Reports: American Won’t Let Customers Upgrade Credit Cards Due to Elite Status Loophole

This week we learned that American Airlines is gutting the ability to earn elite qualifying dollars from credit card spend for next year.

  • Currently only the Barclays-issued cards let you earn qualifying dollars (as distinct from qualifying miles) based on spending. Citibank American AAdvantage cards have not had this feature.

  • The primary Barclays card, the Aviator Red, will no longer offer this at all.

  • The premium card, Aviator Silver, will earn $3000 elite qualifying dollars after $50,000 spend, instead of earning $3000 at $25,000 spend and $3000 more at $50,000 spend.

Last week I heard reports that customers trying to upgrade from Aviator Red to Aviator Silver were not being permitted to do so. Barclays does not offer applications for the premium Silver product. Instead they allow Red cardholders to upgrade… normally.

And now it’s clear why. This change to earning elite qualifying dollars effects existing cardholders who opened their accounts prior to January 1, 2018.

  • If you opened a new AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard this year, of if you open one by October 31, you’ll still be able to spend for elite qualifying dollars with the card in 2019. For such cardholders the change goes into effect for 2020.

  • If you converted to an Aviator Silver this year, the change goes into effect for 2020.

Barclays representatives are saying that they are unable to upgrade customers from Red to Silver at this time and that this is a requirement of American Airlines. As a result existing Aviator Red cardholders are unable to buy themselves an extra year under the old rules by upgrading their card.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Deadline for upgrading the Red to Silver and still take advantage of the $25k spend/$3k EQD is Oct. 31 or Dec 31 for this year? Or too late already?

  2. ^ I guess I can answer this myself . . . .

    “Barclays representatives are saying that they are unable to upgrade customers from Red to Silver at this time and that this is a requirement of American Airlines. As a result existing Aviator Red cardholders are unable to buy themselves an extra year under the old rules by upgrading their card.”

  3. Do we have recourse to get our annual fee refunded in full? I paid my annual fee 2 months ago so I could have the right to earn $6000 EQD in 2019. Very shady to change terms after I paid my fee.

  4. More attempts by AA at “revenue enhancements”. The game is over for me – I’ll fly whomever is the most convenient and fare-conscious for the route and class I seek.

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