American Airlines Boeing 777

Should you get a credit card for an airline you fly regularly?

Starting this blog, and diving in head first to the world of points and miles has been such a good experience. I have learned so much, and hopefully able to help some people along the way. But one of my favorite things is being able to help those closest to me.

In order to learn more, I am consistently looking for “use cases.” In other words, I am constantly asking my friends and family about their credit card strategy, travel plans, award redemption’s, etc. I admittedly get the occassional sigh and eye-roll, but so many people are missing out on hundreds of dollars every day because they haven’t taken the time to educate themselves. And that is where I [try] to come in.

So here is the following scenario facing one of my close friends:

Similar to my current situation, a co-worker of mine has decided to relocate to a new city, and also will have to switch airline loyalty. He is also a semi-regular business traveler, and will be going from Delta to American. Now that he is going to be flying American he decided to sign up for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Elite Mastercard, with a targeted 60,000 points sign-up bonus after $3,000 in spend in the first 3 months. 

First, let’s look at what he’s getting

Before I offer some advice one way or the other, let’s look at what my friend is getting.

  • 60,000 American AAdvantage miles after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • Preferred boarding in Group 5 on American flights
  • Free checked bag
  • Double miles for purchases made directly with American

So there are definitely some valuable perks of the card, but we’re going to dive deeper into this more below.

Why this may not be the best move?

So obviously, on the surface, this card is very valuable — especially with the increased sign-up bonus. But I think some of the value in this card is over-hyped — and in my friends situation, I believe he may have overlooked the value and gone straight for the points.

So let’s take a step back, and go over his thought process in signing up for this card — I think it’s valuable to mention here because a lot of people have a similar thought process.

He recently switched allegiance to American, so like any frequent flyer could not fathom the idea of having a “low” account balance. While he is going to quickly boost his miles balance, he will also get a free checked bag on his flights as well as priority boarding (Group 5). While I understand the value here, that value will become obsolete in a pretty short amount of time.

As someone that will be flying American on a regular basis — at 30 segments, or 25,000 elite qualifying miles, he’ll get Gold status and get all the benefits listed above and more! So while he won’t get that status immediately, and these benefits will be nice in the meantime, I think it’d be better to hold out for a higher credit card bonus. There have been sign-up bonuses as high as 70,000 miles.

What I recommend

So what I recommend, and would recommend to others, is to make sure that you are getting the most value out of the card possible. It is easy to jump at a card because of the perks that it offers, but you have to decide what perks are truly valuable.

The only perks that would sway me to a certain card, regardless of spending, are lounge access and elite status (mid to upper elite status that is!).

So when I say “get the most value,” I am talking about the highest possible sign-up bonus and the best travel perks for your personal travel habits. Maybe there is a similar card that can get you the same value and more…

Bottom Line

I want to reiterate that I don’t think getting this card is necessarily bad. The bonus is good, he will enjoy some good benefits in the meantime, but what I’d really hate is for a better offer to come available and he not be able to get it.

So just ask yourself, are you really getting the most value out of a card you can?

 

Tucker is an avid points and miles enthusiast. Being fully involved in the world of credit cards and frequent flying for only a few years now, he brings a very fresh and unique perspective to the world of travel.

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