Citibusiness AAdvantage card slashes benefits

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An email went out this morning to Citibusiness AAdvantage Mastercard holders advising them of benefits being removed or negatively modified as of March 21, 2021. Extended Warranty, Purchase Assurance, MasterCoverage®, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, Travel Services Medical Protection and Mastercard Value Added Tax (VAT) Reclaim Service are all being discontinued and will not apply to purchases on or after March 21st. Furthermore, there are some new restrictions coming on the rental car insurance. See more below.

Here is the meat of the email:

What’s changing:
For purchases made on or after March 21, 2021:
Extended Warranty, Purchase Assurance, MasterCoverage®, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, Travel Services Medical Protection and Mastercard Value Added Tax (VAT) Reclaim Service benefits will be discontinued and will no longer be provided for purchases made on or after that date.
MasterRental® Insurance:
– Damage sustained in the course of use of the rental vehicle on any surface other than a bound surface such as concrete or tarmac will not be covered.
– Theft or damage to personal effects in transit in the rental vehicle or in any building en route during a trip using the rental vehicle will be paid on a secondary basis (meaning if you have another insurance policy, this benefit will cover only the amount your other policies do not) and will be limited to a maximum coverage per rental period of $1,000 per covered person, per occurrence, subject to a maximum total benefit per rental period of $2,000.
Effective March 21, 2021, MasterAssistTM will be removed and the assistance services provided under this benefit (Travel Medical Emergency Assistance, Legal Assistance, Travel Personal Assistance, Travel-Oriented Emergency Assistance and Master RoadASSIST® Service) will no longer be eligible for use.
The cancellation of your insurance benefits under the following policies will be effective March 21, 2021, at 12:00 am (EDT) (“Effective Date of Cancellation”): (1) Extended Warranty-Policy No. 84161537-03, (2) Purchase Assurance-Policy No. 84161537-03, (3) MasterCoverage Policy No. 84161543, and (4) Travel Medical Insurance Policy No. 84161575-01 (part of MasterAssist Services). Your coverage cancellation is due to changes in the Mastercard® card program. If coverage under any of the above-referenced policies attaches to a purchase made with your Mastercard prior to the Effective Date of Cancellation, benefits will be provided for that purchase pursuant to the policy terms in effect at the time of coverage attachment, notwithstanding your coverage cancellation. The policies referenced are issued by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. If you wish to cancel your card due to these changes, please call the number on the back of your card by July 1, 2021, to receive a prorated refund of your annual fee.

To sum that up, most purchase and travel benefits are being eliminated. Rental car insurance isn’t going to cover you if you decide to go off-road — though as I read it, they wouldn’t cover you for damage on a dirt road, either. While it’s probably fair that most business use of a vehicle won’t require driving on dirt roads, there are some places where that could cause an issue. Beware.

I’m not sure how they handled theft from a rental vehicle in the past, but it sounds like now they will expect you to go through any personal insurance policy you have first and then cover you on up to $1,000 in items per person. I generally avoid leaving items of value in the car, so that doesn’t seem particularly restrictive for me though it could be for someone checking out of a hotel in the morning and needing to leave items in the car while they attend a meeting before heading to the airport. Like the “bound surface” restriction on roads above, I can imagine the exception to the rule — which would likely just keep me from using the card for rentals rather than having to think about it each time.

The biggest hits here in my opinion are extended warranty and purchase protection. That is especially painful on this card because Citi pretty frequently sends out offers to earn 5x miles at computer / electronics stores. Indeed, when I bought a new laptop recently, I lamented not having registered my wife’s card for that when it came in the mail — only to see a new offer arrive in the mail about a week after I bought my new computer. Of course, with no extended warranty and no purchase assurance, I wouldn’t be very likely to use the Citibusiness AAdvantage card for that type of purchase in the future.

Citi goes on to note in the email that these changes are coming from Mastercard, so I guess there is the possibility that Mastercard will extend other benefits to replace them. There is also the chance that similar changes could come to other cards, though I would be surprised to see extended warranty and purchase assurance eliminated in a widespread way. We’ll keep an eye out for any updates on that front moving forward.

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