Frequent Flyer Boot Camp #2 - Gathering Miles Fast (2)
Understanding the Benefits of the Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Greetings, Travel Lovers! If you have learned anything thus far from my first Frequent Flyer Boot Camp #1 post, it should be that the best way to take to the air ASAP from the US is with a mileage credit card. Stop now and go back to read #1 first if you forgot, because each of the newsletters in this particular series will build on one another. And yes, again, my big caveat is always going to be this…don’t dare follow my advice in signing up for a new credit card unless you feel confident in your ability to manage paying your credit card bill every month. If you are in doubt, stop now! All the miles in the world aren’t worth that mess. BUT if you do feel confident, keep reading. I’m glad you’re here! Today I’m going to get practical and to the point to tell you all the reasons I believe the Citi/AAdvantage card gives you the best bang for your buck, most especially if you dream of traveling to Europe from the US on your next travel adventure.
I told you previously that I have two main mileage credit cards which our family uses to gather points so we can explore the world - Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi/AAdvantage. I use the AA card 90% of the time, and here’s why.
Airline Mileage Cards vs. Bank Mileage Cards - I Personally Prefer Airline Cards
With an American Airlines mileage card (or most any other direct airline mileage card such as United, Southwest, etc.) you immediately receive the sign-up bonus miles after meeting the spending criteria and every mile after that. The miles are deposited into your airline mileage account that you sat up when you applied for your card and they are yours forever. Therefore, you never lose your miles once you have claimed them for as long as your airline account remains active, unlike bank mileage cards.
With bank mileage cards you immediately lose your miles if you cancel your card (unless you transfer them to a partner airline first - which we will talk about later). Bottom line: with Citi/AAdvantage, all the miles you receive are yours forever, even if you choose to cancel your card soon after earning that sign-up bonus. Note: always check terms and conditions of your card before cancelling.
American Airlines Miles Go A Long Way If You Use Them Wisely
Currently, the sign-up bonus for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum card is 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2500 within 3 months. (And no, I am not sponsored by anyone…I’m just sharing this because I’m your friend and this is a great current deal). We can take the deep dive later, but here’s the bottom line on this one: AA has an award chart that shows the current “off-peak” times to fly to Europe from the States. If you are not bound to a specific travel date, then you can choose one of these “off-peak” opportunities and travel round trip to any of the 44 European countries for only 45,000 miles total! No other major US airline offers Europe on such few miles. With the current signup bonus you will still have 5,000 miles banked for your next adventure, plus all the points you are racking up daily with the use of your card. And get this, even if you don’t want to fly on the “off peak” dates, you can still travel to Europe for 60,000 miles round trip and you’ll reach that number in no time. (Tip: “off peak” travel dates also equals cheaper EVERYTHING in Europe during those dates).
Example: I just bought a ticket to Rome for November 12-20, 2022. That’s AA “off-peak” travel time. My flight there cost 22,500 miles and $5.60 taxes and fees. (FYI - you should know that with AA, “miles” and “points” mean the same thing. They aren’t talking literal miles to get to a destination) My ticket home cost 22,500 miles and $114.57 taxes and fees for a round trip total of 45,000 miles and $120.17. Stick with me and I’ll teach you how to find the low taxes and fees. They can get really expensive if you’re not savvy about searching for them.
**I often use Europe as an example, but note that on AA “off-peak” dates you can fly to Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America for even less miles than Europe from the US.
**An almost equally terrific AA credit card is the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard found here. This card is quite similar to Citi. I had it in the past and gladly received all the miles before canceling the card. You actually get 60,000 miles as a sign up bonus with it, which is pretty great. But for me, the Barclay card is not the perfect daily use card because it only offers 1 mile per dollar spent on restaurants and gas. We eat out a lot and spend tons on gas. But heck, if you just want to take the miles and run, go for the Barclays card. Get them BOTH if you want. I have just found that the Citi card provides me more towards a lifetime of travel beyond my first frequent flyer trip than the Barclays card.
The Annual Fee Pays You Back
The Annual Fee for a Citi/AAdvantage card is $99, but you get a $125 voucher annually to use for travel in return (note: you can’t pay for taxes and fees with this voucher). Plus, the card’s annual fee is waived for the first 12 months. So, technically you could get your card, earn your miles and close your account before your first annual fee ever comes around. Closing a credit card does cause a little hit to your credit score, but it recovers fairly quickly. That decision is in your hands. I personally keep the AA card because the miles I bank each month hugely outweigh the $99 annual fee. I get 2 miles (or points) for every dollar I spend at restaurants and gas stations, 2 miles (or points) for every dollar I spend with AA and 1 mile (or point) for every dollar I spend anywhere else. They add up fast!
Perks Are Good
Okay, so I like the perks of having an AA card, even though they aren’t completely necessary. Preferred boarding allows me to always be assured that I have overhead space for my luggage and I’m never the poor lady in those final boarding moments walking the aisles, finally placing her luggage 10 rows back and now, inevitably having to be one of the last persons off the plane. I also get my first piece of luggage checked for free every time. That’s HUGE because airlines kill us with baggage fees! I’m a really light packer and never travel with more than a carryon and backpack. Still, I LOVE the option of checking that carryon so I don’t have to fool with it on airport layovers if I don’t want. Finally, the travel insurance is pretty decent. It covers basics like lost luggage and currently they offer some Covid travel protections that seem beneficial. Hopefully you won’t ever need to test it, though.
That’s about it for today, friends. Like I said, this newsletter was a practical one on purpose. You signed up because you want to travel and I want to get you out the door as quickly as possible. Of all the tips and tricks that I have to share, for me, this one is the queen of them all, but not the one and only. Travel is about so much more than “getting there.” It’s about all the moments, growth, change and inspiration that happen throughout the journey from planning to arrival and back home again. But first, let’s just see if we can get you to wherever your “there” might be.
Now it’s Q & A time. In the comments section of this newsletter, shoot me all of those questions already running through your head. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to find it for you. I’m here to help and trust me, there is so much more info coming your way. Your questions will help the community become more curious and informed, so ask away!
Coming up Tuesday: Why “Big Story Living?”
Up Next Saturday: Frequent Flyer Boot Camp - More Reasons I Love Traveling with American Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles
I promise we’ll talk more than just American Airlines.
What I’m Consuming This Week
Dua Lipa Asks Stephen Colbert How His Faith And His Comedy Overlap - Did you see this? Brilliant.
Podcast - Ö1 Report from Austria - I have a small love affair with Austria and this 3 minute a day news podcast just keeps me connected a bit until I can visit again. It also makes me a tiny bit smarter about the world.
Spotify - Coffee Table Jazz
Spotify - 2022 Super Bowl Playlist
Instagram - The Bucket List Family