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Reward cards can be a frustrating way to earn free travel. Airlines have slashed the number of award seats they offer at the lowest mileage levels, while increasing the fees required to redeem your miles. The result is confusion, frustration and an entire subculture of travel hackers trying to maximize their miles.
But one airline has earned some hacker respect: American Airlines. It still offers a reasonable number of award seats at the lowest mileage levels. And now American Airlines and Citibank offer their Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature Card that allows you to not just earn rewards, but to redeem them as well.
- Earn a great sign-up bonus. You receive 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within your first three months of opening an account.
- Earn miles from spending. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on most purchases, with 2 miles for each dollar spent with American Airlines.
- Receive a $100 American Airlines flight discount. You earn one of these coupons each year when you renew your card.
- 10 percent discount on awards. When you redeem miles, you get a 10 percent rebate, which lets you to stretch your miles even further.
- Lots of perks. You get your first bag checked free (for up to five people on the same itinerary), priority boarding, and a 25 percent discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases.
- Redeem miles on any one of American’s Oneworld or other partners.
- Annual fee. It’s $95 but waived the first year.
- High interest rate. The standard APR is 15.24 percent. That’s higher than many non-reward cards. Anyone paying interest on their credit card debt should look instead for a low-interest card and possibly a zero-percent balance transfer offer.
- Foreign transaction fees. There’s a 3 percent charge on all transactions processed outside of the United States. At a time when most credit cards aimed at travelers are doing away with these fees, it’s sad to see them in this card.
- No balance transfer offer. Many credit cards come with a zero-percent balance transfer offer, but this one does not. That’s just as well, since earning rewards is best left to cardholders who don’t have debt.
Get it if: You want your credit card to give you perks as well as miles you can actually use.
Forget it if: You carry credit card debt or need a card without foreign transaction fees.
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