About Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card
Travelers who love a good airlines reward card will perk up when they hear about the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard’s 50,000 introductory miles and long-term travel perks.
But before you jump on the American Airlines bandwagon and sign up for the AAdvantage card, it’s important to take a few minutes to figure out why this card is a good fit for you.
Credit cards are like an engine – they have a lot of moving parts and everything needs to be in harmony in order for you to have a great ride. If you get a card with good up-front bonuses but poor long-term benefits, you may just kick the card to the curb after a year and look for a newer model.
The goal in discovering the right credit card (and car, for that matter) is finding the one that gives you the features you’ll love and will last you a long time.
We firmly believe this, which is why our credit card reviews take a comprehensive approach to cards like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Short-term benefits
- Long-term benefits
- Real value of miles
- Fees and Rates
- Consumer opinions
We’ll end the review with our general thoughts and recommendations about this American Airlines rewards card.
Short-Term Benefits of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
You can break up the Citi AAdvantage card’s short-term benefits into two categories: miles and annual fee.
The main short-term benefit of Citi AAdvantage is the 50,000 introductory miles you get when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
You’ll need to sign up for an AAdvantage frequent flyer account to receive the points; it will take all of two or three minutes.
Many consumers are under the impression these points will show up instantly if you hit the spending threshold. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with airline rewards cards. The points can take up to 10 weeks to appear in your AAdvantage account.
Also, your three-month spending deadline begins the day you’re approved, not the day you receive your card.
Waiving the Annual Fee
Along with this, Citi will waive your $95 annual fee the first year you own this card. You’ll be charged the annual fee on your cardmember anniversary.
In our opinion, the up-front benefits you see here align with most of the other major airline carriers who offer credit cards.
Some airlines offer more up-front perks – Gold Delta SkyMiles cardholders, for example, get a $50 statement credit if they make a purchase through Delta in the first three months.
Long-Term benefits of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
Short-term benefits on airline rewards cards tend to focus on free miles and annual fees. When you start looking at long-term benefits, though, you’ll see a wider scope of perks: flying, general travel, and shopping.
And when we say “long-term,” we mean benefits available during and after the first year you own the AAdvantage card.
Long-Term Travel Perks
The long-term benefits of American Airlines’ credit card are stronger than the up-front bonuses:
- First checked bag is free
- Group 1 boarding on American Airlines domestic flights
- 25% discount on in-flight purchases
- 2:1 miles on American Air purchases
- 1:1 miles on everything else
- 10% bonus on miles
The trio of perks at the top of the list are great for people who love American Airlines and fly them often. The free checked bag can save you $50 per round-trip flight, and the priority boarding puts you on the plane with the first group of passengers.
The miles-per-dollar ratios we listed are the standard rate for the airline rewards card industry. Both the Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express and the United MileagePlus Explorer have the same 2:1/1:1 structure.
We think the 10% miles bonus is a great benefit on this card. Anytime you book a flight with miles, 10% of what you booked will go back to your AAdvantage account. If you book a flight for 25,000 miles, then 6-8 weeks later you’ll get a credit of 2,500 miles.
Long-Term General Travel Perks
One of the big benefits of this card is the protection you get when you face delays or unexpected surprises during your travels. Be warned, though, these benefits are only available under circumstances and up to certain dollar amounts:
- Reimbursement for canceled trips or trip delays
- Medical insurance for travel accidents
- Reimbursement for lost baggage
- Insurance on rental cars
As we said a few seconds ago, each one of these benefits has its own set of limitations and specific circumstances. You can dive into all the details at Citi’s Travel Benefits page.
Pro tip: You can redeem your AAdvantage miles for hotel stays, but the programs high conversion rates make the exchange program unusable. For example, a stay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay costs 12,000 Gold Passport points (Hyatt’s “frequent flyer” program) but costs 45,900 AAdvantage miles.
Long-Term Shopping Benefits
If you’re like most consumers, then you probably didn’t know credit card companies offer you at least one or two programs for extended warranties and damage/theft replacement.
Citi cardholders can get reimbursed for damaged or stolen items up to 90 days after they were purchased, an extended warranty on certain items and Price Rewind, a program that will reimburse you if something you bought goes down in price within 90 days of the purchase date.
The Real Value of Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard Miles
One thing we’ve discovered as we’ve researched airline rewards cards is that certain miles bonuses are worth more than others.
Why? Because, as is the case with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, the value of your up-front miles is relative to how many miles it costs to book a rewards flight.
To get a sense of the value of 50,000 bonus miles, we took a look at two different round-trip flights: one from New York to Los Angeles and one from Orlando to Atlanta.
Our dates of travel were April 7 to April 11. We chose that departure date because it was 59 days away from the date we wrote this review, which, according to HighYa travel expert Autumn Yates, is the perfect time to buy tickets for domestic flights.
New York to Los Angeles
The flight we chose for this round-tripper from the East Coast to the West Coast cost us a total of 60,000 miles, or 10,000 more than the number of 50K bonus miles you get.
It goes without saying that when rewards seats on a round-trip flight cost more than your up-front bonus, it’s not a very good deal.
Now, this disappointing news comes with a bit of a silver lining. Flights that left on April 5 and returned on April 10 only cost a total of 25,000 miles.
It’s our opinion that the flight price was higher on the dates we picked because we chose to leave on a Friday, a day where there’s high demand for flights and, consequently, higher prices.
Orlando to Atlanta
Hoping to find a bit of a better deal on this shorter flight, we checked out rewards prices for the 1.5-hour journey from Florida to Georgia.
The miles prices for these flights were identical to the NY-LA flights we searched: 25K miles each way, or 50K for the entire trip. And, like the NY-LA flight, there were round-trip flights on other days that cost 25K total instead of 50K.
Based on what we found doing a basic search on AA.com, it’s our opinion that the rewards pricing for flights isn’t advantageous for people who want to maximize their bonus points, or the points they build up over the course of the year.
There’s seems to be no difference in pricing for regional or cross-country flights, which is really confounding to us.
If there was one piece of advice we’d give, it would be to book your flight as early as possible. The cheapest rewards seats go fast.
Fees and Rates of Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard Miles
The Citi AAdvantage card has all the usual fees and rates that you’ll find on just about any credit card out there. You’ll also be charged certain fees for booking a rewards flight.
Credit Card Fees
The card’s APR ranges from 16.24% to 24.24%, and, if you make a late payment, that APR jumps up to 29.99% and may stay that way for as long as you own the card.
The new APR isn’t the only downside to paying late, either. Citi will charge you up to $35.
If you transfer a balance to your Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, you’ll pay a fee of 3% of the total balance.
Also, the $95 fee is waived for the first year but will be charged to your account on the 1-year anniversary of the day you were accepted.
Anytime you use miles to buy a ticket, you’ll have to pay the fees normally attached to an airline fare. It’s hard to say exactly how much you’ll pay, but count on paying at least $10 in fees.
In certain situations, American Airlines will charge you extra fees for your rewards tickets: booking less than 21 days before departure ($75) and changing your flight ($150 per ticket).
What Other People Say About the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard Miles
Credit card companies can sell you all they want on the great perks they hand out to their airline rewards cardmembers, but those perks mean nothing if, over time, a card like the Citi AAdvantage gets poor reviews.
We checked three websites to get a feel for reviews on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum select: WalletHub, Credit Karma and NerdWallet.
More than 300 reviews gave this card an average score of 3.1 stars. More than half of the reviews gave three stars, while nearly 25% of reviews were one or two stars.
The main complaints about this card are that it’s really hard to find affordable rewards flights. One customer, who allegedly has had the card for eight years, lamented the lack of choices:
“It seems like during the last two years, there are fewer flights and fewer opportunities to use the mileage, making the (card) less desirable.”
There were also several complaints about poor phone-based customer service and about miles disappearing and not being given back.
On the positive side of things, reviewers said the year-round baggage and boarding benefits are great if you usually fly American Airlines.
Several of the more recent reviews about this card were positive, which is indicative of the card’s 4-star rating from more than 30 reviews.
Two reviewers brought up a hidden benefit we’ve yet to mention – linking your Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select to American Airlines’ dining rewards network. Basically, if you use your World Elite card at participating dining locations, you can get anywhere from a 3x to 5x bonus on your purchase.
If you eat out a lot and stick with the restaurants participating in the program, you can add precious miles to your account.
Negative reviews complained about bad customer service.
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select received 44 reviews at the time of publishing, averaging 2 stars. The eight most recent reviews were 1 star.
The complaints, as you can imagine, were many:
- Account freezes on purchases above $300
- Available credit doesn’t always reflect payments
- Statements not sent
- Frustrating experience with dispute department
- Limited rewards flights
- Fees for supposedly free baggage
Of the 20 most recent reviews, there were a pair of 5-star reviews. One customer said they enjoyed Citi’s customer service, while the other said the exchange rate on the card was excellent and called the Citi AAdvantage the “best travel card I’ve ever had.”
Our Final Thoughts About the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard Miles
In the world of airline rewards cards, we think the Citi AAdvantage is a very interesting choice.
Rewards Flights and Travel Perks
The intro offer of 50,000 bonus miles can be redeemed for two round-trip flights, under the right circumstances. In the two examples we used earlier, there weren’t any 12.5K rewards seats on the day we wanted, but they were available a few days before our departure day.
If you’ve got flexible travel dates, it’s very likely you’ll find a good deal on rewards seats. If you can snag a 25K round-trip, then the Citi AAdvantage is right near the top in terms of the value of your bonus miles.
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cardholders also get a free bag for up to four people on their reservation, as well as boarding with the first group of passengers. Both of these perks are excellent for frequent and infrequent travelers.
Poor Rewards Flight Selection and Customer Service
What concerns us about this card are the bad reviews its receives from consumers. There seem to be a lot of complaints about limited rewards flights and poor customer service. Those two weak points can create a lot of headaches if you’re getting this card specifically for free flights.
To get around this, do some research before you sign up for the card. Spend two weeks checking flights from your home airport to destinations you visit for business or you want to see for vacation. How many 12.5K-mile rewards seats do they have? How quickly do they disappear?
Compare It to Other Airline Rewards Cards
If you want to get a good idea of how the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite card stacks up against the competition, check out our Best Airline Rewards Card of 2017 article. We judge six airline rewards cards across 10 different categories.
The article ranks each card for each category and, at the end, we select a winner. The Citi AAdvantage wasn’t the best card in our rankings, but it was near the top.