I made two retention calls to Barclays on my AA Aviator Silver MasterCard. I did not receive a retention offer on either call. Nonetheless, I decided to keep the card and pay the $195 annual fee in order to receive the companion certificate I had earned with my previous year’s spend and retain the card benefit that allows me to earn additional Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) toward AA elite status, by meeting certain spend thresholds.
Barclays AA Aviator Silver – Keep vs Cancel
The Barclays American Airlines Aviator Silver MasterCard has a $195 annual fee. For me, the primary benefits on the card are the perks that come with certain spend thresholds – that is, the ability to earn additional EQMs and EQDs toward elite status on American, plus a companion certificate that allows up to two companions to travel on an American domestic itinerary for $99 plus taxes and fees when the certificate holder purchases a regular-priced AA domestic economy ticket.
The spend thresholds are as follows:
- $20,000: earns 5,000 EQMs
- $25,000: earns $3,000 EQDs
- $30,000: earns a Companion Certificate (awarded a few weeks after payment of the next annual fee)
- $40,000: earns another 5,000 EQMs (total of 10,000 EQMs including the bonus at $20k)
- $50,000: earns another $3,000 EQDs (total of $6,000 EQDs including the bonus at $25k)
The spend thresholds for EQMs and EQDs are based on a calendar year; the spend threshold for the Companion Certificate is based on the cardholder’s cardmember year.
Philly and I had very much wanted to qualify for Executive Platinum in 2017, and both of us used (and needed) the EQMs and EQDs from our Barclays AA Aviator Silver cards to achieve the thresholds for Executive Platinum status (100,000 EQMs and $12,000 EQDs). Both of us earned 10,000 EQMs from this card in 2017. On the EQD side, Philly earned $6,000 EQDs in 2017 and I earned $3,000. Note that we each have our own Barclays AA Aviator Silver cards as a primary cardholder; the spend threshold benefits are for the primary cardholder only and cannot be transferred.
As I was doing my keep-vs-cancel analysis for the Barclays AA Aviator Silver card, it looked like there was a good chance I could benefit from the additional EQMs and EQDs again in 2018. It looked like my travel would be such that additional EQMs and EQDs could move me up a tier in qualifying for AA elite status, either from Platinum to Platinum Pro, or (hopefully) from Platinum Pro to Executive Platinum. I also believed that I could place enough spend on the card (without too much opportunity cost) to hit spend thresholds, at least up to either the $30,000 or $40,000 mark.
Also, as I had spent more than $30,000 on the card during my 2017 cardmember year (roughly Jan 31, 2017, to Jan 31, 2018), I would receive a Companion Certificate if I paid the annual fee. I knew that I would have a very good use for the Certificate – round trip flights for my Dad, Philly and me on the new AA direct flight from DFW to South Bend, Indiana (SBN), for a Notre Dame football game in the fall.
For these reasons, I knew that I wanted to keep the card regardless of whether I received any retention offer. But I wanted to call anyway, to see if there would be any offer.
My Retention Calls
My annual fee posted on January 31, 2018, and it appeared on my statement that closed on February 10. My spend on the card during my cardmember year was significant – between $40k and $50k.
I made my main retention call to Barclays on February 13. As usual for retention calls, I said that I had recently received a statement where my annual fee posted, that I am considering whether to keep the card or cancel it, and that I was wondering if there were any retention offers that would help me choose to pay the fee and keep the card.
The Barclays customer service rep said that she had no retention offer for me – nothing to offset the annual fee, no bonus points, nothing. She said that Barclays generally does not give retention offers on this card. I pressed her a bit on this, to no avail. She did not offer to transfer me to a retention specialist. The only thing she offered was that I could product-change to a no-annual-fee Barclays AA card with lesser benefits.
I talked again with another Barclays rep about retention a few days later, on February 18. This was not specifically a retention call, as I was working through another issue with the rep, but I asked her about retention offers and said I was trying to decide whether to keep or cancel. She gave the exact same information as the first rep – typically they don’t waive the annual fee on the Silver card or give retention bonuses on it. She also offered to product-change me, either to the Aviator Red card with a $95 annual fee, or to the no-annual-fee card.
I also asked this rep a series of questions designed to help me figure out if there was any way I could receive the Companion Certificate without paying the annual fee – and as far as I can tell, there is no way to accomplish that result.
I went ahead and paid the $195 annual fee on my Barclays AA Aviator Silver card, and I’m set for another year.[Update as of early June 2018: I received my Companion Certificate and made the DFW-SBN booking that I described in the article. I believe I got an extremely high-value use from the Companion Certificate given its limitations (US domestic economy only). My regular-fare ticket was $643 (not unusually high for a direct flight into SBN on a Notre Dame football weekend), and the “companion” tickets for my Dad and Philly were $135 each. I’ve put enough spend on the card to start reaching the lower-level thresholds – I’m on-track to get to $30k for sure, and $40k or $50k if needed. And looking at my 2018 AA travel to date and projected travel looking forward, it appears that the spend thresholds will indeed help me reach a higher AA elite status level. I’m calling my “keep-the-card” decision a success.]