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New AAdvantage credit card choices coming in January

by on Tue July 12, 2016 • 2 Comments

American AAdvantage

Starting in January, you’ll be able to apply for a new set of credit cards that earn American AAdvantage miles.

That’s because Barclays, 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 Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard online. 

Former US Airways MasterCard holders currently have AAdvantage Aviator credit cards from Barclays 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 Barclays.

There could be a lot more choice for earning AAdvantage miles. Barclays 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 Barclays makes available to anyone starting in January, but what they offer will probably be pretty close to one or more of them.

The current Barclays 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 Barclays 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 Barclays 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 Barclays each have cards that let you earn elite qualifying miles for AAdvantage elite status – the Citi Executive AAdvantage and the Barclays 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.

Barclays representatives indicate no change is currently planned.

How can you get the new Barclays AAdvantage cards?

These cards will be available in January to anyone in an airport where Barclays 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 Barclays will be more sophisticated and restricted.

Barclays says:

“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 Barclays 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 Barclays 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.

The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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2 thoughts on New AAdvantage credit card choices coming in January

  1. Matthew Dieffenbach

    I was just approved for the Citi AAdvantage Platimum Select card via the onboard offer – but rather than use the paper application I applied online at To apply without making an “application run” the referral code I used was “315677”.

  2. JL100

    That would be weird if you now have to do an “application run,” taking a flight just to get an offer and application. That would definitely add an inconvenience for some!


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