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Starting in January, you’ll be able to apply for a new set of credit cards that earn American AAdvantage miles.
That’s because Barclaycard, which was the issuer of US Airways MasterCards, will be able to start offering its set of AAdvantage credit cards onboard American Airlines flights and in airports.
Update: You can now apply for the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard online.
Former US Airways MasterCard holders currently have AAdvantage Aviator credit cards from Barclaycard which earn AAdvantage miles, but these cards aren’t currently available to new customers.
Citibank, which currently offers AAdvantage credit cards, will still be making its own cards available to new customers online, in the mail, at the Admirals Club, and in other locations, so the Citi AAdvantage cards aren’t going away and benefits aren’t likely to change. If anything, there might be incentive to offer a bit more thanks to new competition from Barclaycard.
There could be a lot more choice for earning AAdvantage miles. Barclaycard currently has four cards for consumers that earn AAdvantage miles – those cards were given to members who held US Airways Mastercards before the merger of American and US Airways. It’s not clear those cards will be the ones Barclaycard makes available to anyone starting in January, but what they offer will probably be pretty close to one or more of them.
The current Barclaycard versions of AAdvantage cards tend to have slightly lower fees (for example, the main ‘Red’ card with a free bag has an $89 annual fee versus $95 for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select with similar benefits). You’ll also probably be able to earn a nice sign up bonus for getting a Barclaycard AAdvantage card. This is where fresh competition can work to your advantage.
You won’t be able to use these at Costco. All new cards that earn AAdvantage miles will be issued as a MasterCard, which has been the case recently as well, so you won’t be able to earn AAdvantage miles shopping at Costco, which only accepts Visa branded cards.
If you want lounge access, Citibank will be your choice. Admirals Club access is currently only available with two Citibank branded cards – the Executive AAdvantage and the Citi Prestige. With Citibank having an exclusive on marketing cards in Admirals Clubs, don’t expect Barclaycard to offer a card that gives you lounge access.
Transferring Citi ThankYou points to AAdvantage not happening now. A Citi source told us “there will not be points exchange between the programs,” when asked if ThankYou points will be linked with AAdvantage. If there was a time to make a decision on this, it was while hammering out this agreement. Since Citi is losing the ability to market cards in-flight and in airports, it might have picked up the ability to offer the transfer option to Citi ThankYou card holders. Perhaps it’s being prepped for a later announcement, but there is no indication that is coming.
Earning elite miles is up in the air. Citi and Barclaycard each have cards that let you earn elite qualifying miles for AAdvantage elite status – the Citi Executive AAdvantage and the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver. The issue is, starting next year, elite miles alone won’t be enough to earn AAdvantage elite status. You’ll also need to meet spending thresholds on American Airlines flights to earn elite status.
For example, to earn top Executive Platinum status, instead of just flying 100,000 miles, you’ll also need to spend at least $12,000 on American Airlines flights.
American could keep things as is with the cards – which means the credit card elite mile benefit will be less useful for fliers who tend to spend less than the new spending threshold.
Or it could add a waiver. Delta offers a waiver of elite spending requirements for Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholders who spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year. United also offers a similar waiver up to its 2nd highest Platinum level for holders of its MileagePlus credit cards from Chase.
Barclaycard representatives indicate no change is currently planned.
These cards will be available in January to anyone in an airport where Barclaycard is marketing the cards, or onboard an American Airlines flight.
Traditionally, American Airlines flights have offered both a paper application and a site you can use to apply anytime, like this one featured in the American Way magazine. No proof you took the flight is needed – and any one can access the site to apply.
But it sounds like the new setup for Barclaycard will be more sophisticated and restricted.
“Customers we’ve engaged with in the airport or in-flight will be able to start the application in these channels and then complete the application at a later time if needed (for example, once they reach their destination or return home).”
So there might not be a live application phone number or website that’s accessible to anyone without first being on a flight or in the airport. Instead you might get a paper application form with a unique code, or a site accessible via inflight wifi that lets you save your application for later.
If you already have an AAdvantage Aviator, don’t expect Barclaycard to you a fresh sign on bonus if you decide to apply for a new one.
Though if you were a US Airways MasterCard holder who cancelled your card around the time of the merger, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Barclaycard try to win you back by allowing you to earn a fresh sign on bonus.
And since Citibank won’t be able to offer cards in-flight starting in January, you might see some more lucrative offers as we get closer to that date in a bid to grab as many customers via that channel while it still can. Typically, the in-flight offer is as good, or better than the one you find online.
Follow @MileCards on Twitter for the latest updates and new offers
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