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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is a popular travel rewards credit card with a $99 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 some other airline-branded rewards credit cards, including the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, among many others. It’s also comparable to general travel rewards cards that offer benefits for airline travelers, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
If you own a business, consider applying for the very similar CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. With many of the same benefits, it’s an ideal alternative for business owners and employees who take frequent work trips.
For a limited time, when you make at least $3,000 in eligible purchases on your card within 3 months of opening your account, you get 60,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. That’s good for at least one round-trip domestic economy flight anywhere in the continental United States, and possibly more.
Earning AAdvantage Miles
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard earns an unlimited 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on American Airlines airfare and incidentals, gas station purchases, and restaurant purchases. All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent.
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).
Airfare Discount for Heavy Spenders
When you spend at least $20,000 in eligible purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card, you receive a $125 American Airlines flight discount. This discount is good against eligible American Airlines airfare.
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 four companions traveling on the same reservation (a potential savings of up to $250 per trip).
This card has a $99 annual fee afterthe 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 up to $37.
This card requires good to excellent credit. Even a minor credit ding or two could affect your application.
- Strong Sign-up Bonus. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard’s 60,000-mile sign-up bonus is more than enough to cover the cost of a round-trip flight in the continental U.S.
- Nice Flight Discount for Heavy Spenders. If you can swing $20,000 in qualifying spending with this card each year, you’ll earn a $125 discount on eligible American Airlines flights. That’s a nice addition to the hefty pile of miles you’re sure to accumulate with that kind of spending – and it’s just enough to offset the annual fee.
- 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. Beyond the flight discount, 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 World Elite Mastercard has a $99 annual fee after the first year. If you don’t spend heavily enough or travel frequently enough to offset that expense, consider a no-annual-fee alternative such as the Discover it Miles Card.
- Some Competing Cards Earn Miles Faster. This card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent with American Airlines and on eligible gas station and restaurant purchases. That’s lower than some direct competitors.
- 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 cards like 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 the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, which offers two complimentary lounge passes per year.
- No Hotel Benefits. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite 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 to competing hotel credit cards or general-purpose travel rewards cards.
- 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, general-purpose travel rewards points and miles generally have fixed dollar values, 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 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® World Elite™ Mastercard® 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 regularly fly American Airlines.
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.