Review: American Airlines AAdvantage AmEx Card Inferior

If you’re in the market for a credit card from American Airlines, you may have noticed that there is a non Visa-version. It’s officially called the Citi Select AAdvantage American Express.

Now most people generally think of American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) as being cream of the crop. I’m not here to say my opinion one way or another on that, but the fact is this card is not issued by American Express. It merely operates over their payment network, that’s all. So when you call customer service, it’s not AmEx who’s answering the call.

The issuer of this card is still Citibank, who is also the issuer of the other AAdvantage cards.

So that brings us to the question… which one should you choose? Well compare and review them side-by-side… I think the choice is obvious.

The offers for the following Citi cards are no longer available, but the information will remain for reference purposes.

 Citi® / AAdvantage®
American Express® Card
Citi® Gold / AAdvantage®
Visa Signature® Card
Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage®
Visa Signature® Card
TypeAmExVisa SignatureVisa Signature
Annual Fee$50$50$95
Get no blackout dates on award travelYesYesYes
25% savings on eligible in-flight purchasesYesYesYes
Chip and PIN (Signature) technologyNoYesYes
Free First Checked BagNoNoYes
Priority BoardingNoNoYes
Earn 10% of your redeemed miles back (up to 10k annually)NoNoYes

So basically, the AAdvantage American Express card is on par with the Gold Visa Signature. Both have a $50 annual fee and most of their benefits are the same.

The most noticeable difference between the two is that the Visa version has EMV chip and signature technology. Meanwhile the AmEx does not.

If Visa & AmEx are almost the same, why do they have both?

This is a question I get asked a lot about credit cards. You will often see banks with a card that’s available as both a Visa and MasterCard, or in this instance, a Visa and American Express.

While I don’t know specifically why Citibank offers an American Airlines AmEx, my guess is that it stems from the various antitrust settlements over the past few years.

You see previously, the major banks would only issue one type of card. To make a long story short, after various lawsuits and settlements, they agreed to each offer cards for the 3 biggest payment networks (Visa/MC/AmEx).

This is why you see Bank of America offering AmEx on a couple cards, which is quite ironic because BofA was actually the inventor of Visa!

The Winner of the 3 versions is…

… definitely the Platinum Visa. There are 3 major reasons why it’s the obvious choice:

1. First checked bag is free

You get this for yourself as well as up to four other passengers if they’re traveling under your same reservation. The AmEx and Visa Gold versions do not include this perk.

Given that just one checked bag normally costs $25 one way – $50 round trip – even if you just use this benefit once per year, it makes the extra $45 for the annual fee worth it.

2. Priority boarding privileges

You only get this on the Platinum. It allows you (and up to 4 people traveling under your same reservation) priority boarding with group 1 privileges on all American Airlines flights.

3. Better rewards

There are several aspects of the AAdvantage Platinum that are superior to the other two versions:

  • Double AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases.
  • Get 10% of your redeemed miles back – up to 10,000 miles per calendar year.
  • $100 flight discount awarded each year you make at least $30k in purchases and renew your card.

While I don’t like fees any more than the next guy, I think it’s obvious in this scenario that the extra $45 is money well spent for the benefits you get. I would even choose it on the basis of the free checked bag benefit alone. Not to mention, Citi’s AAdvantage American Express has lower acceptance than their Visa.

However the best travel deal on the market right now is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Go here to read my review of it.This post was written or last updated November 16, 2013

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Looking for a card, that gives dollar amount for rewards, such as Discover or American Express. We have an American Express Platinum card but the fees are very high. my friend told me she has an American Express Citibank Advantage card. But apparently it only gives you mileage rewards. I don’t want that.
Please let me know if you have what I am looking for, with a low annual fee,
Thank You

A lot of people don’t check bags on flights. So why pay an extra $49 a year for a benefit you may not need.

Misleading review.

Or have status with AA that gives you a free checked bag and priority boarding already. Actually, most savvy AA fliers who can afford them and are interested in maximizing their miles, are going to have both. Additionally, I need an American Express to shop at Costco where I spend a lot of money. It’s the only way to get AA miles when you shop at Costco.

Bingo!

Jeff you are right on the money. Even if you use a regular American Express issued card, the only way to get those Membership Rewards points to American AAdvantage miles is to convert them to Starwood Points. Then you can transfer them to American. They transfer at 2 points to 1 AAdvantage mile. So, you lose 50% of your points. I know, I did this for a Cathay Pacific award. It really was the most inexpensive way to get the AA miles that we needed.