Every quarter, Citi updates a list of destinations which Citi AA card holders may travel to on a reduced mileage award. Depending on the card type, these awards drop the price by either 7.5k or 5k and they work for economy or premium cabin awards. The best value is the reduction from 25k AA to 17.5k AA (30% off). There are some restrictions to keep in mind:
- The list typically comes out about 2-3 weeks before the quarter (e.g. 6/14 for Q3/2012) it applies to.
- The list is a list of destinations. E.g. If Minneapolis is on the list but New Orleans isn’t, then I can fly from New Orleans to Minneapolis on this but not vice versa.
- You must book a round-trip.
- You must find sAAver award availability through the web site.
- If you need to make a date-change to the ticket, you cannot move the outbound or return outside the allowed period (e.g. slipping the return from 9/30 to 10/1).
- You need to book these by phone. Remind the agent that you couldn’t get the award booked online because you can’t apply a promo code to an award ticket and ask them to waive the fee. If they won’t, and I haven’t tried this personally, consider seeing if they’ll put the award on hold and then use the confirmation ticket to complete the purchase online.
- I can’t say for sure but I have my doubts that AA checks that you actually hold the card. If you know something, let me know.
Always remember that BA miles redeemed for domestic AA awards will often be better nonetheless. Here’s why:
- BA charges no last-minute booking fees ($75 / ticket on AA).
- BA always allows a one-way.
- BA awards start at 9000 round-trip.
- AA miles are conventionally considered to be more valuable than BA by perhaps 33%, largely on the strength of their low-fee international awards so hanging on to large AA balances for that big trip often makes sense while burning BA miles on short haul trips. That said, this is very, very much YMMV and you need to consider many personal factors to determine whether other considerations reverse this calculation (E.g. BA miles to S. America and Asia can be effective).
The Wandering Aramean created a very useful tool for pricing avios awards.
This feature of the Citi AA card is worth keeping in mind and one of the reasons why I’m very happy to take Citi up on their retention offers to keep the a Citi AA card around. Most recently, when attempting to convert/close my Citi AA Business visa signature, I was offered a statement credit equal to the annual fee and 750 AA bonus miles on spending $750 in each billing cycle making it a 2 AA / $ card if I optimize my spending. Another factor to consider is that you get 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles (up to 10k) back on the Citi AA Visa Signature card, among other benefits. If I had just one Citi AA card to keep, this would be it.