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).