Category Archives: AAdvantage

50k Bonus Miles on CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card

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The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® is a business card that offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles and two Admirals Club lounge passes after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

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This card is in addition to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® personal card which offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles and two Admirals Club Passes after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

You can hold both cards at the same time to take advantage of earning American Airlines miles for your personal and business spending, but you cannot be approved for both on the same day. The collected wisdom is to put at least 8 days between applications for cards issued by Citi.

The Business card is actually better than the Personal card for accruing miles because it has two unique benefits:

  • 2x AAdvantage miles at certain office supply merchants, telecommunications merchants, and car rental merchants
  • 5% mileage bonus when you renew your card

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® offers a huge sign up bonus, nice category bonuses, and a great mechanism to encourage renewal.

The card also comes with a free checked bag on American Airlines flights and priority boarding.

  • How does the category bonus work?
  • How does the 5% mileage bonus work?
  • What are the other benefits of the card?
  • Are you eligible for this card?

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Last Minute Award Space to South American Summer

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The calendar is turning to Summer below the equator, and it’s not too late to book yourself an award to escape the cold in the United States.

Many airlines release unsold seats as Saver award space in the last weeks, days, or even hours before a flight. I searched for award space between Miami and several South American cities on American Airlines for the next few weeks to see what American’s pattern of last-second award space will be this South American Summer.

American Airlines miles have the best award space to South America on American Airlines and LAN Airlines flights. Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

If you got the card today, and spent $3,000 on it in the first month, you’d have 53,000 American Airlines miles around the New Year. That’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Northern South America including Peru and just short of the 60,000 miles needed for a roundtrip to Southern South America.

  • What is the award space to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and more for the next few weeks?
  • What is the award space in economy, business, and first class?
  • Where can you search and book this award space?

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Comparison of Four Major Airline Credit Cards

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American Airlines, United, Delta, and US Airways all release several co-branded credit cards with various benefits, bonuses, and fees.

I have attempted to summarize the following cards on one table for easy comparison:

I consider these to be the “basic” personal card for each of the four legacy carriers in the United States. Each airline also has a lower-tier cards which earn miles at a lower rate and come with no sign up bonus. And several of the airlines have higher tier cards that come with gigantic annual fees and even better benefits. But these are the four basic cards.

  • Which cards have the best sign up bonus?
  • Which have the best benefits?

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Buy Up to 250k AA Miles. Good Deal?

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American Airlines and US Airways are both running sales on the purchase of their miles through November 30.

For now, your American Airlines miles and US Airways miles will sit in separate accounts, and you can redeem them on separate charts, with different routing rules, and slightly different partners. Some time between April and June 2015, your US Airways and American Airlines miles will be combined into your American Airlines account, and the American Airlines chart, partners, and rules will control.

That means the chance to buy both kinds of miles at a discount could be a way to eventually have one huge American Airlines balance. Similar reasoning has led me to recommend getting the American Airlines and US Airways credit cards before the US Airways program disappears.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is offering 50,000 bonus miles and two lounge passes after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate. That means that the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

From the credit cards, you could have 93,000 American Airlines miles next year. From the mileage sales, you could add another 250,000 miles. But are they a good deal?

  • How expensive are the US Airways miles?
  • How expensive are the American Airlines miles?
  • How long do the sales last?

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Questions My Beginner Friend Asked as She Applied for Two Credit Cards

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Today I was with my friend as she applied for two credit cards. Her knowledge of miles and points is average for an American, which is to say, it’s almost non-existent.

The questions she asked me while we talked about which cards she should get were illuminating. They reminded me of a few facts that I’d like to drill into beginners’ heads. Please forward this post to anyone who has ever expressed interest in miles and points or envy at the way you travel.

My friend told me that she wanted to collect miles to go to Japan and London in economy. For Japan, the best miles are American Airlines miles because you can fly on American or Japan Airlines, and for six months per year, the price is only 25k miles each way. For London, many miles are roughly equal including American Airlines miles, which allow you to fly to Europe for 20k miles each way seven months per year.

Japan's Cherry Blossoms

Japan’s Cherry Blossoms

I suggested that she open the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® at the same time to earn 93,000 American Airlines by early next year by taking advantage of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

She accepted the advice, but she had a lot of questions.

  • What does she have to do to combine the miles?
  • What if the spending requirement is too much?
  • Will I see her financial information if she applies for the cards through links on my site?
  • What are the fees associated with the cards?
  • Will canceling these cards in the future cause her to forfeit the miles?
  • How can she check her credit score?
  • Should she close other credit cards she has?
  • How can she book her award tickets?

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How to Get to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia with Miles

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I went to Angkor Wat this February, and I was blown away.

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View from Inside Angkor Wat

The 900 year-old Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia is up there on the list of the most impressive historical sites I’ve visited with Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.

And it isn’t just Angkor Wat. The rest of the Angkor Temples like Angkor Thom and Banteay Srei are just as amazing and all within a short drive of the very lively Siem Reap.

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Admiring a Gate of Angkor Thom

Beyond the destination, Southeast Asia happens to be one of the best places to go with miles in a premium cabin for five reasons.

  1. It’s super cheap! American Airlines charges just 55k miles one way in Business Class or 67.5k miles one way in First Class
  2. Cathay Pacific–an American Airlines partner–has one of the world’s best Business and First Class products.
  3. Award space is abundant in Cathay Pacific premium cabins.
  4. The flight between the United States and Hong Kong is around 16 hours, meaning you get to fully enjoy your flights and arrive rested.
  5. The  Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® are both offering huge bonuses, the two types of miles will be combined in early 2015, and American Airlines has committed to keeping the cheap prices I just quoted at the time of combination.
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Lounging in Cathay Pacific First Class

Right now is an amazing time to plan a 2015 vacation with luxurious flights to Angkor Wat.

  • Where can you search Cathay Pacific award space?
  • How can you book Cathay Pacific award space?
  • What are the very regular rules that Cathay Pacific Business and First Class award space follow?

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How to Get to Machu Picchu with Miles

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Machu Picchu is one the few places in the world that can’t be over-hyped. Seriously, no matter how high your expectations are when you get there, I don’t think you can be disappointed.

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Even on my third visit, watching the sunrise over the mountains was spectacular.

So how do you get to Machu Picchu with miles?

It’s actually very easy. The best miles to get to Machu Picchu are American Airlines miles. You can fly to Cuzco, the nearest airport, roundtrip for 35,000 American Airlines miles. Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, so no excuses about not having the miles.

You cannot completely search for your award to Machu Picchu on aa.com, though, so make sure you are searching the right place.

  • Where can you search for award space to Cuzco?
  • How can you book the American Airlines award?

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Better Mile for South America? Avios or AAdvantage

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Are you better off using Avios or American Airlines miles for a trip to South America?

I’m at the beginning of probably nine months of travel, with almost no flights booked and only the vaguest sense of where I’ll head and how I’ll get there. I’m having an absolute blast in Bogota, Colombia, so I think I want to go to Cali or Medellin, Colombia after a quick trip back to the United States.

I am looking at flying from Philadelphia to Colombia in about two weeks, and my most convenient options–one stop in Miami versus 2+ stops–are on oneworld flights. I can book those flights with American Airlines miles, British Airways Avios, or cash.

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Things are complicated further by close-in ticketing fees, Cash & Avios awards, my point valuations, and my mileage balances, so I thought what better way to tease out the best value than a little early-morning math!

Even if you never want to go to Colombia (big mistake!) or you mainly focus on miles other than American and British Airways, this post should illuminate how to decide which miles to use for a certain trip and whether to use miles at all or just to pay cash.

  • Which is the best value to Colombia: AA miles, BA miles, or cash?

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Master Thread: Off Peak Awards

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Off peak awards allow us to stretch our miles further by booking discounted awards to select regions during certain pre-determined dates. Off peak awards are offered by several airlines, and this post will put all the off peak awards I know of in one place.

While off peak awards are often less desirable dates, there are some off peak dates that are actually my favorite times to visit a country. For instance, March is a fantastic month in Argentina, and you can book an award to Buenos Aires or Bariloche every March for 10,000 fewer American Airlines miles than if you travel in July, a worse time to visit in my opinion.

Bariloche, Lake District of Patagonia, in March

American and US Airways have set off peak awards every year to select regions. Air France Flying Blue and Lufthansa Miles & More have discounted awards that are kind of like off peak awards. United and Delta occasionally have award sales that are like off peak awards, but are not as regular as American and US Airways’ off peak awards.

  • What are the off peak awards offered by American, US Airways, Delta, United, Lufthansa, and Air France?
  • What dates are they offered?
  • Do you have to fly the airline offering the deal or can you fly a partner?

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DEAD: 6 First Class Seats on American’s Best Product

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Update: The deal died within an hour of this post. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to avoid missing these time-sensitive deals.

American Airlines’ best Business and First Class is on its new 777-300ERs. Both cabins feature flat beds.

Business Class on 777-300ER

There is almost never award space on any of its routes.

American has added a second daily 777-300ER from Los Angeles to London to its schedule for next year.

The flight was loaded into the schedule today, and as often happens, there’s a bit of a glitch and many days next spring have 6 First Class award space.

  • How many miles does the award space cost?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • How can you book the award space?
  • How long will this last?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

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How to Book a Trip to Fiji with Miles

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Fiji is a year-round tropical destination, known for its beaches, diving, and hiking.

Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton

Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton

Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific) flies from Los Angeles and Honolulu to Fiji. You can book Fiji Airways award space with American Airlines miles.

American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles each way between the United States and Fiji in economy
  • 62,500 miles each way between the United States and Fiji in business
  • Fiji Airways does not fly a first class.

You can book a simple roundtrip to Fiji with American Airlines miles. Or you can combine your trip to Fiji with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or anywhere else in Asia for only 12,500 miles more.

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  • How can you combine Fiji and another destination for only 12,500 miles more? Which destinations?
  • When is the best time to go to Fiji and what is the award space then?
  • How can you search Fiji Airlines award space? How can you book it?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

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Super Cheap, Super Luxury Award on Qatar A380

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Qatar Airways has begun flying its A380s from Doha to London and will begin service to Paris and Bangkok soon.

There are a lot of luxury options between the Middle East and Europe, so I want to focus on the route between Doha and Bangkok that begins December 1.

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from gcmap.com

Award space is wide open on the Qatar A380 between Doha and Bangkok for two people in Business Class. Best of all, the award costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way!

Business Class passengers have fully their own fully flat beds and access to an onboard lounge that looks like it’s the nicest in the sky.

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Onboard bar for First and Business Class passengers

  • How is Qatar First Class on the A380?
  • How is Qatar Business Class on the A380?
  • What is the award space picture on the plane?
  • How can you book the award space?
  • How can you make Doha to Bangkok part of a larger trip?

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How to Earn and Spend 93,000 American Airlines Miles

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American Airlines and US Airways are currently offering huge sign up bonuses on their co-branded credit cards. While the miles will temporarily go to separate accounts, everyone’s American Airlines and US Airways miles will be combined in early 2015 as part of the airlines’ merger, so that you can earn enough miles for a round-the-world trip just from opening two credit cards.

Getting both cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $3,001 will earn you 93,000 American Airlines miles when your US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer accounts combine in the second quarter of 2015.

What Can You Do with 93,000 American Airlines Miles?

1. Take a Round-the-World Trip

a. For 87,500 miles, you can take a round-the-world trip with stops in Tokyo, Mumbai, and Paris.

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b. For 95,000 miles ($2k more spending on either card), you can take a trip to Chile, Australia, and back.

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2. Take Your Friend Somewhere

  • 2 roundtrips to Europe (80,000 miles from Oct 15 – May 15 each year)
  • 3 roundtrip to South America (90,000 miles to Peru and north most of the year)
  • almost 2 roundtrips to Japan or Korea (100,000 miles Oct 1 – Apr 30 each year)
  • 2.5 roundtrips to Hawaii (87,500 miles half the year)
  • almost 4 roundtrips to the Caribbean or Alaska (100,000 miles to Alaska year round or Caribbean Sep 7 – Nov 14 each year)

South America is as little as 30k miles roundtrip, Europe 40k roundtrip, Asia 50k roundtrip, Africa and Australia 75k roundtrip, and the Middle East and India 90k roundtrip. For the full chart, see here.

Sunset over Waikiki

3. Treat yourself to the world’s nicest First Class

  • 67,500 miles is enough to fly one way from the United States to anywhere in East Asia in First Class on Cathay Pacific, which is my second best flight ever.
  • 90,000 miles is enough for one way in First Class from the United States to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives in Etihad First Class
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Stretching out in Cathay Pacific First Class

4. Head to the South Pacific

American partners with Fiji Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, and Qantas, so it has the best miles for the South Pacific. American charges only 37,500 miles each way in economy, 62,500 miles each way in business class, and 72,500 miles each way in First Class. (Qantas First Class looks unreal.)

Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific

 

5. Machu Picchu in a Bed

60,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Northern South America in business class. That means you can fly to anywhere in Peru–like Machu Picchu–with both directions in fully flat beds on a 787 Dreamliner on American Airlines-partner LAN Airlines.

I talked more about this award in depth here. The only drawback with this award is that once you experience flying in a fully flat bed, you might not ever want to go back to economy!

American has the biggest route network from the United States to Latin America and partners with LAN and TAM, the biggest airlines in South America, so American has the most and best award space to South America

Wow! Machu Picchu

6. Europe in Business Class

100,000 miles ($7,000 more in spending on either card) is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Europe in business class. Several American Airlines partners fly to Europe with fully flat beds. I wrote about American’s Los Angeles to London route featuring flat beds in business class here. The newest planes feature an on-board bar in business class, pictured below.

How Exactly Do You Get the 93,000 Miles?

You apply for one American Airlines personal card and one US Airways card.

You make a single purchase on the US Airways card and receive 40,000 bonus miles after your first statement closes. You spend $3,000 in the first 3 months on the American Airlines card and earn 50,000 bonus miles.

The bonus miles plus the spending add up to 53,000 American Airlines miles and 40,000 US Airways miles.

You cannot combine these miles, but…

Your American Airlines and US Airways frequent flyer accounts will be automatically combined in early 2015 as part of the merger between the two airlines. At that point, you’ll have 93,000+ American Airlines miles.

Other Benefits Besides the Sign Up Bonus

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with two Admirals Club airport lounge passes after meeting the minimum spending requirement.

It also comes with my favorite feature by far of any airline credit card. While you’re a cardholder you’ll get a 10% miles rebate on all your American Airlines award redemptions up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

That means that if you booked a roundtrip award ticket to Tahiti with your American Airlines miles while you were a cardholder for 75k miles, you’d get 7,500 miles back for a total cost of only 67,500 miles roundtrip!

With these cards, you can mentally take a 10% discount on all award prices. Now Europe is only 18k miles each way, a business class bed to Machu Picchu is 27k miles each way, and Cathay Pacific First Class is 60,750 miles each way.

If you redeem the 93,000 miles next year, that’s another 9,300 miles rebated because of this benefit.

The benefit is automatic, no enrollment necessary. Here’s my experience with the rebate.

I value the 10,000 extra miles a year at about $180, so this is a huge ongoing benefit to me and one reason that I hold a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

The 10% rebate on awards is in addition to a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying American Airlines, Group 1 boarding to get that overhead bin space, a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, and double miles on American Airlines purchases.

The The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® comes with a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying US Airways, Zone 2 boarding to get that overhead bin space, and double miles on US Airways purchases.

Full Offers Rundown

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and 2 Admirals Club® Passes after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every cardmembership year with qualifying purchases and cardmembership renewal*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*
  • First checked bag FREE on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
  • Redeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through usairways.com or US Airways Reservations
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
  • NEW! Receive a 25% savings on eligible US Airways and American Airlines in-flight purchases
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details

Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

Recap

You can earn 93,000 American Airlines miles in the next few weeks by:

  1. Applying for the American Airlines and US Airways cards.
  2. Meeting the $3k minimum spending requirement on the American Airlines card and making a purchase on the US Airways card
  3. Waiting until early 2015 for your American Airlines and US Airways miles’ balances to be combined.

Once you have the cards, you can enjoy the 10% rebate on the miles needed for AAdvantage awards up to 10k miles per calendar year and other benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding on both airlines.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

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Integration Announcement of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles

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As I predicted five days ago, we got out our American Airlines AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles integration announcement today.

The announcement is fantastic news, honestly much better than I expected.

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As a reminder, the parent companies of the airlines legally merged in December 2013, but the two airlines still have separate operating certificates and loyalty programs.

Now we know that Dividend Miles and AAdvantage will integrate into one program (still called AAdvantage) between April and June 2015. American Airlines hopes to operate under one operating certificate (eliminate the US Airways brand) within six months of that.

The combination of the frequent flyer programs has ramifications for elites to do with status benefits, upgrades, and earning levels. I’ll save those for another post.

This post will deal with the ramifications for those of us who want to earn and  redeem American Airlines and US Airways miles.

  • What will the new award chart be?
  • Will miles be freely convertible before the combination?
  • When will the US Airways card disappear?

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Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard with 50,000 Bonus Miles

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles and two Admirals Club day passes after spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months of account opening. This is enough miles for two roundtrips within the mainland United States, Canada, and Alaska or one roundtrip to Europe, South America, or Asia.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.47.36 PMI ranked the card #2 on my top ten list of the best cards for free travel this month because of

  • the massive sign up bonus
  • American Airlines’ cheap award chart
  • the fact that cardholders get a 10% rebate on the miles used to book American Airlines award tickets
  • the $95 annual fee being waived the first 12 months

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Beyond the benefits when award booking, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® also makes traveling American Airlines less stressful.

  • Cardholders are entitled to a free checked bag for themselves and up to four companions on the same ticket. That’s up to a $250 value per roundtrip.
  • Cardholders get Group 1 boarding, so they’ll never have to gate check bags after the overhead bin space fills up.
  • Cardholders get a 25% discount on purchases onboard (I recommend the pastrami sandwich!)
  • Cardholders get two Admirals Club passes on completion of the minimum spending requirement. That means free wifi, alcohol, snacks, and access to better agents in case of delayed and cancelled flights.

The American Airlines card is one of the best airline cards, but it is not right for everyone.

  • What types of people should get the American Airlines credit card and what types shouldn’t?
  • What are the best uses of American Airlines miles?
  • What about the American Airlines/US Airways merger?

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