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AAdvantage credit card promo is an attention-getter

Promotional offers for mileage-program credit cards are nothing new. Indeed, as competition among credit card issuers has escalated over the past few years, such offers have increased in both frequency and generosity. Still, the latest promotion from Citibank for its AAdvantage card is an eye-popper: up to 40,000 bonus miles for new card accounts established between June 1 and September 30.

Of course, it's in the details that such offers either make the cut as truly good deals or are exposed as more hype than real value.

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The promotion has three parts, as follows:

First, earn 20,000 bonus miles by charging at least $750 to the new card within the first four months.

Second, cardholders earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles by charging at least $10,000 during the first year.

And third, earn 10,000 more miles by charging $10,000 during the second year.

Charging $750 in four months won't be difficult for most consumers, so the first 20,000 miles is a sure thing.

But charging $10,000 per year for two years to earn the second 20,000 bonus miles? I'm able to charge that much because I use a credit card extensively for business expenses. But prior to operating my own business, it would have been a stretch to charge $10,000 to a credit card. I expect the same will be true for many others.

Don't forget to factor the annual fees into the analysis. For the two eligible consumer cards, the first year is fee-free, but annual fees are $85 thereafter. The business card is also free for the first year, and $75 for subsequent years.

Bottom line: This is a competitive deal for consumers who only earn the initial 20,000-mile bonus, and a notably good deal for those who are able to earn the 10,000 extra miles by spending $10,000 the first year. The bonus for spending $10,000 during the second year is actually somewhat less generous, since the annual fee increases the cost of using the card.

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