The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is a prime card for miles and rewards redemption.
Now that air travel isn’t as daunting in the wake of the pandemic and my credit score is good, I decided it was time to apply for my first airline credit card. With so many airline co-branded credit cards, I asked friends, family and coworkers their opinions on travel rewards credit cards.
I got a few recommendations. One was the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers 5X points on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel; 3X points on restaurants, select streaming and certain online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 2X on travel purchases and 1X on everything else.
However, I went with the Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and was thrilled when I got approved. Here’s why.
I’m an American Airlines loyalist
In my opinion, American Airlines has the best and most direct routes in the U.S. I lived in its southeastern hub, Charlotte, North Carolina, for three years and enjoyed great in-flight service, direct flights to multiple cities and simple booking.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, American seemed to be honoring cancellations. I, at least, was able to cancel my booked trips, rebook flights and reuse the flight credits for other trips. There was no need to call in to rebook, as it was all managed online with my AAdvantage account.
I traveled to Seattle from Columbus, Ohio, in June and scored a direct flight on American Airlines’ oneworld Alliance partner, Alaska Airlines. I hate layovers, so getting a direct route not only avoided layovers altogether, but my takeoff-to-landing time was a manageable five hours.
AAdvantage Dining program double-dipping
Earlier in 2021, I signed up for American Airlines’ AAdvantage Dining, which awards miles when you spend at partner restaurants and bars. First, you can connect multiple cards to your AAdvantage Dining account and earn miles when you dine.
The current earning rate is 1X miles on restaurant purchases, but 3X miles if you sign up for email communication from AAdvantage Dining and 5X miles for VIP Members when you make 11 eligible transactions in your first calendar year. Visiting a restaurant 11 times in one year is extremely doable for me, and I don’t mind getting emails, so it’s an easy way for me to keep earning American Airline miles.
Furthermore, with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, I earn 2X miles on restaurant spending. Adding on 3X miles for receiving emails, plus a potential extra 2X miles once I reach 11 transactions means I have the potential to earn 7X miles at restaurants with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select.
Some of my favorite restaurants and breweries are included in the AAdvantage Dining program, so getting brunch with a friend or heading to dinner for a special occasion earns miles on my American Airlines account.
The sign-up bonus
Sign-up bonuses can be tricky. Do I go for low-hanging fruit and easy spend requirements or do I stretch my budget thin just to snag a high-value welcome bonus?
I initially considered the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Mastercard®*, which offers 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit when you spend $500 in the first three months. As easily as I could spend $500 in three months, 10,000 miles isn’t that much.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard®* offers 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first three months plus Admirals Club access and $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every five years. However, I don’t care for lounge access when I travel, $5,000 is a hefty requirement for my modest budget and the $450 annual fee personally does not justify those perks for me. Plus, the American Airlines Executive World Elite card only earns 2X miles on American Airlines travel and 1X miles on everything else.
The sweet spot for me came with the AAdvantage Platinum Select. It has a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus when you spend $2,500 in the first three months. It also offers the first checked bag free on domestic flights and a reasonable $99 annual fee that’s waived the first year.
Spending $2,500 in three months is a little tight for me, so I plan to charge my rent to my credit card, then immediately pay it off to reap the rewards. This strategy has its pros and cons, but to me, it beats blowing my budget and spending money I normally wouldn’t in order to reach a spend threshold.
Easy miles earning rate and good benefits
One of my favorite things about the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select is the earnings rate. Cardholders get 2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, 2X on American Airline purchases and 1X mile on everything else. While other travel cards offer higher rates across more categories, this is still a good deal to me when considering the 12-month annual fee waiver, the sign-up bonus and double-dipping in American Airlines’ dining program.
Furthermore, you get a $125 American Airlines credit when you spend $20,000 and renew your card each year. That spending requirement is a little heavy for me personally, but it’s nice to know the benefit is there when my budget and spending grows to accommodate my future plans.
Plus the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard comes with 25% off in-flight purchases on American Airlines (mile-high mimosas, anyone?), preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and no foreign transaction fees. Having an AAdvantage credit card also means my miles don’t expire. (American Airlines miles expire after 18 months unless you reactivate them.) Since I’m planning international travel in 2022, these benefits come as an extra perk for me.
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, while a mouthful to say, is a solid mid-tier travel and airline card to add to your wallet. I don’t consider myself a frequent flyer but I have enough travel aspirations to justify signing up for it. Plus, as an American Airlines loyalist, I’m excited to see American Airlines miles rack up in my account and redeem them for my future adventures.
*All information about the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card and Citi / AAdvantage Executive Mastercard has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.