Review: Is Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card World Elite Mastercard Worth It?
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card is an airline rewards credit card that earns miles for the American Airlines “AAdvantage” frequent flier program.
The card has a substantial sign-up bonus as well as a rewards rate on gas, restaurant and American Airline purchases that can help you earn up to two free flights per year.
With these great features at the forefront of what this card has to offer, it’s worth researching to find out if it’s a good fit for you. To help you see the pros and cons of this card, we’ve researched its short-term and long-term benefits, the value of the miles you earn and the card’s rates and fees.
We also feature a section in which we compare the card to other airline rewards cards to help you see how it rate against some of the top cards in the airline rewards category.
At the end of this review, we’ve included a section on how you can best use this card to earn miles and free flights.
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 $2,500 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 $99 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.
Miles on Purchases
Whenever you use your Citi AAdvantage card to make purchases, you’ll earn two points for every dollar you spend on American Airlines flights, gas and restaurants, and one point on everything else.
Assuming that you buy two round-trip tickets per year from American, you’ll spend around $700, based on the cost of an average round-trip ticket. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average family will spend around $5,333 on gas and restaurants. Between these three categories, we think you can earn 12,000 miles.
When you add in another $19,000 of spending that we believe the average American household can implement, we think this card can earn you around 31,000 miles a year.
When you use your card to purchase airline tickets from American Airlines, you get the following three benefits:
- First checked bag is free
- Group 1 boarding on American Airlines domestic flights
- 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases
The trio of perks is 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.
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.
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.
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
Exactly how much frequent flyer miles are worth has everything to do with how many miles it costs to book a flight.
To get a sense of the value of 50,000 bonus miles, we did a search for a Friday-to-Sunday round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles and found seats for 12,500 miles, which is a great deal. If you can get these 25,000-mile trips for your flight, then your 50,000-point sign-up bonus is good for a pair of round-trip flights.
In our opinion, that’s a great value. And, when you add in the fact that the average household can earn around 31,000 miles a year, we see your 81,000 first-year miles earning you three round-trip flights.
Fees and Rates of Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
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 17.99% to 25.99%, 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 $99 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).
How the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard Compares to Other Airline Rewards Cards
We’ve compiled important data from each of the leading airline rewards cards so you can see how this Citi card compares:
|Citi AAdvantage Platinum||B of A KLM Air France||Gold Delta SkyMiles||United MileagePlus Explorer|
|Sign-Up Bonus||50,000 miles||25,000||35,000 miles||40,000 miles|
|Yearly Rewards||31,000 miles||43,550||25,700 miles||29,515 miles|
|Annual Fee||$99, $0 first year||$89||$95, $0 first year||$95, $0 first year|
|APR||17.99% - 25.99||16.99% - 24.99%||17.74% - 26.74%||17.74% - 24.74%|
Based on the various cards we’ve compared in this chart, we think the Citi card has one major advantage: yearly miles.
The first year you own the card, you’re getting 81,000 miles, which is good enough for three round-trip flights. None of the three other cards will earn you enough points the first year to get more than two round-trip flights.
Over time, we see the Air France KLM card getting you more points per year but a lack of priority boarding and a free checked bag weaken the miles advantage.
The fact that the Citi card offers a big first-year miles total as well as priority boarding and a free checked bag put this card, in our opinion, at the front of the pack.
One of the things you have to keep in mind when you’re comparing airline credit cards is your own personal preference. If you’re loyal to a brand, there may not be enough incentive amid the Citi AAdvantage card’s features to draw you away from Delta or United, for example.
Bottom Line: How to Use the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard to Your Advantage
Based on the research we’ve done about this card, we think there are several ways you can leverage this card to earn you a ton of miles each year.
First, if you‘re a family, you’re in prime position to earn a lot of points because the card gives you a 2x bonus in categories you spend money: gas and restaurants.
The numbers we used to calculate how many miles you can earn from these categories are from the Bureau of Labor Statics, who says that the average family spends around $3,365 eating out and $1,968 on gas.
If you spend more than $300 a month and/or more than $175 a month on gas, then your mileage totals will exceed $31,000.
This distinction is important because the other three cards we compared this one to don’t give you bonuses for both restaurants and gas (the United card gives a bonus for restaurants).
So, if you’re a family that spends the average amount or above the average in these categories, the Citi card will maximize your spending more than the Gold Delta SkyMiles and the United MileagePlus Explorer.
If you want to learn more about other airlines rewards cards beyond the three other cards we compared earlier in the review, then read through our rankings of the best airline rewards cards.
Our rankings will help you see which cards offer the best overall suite of rewards and benefits, as well as how they might work out in specific situations.
Do not enroll!
You cannot get off the phone having anything solved. They made so many mistakes I ended up having to pay late fees when I had paid over the phone (don't ever pay over the phone). When I called the representative they couldn't locate my account, they don't give each other messages so you can be on the phone for over an hour like I just was and if they pass you to a different rep you need to start from the beginning, it's a nightmare. I have never experienced anything so dysfunctional in a credit card system, and this from the supervisors and specialists, just don't, there are many other credit cards.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
3 out 3 people found this review helpful
They do not stand true to their word
Do NOT have anything to do with this company! They do not honor what they say. I was told by three people I would get a callback and I did not. I was told I would get 60k miles and guess what? They did not give them. Switch to another travel card with another company. You will be SO much more happy!
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend