The most noteworthy include:
- Citi Price Rewind, which refunds the difference if you find a lower price on an item within 60 days of making a purchase
- Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars paid in full with the card
- Lost baggage protection
- Travel accident insurance
- Extended warranties on select items paid in full with the card
- Emergency assistance for travelers worldwide.
The $50 annual fee is waived during the first year. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $35.
This card requires good to excellent credit.
- Long 0% APR Introductory Promotion. For an airline credit card, Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard has an unusually long 0% APR introductory promotion: 15 months for both purchases and balance transfers. That’s great news for frequent travelers struggling with high-interest balances on other credit card accounts, and folks looking to finance large purchases over time without paying interest – potentially a great way to make your next big vacation a bit more affordable.
- 25% Discount on In-Flight Purchases. This card offers 25% off in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights. If you’re already in the habit of buying food and drink in the air, this is a great way to stay within your budgetary rails.
- Solid Travel and Purchase Benefits. This card’s travel and shopping benefits add value. Citi Price Rewind, worldwide rental car insurance, and extended warranty coverage all have tangible value when used judiciously.
- Easily Attainable Sign-Up Bonus. You need to spend just $750 in purchases within three months of opening your account to get 25,000 bonus AAdvantage miles, good for one round-trip flight anywhere in the continental United States. That’s far easier to swing than some competing cards’ bonuses, which can require $3,000 to $5,000 in purchase spending over the same time frame.
- No Blackout Dates. You never have to worry about blackout dates crimping your award travel style. You can redeem your points for award travel on any day, at any time, if there’s a seat available on your chosen flight. This is great news for travelers who tend to fly at busy times like the winter holidays and spring break.
- $50 Annual Fee. Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard has a $50 annual fee. Given the low return on spending and the limited supply of tangible benefits, such as airport lounge access, this is a big ask. If you’re looking for an entry-level travel rewards card with no annual fee, check out Discover it Miles Credit Card instead.
- Mediocre Return on Spending. This card earns just 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on all purchases. That’s a lower rate of return than most other airline credit cards, which offer accelerated earning potential on travel purchases and purchases in other select categories. If you’re looking for a higher return on spending, check out Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard or United MileagePlus Explorer Card instead.
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you regularly travel overseas, this will basically negate your mileage earnings while you’re abroad. Most competing travel cards don’t charge annual fees. Look to Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for fee-free international travel with reasonable annual fees.
- No Lounge Access or Loyalty Benefits. This card doesn’t offer airport lounge access or airline-specific loyalty benefits. Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express and The Platinum Card from American Express both carry airport lounge benefits, while United MileagePlus Explorer offers convenient benefits, such as priority boarding and free checked bags.
- No Anniversary Point Bonuses or Companion Fares. Citi / AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard doesn’t offer anniversary point bonuses or companion fares for loyal travelers. Since these perks can really add up over time, this is a glaring omission. Reasonably priced airline cards with annual point bonuses or companion fare benefits include Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card.
- 29.99% Penalty APR. This card charges penalty interest at 29.99% APR. This rate kicks in as soon as you miss your first payment and remains in effect indefinitely. If you occasionally miss your statement due date because of cash flow problems or unpredictable expenses, look for cards that don’t charge penalty interest.
If you live near a major American Airlines hub, adding a branded AA credit card to your collection is likely a sound choice. However, it’s less clear that Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® is the right option for most American Airlines flyers, even those directly served by the airline. Coupled with the high annual fee, this card’s relatively low return on spending and lack of ongoing loyalty rewards make for a questionable value proposition.
For many prospective cardholders, it likely makes more sense to sign up, capture the welcome bonus and 0% APR promotion, and then move on to a more sustainable card. Just be careful about applying for or closing too many credit card accounts within a short time frame – doing so can temporarily damage your credit and foreclose other financial opportunities.