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American Airlines has a case of “too big for their britches,” as we say down south. They think they’re Delta – they’re not. They think their co-branded credits cards are too beneficial – so they’re cutting the best benefit.
As of May 1st, 2019, NONE of the American Airlines credit cards (from Barclays or Citi) will have a 10% rebate on redeemed miles, which was good for up to 100,000 redeemed miles per year (so you could get back 10,000 miles).
I maxed this out every year – and rarely use other benefits of the cards. I don’t check bags. Priority boarding is great, but whatever. I don’t buy airplane food.
And I get better earning rates with ultra-premium cards for all the bonus categories.
In a couple of months, I’m closing my American Airlines cards. Unless Citi wants to give me a big retention offer to keep one a while longer.
Even worse – Citi isn’t adding anything to make up for this loss (Barclays is at least trying). Sorry, but spending $20,000 to get a stupid $125 discount isn’t a tradeoff.
Bye bye, AA cards
For whatever reason, I find myself with 4 American Airlines cards:
- Citi Platinum Select Amex (kept it to add Amex offers, which is no longer possible)
- Citi Platinum Select MasterCard (got it for the bonus, kept it because of a good retention offer)
- CitiBusiness Platinum Select MasterCard (got for the bonus, will cancel)
- Barclays no-annual-fee card (will keep because it’s free)
My original plan was to close the two MasterCards and keep the Amex because the annual fee is only $85 (instead of $99). Because with it, I’d still get all the same bennies, including the 10% mileage rebate.
But now I have zero incentive to keep any of them.
Why they’re toast
As someone who flies AA semi-regularly, I don’t find value in the paltry spate of AA travel perks. And if I did fly AA a lot, I’d already get them as a function of elite status. Either way, there’s no reason to keep the cards unless you:
- Check bags and don’t have status
- Don’t have other cards that earn more points in the bonus categories
- Really like priority boarding and 25% savings in-flight (for me, yawn)
Because for flights and dining, I pay with Citi Prestige (which recently faced its own set of cuts and shakeups) for 5X Citi ThankYou points. And for gas, I’ll use my Blue Business Plus Amex for 2X Amex Membership Rewards points.
The only way I’d keep the annual fee cards is with a big retention offer (as I don’t expect to put any spend on any of the 4 cards, nor use any of the remaining benefits).
Heavy AA flyers would do better with the Citi AAdvantage Executive card or Barclays Aviator Silver card for better perks like access to Admirals Clubs, or $25 in food/drink credit each day you fly AA, respectively.
And casual AA flyers are better with a card that earns flexible points like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Citi seems focused on cutting their card benefits for whatever reason, but it seems this change came from American Airlines because it affects all their cards with the 10% rebate benefit.
Between AA about to lose Etihad, United working to step up, and Delta absolutely owning them operationally, I really wonder what’s going on at corporate. Because losing this rebate is absolutely a devaluation. Being Dallas-based, I’m semi hub captive, but don’t pay for flights enough to earn meaningful status on any airline.
This change further cements my “free agent” view of travel. The only airline worth being loyal to is Alaska (or maybe Southwest if you mostly travel domestically). And the best hotel chain is Hilton (or Hyatt if that’s your jam). Otherwise, loyalty is dead and credit cards are turning into a wasteland.
While I don’t really care about the loss of this benefit one way or another, I see it as something I was willing to pay for. Now that’s it’s gone, the rest of the cards’ benefits aren’t worth paying for. Simple as that.
The only reason to get an American Airlines credit card is for the sign-up bonus. Then dump it, unless you want to upgrade to one of the ultra-premium AA cards mentioned earlier. Otherwise, they’re not even fit for a sock drawer any more.
Citi, you have 2 months to come up with something good. If the retention deals suck, I’m out.
As far as I’m concerned, Barclays is the sole issuer of American Airlines cards now.
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