When I think about travel rewards credit cards, one of the first that always comes to mind is the “Citi AAdvantage” card.
I remember my dad held the card in his wallet for years, and used it many a time to travel throughout the world, always for free, and often in Business Class, all thanks to the points he earned.
The card treated him well over the years, and I believe he still carries it (and he’s the cheapest guy I know).
I’ve finally gotten around to reviewing the card, thanks to an associated offer that landed on my desk today.
I’ll start by highlighting the bonus offer, since it’s the main reason I’m writing this review.
50,000 Bonus Miles
From now until December 13, new cardholders who apply for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature card will be eligible for 50,000 bonus miles.
You earn the 50,000 bonus miles by spending $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership, which as you can see is enough for a free roundtrip flight.
For most of us these days, that’s not particularly difficult, seeing that most consumers prefer credit over cash, thanks to all the lucrative rewards and relative convenience.
Keep in mind that this limited-time bonus offer is up from the typical 30,000 bonus miles you can normally earn with this card.
And that 20,000 difference is no joke. A quick look at the American Airlines website revealed that 20,000 miles is enough for an off-peak one-way flight from Los Angeles to London. Not too shabby…
In other words, if you qualify for the entire bonus, you can fly roundtrip to Europe from the USA, for free, less any taxes and fees, with miles to spare.
Other AAdvantage Frills
Aside from that great opening bonus, the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature card also comes with a $100 American Airlines flight discount for each year you spend $30,000 on the card and renew your membership.
You also earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and one mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
And when you use your card in-flight, you save 25% on food and beverage purchases.
American Airlines even gives you back 10% of your redeemed miles, up to 10,000 per calendar year.
Additionally, you can earn hundreds of miles just for staying at partner hotels and using partner rental car companies.
American Airlines also offers huge bonus-mile incentives for booking flights you’d normally go on.
For example, from now until January 31, 2013, you can earn 15,000 bonus miles for booking a flight between the US and Europe. It’s a tiered program that offers more bonus points as you take more flights during that period.
So earning an international trip can be pretty swift with this card, even if you don’t earn those bonus miles initially.
Cardholders also get first bags checked free (and for up to four travel companions) and priority boarding.
American Airlines also has a lot of great partner airlines, such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific. In other words, if you like to fly, this is a great card to carry.
It can’t all be good, right? Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of the AAdvantage credit card.
So if you go crazy trying to get that initial bonus, make sure you actually have the money to pay off the balance in full each month.
Secondly, there is a $95 annual fee, though it is waived for the first year, and offset by that annual $100 flight discount credit.
Lastly, if you use the card abroad, you’ll be subject to a 3% foreign transaction fee, which is a bummer considering it’s a travel card.
But all in all, the AAdvantage credit card from Citi is a good bet for the world traveler who relies on credit frequently.
It has been around for years, and has always provided good value to its cardholders, mainly because earning free flights is such a breeze.
Note: The opening bonus is not available to those who have had this card opened or closed in the past 18 months.
Pros of the Citi AAdvantage Credit Card
- Huge 50k opening bonus
- Easy to earn free flights
- 10% refund when redeeming miles
- Priority boarding and free checked luggage
- Annual fee waived first year
Cons of the Citi AAdvantage Credit Card
- Foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- No promo APR