Next month, I’ll be flying out to San Diego for my first in person interview with a local firm (fingers crossed). While planning the trip, I thought, what better time to open an airline credit card? Since the cheapest flights on Kayak were with American Airlines, I decided to apply for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select. The card offers 30,000 bonus miles if I spend $1,000 within the first three months and a $1 statement credit for each dollar spent on American, up to a total of $100 (statement credit offer expired).
In fact, when you click to purchase tickets on American, the site shows you what your total price would be after deducting the $100. Except this can be misleading because you’ll only get the $100 back if you use the card to pay for them. This means that you won’t be eligible for the credit unless you wait for the card to arrive before buying the tickets. By that time, prices may have already gone up.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
1. Take advantage of American’s 24-hour hold policy.
Unlike most airlines that offer a 24-hour cancellation policy, American offers an option to hold your tickets for 24 hours before paying for them.** By then, you’ll hopefully have been approved for the Citi AAdvantage before the 24 hours are up.
2. Call Citi immediately after applying for the credit card.
After you apply for the AAdvantage card, you’ll get an email with your application ID. Call 1-888-201-4523 as soon as you see the email and ask them what else they need to proceed with the application. For me, they wanted to verify my mailing address so I sent them my W-2.
3. Call Citi again to follow up.
You’ll want to make sure Citi received everything you’ve sent them. I followed up with Citi several times during the day only to hear that it takes some time for them to see any new documents. As a result, I found another set of similarly priced tickets on American and placed those on hold, resetting the 24 hours. When I called Citi again the next day, they had approved my application. The total turnaround time was about 24 hours, so holding that second set of tickets was key.
4. Ask Citi for a temporary credit card number.
Since it still takes up to two weeks to get the actual card in the mail, you’ll need a temporary number to start buying stuff. Citi will also give you an expiration date and security code to use for online purchases. When I got these, I immediately paid for the second set of tickets and confirmed my trip.
All in all, it was a bit of a hassle, but in the end I’ll have an extra $100 in my pocket when the statement credit shows up. And the $1,000 minimum spend for the 30,000 bonus miles shouldn’t be a problem (I’ll most likely use my new card on a rental car and lodging for my trip). Those miles will definitely come in handy when I eventually purchase my one-way ticket and move to San Diego!
*While they seem to be phasing this program out, for now you can try holding the tickets until the last minute before paying.
UPDATE: The $100 statement credit offer is no longer available but it appears that as of October 8, 2017, you can still get 30,000 bonus miles by spending $1,000 within the first three months. Be sure to read all of the terms and conditions before applying.