Citi Introduces New Benefits from American Airlines Co-Branded Credit Cards

Citibank hasn’t been nearly as aggressive as Chase (especially) or American Express the past couple of years in attracting cardmembers by adding on benefits. Perhaps it’s been their financial condition, along with Bank of America (which has been similarly sleepy in the credit card game) they’re the ones which have received some of the biggest bailouts.

There are signs that that is changing with Citi. They introduced the Citi Executive card bundling American Airlines lounge access and offering the chance to earn elite qualifying miles. I get my lounge access via the American Express Platinum card, and get waved foreign currency conversion through several cards. It’s an expensive card to carry, but if I needed the elite qualifying miles to hit Executive Platinum I’d probably shell out on that basis alone, $450 for 10,000 qualifying miles (after $40,000 in spend) is worthwhile since I’d spend that flying the miles and I save myself a few days in the air. I’ll hit the mark without the boost anyway, so I haven’t gotten the card, but it represented the beginning of Citi beginning to get creative in its higher end credit card offerings.

More recently there have been rumors that Citi Thank You Points would be reacting to Chase Ultimate Rewards by introducing mileage transfers as part of the program, Dan’s Deals originally posted that this was coming, it’s been all but confirmed several places, but it hasn’t happened yet and Citi has pushed back on the story. I still think there’s a good chance that it will, though don’t have inside information as to when.

Now there’s word of a whole bunch of new benefits coming with American Airlines co-branded credit cards.

They’re offering double miles on American Airlines purchases — oddly enough something previously offered predominantly with the Citi Executive Card (it’s always strange when spending with a co-branded partner doesn’t earn more miles) and no annual limit or cap on earning AAdvantage miles with the card, an odd relic was that non-elite cardholders used to be capped in the amount of miles they could earn with the card each year, it was odd to be discouraging incremental high dollar spend. They actually pulled this limit some months ago.

Most importantly, they’re adding travel benefits to the card to tie holding the American Airlines co-branded card with actually flying American.

  • First checked bag free (including for up to 4 passengers on the same reservation). This benefit applies to reservations ticketed today or later, but not to previously booked travel.
  • Priority boarding (including for up to 4 passengers on the same reservation). Again, presumably due to system issues, it applies to reservations ticketed today or later and not to previously booked travel.
  • $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after spending $30,000 on the card each year.
  • 25% savings on inflight purchases made with the card, which won't help Executive Platinum members who are already comped a buy on board item and a cocktail when sitting in coach.

And the big benefit, a 10% rebate on miles redeemed, which should post each month. Unfortunately the maximum benefit here is 10,000 miles per year. So think of it as annual 10,000 mile retention bonus provided that you’re actively redeeming miles from your account. (That covers the annual fee on the card and probably means that I’ll keep mine rather than cancelling when the annual fee comes due.)

Early speculation on these changes was that this represented a ‘new type of card’ you could apply for, and that if you already had a Citi co-branded American Airlines card you wouldn’t get these new benefits (so folks holding onto their existing cards which netted them 75,000 miles at signup would be out of luck).

I confirmed, however, that these benefits apply to all Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature, Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard, Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard, and Citi Select AAdvantage American Express cards — including for existing cardholders.

Citi Business and Citi Executive cards both get the 25 percent inflight savings. But there aren’t any other new benefits for those cards that have been rolled out.

The nice thing in applying this to the bulk of Citi co-branded cards is that you don’t need to hop on the ‘standard offer’ of 30,000 miles as a signup bonus in order to get them, you can hold back and take a 50,000 mile offer (or higher, if one re-appears).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Wow, the 10% rebate is great benefit! I currently have the Citi Exec card and I have already spent $30K on the card this year. So, should I already get the $100 AA flight discount? Do you have a link to reference back to AA actually stating these benefits?

  2. They quickly applied a credit to offset my annual fee last year, these changes will make it worthwhile to keep the card now.

  3. If you are flying internationally, where you already get one bag checked free, can you now check a second bag free?

  4. If you read the fine print on the Citi Executive card application you will see an annoying little detail. When you list a telephone number (required) on the application, you are automatically granting authorization for Citi to robo-call you with “special offers”, among other things. There is no opt-out provision for marketing calls. I now get 3-4 calls every week with credit card balance transfer offers, special deals, etc. This is the likely result of not reading the fine print on another card I carry. Any busy executive or frequent traveler who pays $450 for a credit card should not be exposed to annoying robo-call marketing. You would think Citi would recognize that, but apparently they do not. Although I’m a multi-million miler AA ExecPlat with rock-solid credit, I’ll just pass on the Citi offer (and those shrill robo-marketing calls) and keep on using my AMEX Platinum.

  5. OK, so the big question is: rebates starting WHEN? I have a card that should be covered under these new bennies…and just redeemed a boatload of miles. I could use 10K of them back!

  6. Question: I have the Visa Platinum and AMEX cards. About six weeks ago I booked award travel for this summer for my family to SE Asia. Will that travel be eligible for the rebate? I assume that miles have already been deducted from my account. If the answer is “no”, if I were to make a no-fee change to the date of one of the flights, would it make the travel refund-eligible?

  7. What if you have two or three of these cards tied to the same AAdvantage account? I assume the 10,000 mile maximum rebate per year would apply per AAdvantage account, not per card, right? After all, you’re not redeeming miles with Citibank, but with AAdvantage.

  8. Supposedly the new benefits start immediately:

    Cardmembers that currently have the Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature, Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard, Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World Elite MasterCard and Citi® Select® / AAdvantage® American Express will start enjoying these new benefits today!

  9. Even though I could use the 10K EQM and would pay the $450, the $40k spend is too high. Not that I can’t reach it, but it’s a huge opportunity cost considering I am in the middle of getting 4 regular Citi AA cards entailing a total of $12k spend (which will get me 200k miles).

    These new benefits are great. I wonder whether if you have two cards, you could get 20k miles back as a max.

  10. Does free checked bag apply for award redemptions? Even if using the a a citi card to pay for the tax and fee portion?

  11. Overall, sounds like a definite improvement in benefits–but the 10% rebate isn’t intended to replace the discounted low-level awards already available to Citi cardholders, is it?

  12. I love how you talk about 40k in spend on a credit card like that’s normal.

    and how about that benefit for 30k in spend? $100 credit. Wow.

    And that 10% rebate is capped at 10k miles per year? Another wow.

    I’m sure that AA non-elites will appreciate the addition of priority boarding and the baggage benefit, but to me, this is not a reason to get a new card or give Citibank or AA any more of my business.

    Creative? Citibank is still a mess and it shows, IMO.

    -David

  13. @David, I said the 10% rebate or 10k miles a year is enough for me to keep the card, it pays the annual fee, I didn’t say it’s great. I’m not going to spend 30k to get $100, but getting $100 if you’re doing it anyway is better than what was offered before. I reported the news, I didn’t say it’s great.

    As far as 40k in spend, I write from my own perspective which I do not hide. I don’t pretend to write as though I’m the everyman. I have heavy reimbursable business expenses, so I can do that much..

  14. I wasn’t criticizing your post, @Gary, just the benefits and lack of creativity IMO.

    well, ok the 40k in spend was a comment about you. Many of the bloggers are able to charge a lot because they charge their clients tickets on their credit cards, thus earning them lots more miles. At least that’s my understanding of that, and I have no idea if that applies to you or not. It just creates a different set of bars for attainable limits and charge amounts for normal individuals. Anyway, just an alternate perspective.

    Reading Lucky’s post, the $100 isn’t even a statement credit. 🙂

    Anyway, my point is that for me, (I already have a citi AA card which goes mostly unused, let’s face it, AA doesn’t serve OGG very well compared to other airlines, so flying them in my case would be difficult), none of this is earth shattering or that exciting. It certainly isn’t enough to get me to move to AA or give Citibank any more business.

    -David

  15. And BTW, I wish they did serve OGG better than the did. At least then I might have a reasonable choice to use them. And with all that’s happening at that other big airline, I would, especially with the OWMD offers, etc, etc.

    anyway, keep posting .. I’ll keep reading and commenting. 🙂

    Thanks,
    David

  16. @LIH Prem my major credit card spend comes from reimbursable business expenses, I have a ‘real’ job y’know. 🙂

  17. I wish it were a 10% DISCOUNT on award travel (like some awards on US Airways with their credit card) instead of a rebate. Like say I’m saving up for a 100K award. It would be very cool to only need 90K to redeem. Once I FINALLY get the necessary miles, I wind up with 10K back in my acoount. Obviously, that’s better than nothing, but isn’t very practical or aspirational.

  18. Typical tight AA. You’re telling me spending $30k with the branded card is only worth $100? Spend $20k w/ United & get 10k points. Spend $30k on BA & get free companion (albeit w/ fuel surchgs). But at least it’s more valuable than $100 cert on AA. Extremely weak on the bankrupt airlines part IMO. Even these chgs want me to continue canceling my AA cards.

  19. Damn, I just redeemed 190k AA miles a month or so ago. It was across two accounts too that both had the Citi AA cards. Guess the rebate doesn’t apply to them. 🙁

  20. While the redemption rebate is probably reason to pay the fee and keep the card, this still leaves the Citi AA card way behind, for example, Chase Sapphire which has purchase category and annual bonuses, the lack of a forex fee and multiple options for use.

    And as an AA Gold, I’m not pleased to be competing with every cardholder for seating and overhead space.

  21. Do you know if the priority boarding and free bag benefits from these cards extend to AA flights booked through Avios awards? Thanks!

  22. I just got off the phone with an AA rep, b/c we had just ticketed a flight for 95k miles a couple weeks ago. She told me that the 10% rebate only applies for flights ticketed on or after April 2, and to get the rebate, we would have to cancel the flight to redeposit the miles (paying the $150 fee) and ticket an entirely new reservation. Changing the existing reservation won’t do the trick. oh well…

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