Warning About American Airlines Credit Card Offers/Promotions
Is 100,000 bonus miles really possible? This American Airlines credit card review shows how their promotional offers really work in 2013 and the pros & cons behind them.
*Warning about the mega-promotions*
Is a card offer for 75,000 or 100,000 miles too good to be true? Sort of. Years ago Citi ran a couple very brief offers for 75k or 100k miles but they came with major strings – offered for an extremely limited time and minimum spend requirements of up to $10,000 to get the bonus points. Furthermore, these were targeted offers… so not everyone could apply.
My guess is Citi/AA probably did this as a marketing campaign to drum up some quick PR for the card on forums/blogs (and it worked). But the truth of the matter is when you apply for an AAdvantage card these days, you will probably get a bonus ranging from 2,500 to 30,000 miles (depending on the card level). So if you're looking for higher, you're not going to find it.
This page is constantly updated with the highest signup offer as of December 2013.
Being that they're among largest carriers (actually they are the largest based on distance flown annually) it comes as no surprise they have one of the most popular frequent flyer programs on the market. However there are some important things you need to know. Let’s review some of the Citi American Airline credit credit card promotions that are currently available in 2013.
#1: Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard
This is an all-new version which was just launched last year and wow… this is the most enticing airline offer yet. Review the benefits and decide for yourself but first, here are the basics:
In addition, something that makes the AAdvantage frequent flyer program superior is that you have over 1,000 different ways you can earn extra miles. For example, there are several dozen hotel chains and eight of the most popular car rental companies participating.
- Earn unlimited miles and they never expire.
- 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases.
- 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
- Annual fee of $95, waived for first 12 months.
With the Platinum American Airlines card you get some unique advantages:
New AA Platinum Benefits
- No Blackout Dates: In the frequent flyer world, AAdvantage miles are highly coveted because unlike most other airlines, there are no restricted dates for award tickets. Of course they can’t guarantee reward seats will always be available but at least you have the freedom to fly on American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection without any blackout dates.
- 10% Back On Miles: You earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back, up to 10,000 per year. For example if your flight cost 30,000 miles you would automatically receive 3,000 miles back.
- MileSAAver Discount: You get a “discount” in the number of AAdvantage miles needed for selected domestic destinations – 7,500 miles savings per roundtrip ticket. For example, a reduced mileage award may only cost 17.5k miles instead of 25k.
- Free First Checked Bag: You get this on domestic flights for yourself and up to 4 additional passengers on the same reservation.
- Priority Boarding with Group 1 Privileges: Great for getting on board ahead of the crowds so you can score an overhead bin before they're taken.
- 25% Savings on Eligible In-Flight Purchases: On things like in-flight food & beverage purchases.
- $100 Flight Discount Each Year You Spend $30k: This is a new feature available for the Platinum (the year starts on the date your account is opened).
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 & Emergency Assistance
- Personal Concierge Service
- Extended Warranty
- Citi Price Rewind
Best Signup Promotion
If you've been thinking about getting an American Airlines credit card, now would be the time to do it considering all the new benefits, not to mention, this offer they're running on the Platinum that gives you 30,000 bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership (a very easy spend threshold to meet).
In the past there were some drawbacks to the AAdvantage card, such as limits on how many miles you could earn and few benefits. However this new Platinum version launched last spring is arguably the best airline card on the market, especially when you take into account the yearly $100 ticket discount given after qualifying annual spending and card renewal.
#2: Citi Gold AAdvantage Visa Signature
This is the second best American Airlines credit card offer but unfortunately, it pails in comparison to the Platinum. When you consider all the things you're not getting, I honestly can't think of a rational reason why someone would apply for the Gold. Paying just $45 more per year to get all of the above simply makes sense, even for the seldom traveler.
Here's what you will NOT get:
Here's what you WILL get:
- NO benefit for free first checked bags
- NO priority boarding
- NO 25% discount for in-flight purchases
- NO 10% rebate on redeemed miles
- NO double miles on American Airlines purchases
- NO ability to earn a $100 annual flight discount
There were only 2 positive changes on this card last year. The first being that the mileage cap was eliminated (previously you could only earn 60,000 miles per year). The second is that it became available in Visa Signature and World MasterCard versions.
- Credit Card Rewards: 1 miles per dollar but there is not 2x miles on AA purchases.
- Partner Rewards: Same as Platinum.
- No Blackout Dates: Same as Platinum.
- MileSAAver Discount: The "Reduced Mileage Awards" will cost you 2,500 miles more than what you get with the Platinum.
- Annual Fee: $50
- Bonus Promotion: During 2013 the highest offer I've seen was a max of 25k miles.
The Gold American Airlines card is average 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 only costs $45 more and it offers you first checked bags for free, that in and of itself justifies 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
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% on purchases of $150+ if paid in full within 6 month. 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% or non-variable 21.96% - 25.99%. Very expensive!
This version is only for those who have absolutely terrible credit and are trying to rebuild credit history. Everyone else should try for a better tier.
The winner is...
...quite obvious! After you compare the American Airlines credit cards for yourself, you can see why the Platinum is the only way to go. Here's the best offer currently available for it as of December 2013:
With this 30,000 mile offer, you only have to make $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership to get the bonus miles. Typically the spend requirements are much higher so this is a nice opportunity if you want it.