American Airlines Cuts Elite Status Earning Potential From Barclays Cards
One of the current benefits on the AAdvantage Aviator Blue, Red, Silver and Business Mastercards is the ability to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) by spending a certain amount on the card. That opportunity is being eliminated on two of these cards; cut back on one of these cards; and is remaining unchanged on the fourth.
Here's the current situation and how that's going to be changing:
Now through December 31, 2018: Aviator Blue, Red, Silver and Business card holders can earn 3,000 EQDs for spending $25,000 on their card in a calendar year. In addition, Aviator Silver card holders can earn another 3,000 EQDs for spending another $25,000 in the same calendar year -- meaning that Aviator Silver card holders could get a total of 6,000 EQDs for spending a total of $50,000 in a year. However, you can't double up on this benefit by holding and spending on multiple types of cards. The most EQDs that you could earn is:
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver card holders: 6,000 EQDs for $50,000 in spending
- AAdvantage Aviator Red, Blue and Business card holders: 3,000 EQDs for $25,000 in spending
While $50,000 is a ton of spending to put on a cobranded card that doesn't provide a great return on your spending, 6,000 EQDs is enough to satisfy the spending requirement of AAdvantage Platinum and is half of what's needed to hit top-tier Executive Platinum elite status. You'd still have to earn 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and another 6,000 EQDs to get Executive Platinum status, but this ability to earn EQDs through spending makes achieving elite status a lot more attainable for those flying on cheap revenue flights.
For card holders who signed up prior to 1/1/2018: If you opened your card account prior to 2018, you'll no longer be able to get bonus EQDs on the Aviator Red or Aviator Blue Mastercards starting Jan. 1, 2019. Aviator Silver card holders will only be able to earn a maximum of 3,000 EQDs for spending $50,000 during the calendar year. Aviator Business card holders will still be able to earn 3,000 EQDs for spending $25,000 -- this card's benefit is unchanged.
To reiterate that, here's the EQDs that you can earn by card starting Jan. 1, 2019:
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver: 3,000 EQDs for spending $50,000 in spending
- AAdvantage Aviator Business: 3,000 EQDs for spending $25,000 in spending
- AAdvantage Aviator Red and Blue: no EQDs spending bonus
For card holders who signed up after 1/1/2018: If you applied for one of these cards during 2018, this benefit is being extended another year. You'll be able to earn 3,000 EQDs for spending $25,000 in 2019 on the Aviator Red, Blue and Business cards, and Aviator Silver card holders will still be able to earn 6,000 EQDs total for spending a total of $50,000. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, this opportunity will end for Aviator Red and Blue card holders and be limited to 3,000 EQDs for spending $50,000 on the Aviator Silver card and 3,000 EQDs for spending $25,000 on the Aviator Business card.
If you haven't signed up for one of these cards yet, there's a short grace period: As long as you sign up for the card by Oct. 31, 2018, you'll be grandfathered into this benefit through the end of 2019.
But why? An American Airlines spokesperson provided the following statement about this change:
Together with Barclays, we aim to provide differentiated card benefits through the AAdvantage Aviator portfolio that are relevant and provide the most value to the most customers. We will continue to evolve our program as we invest in new offerings and experiences that meet the needs and preferences of our customers.
That's not a very helpful explanation. I'm assuming that AAdvantage was unhappy that some elites were able to earn a fast-track to elite status through this spending, or it's possible that Barclays wasn't willing to reimburse AAdvantage enough for these EQDs for this benefit to continue.
No matter the reason, it's a bummer that this opportunity is ending for those that were happy to spend a bunch on an Aviator card to get a fast-track toward elite status. Aviator Red and Blue card holders may want to consider a product change to the Aviator Silver card to continue to get this benefit.