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
|Type||AmEx||Visa Signature||Visa Signature|
|Get no blackout dates on award travel||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Chip and PIN (Signature) technology||No||Yes||Yes|
|Free First Checked Bag||No||No||Yes|
|Earn 10% of your redeemed miles back (up to 10k annually)||No||No||Yes|
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