Is the American Airlines Companion Certificate Worth Earning?

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Is the American Airlines Companion Certificate Worth Earning?

Million Mile SecretsIs the American Airlines Companion Certificate Worth Earning?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Randycommented:

I forgot the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® offers a companion certificate after spending $30,000 in a cardmember year.  Is this a good deal?

Great question!

The companion certificate can be a nice perk for big spenders who make $30,000 in purchases on the CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum card in a cardmember year.

Because it can save you money when you add a friend or family member to one paid round-trip domestic coach flight within the continental US.  But you still have to pay $99 plus taxes and fees for your companion’s ticket.  And there are blackout dates.

To get the most savings, you’ll want to redeem the certificate toward an expensive fare.  Otherwise you could potentially do better spending $30,000 on a different card.  Because other miles, points, or cash back could be worth more than the savings you’ll get with the companion certificate.

American Airlines Companion Certificate
Use Your American Airlines Companion Certificate to Travel With a Friend or Family Member to Destinations Like San Diego and Go Kayaking in La Jolla Bay!

I’ll let you know how the American Airlines companion certificate works.  And help you decide if it’s worth earning!

What’s the Deal With the American Airlines Companion Certificate?

Link:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® 

Folks with the CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum card earn a companion certificate after making $30,000 in purchases during a cardmember year.

Your card must remain open for 45 days after your cardmember anniversary to qualify.  And it takes 8 to 10 weeks for you to get your certificate.  You’ll have 1 year to use the certificate once it’s issued.

American Airlines Companion Certificate
Using the American Airlines Companion Certificate Requires Patience Because It’ll Take 8 to 10 Weeks to Get After Meeting the Requirements

To use the certificate, the primary cardholder must purchase a round-trip coach ticket on an American Airlines flight within the continental US.  So you can NOT use it for flights to Alaska or Hawaii.

After purchasing qualifying airfare, you’ll pay a $99 companion ticket fee plus ~$22 to ~$43 in taxes and fees to add a friend or loved one to your flight.  You’re only eligible to redeem the certificate one time.  And you can NOT redeem the certificate for travel on oneworld partners like British Airways.

The terms & conditions also say there are blackout dates, which are provided when you receive the certificate.

American Airlines Companion Certificate
Blackout Dates Make Emily Sad! But You Have to Deal With Them If You’re Planning to Use the American Airlines Companion Certificate

I couldn’t find a list of blackout dates for the companion certificate you get with the CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum card.  But there’s a FlyerTalk thread, which lists the blackout dates for the companion certificate you can earn with the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver card.  Although this is a different card, I suspect the blackout dates are similar for both cards.

As a reference, here are the 2017 blackout dates:

  • January 1 to 3
  • February 17 to 21
  • March 10 to 13, 17 to 19, and 24 to 27
  • May 26 to 30
  • June 30
  • July 1 to 5
  • November 22 to 27
  • December 16 to 23 and 27 to 31

These blackout dates definitely make the companion certificate less useful.  But it can still potentially save you lots money depending on your travel plans.

American Airlines Companion Certificate
Redeem Your Companion Certificate on an Expensive Fare to Get the Most Savings!

For example, I found a round-trip, non-stop coach flight from Dallas to Aspen, which costs ~$1,556 if you pay cash.  So the primary cardholder could book this fare.  Then, pay $99 plus ~$22 in taxes and fees, or ~$121 total to add a companion.  This example would get you ~$1,435 in savings ($1,556 cost of flight – $121 in taxes and fees for companion ticket).

Big Spenders Might Consider Earning Miles, Points, or Cash Back on a Different Card

Spending $30,000 to earn a companion certificate that comes with blackout dates and restrictions might be frustrating for some folks.

So instead of an airline credit card, folks who spend tens of thousands on a small business card like reader Randy might consider a card that earns miles, points, or cash back.

For example, with the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business you earn 2X Spark miles per $1 you spend on all purchases.  Spending $30,000 on this card earns you 60,000 Spark miles ($30,000 in spending X 2 miles per $1).  Then, you can redeem these miles toward $600 in travel purchases.

Or consider the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, which earns unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.  Cash back is extremely easy to redeem because you can request a check or statement credit, any time, with no minimum redemption amount.

Bottom Line

CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum cardholders can earn a companion certificate after spending $30,000 in a cardmember year.  The certificate is only valid for a round-trip coach ticket within the continental US.

After purchasing a qualifying fare, the primary cardholder can add a friend or loved one by paying a $99 companion ticket fee plus ~$22 to ~$43 in taxes and fees.  Keep in mind, there are blackout dates!

The companion certificate can potentially save you lots of money depending on the flight cost.  But folks who spend tens of thousands and prefer to earn easier to redeem rewards might be better off making purchases with a different card.

For example, spending $30,000 per year on the Capital One Spark Miles for Business would get you 60,000 Spark miles worth $600 in travel!  And you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.

Have you redeemed an American Airlines companion certificate?  Let me know your experience!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Ridiculous. I am looking right now and I can book 2 round trip tickets from Dallas to Aspen nonstop for $658 each on American. This is $240 cheaper than your first ticket… You should shop around more. Also this $658 fare is available tomorrow… So I’m not pre-booking or planning this trip. cheers!

The American Airlines $99 Companion Certificate is false advertising. I have waited over 14 weeks for my certificate to arrive in my mailbox, have called or emailed Citi Mastercard over 10 times and to no avail. I will a few weeks longer and will cancel my Citi Mastercard and switch to a different credit card to accrue airline miles and perks. I would stay far far away from the Citi Mastercard AA Advantage credit card.

This is the most ridiculous valuation post ever. As no one would even pay 1500 dollars to fly two people from Dallas to Aspen. So you are paying more than if you didn’t have a companion pass.

A much better deal, IMO, is the Chase British Airways VISA. Spend $30,000 (I think) and get 100,000 Avios Plus a 2-for-1 certificate on British Airways. I just booked a BOS – SIN one way itinerary with the BOS – LHR leg in business class, with a 3 day stopover in London, and the LHR – SIN leg in first class. Cost me about $1,900 in taxes and fees.

I remember back when US Airways was around you would get this just for having the credit card.

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