Posted by William Charles on February 27, 2019
Credit Cards

Published on February 27th, 2019 | by William Charles

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Barclays American Airlines Aviator Credit Card Changes (Updated)

Update 2/27/19: I’ve added some additional information courtesy of VFTW. Also seems likely that Citi will be losing this 10% rebate benefit as well.

Barclays has announced changes to the American Airlines Aviator credit cards they offer and issue. These changes will go into effect in May 2019. Seems like the rumors were correct.

Flight Cents Introduced For All Cardholders

Flight cents is a program that was introduced in September of 2017 in a pilot program. This lets you round up a purchase to the nearest dollar and purchase miles for 2¢ per point. For example if you made a purchase of $1.02 then it would be rounded up to $2 (you’d pay $2) and you’d earn a total of 51 miles (2 base miles and 49 bonus miles).

You can purchase a maximum of $500 in miles per month and you can also set that limit to a lower amount if you want or turn it off completely if you’re not interested in it. Personally I don’t think buying miles at 2¢ per mile is good value, especially when they can be purchased for less during mile sales. During the pilot program some users were able to purchase miles for 1¢ per mile so this is actually a devaluation in that regard.

Aviator Red

The annual fee on this card will increase to $99 (up from $95). This card will have the following benefits added:

  • Anniversary companion certificate. Get a companion certificate for 1 guest for $99 (plus taxes and fees) after account anniversary & $20,000 in spend within the previous card member year.
  • WiFi Credit. Up To $25 statement credit on American Airlines in flight WiFi purchases each card member year

The following benefits are being removed:

  • 10% rebate on miles redeemed up to 10,000 miles per calendar year. 
  • $100 American Airlines flight discount after qualifying purchases.

Aviator Silver

The annual fee on this card is increasing from $195 to $199. The following benefits are being added:

  • Anniversary companion certificate. Get a companion certificate for 2 guests for $99 (plus taxes and fees) after account anniversary & $20,000 in spend within the previous card member year. This is not a new benefit, but the spend requirement has been reduced from $30,000 to $20,000.
  • WiFi Credit. Up to $50 statement credit on American Airlines in flight WiFi purchases each card member year
  • Up to $25 daily statement credit for in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines operated flights. (This replaces the current benefit of 25% back).

The following benefits are being removed:

  • 10% rebate on miles redeemed up to 10,000 miles per calendar year. 

Legacy US Airways Cardholders

If you are a legacy US Airways cardholder then you’ve continue to receive a bonus 10,000 miles each year at card renewal. Unfortunately this will also be removed. Card members will continue to receive one last 10,000 mile benefit the first time they pay a $99 annual fee. For example if your card renews on March 1st, 2019 you’d receive the 10,000 mile benefit this year and then again in 2020 as 2020 is the first year you are charged a $99 annual fee.

Our Verdict

I see changes to the Aviator Red card as being a net negative as the loss of the 10% rebate is a key reason people like to keep the card. The WiFi benefit is obviously worth a maximum of $25, for some people the companion fare will make up the rest of the difference but personally I’d prefer to have the flat miles rather than having to deal with trying to get a companion deal to work favorably.

The Silver card is interesting due to the $25 daily statement credit for food/beverage being added. I can see this being extremely valuable for people that regular fly American Airlines. The WiFi credit is slightly higher at $50. This helps to better offset the $199 annual fee vs the previous 10,000 mile rebate.

My personal opinion is that the Red card is getting worse and the Silver card is getting slightly better, what do you think of these changes?



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Aaron
Aaron

Hard to say that the Silver card is getting better from an Executive Platinum’s standpoint. They’ve eliminated half of its EQD benefit, and I can’t really ever see a scenario where an Executive Platinum (who already gets a free snack and drink) would use the statement credits.

Bill
Bill

I will upgrade my Red to Silver and leave United for American because of the $25 daily credits benefit assuming I can make off the $199 annual fee with 2 companion certificate (Hope it’s easy enough to use.). I don’t need to chase status essentially!

wany
wany

Agreed. The annual fee is $195, technically you break even for 8 days of travel on AA, which is not a lot at all. However, any EXP and those sitting in MCE get free snack for free. While Gold elite may not always get MCE, I doubt they have this issue more than 8 days a year. For any none-elite, there is not much point of having this card anyways. Would also be interesting to see how this daily limit is tracked, especially for red-eye/long haul flights. Does the clock reset at midnight of one timezone, or where the midnight of the origin of the flight? Or is it based on the flight departure/arrival time/date or actual transaction date/time.
$25 is enough for about 1 sandwich/box and 2 drinks, IIRC.

Chucks
Chucks

Probably if it’s a cross-country flight and you want to gorge…of course you probably would be flying F already so…

It’s bizarre how so many of these branded cards are sometimes the least useful to those that are most loyal to the brand

Miki
Miki

The loss of the rebate is horrible. I don’t need a companion cert, as I normally fly solo.

MoreSun
MoreSun

Ditto!

Joe
Joe

You get the rebate with a citi AA anyways. If you have the Barclays but not a citi version along with it, you’re doing it wrong.

Philco
Philco

Gary on VFTW is reporting Citi is losing the rebate as well.

Yoni
Yoni

Miki ah so it’s all the solo flyers that have ruined it for the rest of us, just too easy to use compared with companion certs Haha 😉

Just kidding, but probably some truth in that it was probably costing AA a lot more in on book liabilities compared to companion certs spending req probably helped cover the cost with swipe fees, and likely breakage in hoops to jump thru in order to be be used.

Ed
Ed

Wait … is that one certificate for two companions (at the same time) or two separate certificates for one companion each? If the former, is that really two companions for $99 or two companions for $99 *each*?

Yoni
Yoni

Ed great question and catch – if I had to guess it is $99 per, but if not it good provide some outsourced value – depending on the restrictions and the ticket class as well as if just CONUS + Hawaii.

Ed
Ed

Cool. Didn’t know if the ambiguity was theirs or author paraphrasing. 👍

Rob
Rob

I’m assuming they mean it is the same certificate that you now have to spend $30k in a cardmember year to get. And that certificate is for 2 companions, each paying $99+tax. I just redeemed one of these for flights that were priced at $412 each. I paid $412 for my ticket, $135 for my Wife’s and $135 for my daughter. In total paid $682 for all three of us instead of $1,236. It was a nice savings, but it was a pain in the ass to find dates that weren’t blacked out when we wanted to travel and a further pain to mail in certs and wait for confirmation.

Yoni
Yoni

Rob

Thanks for the great DP – sad that they blackout dates for use.

Even sadder in this current modern day they want you to mail in Certs (that can get conviently lost – processed in 6-8 weeks) sounds like they are pushing for as much breakage on this benefit –
AS is so much simpler – but it can be harder to get maxium value – that said – we have 3 AS cards and normally use it for family vacation to Hawaii in December.

I do hope that they don’t change to Fare saver economy tickets – less of an issue if we can still get free checked bag with CC – but still hate the inflexibility of the new fares and lack of free seat choice- hate middle seats.

I almost think that so much of this air rage is the fault of the airlines as well as consumers wanting the cheapest tickets – but funny all the viral videos all seem to be on major carriers and not the discount airlines i.e. spirit etc. With lack of seat selection families get split up – passengers are unhappy sitting next to some one else child, etc, etc.

Jamie
Jamie

Any word on what is happening to the legacy US Airways MasterCards that had the 10,000 miles account anniversary bonus? That is a card I will never cancel as long as that benefit stays.

Tom
Tom

I am hoping this stays as well.

Greg N
Greg N

+1

Philco
Philco

Gary on VFTW is reporting it is going away. You will get upto and including you first $99 AF renewal. So for most folks one more time.

ujay
ujay

Yes. Got letter yesterday about the anniversary miles removal. I will close the card after this year.

Ian
Ian

10,000 anniversary bonus miles will be discontinued effective May 1, 2019
You will receive your last 10,000 AAdvantage® anniversary bonus miles in your next anniversary month after May 1, 2019

WYglobetrotter
WYglobetrotter

What are the rules for the companion fare? Lower 48 only? If it is lower 48 only it’s not worth much. I get the 10% rebate from the Citi card anyway so perhaps a companion certificate is okay?

Lantean
Lantean

Good reason to close that card.

mjonis
mjonis

I’ve got the old US Airways that was converted to Red. This also enabled me to get the Red again (LOL). Also have the Business AA from Barclay and the Citi AA. So for me, the 10% loss isn’t that important (the max was 10,000 miles anyway, which at $0.02/point is $200 worth). The companion cert (depending on when/where you can use it) would (for me) easily be worth more than $200.

Dave P
Dave P

So no changes to the points earning structure? Still 1x mile per dollar everywhere except AA itself? Thanks.

Jamie
Jamie

Disappointing. I thought they were actually going to do something to encourage spend on the card. Not even a reason to put AA flights on there. Better options with Citi and AMEX for 3x or 5x points.

Mark
Mark

The companion fare before on the Silver Aviator was only after $30000 in spend from the cardmember anniversary and deposited into your AA account if you keep your account open for at least 45 days after your account anniversary date. Will the $30000 spend requirement be removed for the new Silver Aviator companion certificate benefit?

Brian
Brian

It might have sock drawer value for the checked bag benefits + companion pass, as long as the pass isn’t too difficult to use.

Philco
Philco

How are you going to get companion cert with card in sock drawer since it requires $20k in spend or are your socks big spenders? It is interesting that Alaska requires no spend for their cert.

Al
Al

For the first time, Barclays didn’t have any retention offers when my card came up for renewal at the end of December. I was surprised that they would be willing to let a customer go to Citibank. In past years, they would be happy to refund the annual fee. It seems to me they aren’t so eager to retain customers on this card.

Shay Peleg
Shay Peleg

They waived my fee try huca

Mr G
Mr G

Wow talk about a real let down. Hopefully we will be able to PC to the no AF version. I know that’s been blocked for a while. I just need a way to keep my miles active with the occasional charge.

Matt
Matt

Sign up for their dining portal, I’ve accidentally earned miles that way, but they generally have a strong list of places to go.

Rob
Rob

JohnnyJet saying something about “flight cents” program being added to the cards. Where they round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and basically use those extra cents to purchase AA points at 2 cents per mile. He also said the companion certs are “after qualifying activity” which could mean there is still a spend requirement to get them.

Miles
Miles

Where was this announced, out of curiosity? I don’t see a link

JB San Diego
JB San Diego

I am right at my 12 month anniversary and I suspect my AF will be posted on my next statement in March, at which point, I am cancelling my Red card.

Thanks for the heads up DoC!

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