Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard Review

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"An Entry-Level Card for Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles"

Get some bonus miles for signing up and 1x AAdvantage miles for all your spending on this card.

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Card Summary Table

The Ideal Cardholder

No matter what you’re doing, you like things to be as uncomplicated as possible. When you travel, you fly American Airlines. After all, American Airlines flies to 350 destinations in 50 countries.

And when you pay, you use the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard. With it, you earn miles on all of your purchases at one flat rate.

Redeeming miles is just as easy. There aren’t even any blackout dates on award travel.

That’s simply the way you roll.

fly-in-style-citi-aadvantage-gold-mastercard
Work hard and play hard…that’s how you roll. When you use the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, you can earn miles and redeem them without any blackout dates!

Sign-Up Bonus, Miles, and Categories

The sign-up bonus for the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard is seen above in the card summary table.

That’s enough for a domestic round-trip flight on American Airlines and American Eagle carriers!

Then earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on purchases you make with the card.

Bottom Line: The Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard earns 1x AA miles for all purchases on the card.

Other Benefits of the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard

The Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard does not have as many extras as the other Citi / AAdvantage cards, but you do get a few.

Save 25% on eligible in-flight food and beverages when you charge them to the card.

In addition, enjoy a savings of up to 5,000 miles when you redeem miles for reduced mileage awards.

Plus, the annual fee is a low $50, which is waived for your first 12 months.

The card has an EMV chip to make transactions secure even overseas, but there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

Bottom Line: You get 25% off on in-flight food and beverage and can save up to 5,000 miles when you redeem reduced mileage awards with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCardHowever, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

AAdvantage Elite Status

With the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, you earn award miles based on the number of dollars you spend on all purchases: 1x miles per dollar.

But you can also earn points based on your elite status with the AAdvantage loyalty program.

There are three elite tiers: Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum. To achieve status, you need to reach a certain number of “Elite Qualifying Miles” (EQM), which accrue based on the miles flown and your American Airlines airfare.

Note that EQMs are different than actual award miles earned for purchases. You actually earn 5 award miles per dollar for signing up, and as you reach the required number of EQMs and earn status, your bonus will be added on top of these 5 miles.

Gold status requires 25,000 EQMs. With Gold status, you get 40% bonus miles plus priority check-in, security, and boarding. 

You also get 1 free checked bag, complimentary same-day standby, and a discount on an Admirals Club membership.

Platinum status requires 50,000 EQMs. Some of the perks that come with Platinum status include 60% bonus miles, priority baggage delivery, and a second free checked bag.

You will need 100,000 EQMs to become an Executive Platinum member. That’s a lot of miles, but you receive 120% bonus miles in return! You also get automatic upgrades for domestic travel, 4 system-wide upgrades, and more.

Accumulate 1 million miles on American Airlines and you receive lifetime Gold status. Earn lifetime Platinum status by earning 2 million miles.

Bottom Line: While you only earn 1x award miles with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, if you fly enough miles to reach elite status, you will earn additional bonus miles.

Drawbacks to the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard

The main drawback to the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard is that it takes a long time to accumulate miles at the 1x rate. Even if you put all of your monthly spending on the card, it may take a while to rack up the miles.

Unfortunately, the card does not come with the extra benefits of other Citi / AAdvantage cards.

For instance, with the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, you get complimentary Group 1 Boarding, and your first checked bag is free on domestic flights.

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard also comes with Admirals Club Membership, which is worth $450-$550 and offsets the annual fee of $450.

However, the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard has a low $50 annual fee that is waived for the first year, and allows you to redeem miles for reduced mileage awards.

Bottom Line: The Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard earns miles at a slower pace than the other Citi / AAdvantage cards, which earn 2x miles for flights on American Airlines. The card is only $50 per year, however, compared to the others which are $95 and $450.

Comparing the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard to Other Cards

If you want to earn bonus miles more quickly or try another airline loyalty program, a good option is the Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.

You earn 1-2 miles/$1 with this card, and you can redeem them for travel on United or transfer miles directly to several hotel loyalty programs. The annual fee is $95 and is also waived for the first year.

On the other hand, if you’d rather have more flexibility when it comes to redemption, consider the Citi Prestige Card. It has a hefty $450 annual fee, but comes with an airline travel credit of $250 that can be applied to the cost of a ticket.

The Citi Prestige Card also grants cardmembers access to American Admirals Club lounges and hundreds of other VIP lounges worldwide under Priority Pass Select.

Card Conclusion

Travelers who take at least 1 award flight operated by American Airlines will find some value in the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard. This card’s main benefits are the sign-up bonus miles and access to reduced mileage awards.

The card also has a low annual fee of $50 (waived year one), and allows you to get 25% off beverage and food purchases when you fly.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for at least 1 award flight a year and some basic American Airlines AAdvantage perks, then you would find value in the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard.

Great Card If

  • Your preferred airline is American Airlines
  • You are a frequent flyer
  • You want to earn sign-up bonus miles

Don't Get If

  • You want to rack up miles quickly
  • You don’t fly often
  • You like to fly with more than one airline

U.P. Pro Tips

Frustrated with only earning 1x miles for purchases using your Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard? You can earn extra miles through some partnered deals with American Airlines.

For example, earn miles for purchasing tickets to concerts, Broadway shows, orchestras, symphonies and more with the Audience Rewards program. You can currently earn up to 2,500 miles per ticket for participating.

You can earn miles for up to 16 tickets per show at a given venue in a calendar year. So if you really love a show, you can see it at multiple cities or venues for more miles!

earn-aa-miles-by-purchasing-broadway-tickets
If you’re not earning enough miles by just making everyday purchases on your Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, consider utilizing the Audience Rewards program to purchase tickets to a play or show you may want to attend.

How To Use the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard : The Upgraded Way™

Best Way To Maximize Points

Because you get 1 mile for every $1 you spend on the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, it behooves you to put all of your purchases on the card each month.

The following tips will help you earn as many miles as possible.

Tip #1: As we mentioned earlier in the review, elite status in the AAdvantage loyalty program will help you earn bonus miles based on your tier: Gold (40%), Platinum (60%), or Executive Platinum (120%).

If you are having trouble reaching a tier, consider participating in an Elite Status Challenge to reduce the minimum number of miles you need to earn.

For the 2016 Elite Status Challenge, you can work toward Gold or Platinum status. Pay $120 and you only need to earn 7,000 EQMs in 90 days rather than 25,000.

If you already have Gold status, pay $200 and earn 12,500 EQMs in 90 days to earn Platinum status, which usually requires 50,000 EQMs.

Tip #2: Enroll your AAdvantage membership in your BankDirect account or open a new one for the opportunity to earn a ton of bonus miles.

Get 1,000 miles just for opening a new Mileage Checking or Mileage Money account. Then have a payroll direct deposit hit your account for 10,000 miles!

Plus, you and a friend can each earn 1,000 AAdvantage miles when they open a BankDirect account based on your referral.

Tip #3: Shop the eShopping Mall and earn miles on your purchases with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard. There are over 850 top online retailers participating in the eShopping program including Dell, QVC, and Sears.

Tip #4: Stay the night at popular hotels participating in the AAdvantage loyalty program and earn big miles! The table below lists the miles you can earn with partner hotels.

Partner Hotel Miles Earned
La Quinta Inns & Suites, Best Western, Park Inn, Choice Hotels, Radisson, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson 250 miles/stay
Melia Hotels International, Millennium Hotels and Resorts Up to 500 miles/stay
Quorvus Collection, Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, New Otani Hotels, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, Nikko Hotels International, Swissotel Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Park Plaza, Preferred Hotel Group 500 miles/stay
Fiesta Americana Hotels and Resorts Up to 1,000 miles
WORLDHOTELS Up to 2,000 miles
PointsHound Up to 6,000 miles
Hilton Portfolio Hotels 1 mile/$1
Marriott Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Up to 2 miles/$1
Starwood Hotels 2 miles/$1
Wyndham Hotel Group 2 miles/$1 or 500 miles

Tip #5: Use your Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard to rent a car with partner agencies and earn even more miles.

Earn up to 500 points per rental depending on the agency. Budget and Avis offer the most miles per rental because they are preferred partners.

If you have Platinum or Gold elite status, you’ll earn 1,000 per rental!

Here are some of the other offers:

Rental Agency Miles Earned
Europcar, Alamo, National, Thrifty, Dollar 50 miles/day
SuperShuttle 50 miles/each way
ExecuCar 150 miles/each way
GroundLink 200 miles/ride
Budget, Sixt, Avis 500 miles/rental
Hertz 1 mile/$1
Carmel Up to 200 miles; 2 miles/$1

Tip #6: Fly American Airlines, Oneworld partner airlines, and non-alliance partner airlines to earn AAdvantage Miles. See a table of current airline partners below:

Oneworld Airline Alliance
Malaysia Airlines SriLankan Airlines
LAN Airlines Qantas Airlines
Air Berlin Iberia
S7 Airlines Cathay Pacific
TAM Airlines Qatar Airways
Japan Airlines British Airways
Royal Jordanian Airlines Finnair

There are non-alliance airline partners as well:

Additional Airline Partners
Seaborne Airlines Fiji Airways
Alaska Airlines Etihad Airways
Air Tahiti Nui Hawaiian Airlines
Gulf Air WestJet
Cape Air Airlines

See the American Airlines Awards Chart to find out how many miles you can earn with each airline.

earn-aadvantage-miles-through-bankdirect
You can earn AAdvantage Miles for signing up with BankDirect. It is a great way to earn additional miles for an everyday activity, since you only earn 1x miles with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard.

Best Way To Redeem Points

We want you to get a ton of value from the points you earn with your Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, so we created this list to help you redeem them.

Tip #1: Save 5,000 miles on select round-trip domestic travel every other month with reduced mileage awards. It’s a great way to make your miles last. Book your award through the reservations line (800-822-8880), ticket office, or with any airport agent.

You will have to pay taxes on the award ($5.60 one-way for U.S. travel.)

Tip #2: Combine miles and cash to get car rentals and hotel stays with no blackout dates. You will need at least 1,000 miles to make a reservation. Find available car rentals, hotels, and vacations at the AAdvantage website.

Tip #3:  International travel provides the best value for your miles. Because you can’t transfer your miles directly to partner airlines, you’ll need to call AAdvantage (800-433-7300) to book your flights.

A $35 booking fee will apply, but the representative may waive it for you if you ask.

The following table shows some of the redemptions available for seats in the main cabin and business class for both domestic and international travel. Find a complete list here.

Destination Main Cabin Seat Business Seat
Contiguous 48 states 12,500 25,000
Canada & Alaska 15,000 30,000
Hawaii 22,500 40,000
Central America

Mexico

Caribbean

17,500 27,500
Europe 22,500 30,000

Tip #4: American Airlines AAdvantage offers a 500-mile upgrade program so you can upgrade from published fares in the main cabin on American Airlines marketed flights.

Redeem 40,000 miles for 8 upgrades to a higher cabin on American Airlines and American Eagle full-fare economy flights. It comes out to 5,000 miles per upgrade.

If you would rather save your miles, you can buy 500-mile upgrades for $40 online at aa.com, at the airport, or by phone at 800-882-8880.

Just a reminder, travelers with Executive Platinum status automatically receive free upgrades on all flights. Platinum and Gold members receive complimentary upgrades on flights of 500 miles or less.

In addition, with Platinum and Gold status you get 4 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during your membership year.

Tip #5: Receive a 6-month membership to LifeLock for identity theft protection by redeeming 2,500 miles. You’ll get alerts when there is an issue, as well as assistance replacing lost or stolen cards anywhere in the world.

Tip #6: Redeem miles for magazines and newspapers or Points.com gift cards. Choose gift cards from stores like Home Depot, Target, Sears, and many more.

Tip #7: Donate your miles to one of American Airlines’ partner organizations: Miles for Kids in Need, Miles for All Who Serve, or Miles of Hope. There is a minimum donation of 1,000 miles and donations are not tax-deductible.

Partners

Card Math

We’ve covered a lot of information in this review about earning and redeeming miles with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard. Now we’ll take a closer look at the value of the card as we compare the cost and benefits from a monetary standpoint.

A Quick Card Recap

Let’s begin by taking a look at the cost and earnings associated with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard.

Annual Fee Miles Earned All Purchases
$50/yr (waived year 1) 1x

Basically, all of the spending you do with the card earns you 1 mile per $1. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Calculating the Miles Using Our Model Families

Now let’s use our model spending families to perform some calculations based on their yearly purchases. For the purposes of this section, we won’t be including the taxes and fees for American Airlines fares in our calculations.

Family Total Yearly Spending Total Miles Earned
Kennedys $45,300 45,300
Jetsons $62,500 62,500
Hartnells $117,700 117,700

Wow – our fictitious families have between 45,300 and 117,700 miles to spend!

Redeeming Miles Earned With the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard

Our families have plenty of options when it comes to redeeming miles. For our example, let’s assume they only redeem them for flights. With flights starting at 7,500 miles one-way for reduced mileage awards, that’s a ton of free flights!

AAnytime Rewards start at 20,000 miles. So even if the families choose to redeem their miles for AAnytime Rewards, they will be able to book several flights.

Here is a table showing the maximum amount of one-way trips they could take with a reduced mileage award or an AAnytime Reward:

Family Reduced Mileage Award AAnytime Reward
Kennedys 6 2
Jetsons 8 3
Hartnells 15 5

*Maximum number of trips the families could take with the total points earned for reduced mileage awards and AAnytime Rewards.

Note that in some cases it may not be realistic to take that many reduced mileage awards, since these fares are only available once every 2 months.

Airline Card Alternatives to the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard

If you prefer to fly a different airline, then you might get considerably more value with another card.

For example, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express earns 2x miles on Delta purchases and comes with a free checked bag, priority boarding, and discounted Sky Club lounge access all for a $95 annual fee (waived the first year).

You also get access to the SkyTeam Alliance Members and other partner airlines.

Another popular card is the Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Card. With this card, you will earn 2x miles on United purchases, and similarly get a free checked bag and priority boarding, as well as other benefits.

earn-many-free-trips-with-the-citi-aadvantage-gold-mastercard
The model families earned many one-way award tickets for their first year of spending on the card. What kind of rewards can you get?

Math Conclusions

The Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard is a great entry level card for those looking to earn additional American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

At 1x miles per dollar, you can steadily earn new miles. Our model families were able to earn multiple award flights per year with their level of spending.

Finally, let’s check into the monetary value of these miles earned by our model families. Using an estimate of $0.01 to $0.02 per redeemed mile, we can see the values range from $453 to $2,354.

The value of this card is pretty high considering it only costs $50 a year starting the second year! As always, do the math for yourself to see if this credit card is worth it to you.

The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know

To take advantage of the sign-up bonus offer, you must not have had a Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard or any other Citi / AAdvantage card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

APR is based on your creditworthiness.

The 25% in-flight discount appears as a statement credit 6-8 weeks after the transaction posts to your account.

Miles don’t expire as long as there is activity on the card (either earning or redeeming points) every 18 months.

Other Unique Features

The Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard offers a wide range of travel and shopping insurances which add to its value.

Citi Price Rewind – This program automatically searches for a lower price on the items you register after purchasing them from hundreds of online merchants. You may receive the difference between prices if an item is found at a lower price within 60 days.

Damage & theft protection – Get reimbursed the cost of repairs or a refund if a purchase is stolen or damaged within 120 days (90 days in NY).

Apple Pay – Pay in-app or at over 200,000 stores with the iPhone 6, or in-app with the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini.

Extended warranty – Extends the manufacturer’s warranty on products you buy with the Citi card.

Worldwide travel accident insurance – Provides financial help after an accident.

Worldwide car rental insurance – Get coverage against rental car theft or damage when you decline the rental company’s collision loss/damage insurance.

Lost baggage protection – Receive the purchase price of missing items or the cost to replace them if your carry-on luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged by the common carrier.

Travel & emergency assistance – Receive 24/7 help before or during a trip for emergency travel arrangements, travel issues and more.

Photo Credits/Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Kickin’ Back at the Airport: cunaplus/Shutterstock
Times Square: Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com
Cartoon Bank: YashkovskiyMD/Shutterstock
Man Looking at Airport Departures: Sergey Furtaev/Shutterstock
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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FAQ

Is the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard worth it?
The Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard has the fewest benefits of the Citi / AAdvantage cards. However, for an annual fee of just $50, the card can be valuable to many travelers.

Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on purchases. Those miles can be redeemed for travel on American Airlines and partner airlines as well as for hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, and more.

With the card, you can take advantage of reduced mileage awards, which save you 5,000 on specific flights. You also get a 25% in-flight discount on food, beverages, and headsets.

Does the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard have a sign-up bonus?
Yes. See the card summary table above or the special offer below for the current offer details.

How do you earn miles on with the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard?
Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on purchases with the card.

Does the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard have any foreign transaction fees?
Yes, the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Can I transfer my American Airlines AAdvantage miles?
No. You cannot transfer American Airlines AAdvantage miles to partner airlines. However, you can redeem miles for award flights with partner airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies.

What are American Airlines AAdvantage miles worth?
American Airlines AAdvantage miles are typically valued at an average of 1.7 cents per point. So, a $100 flight ticket can be awarded for the equivalent of about 5,800 American Airlines miles.

How quickly will my AAdvantage miles be deducted from my account if I redeem them for awards?
Although miles are immediately deducted from your AAdvantage account, it can take up to 24 hours for the transaction to appear in your American AAdvantage mileage summary.

How many American Airlines miles are required for a free flight?
You can obtain a free flight in the contiguous U.S. for as few as 7,500 American AAdvantage miles.

Who are the American Airlines AAdvantage airline partners?
American Airlines is a part of the Oneworld alliance and partners with all Oneworld carriers, including:

SriLankan Airlines, Air Berlin, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, S7 Airlines, IberiaFinnair, LAN Airlines, Qantas Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian AirlinesJapan Airlines, TAM Airlines, and Malaysia Airlines.

They also partner with the following additional airlines:

Hawaiian Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, Gulf AirSeaborne Airlines, Cape Air Airlines, and WestJet.

When do American Airlines AAdvantage miles expire?
As long as you earn or redeem miles every 18 months, your American Airlines AAdvantage miles will never expire.

What is the difference between the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard and Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard?
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard earns 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases and $1 on other purchases.

There are additional benefits, most notably the 10% rebate on all miles redeemed with AAdvantage in a year (a maximum of 10,000 back).

It has a higher annual fee ($95) than the Citi / AAdvantage Gold MasterCard, but this is waived for the first year. The sign-up bonus is typically larger as well, and this card has more fringe benefits overall.