About Citi AAdvantage Gold Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Dec 13, 2017

The Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard is Citi’s entry-level airline rewards card, offering a modest chunk of frequent-flyer miles to cardholders who can spend $750 in the first three months of owning the card.

If you’re new to airline rewards credit cards, that can sound like a great deal. In fact, I found myself in a similar position three years ago. Needing to get a free flight for some travel I was taking, I signed up for the first card that sounded like it was giving a bunch of miles.

While I ended up with a fairly decent card – the Frontier Airlines World MasterCard – I missed out on the chance to do some in-depth research and find out which credit cards rewarded me the most for the way I spent my money.

Our goal is to help you understand if this credit card is right for your particular financial situation and your travel interests.

To reach that goal, we’ve created this review to include the following important sections:

  • Rewards
  • Benefits
  • Rates and fees
  • Public opinion

These four parts of the review will provide the necessary information you’d need to decide if you want this card. Even with the right information, though, the choice can be a bit overwhelming. So, at the end of this review, we’ll give you a quick list of the card’s pros and cons.

Along the way, we’ll provide some comparisons to other airline rewards cards.

Rewards of the Citi AAdvantage Gold Card’s

When you talk about rewards and airline credit cards, you’re talking about frequent flyer miles. These miles are built up through purchases and can be used to book free seats on a flight.

The key to understanding exactly how valuable these miles are is to know how much a flight costs. Why get a card with a 25,000-mile bonus if flights cost 50,000, right?

25,000 Miles for $750 in Spending

The first main reward from this card is the 25,000 miles we mentioned in the introduction. If you can spend $750 in the first three months, then you earn the 25K miles.

Those miles are then deposited to the American Airlines frequent flyer account (AAdvantage account) they set up when you’re accepted for the card, assuming you don’t already have an AAdvantage account. If you do, then you’ll be asked for your account number during your application.

Those miles will take about 8-10 weeks to show up. Don’t make the mistake I did when I first got an airline rewards card – I expected the miles to appear right away so I could book my flight. Didn’t happen.

Note: Balance transfers, fees, and other charges won’t get points as well as anything you buy and return.

1 Mile Per Dollar Spent

The second way that you can rack up frequent flyer miles is by using your card for purchases you make every day.

For every dollar you spend you’ll earn one AAdvantage mile. So, if you spend $25,000 a year on eligible purchases, you’ll earn 25,000 miles. The only transactions that don’t get points are the ones we mentioned earlier as well as money-based transactions like buying poker chips at a casino, making a deposit in an online gambling account and, among other things, traveler’s checks.

Like the 25K bonus, these points will show up in your account 8-10 weeks after your purchases.

Redeeming Your Points

You can log into your AAdvantage account at any time and see your miles balance. Typically, American Airline rewards seats on a round-trip flight will cost between 25,000 and 50,000 miles.

However, AAdvantage Gold card customers get access to MileSAAver award flights, which offer discounted fares than the average person can’t get.

According to American, those fares can be booked for as little as 25,000 miles round-trip. We took a quick look at some of their flights and found that there were MileSAAver seats for 12,500 each way on a round-trip flight from Orlando to New York.

In order to view the rewards flights, you’ll have to do a search at AA.com or through the app and click “Redeem Miles”.

For domestic flights, you’ll pay $11.20 in fees for a round-trip rewards booking.

Benefits of the Citi AAdvantage Gold MasterCard

Rewards are the glamorous side of airline credit cards. Benefits, on the other hand, aren’t quite as cool but they provide the ongoing perks that can make or a break a card.

The best benefits a card offers usually come through a program offered by the card’s credit card network: MasterCard, Visa, etc.

In this case, the AAdvantage Gold card is part of the MasterCard World Elite program, which provides some pretty robust insurance-like coverages and protections on purchases you make with the card.

But, before we get there, we want to talk about the flight-related benefits you get with the AAdvantage Gold.

Reduced Mileage Tickets

Every other month American Airlines will offer you reduced-miles flights to select destinations. According to the fine print, if the flight is longer than 500 miles it will cost 5,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip or 2,500 AAdvantage miles one way. If it’s shorter than 500 miles, it will be 1,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip or 500 AAdvantage miles one way.

This benefit has two annoying drawbacks, though. First, you can only book these tickets by phone, at the airport or at one of four American Airlines non-airport ticket desks (three are in South Florida, one is in New York).

Second, you have to pay a $35 service charge in addition to the taxes and fees you’ll pay per flight.

25% Discount on In-Flight Food and Beverage Purchases

Whenever you use your card to purchase food or beverages during an American Airlines flight, you’ll get a 25% discount on your purchase.

The discount won’t be taken off when you buy the items, though; it will be added to your statement as a credit in 6-8 weeks.

Also, the discount doesn’t apply to all in-flight purchases; buying wireless doesn’t count.

World Elite MasterCard Benefits

All the benefits we talk about in this section apply only to things you buy with your card.

Lost Baggage Protection

If the airline loses your luggage at some point during a flight – American Airlines or otherwise – then you could be eligible for a cash reimbursement. Even damaged luggage is included in this complimentary coverage.

According to the card’s website, “you may be refunded the purchase price of the missing items or the cost to repair or replace the damaged items, whichever is less.”

Travel Accident Insurance

This insurance covers you in certain situations in which you’re severely injured, maimed or killed during travel. The exclusions on this benefit are pretty extensive, so we suggest that you read through the benefits guide you get with your card to be clear on what is covered and what’s not covered.

Rental Car Coverage

Whenever you use your AAdvantage Gold card to book a car rental, you’ll receive complimentary collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance that will cover your car in the event of an accident. Make sure you decline the rental agency’s insurance, as that will void the coverage you get from Citi.

Rates & Fees of the Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard

Here is a quick list of the card’s interest rates and fees:

  • APR on purchases and balance transfers: 16.99% - 24.99%
  • Cash advance APR: 26.24%
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
  • Annual fee: $50 (free in the 1st year)
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • Cash advance fee: 5%
  • Late/returned payment fee: Up to $35

The APR on this card is slightly higher than the airline rewards cards and travel cards you can get from Chase (15.99%). That’s not the interest rate you should be worried about, though.

You see, when you make a single late payment or you have one returned payment, your interest rate will shoot up to 29.99% and could stay on your account indefinitely.

This “penalty APR”, as it’s known, is what makes the AAdvantage Gold so different from other airline rewards credit cards. If you’re someone who has a history of paying late and carrying balances, this card could end up costing a lot of money in the long run.

Public Opinion About the Citi AAdvantage Gold Card

In general, the AAdvantage Gold gets good reviews from sites other than HighYa. Citi launched the card earlier this year, making it one of three different entry-level airline rewards cards on the market, the other two being the United TravelBank from Chase and the Blue Delta SkyMiles from American Express.

Those latter two cards don’t have an annual fee – the Gold’s is $50 – but they offer 10,000 miles instead of the Gold’s 25,000.

As for customer feedback, we found none and we think this has a lot to do with the fact that the card was relatively new at the time of publishing.

According to consumer research firm J.D. Power, Citi ranks 8th out of the 11 main credit card issuers in customer satisfaction.

Our Final Thoughts About the AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard

As we look back on our research of this credit card, we believe it’s one of the better low-annual-fee airline rewards credit cards on the market.

The 25,000 introductory miles are enough to get you one free flight and, if you can spend $25,000 a year on your card, then the points bonuses you get for every dollar will earn you a free flight, too.

As for drawbacks, we think the card’s penalty APR makes it a financially dangerous choice if you who pay late and carries a balance. Also, the card’s rewards rate of one mile per dollar isn’t as lucrative as other cards in its class that offer double points for purchases made from the airline.

In general, we think this card is a good fit for someone who enjoys flying American and has the spending power to earn at least 25,000 points a year. Also, if you always pay on time, you’ll avoid the penalty APR.

If you want to learn more about airline rewards credit cards, take a look at our ranking of the best airline rewards cards. We look at the most popular cards category-by-category, comparing and contrasting the best and the worst features of each card.

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