For fans of the American Airlines AAdvantage program, Citibank offers two different products. The Citi Executive AAdvantage card is my card of choice for the ability to earn 10,000 EQMs each year from spending. However, it does carry a heavy $450 annual fee, which is a good reason for many folks to choose the Citi AAdvantage card. You can generally find offers that waive the annual fee the first year and it’s only $95 a year thereafter.
Citibank is tweaking the benefits on that card now, to the benefit of most. There are two primary changes:
- Citibank is eliminating the benefit of a $100 flight credit on AA when you spend $30,000 on the card.
- They are also eliminating foreign transaction fees.
Fellow AAdvantage junkie and blog reader Clint forwarded me an e-mail on Friday with this news. He was bummed that they had eliminated the $100 flight credit and now plans to cancel the card.
The very first thing I told him was that there are better places to put that $30,000 in spend. Depending on your priorities and spending patterns there are a number of choices. But, if you’re generally an American Airlines traveler, you’re better off spending that $30K on one of the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX cards. You’ll get a 25% bonus when you transfer those points to American Airlines and also have some flexibility if you need to use them for something else (something I recommended when this blogger decided he wanted to push his AAdvantage lifetime Gold status through a shredder).
Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely reasons to get this card. You get a free checked bag for yourself and up to 4 people traveling with you. And, you get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 10,000 miles a year. Either one of these benefits could easily pay the annual fee on the card. And, when you add in the elimination of foreign transaction fees, this card is more on par with lots of others that did away with these fees.
Incidentally, I carried one of these cards for years but did away with it in favor of the Citi Executive card. I even ended up with a second Citi Executive card when they had the 100,000 mile sign-up bonuses a while back. For a while, my Citigold service covered the annual fee. However, they discontinued that recently, so I called to cancel my second Citi Executive card. They offered me a reasonable bonus to keep the card, but given the high annual fee it really wasn’t worth it to me. The agent I was speaking with suggested taking the retention bonus and downgrading to the AAdvantage Platinum card and the smaller annual fee. That made sense given the bonus. While I don’t need the baggage benefit, I’ll take advantage of the 10% rebate on award redemptions and likely hold onto the card.
In the meantime, I’ll help Clint figure out which card he should slide into his wallet in place of this one.