Full Review of Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
Pros and Cons
Generous one-time offer
Strong rewards for flights
No annual fee the first year
Limited lucrative options for rewards
Maximizing rewards value requires savvy
- Generous one-time offer: The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard comes with a one-time offer of 50,000 miles when you spend at least $2,500 within the three months of opening your account. That's enough miles to book as many as six one-way trips using MileSAAver awards (redemptions start at 7,500 miles). Investopedia estimates the bonus to be worth about $1,020 because we value each AAdvantage mile at an average of 2.04 cents.
- Strong rewards for flights: With earnings of 2 miles per dollar spent with American and on gasoline and restaurant purchases, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is highly rewarding. Every mile is worth an average of 2.04 cents. Those rewards could meet or even exceed the value you'd get with, say, a cash-back card that earns 4 cents per dollar spent. The card also provides the potential for additional savings when flying American, with a 25% discount on in-flight purchases plus a free checked bag and preferred boarding for you and up to four others on your reservation. (Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not considered an eligible in-flight purchase for the in-flight-purchase discount.)
- No annual fee the first year: The card charges a $99 annual fee, but it's waived for the first year. Though that isn't a unique extra, it also isn't standard among airline credit cards. For example, the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard imposes its $99 annual fee from the time you become a cardholder. Also, note that if you spend $20,000 or more during a card membership year, you'll get a $125 American Airlines flight discount, which is more than the cost of the annual fee.
- Limited lucrative options for rewards: You can redeem your AAdvantage miles for more than just award flights; you can exchange them for car rentals and hotel stays, among other options. However, unless you want to give up a lot of value, award tickets are by far your best redemption option.
- Maximizing rewards value requires savvy: We value AAdvantage miles at 2.04 cents each, but you may have a hard time getting that when flying with American. Instead, you may need to spend some time researching international flights with the airline's oneworld Alliance partners, which is where you're most likely to find the richest redemption.
Who This Card Is Best For
Unsurprisingly, the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard best suits people who fly with American Airlines, and regularly. Its rewards heavily favor redemption for flights with American and its international partners.
Indeed, this card makes the most sense if you plan to travel abroad and can use your miles with one of the airline's oneworld Alliance partners. With value per mile greater with those partners than with American itself, as a rule, you're more likely to find the best deals by flying abroad with those partners than flying within the U.S. with American.
Even if you settle for redemptions of a lesser value, you can still get enough value out of the card's free checked baggage and flight-discount perks to easily get the card's annual fee back in value.
Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard One-Time Offer
The card offers 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months. At 2.04 cents per mile, you’re getting $1,020 in value—roughly a 40% return on investment.
For more context, you can get a roundtrip domestic flight for as little as 15,000 miles, and round-trip international flights start at 25,000 miles.
Rewards Earning Details
In addition to the card's bonus, you'll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and at gas stations and restaurants, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, you can earn 1 Loyalty Point for every eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases. The card's base rewards rate may sound low but considering how much each mile is worth, using the card for all of your everyday purchases is worth it.
Rewards Redemption Details
The best way to redeem your AAdvantage miles is to book flights with American and its partner airlines. And though we calculated a value of 2.04 cents per mile, you may get more or less than that based on how you use yours.
American Airlines allows you to use your miles for other things as well, but you’re unlikely to get much value with these redemption alternatives:
- Upgrades with American or partner airlines
- Car rentals
- Hotel stays
- Trip activities
- Admirals Club membership
- Magazines and newspaper subscriptions
You can't transfer AAdvantage miles to another loyalty program, but you can use your rewards to book flights with American Airlines partners through the airline's online booking platform and via phone reservations.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Getting the most from this card begins with charging as much to it as makes sense for you, given your budget and the other cards you own. This card's average mile value of 2.04 cents makes charging all American purchases as well as those for gas and restaurants a smart move.
Especially when you redeem this card's earnings for pricier international tickets with American's partners, it may beat all others in your wallet for rewards (unless another card offers better than about $0.04 in value for every $1 you spend). Using the card extensively can also earn you the $125 flight credit that’s awarded if you charge at least $20,000 in purchases to it over the course of a year.
As for redemption, their use for award flights makes the most financial sense, given the poor value you'll get with other options. As you consider how to maximize your earnings, take some time to research different redemptions to see how much value you can get out of them, because this ranges widely.
For example, let's say a domestic flight from Dallas to Los Angeles is $237 in the main cabin or $719 in first class. Alternatively, you could book the same itinerary for 25,000 miles in economy or 50,000 miles in first class. The first option represents a value of 0.95 cents per mile and the second 1.44 cents per mile—both well below our calculated average of 2.04 cents per mile.
Now, let's consider an international flight from New York City to Abu Dhabi. Let's say that you're looking at $1,045 for a seat in economy or about $18,626 for a first-class fare.
Using miles to obtain these flights, you can expect to redeem 80,000 miles for the main cabin or 230,000 miles for first class. In this scenario, redeeming miles for the main cabin would give you an unremarkable 1.3 cents per mile, but an award ticket in first class would give you a rate of 8.1 cents per mile—close to four times our calculated 2.04-cent average.
Exploring various redemption options can take time and demand patience, but it can also result in savings that run into thousands of dollars, especially for premium seats on long international flights.
Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard's Outstanding Benefits
- First checked bag free: If you're flying domestic, you and up to four others on the itinerary will get a first bag checked free. The perk doesn’t transfer, though, if you end up on a codeshare flight operated by another airline—unless it's an American Eagle flight.
- Preferred boarding: You and up to four others on your reservation will get to board with Group 5 on American Airlines-operated and American Eagle flights.
- American Airlines flight discount: If you spend $20,000 or more during your card membership year—that's the year between annual fees, not the calendar year—you'll get a discount worth $125, good for flights with American Airlines and its partners. The only drawback is that it expires 12 months after you receive it.
- In-flight discount: You'll get a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases on flights operated by American Airlines and other eligible airlines. To get the discount, you'll need to use the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.
Citi ranked sixth among 11 national credit card issuers in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. Citi's overall rating was below the average.
The bank offers free access to your FICO credit score, which can come in handy if you're working on building or maintaining your credit history.
You can reach customer service via phone if you have a question, which is standard in the credit card industry. You can also chat with someone through your online account, which isn't a feature you'll get with some other major card issuers. You can manage your account online or through Citi's mobile app.
With the Citi mobile app, you can lock your account if you misplace your card, then unlock it when you've found it. Though many other national credit card issuers offer this feature, it's not a given.
The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is also a contactless credit card. This means that if you're using a contactless-enabled card reader, you can just tap your card instead of swiping or inserting it. This process is faster than inserting your card into a chip reader and still gives you the same level of security. Contactless credit cards are more common than they used to be but not every major card issuer is on board with them.
The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is best for frequent travelers on American Airlines and its international partners. It offers ample rewards to justify its use by even occasional travelers on the airline. That's especially true for the first year that your account is open, when its one-time offer alone provides sufficient points for several domestic round trips (and the annual fee is waived).
The card is likely most valuable for international travel. Using miles to book with American's oneworld Alliance partners tends to yield the most lucrative redemption rates, our research suggests. The card is probably unsuitable for those who wish to redeem even some of the miles they earn for anything other than flights. If you want a wider range of redemption options while still earning plenty of value and/or a card with no annual fee, consider a general travel credit card instead.