The biggest offer in the frequent flyer world right now is, I think, the 100,000 mile signup bonus for the Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard.
The card comes with:
- 100,000 American Airlines miles after you make $10,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.
- $200 in statement credits on purchases within 12 months of account opening.
- American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access
- Priority check-in, security, and boarding and first checked bag free
- No foreign currency transaction fees
- 10,000 elite qualifying miles when you spend $40,000 on the card in a year
The annual fee for this card is $450. It’s worth spending $450 for 100,000 miles if you’re in a position to meet the minimum spend requirement.
But in effect it’s really a $250 fee the first year because of the statement credits. You get back the first $200 you spend on the card.
When the offer first came out there was some speculation that, despite terms not mentioning such a restriction, the statement credit was meant to be for American Airlines purchases only (past Citi offers have come with that kind of benefit). It would have been possible, one presumes, to buy American Airlines gift cards to get the statement credit. But for the irregular American Airlines flyer that wouldn’t have been as valuable as a straight-up credit.
We now know it really is a straight-up credit and as a result the effective first year fee is $250, on this card which offers a 100,000 mile signup bonus, and also gets lounge access and American Airlines flight benefits.
Some people seem to be getting the $200 credit triggered simply by the card’s $450 annual fee but that was not my experience. Perhaps that’s because the fee credit appears before the annual fee hit on my card statement.
Instead, I got a credit for the spending I did on the card before the fee was charged. My first statement didn’t get all of the $200, since I didn’t get around to running up card charges until I had had it for a few days.
When my statement closes next week I should get the remaining balance of the $200 credit.
Here’s what the terms say — it’s clear the credit is supposed to be for the first $200 in charges, and shouldn’t apply to the annual fee. Not that it really matters, because you’re going to want to run up $10,000 in charges on this card to pocket the 100,000 mile bonus.
Eligible purchases excluded returned goods and services, cash advances, convenience checks, transferred balances, credits, fees and interest charges. Statement credits will appear on the monthly billing statement from Citi®.
I do not know how long this offer will be available, it isn’t my link and I don’t receive referral credit for it, and I haven’t had conversations with Citibank about it. But it’s a great deal I think.