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If you’re currently a holder of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® or the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, you might want to reassess whether the annual fee you’re paying is worth the benefits that you’re receiving. 

Many people have chosen to downgrade their Citi AAdvantage cards to the Citi® Double Cash Card to avoid paying an annual fee, especially during the pandemic, when it was nearly impossible to take advantage of travel rewards.

Let’s take a look at why one might downgrade their Citi AA card to the Citi Double Cash Card, the advantages and disadvantages of downgrading to the Citi Double Cash Card, whether downgrading could have an effect on your credit score and exactly how to downgrade.

Citi Double Cash

Citi® Double Cash Card

Reasons for Downgrading

The main reason that one might downgrade from a Citi AAdvantage card to the Citi Double Cash Card is that the benefits don’t outweigh the annual fee. The Citi AA Platinum Select card has no annual fee for the first year and then a $99 fee for every subsequent year. The Citi AA Executive card has an annual fee of $450. 

If you calculate the value of the benefits you’ve received from either one of these cards and it adds up to less than the annual fee, then you should strongly consider switching to a card with no annual fee, such as the Citi Double Cash Card. 

Even if the value of the benefits you received from your Citi AA card in a year is more than the annual fee, you might want to compare that to the benefits you would have received in the same year with the Citi Double Cash card. In many cases, you may find that the Double Cash card is the more economical option. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Citi Double Cash Card

The main advantage of the Citi Double Cash Card over the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card or the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card is that it has a $0 annual fee. Plus, the Citi Double Cash offers 2% cash back—1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay the bill. There’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn. 

On the other hand, the Citi AA Executive and the Citi AA Platinum Select cards both offer lucrative sign-up bonuses, travel benefits and attractive mile rewards that the Citi Double Cash card doesn’t offer. 

The Citi AAdvantage cards are also geared toward frequent travelers. So, if you find that you’re not traveling much and would rather receive cash back than travel miles, then the Double Cash card is probably the better option for you.

Alternatively, if you travel often and you’re making use of the Citi AA cards’ travel benefits and racking up miles, then it might be better not to downgrade. 

It’s also worth mentioning that if you hold the Citi Premier® Card (Note from the editor: Citi Premier® Card is no longer available to new applicants) , you can convert the cash back earned with the Citi Double Cash Card into ThankYou Points. These points can then be used to book travel through the Citi ThankYou Rewards portal or transferred to one of Citi’s partner travel programs. 

Effects of Downgrading on Credit Score

If you’re trying to decide whether to downgrade your Citi AAdvantage card to the Citi Double Cash Card or simply cancel your Citi AAdvantage card, the better option for your credit score is definitely to downgrade. Cancelling the card could reduce the age of your credit history, which could cause your credit score to drop. 

Another thing that tends to hurt your credit score is when lenders make hard inquiries. However, when downgrading from a Citi AAdvantage card to the Citi Double Cash Card, Citi won’t perform another credit inquiry when you switch to another card because you’ve already been approved for your credit line with the Citi AAdvantage card. 

In summary, downgrading from a Citi AA card to the Citi Double Cash will have no effect on your credit score. In fact, it can actually save your credit score from dropping if you were to cancel your Citi AA card instead altogether. 

How to Downgrade

The only way to downgrade your Citi AAdvantage card to the Citi Double Cash Card is to call the telephone number on the back of the card and ask the representative to switch your card. Typically, they won’t allow you to downgrade your card if you haven’t had your Citi AA card open for at least 12 months. 

You should keep in mind that it takes 51 days to downgrade a card with Citi. So, if your annual fee for your Citi AAdvantage card will come due within that time period, you should tell your Citi representative to give you credit for it. 

Bottom Line

If you don’t think that the benefits of your Citi AAdvantage card outweigh the annual fee, switching to the Citi Double Cash card may be a good way to avoid paying a fee while still earning cash back or ThankYou Points (if you also hold the Citi Premier Card). 

The best way to decide whether downgrading is the right move for you is to calculate the net benefit (value of benefits minus annual fee) of your Citi AA card last year and compare it against what your net benefit would have been with the Citi Double Cash Card in the same year. 

If you decide that you’re better off with the Citi Double Cash card, downgrading is as easy as making a phone call. Just be aware that you need to have had your Citi AAdvantage card for a full year to make that downgrade. 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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