Citi Gold AAdvantage World Pros
- Low annual fee of $50 for credit card
- Bonus sign-up promotion of 25,000 miles good for one roundtrip ticket
- Okay card for the average AAdvantage member if you're spending less than $30,000 / year (otherwise, more savings with the Citi Platinum version)
- World card equipped with chip technology for global acceptance
Citi Gold AAdvantage World Cons
- Few worthwhile American Airlines perks - not a good card for perks compared to the Citi Platinum AAdvantage World
- Slow mileage accumulation rate
- Foreign transaction fee of 3% not ideal for international travel
If you're an average American Airlines flyer, the Citi Gold AAdvantage World MasterCard is a decent card to consider. You get 25k in free miles for signing up, and a nice 5,000 miles discount when redeeming select roundtrip flights. It's not the best card for AAdvantage members who care about status and perks or fly frequently, though.
- How Benefits work
- How do I redeem AAdvantage Rewards and Miles?
- Is the Citi Gold AAdvantage World Worth it?
- Comparisons to other Credit Cards
Cardmembers earn 1 American Airlines AAdvantage mile per dollar spent on their MasterCard towards goods and services. With few restrictions (standard exclusions for balance transfers, returns, or cash advances), this means that all purchases are eligible. The accumulated miles can be redeemed for flights at reduced mileage requirements, cabin upgrades, car rentals, hotels, vacation packages, American Airlines' Admirals Club membership perks, newspapers, magazines, or in a unique auction for exclusive experiences.
Earnings formula = Spend $100 on any purchase at a restaurant, gas station, or movie theater x 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar = 100 AAdvantage miles
|Sign-on Bonus||25,000 bonus miles for $750 of charges in the first three months||
|Earnings Rate||1 mile per dollar|
|Redemption Rate||Depends on redemption|
|Annual Fee||First year free, $50 / year after|
|APR||Min - Max 13.99% - 21.99%|
American Airlines Sign-on Bonus & Other Promotions
After approval and the initial spending requirement, the Citi Gold gifts cardmembers a bonus of 25,000 AAdvantage miles. This bonus is the equivalent of a free round-trip ticket using American Airlines' Economy MileSAAver in the continental U.S. and Canada. For example, a winter trip to the slopes of Lake Tahoe in February are starting at $534 round trip from Newark Liberty International Airport to Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
International Travel with the AAdvantage World Card
The American Airlines World MasterCard does come embedded with chip technology, which can mean seamless credit card purchases in parts of Europe and Asia where it is the credit card standard. It's the norm in places like Copenhagen, Denmark, where consumers can authorize purchases with a simple PIN on their chip card. Merchants and cashiers aren't as familiar with printing signature slips, which can lead to some translation adventures.
Speaking of translations, one consideration of this credit card is that it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. This currency exchange fee negates whatever rewards you earn on spending abroad.
Perks on American Airlines with this MasterCard
The perks you earn with this credit card are basic. The introductory round trip domestic ticket and the 5,000 roundtrip discount are the best perks. The 25% savings on in-flight purchases extends only towards food, beverages, and headsets. Most people carry their own earphones these days. An average purchase in the main cabin of a brisket, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and specialty beer (estimated at $17) can only net $4 in savings per meal - not much to write home about. The 5,000 round-trip miles discount on select destinations can be good - there are a number of high-traffic destinations such as San Francisco and Austin that are available. These are meager when you compare it with the benefits on the Citi Platinum version.
How do I redeem miles with this MasterCard? The best redemption value appears to be for miles on an American Airlines flight. For flights, you'll have to have at least 12,500 for a one-way ticket, and 25,000 for a roundtrip ticket, unless you're going with one of the MileSAAver flights (which give cardmembers a 5,000 roundtrip mile discount to the going redemption rate). Because the value of the flight changes depending on supply and demand, the redemption rate and the return on your spending are going to range depending on route and seasonality. Also keep in mind that there are booking fees (if booked through a reservation agent) on top of the regulatory and agency fees that are typically tacked onto airfare. Here are some of the returns you'll see.
~2 - 3% back on American Airlines flights:
Roundtrip example: New York City to Reno for a 3-day skiing weekend trip from 2/6 - 2/9: $534 / 25,000 miles and dollars spent = 2.1% return on charged spending, ex fees
One-way MileSAAver discount example: Seattle to Miami on 2/7: $312 / 10,000 discounted miles and dollars spent = 3.1% return on charged spending, ex fees
~1 - 2% back on subscriptions: A sample three month subscription to the Wall Street Journal would cost $27 or about 2700 in AAdvantage miles, which is a 1% return. An annual subscription to Glamour magazine would cost $12 at retail value or about 600 miles to redeem = a 2% return.
After the allure of the introductory round trip domestic ticket has worn off, the earnings rate and perks are not much more beneficial than other travel credit cards. We don't think it's that worthwhile for the average American Airlines passenger compared to other general travel credit cards. Excluding the introductory bump of free miles, the best perk of this card is the 5,000 roundtrip mile discount to normal ticket redemption rates. No free baggage, priority boarding, or other special consideration for being an AAdvantage member.
Bottom line: if you're an average American Airlines flyer, and you really want an American Airlines credit card, then go for it. Otherwise, there are a number of other travel credit cards with more flexibility and benefits that can be applied to any airline carrier. For frequent American Airlines passengers, or for passengers who plan on spending more than $30,000 per year, the rewards accrual rate and perks are better at its upgraded sister card, the Citi Platinum.
The table below shows sample expenditure for a prospective cardholder. We're assuming he or she takes two R/T flights worth $500 each per year, and spends about $1,000 per month in other purchases (total annual charges of $13,000). A return rate of 2% has been assumed.
|Miles Earned||Dollars Redeemed|
How does this look for American Airlines frequent flyers, or regular American Airlines flyers who spend more than $30k a year? Want more intangible perks? Then the Citi Gold pales compared to the Citi Platinum. Here's a comparison table for the redeemed value for the Citi Gold vs. the Citi Platinum at the $30,000, and the $30,001 levels over five years. Assumptions below.
|Citi Gold: $30,000||Citi Plat: $30,000||Citi Gold: $30,001||Citi Plat: $30,001|
Assumptions: two roundtrip flights worth $500 each per year; $29,000 & $29,001 in other annual credit card charges. Redeemed values have the $50 and $95 Gold and Platinum annual fees subtracted. Citi Platinum promotional miles of 30k with flights earning 2x the miles. 2% redemption rate and return. No value for intangible experiences from the Citi Platinum, such as priority boarding, etc. Assumes year-end miles redemption = no 10% clawback on redeemed miles with the Citi Platinum (clawed miles take 8 - 10 weeks to post).
What really bumps the Platinum card over the Gold is the $100 flight discount that kicks in after $30k of annual spending (savings included in Citi Platinum Redeemed Value). With spending under $30k, the $95 annual fee eats into the redeemed value. Spending above $30k brings in the $100 flight discount, which makes you whole for the annual fee.
Citi Gold AAdvantage vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is our pick for the best general purpose travel credit card out there. With its 2% rewards return rate, 50,000 bonus miles, and $95 in annual fee (waived year 1), the Venture card has the highest travel rewards rates you can get outside of the specialty travel credit cards.
Information current as of December 2013
Comments and Questions
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