Update: Curious about those 100,000 mile sign-up offers you've seen from Citi? This American Airlines credit card review shows how these promotional offers work in 2014 and the pros and cons behind them.

American Airlines logo
Mega promotions for 75,000 miles, or even 100,000 miles, are out there for the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard (although the officially advertised offer is 30,000). You can also snag 50,000 miles for the Platinum Select card (which also has an officially advertised offer of 30,000 miles on Citi's public-facing site and on most review sites like ours).

Just type "Citi 100k offer," "Citi 75k offer" or "Citi 50k offer" into your search engine of choice, and you'll find them – on various rewards travel blogs and sometimes, in the case of the 50k and 75k offers, on AA.com (if you do a little digging).

However, while anyone can apply for these offers, not everyone will get approved. Your success will depend on your credit history and income.

Even after you get the card, the higher-mile offers also have some hurdles you'll need to clear before those miles get deposited into your account. Historically, the 50k offer has generally required $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of cardmembership, the 75k offer $7,500 in spending in the first three months, and the 100k bonus has required $10,000 in purchases in the first three months.

You'll want to be cautions when pursuing these high spending requirements. Unless $10,000 in spending every few months is the norm for you, you'll have to find creative ways to reach that amount. If you fall short, you'll end up with a hard pull on your credit reports (for getting the card), a high credit card balance and no bonus miles to show for it.

Because AA is among the largest carriers (especially since its merger with US Airways) it comes as no surprise they have one of the most popular frequent flier programs. However there are some important things you need to know before you get a card tied to the AAdvantage program. Let's review some of the popular Citi American Airlines credit card promotions currently available in 2014.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
#1: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
This version launched in 2012 and upped the ante, compared to earlier offers. You'll have to review the benefits and decide for yourself if the card is best for you, but here are the basics:
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and 2 Admirals Club® Passes after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases.
  • 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
  • Annual fee of $95, waived for first 12 months.
Something that makes the AAdvantage frequent flier program stand out is that it offers a lot of ways to extra miles, especially for travelers. For example, there are several dozen hotel chains and several popular car rental companies participating.

Redeeming Miles
With the Platinum Select American Airlines card, you get some unique advantages:
  • No Blackout Dates: There are no restricted dates for award tickets. Of course there's no guarantee reward seats will always be available at the lowest redemption amount (especially during holidays and other peak travel times), but at least there are no dates for which reward travel is completely restricted.
  • 10 Percent Back On Miles: You earn 10 percent of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back, up to 10,000 per year. For example if you redeemed 30,000 miles for a flight, you would automatically receive 3,000 miles back.
  • MileSAAver Discount: You get a "discount" in the number of AAdvantage miles needed for select domestic destinations – 7,500 miles savings per roundtrip ticket. For example, a reduced mileage award may only cost 17,500 miles instead of 25,000.
Other Travel Benefits
  • Your First Eligible Checked Bag is Free: You get this on domestic flights for yourself and up to four additional passengers on the same reservation. Otherwise, you'll pay $25 per bag each way.
  • Priority Boarding with Group 1 Privileges: Great for getting on board ahead of the crowds so you can score an overhead bin.
  • 25 Percent Savings on Eligible In-Flight Purchases: This applies to things like in-flight food and beverage purchases.
  • $100 Flight Discount Each Year You Spend $30,000: Each year starts on your cardholder anniversary. If you're a low spender, reaching the $30,000 yearly benchmark might be difficult unless you put every expense on your card. However, if you can reach it, this perk alone offsets the cost of the annual fee.
Additional Benefits
This World MasterCard comes loaded with perks:
  • Embedded EMV chip and signature
  • Retail Purchase Protection
  • No Preset Spending Limit
  • Automatic Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Coverage
  • Auto Rental Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance
  • Personal Concierge Service
  • Extended Warranty
  • Citi Price Rewind


Prior to this card's launch in April 2012, there were some drawbacks to the AAdvantage card, such as limits on how many miles you could earn and relatively few benefits. However this version is a worthwhile airline card to have, especially for those who can spend $30,000 per year on the card and get the $100 ticket discount. Even those who don't might be able to get a lot of benefit (perhaps enough to make up the annual fee) through the waived baggage fees.


#2: Citi Gold AAdvantage World MasterCard
The Citi Gold AAdvantage World MasterCard is the next level down in terms of product structures, and it pales in comparison to the Platinum. When you consider all the things you're not getting, it makes a lot less sense to apply for the Gold. Paying just $45 more per year to get all the Platinum Select benefits listed above simply makes sense, even for the infrequent traveler.

Here's what you will NOT get:
  • NO benefit for free first checked bags
  • NO priority boarding
  • NO 10 percent rebate on redeemed miles
  • NO double miles on American Airlines purchases
  • NO ability to earn a $100 annual flight discount
Here's what you WILL get:
  • Credit Card Rewards: 1 mile per dollar, not double miles on AA purchases.
  • Partner Rewards: Same as Platinum.
  • No Blackout Dates: Same as Platinum.
  • 25 percent discount on in-flight purchases.
  • MileSAAver Discount: The "Reduced Mileage Awards" will cost you 2,500 miles more than what you get with the Platinum. In other words, you're eligible for a 5,000-mile discount, rather than a 7,500-mile discount.
  • Annual Fee: $50
  • Bonus Promotion: The highest offer is 25,000 miles.
There have been only two positive changes on this card over the past couple years. First, the mileage cap was eliminated (previously you could earn only 60,000 miles per year). Second, it became available in a World MasterCard version.

Verdict?
The Gold American Airlines card is fairly unremarkable and saying that is a stretch. It's no longer a good deal now that Citi has aggressively expanded the benefits on Platinum, while scaling them back on this one. When you consider that the Platinum costs only $45 more and it offers you first checked bags for free, that may justify the higher cost – even if you only use that perk once per year (because one checked bag normally costs $50 per round trip).

#3: American Airlines Credit Card
American Airlines credit card
This is their lowest tier and it basically operates like a store credit card (but for an airline, of course). Here's why I say that...
  • Not a major card: This is NOT a Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover. It can only be used for purchases from American Airlines.
  • No Rewards Program: You don't earn extra miles for using it and there is no bonus offer with it.
  • Deferred Interest: Similar to those financing "deals" you see at furniture stores and tire shops, this AAdvantage card offers 0 percent on purchases of $150+ if paid in full within six months. If every penny of the purchase is not paid off before then, then the interest is charged retroactively going back to the date of purchase for the full amount. As of the time of this review, that interest rate was a Variable 25.99 percent or non-variable 21.96 percent - 25.99 percent. Very expensive!
Verdict?
This version is only for those who have bad credit and are trying to rebuild credit history. Everyone else should try for a better tier.

The winner is...
After you compare the American Airlines credit cards for yourself, you can see why the Platinum is the recommended way to go for most applicants, though the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite (a premium version of the card that has a $450 annual fee, lounge access and other extras) could make sense if you're a business traveler.


There is a $95 annual fee but it is waived the first year. Also, even if you already have an existing Citi AAdvantage card, you can still qualify for another offer as long as it's been at least 18 months since you last applied.