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Now that it’s a new year, I think it’s worth recapping some of the annual credit card bonuses that have been reset in the past couple of days, to be sure that you maximize them. Specifically, I wanted to talk about the 10% refund on redeemed miles that’s offered with a couple of American’s co-branded credit cards. But first let’s recap the current American Airlines credit card offers.
The five premium American credit cards you can sign-up for
At the moment American has five premium credit cards that you can sign-up for, with the following bonuses:
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is offering 60,000 AAdvantage miles after making $3,000 of purchases within the first three months; the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is offering 70,000 AAdvantage miles after making $4,000 of purchases within the first four months; the $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is offering 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $5,000 within three months; the card has a $450 annual fee
- The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is offering 60,000 AAdvantage miles after making one purchase within 90 days; the card has a $95 annual fee
- The AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard is offering 40,000 AAdvantage miles after making one purchase within 90 days; the card has a $95 annual fee
I think it’s most worth taking note of the 60,000 mile sign-up bonuses on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, and AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. At least on the Citi versions of the card, these are limited time bonuses that may not be around for much longer. If you don’t have one of the above three cards, I’d certainly recommend applying.
70,000 miles will get you a one-way business class ticket between the US & Middle East
The American 10% mileage refund
The 10% refund on redeemed miles is exclusively offered to primary cardmembers of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, and it’s capped at a refund of 10,000 miles per year (which you’d earn after redeeming 100,000 miles).
Assuming you redeem at least 100,000 American miles per year, that means having either of the above cards will get you a refund of 10,000 miles per year. To me that more than justifies the $95 annual fees on those cards, since I value American miles at more than a penny each.
The basics of the 10% mileage refund
AAdvantage members with one of the eligible cards receive the credit on a calendar year basis. In other words, if you maxed out the benefit last year, you can now once again expect that 10% of any redemptions you make as of January 1 will be reimbursed, up to 10,000 miles. Per the terms, miles will automatically be refunded within 6-8 weeks of when the redemption is made, though in practice the miles typically post much faster than that.
In terms of other things to be aware of, this benefit is exclusively valid on the personal versions of the cards, and you can’t double dip this benefit if you have both cards. There’s no registration required — just make sure you’re redeeming miles out of the same account as that of the credit card’s primary user.
I usually max out this benefit on partner airline award bookings
The one “glitch” to be aware of
There’s one oddity when it comes to these refunds that’s worth being aware of.
If you book an award ticket, get the 10% refund, and then later cancel the award ticket, the mileage refund will be reversed as well. So there’s not a way to “trick” the system by booking a trip and then later refunding it. This is where the issue arises — if you cancel a ticket on which you received a mileage refund, the refund gets reversed, but it still counts towards your 10,000 mile yearly limit. That’s unfortunate, since for whatever reason the system doesn’t let you earn that refund again.
So if at all possible, make sure your first redemptions of the year are ones you don’t redeposit (it’s fine to make changes as long as the award type stays the same).
The 10% mileage refund offered by select AAdvantage Barclaycard and Citi products is a very nice perk. The main thing to keep in mind is that ideally you’ll want to avoid having to cancel a ticket you book with this benefit, since your standard miles will be redeposited and your 10% rebate will be reverses, but it will still count towards your limit. I usually tend to max out this credit pretty early in the year, so I suspect I’ll maximize this within the next few weeks.