Disclosure: I do not receive a commission for these cards.
Yesterday saw the first step in alignment between US Airways and American Airlines with their award calendars. While it was not a sweeping overhaul (yet), the changes targeted some of the most lucrative parts of the AA and US Airway award calendars. With these changes behind us (enacted immediately) and more changes coming, many have wondered if it is still a good time to apply for AA cards. Hopefully, this will help you with that decision.
Should You Apply For AA Cards?
The short answer is YES! Yesterday took some great things away from the award calendar, like the stopovers in gateway cities on award tickets and oneworld Explorer awards. Many of you had actually been saving for those Explorer awards so that is very tough to handle for sure.
But, the charts are still relatively unchanged for saver awards (capacity controlled award seats). US Airways did lose their 90,000 business class gem to north Asia, but otherwise their calendar has stayed intact as well. Changes will be coming to these calendars – make no mistake about it. But for now, the good news is that you still have time to accrue miles and book those trips you have in mind.
Citi Executive AAdvantage Card – 100,000 miles after spending $10,000 in 3 months – Application Link (I do not receive a commission from this card)
Citi Platinum AAdvantage Card – 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months – Application Link (I do not receive a commission from this card)
The great thing about the current card offerings are that they are big bonuses. There is the 100K Citi AAdvantage Executive card and the 50K Citi AAdvantage Platinum card that are still working and available. If you were to start from scratch, within a couple of months, you would have over 160,000 AA miles (counting minimum spending)! That is enough to go just about anywhere in the world that AA and their partners fly – in first class, round-trip! For domestic use, that is enough for six tickets anywhere in the US. For off-peak awards, that is enough for four tickets to Europe from the US. And that is if you are starting to earn AA miles from scratch! You could be booking any number of these awards within two months time (if you meet the minimum spending quickly).
My feeling is that AA will eventually gut their partner redemptions in premium cabins (like United). I do think we are at least a couple of months off from that, however. That means that you still have some time if your goal is to travel on one of AA’s fantastic partners in business/first class. But, you need to get applying if that is the goal!
For most travelers, economy class travel is just fine. For those of us who do not mind it, we will more than likely be ok, even with the new changes. AA is probably going to be following a lot of the playbook from Delta and United and neither of them had bumped economy class redemptions much at all. In fact, neither of them even touched domestic award redemptions. As good of a deal as it is for many of us to be able to redeem miles for domestic award tickets, the airline finds it to be an even better deal. They are making out pretty well with the cost of sitting an award ticket on their own domestic planes. No partners to pay, no great premium cabins (with a couple of exceptions), no huge difference in cost from miles required to actual ticket cost, etc. So, the airline will not mind at all that you continue to book in domestic. Award chart here.
Why is that a good thing? Most people may not have a desire to travel internationally. Believe me, there is plenty in the good, old USA that I have yet to see and wouldn’t mind redeeming miles to visit! There are many races all over the country that would be great to run and miles help us get that done. There are many people that would never redeem 25,000 miles for a $300 domestic ticket. But, it is not bad to do! If domestic travel is your goal, then you are still saving a lot of money in your redemptions! Let’s assume that you apply and receive the 100K Citi card offer. You have to pay the net fee of $250 for the card ($450 minus the $200 statement credit), so you have paid $250 for those 100,000 miles. But, those 100,000 miles give you four tickets anywhere in the US! That means that you have only paid $62.50 per ticket. If you are going on trips that are averaging $300 per ticket, you will have received $950 in value from that Citi AA card (after subtracting the $250). I think that is an exceptional deal!
That is not taking into account that there are some trips, domestically, that would have cost much more than $300! So, your value could be over $1,100! For instance, I found an itinerary that could take me to Alaska – for 25,000 miles and $10 instead of $700!
Of course, there is also the fact to consider that you may very well have never taken any of those four trips if you had not received all of those miles. In that case, you have been to four places that you would never have been able to visit otherwise. We can use the Alaska trip again – most people would never dream of being able to travel to Alaska but you can do that four times with that credit card offer (or take three friends/family members). That is the real fun in miles!
Then we come to international redemptions. If AA were to announce tomorrow that they are requiring 300,000 miles and up for all business and first class redemptions, the miles earned from these AA cards still have tremendous value! Using their off-peak dates, you can travel to many countries and regions around the world – all for less than 50,000 miles round-trip. Even if they scarf those off-peak dates eventually, the regular pricing is not that much either. You can still fly to Europe for 60,000 miles round-trip, or Japan for 65,000 miles round-trip. (Award chart here)
Yes, those amounts are for coach travel. However, I have spent much of my international flying in coach and I still get to the same destination as everyone else! I am able to exit the plane and stand fully upright and I even sleep! 🙂 Seeing the world via economy travel is far better than never seeing it all. These Citi AA cards can still get you all this and more!
Get The Cards!
There is really no reason to not apply for one or both of the Citi AA cards (as long as you have at least a week between applications and no more than 2 within 61 days). You are going to get a ton of miles and those miles can open doors that you may never otherwise go through. Is it premium international travel you want? These cards can give it to you now or put you just within reach of your goal. Get them now!
While I am thoroughly unhappy with the way AA/US slipped these changes in, I am still happy that miles can still take me places. Unless they release an industry-first redemption program that bases miles on fare price (Southwest/JetBlue do this but do not fly to most of the world), we can expect to still be able to redeem for economy travel for quite a while. This amount of miles will help you get that done.