Middle Age Miles

New Benefits on AA Co-Branded Credit Cards as of May 2019

new benefits aa credit cards may 2019 barclays aa aviator silver card mastercard barclays aa aviator red citi aa platinum select american airlines aadvantage
With the new food & beverage credit on the Aviator Silver card, you can purchase lots of in-flight snacks and drinks like these!

As of yesterday (May 1), several new benefits went into effect on American Airlines co-branded personal cards issued by Barclays and Citi. We wanted to provide a quick post to summarize and remind you of the new benefits.

Barclays AA Aviator Silver Card

Barclays AA Aviator Silver Mastercard

New benefits on the Barclays AA Aviator Silver card are:

  • In-flight Wi-Fi Credits: Up to $50 statement credit per cardholder year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases on AA flights
  • In-flight Food & Beverage Credits: Up to $25 statement credit per day for in-flight food & beverage purchases on AA flights
  • Flight Cents Program: Round up your purchases to the nearest dollar to purchase AA miles at 2 cents per mile

The in-flight Wi-Fi credits are an outstanding benefit that we’ll fully use. We have Gogo credits from our Amex Business Platinum and US Bank Altitude Reserve cards, but these don’t work on planes equipped with ViaSat Wi-Fi systems. And now, the AA 737s and A321s that we get for most of our domestic flights have ViaSat rather than Gogo. The new credits will pay for Wi-Fi on 3-4 domestic flight segments per year for each of us.

The in-flight food & beverage credits seem like a great benefit, too, if you’re not an Executive Platinum or Concierge Key elite member on AA. Now, no one who holds an Aviator Silver card should ever go hungry or thirsty on a flight. It’s a funny benefit, though, for EXP and CK members, who already receive a complimentary food item and drink when traveling in economy. Maybe we should be offering to buy snacks and drinks for everyone on our row when we fly in domestic economy! And remember, the $25 food & beverage credit is per day – so if you fly on AA a lot, you can get a ton of value out of this new benefit!

The Flight Cents program is a terrible deal. We give AA miles a baseline value of 1.25 cents per mile, and there is virtually no conceivable scenario where it’s a good deal to purchase AA miles at 2 cents per mile, especially in a sporadic, unfocused way like in this program. Please don’t do this!

Barclays AA Aviator Red Card

Barclays AA Aviator Red Mastercard

New benefits on the Barclays AA Aviator Red card are:

  • In-flight Wi-Fi Credits: Up to $25 statement credit per cardholder year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases on AA flights
  • Anniversary Companion Certificate: Receive a Companion Certificate good for one guest at $99 plus taxes and fees, if you (a) spend $20,000 during your cardholder year; and (b) keep your account open for at least 45 days after your anniversary date
    • Note that the 45-day requirement means that you will have to pay the next year’s annual fee of $99 in order to actually receive the Companion Certificate earned through $20k spend in your previous cardholder year
  • Flight Cents Program: Round up your purchases to the nearest dollar to purchase AA miles at 2 cents per mile

The in-flight Wi-Fi benefit is the same as we discussed above for the Aviator Silver card, but $25 per cardholder year instead of $50. That’s a solid benefit.

As for the Anniversary Companion Certificate, we’re not huge fans of spending $20,000 and paying the next year’s annual fee to get it. Here’s what we wrote in our earlier article, New Sign-Up Bonus on the Barclays AA Aviator Red Card – 50,000 AA Miles Plus a $99 Companion Certificate:

Could the next year’s Companion Certificate justify putting $20k spend on the card and keeping it? Perhaps, but not likely. Sparing the detailed math, the “net cost” of putting $20k spend on this card would be about $250, plus you’d have to pay the next year’s annual fee of $99. So, you’re looking at about $349 to earn the Certificate, and then the Companion would still cost another $135, for a total cost of the Companion ticket of roughly $484. Is it possible to get that much value out of the Companion ticket? Yes. In fact, our uses of Companion Certificates have been worth about $600 each time. But we fly a lot, sometimes on expensive domestic routes. Is it likely that you can count on at least $484 in value from the Companion Certificate each year? No way.

If you do pick up a Companion Certificate, note that we have a complete guide to all of the quirks of the Certificates in this article:

And finally, Flight Cents is just as terrible a deal on the Red card as it is on the Silver card, which we discussed earlier.

Citi AA Platinum Select card

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

The Citi AA Platinum Select card has only one small additional benefit:

  • AA Discount Certificate: Receive a certificate for a discount of $125 on AA or any other Oneworld carrier, if you (a) spend $20,000 during your cardholder year; and (b) keep your account open for one billing cycle after your annual fee is billed
    • This is the same benefit as before on this card, except that the amount of the discount certificate has increased from $100 to $125
    • Obviously, the “next billing cycle” requirement is designed to make you pay the next year’s annual fee of $99 in order to actually receive the certificate – but we don’t know how this actually works in practice

In short, we definitely don’t think it’s worth spending $20,000 on this card and renewing with a $99 annual fee. And in fact, even if you could get the discount certificate without paying the next year’s annual fee, we believe there are better places you could put $20k in spend.

What do you think of the new AA co-branded card benefits? Please let us know in the Comments!


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2 thoughts on “New Benefits on AA Co-Branded Credit Cards as of May 2019

  1. Rob

    One of the bummers of the companion pass is that they come with a ton of blackout dates. Which really undermines your efforts to maximize it because the pass would be most useful when fares are high, like school vacation weeks. Even with that frustration though, we got the Pass last year with our Aviator silver (which gives 2 companions) and saved about $275 per ticket, times 2 tickets, so $550 in total savings. The way I look at it, if I can save $550 on a flight each year, plus get 1 AA mile per dollar on the 20k of spend (worth about $260 if you value AA miles at 1.3 cents per mile), that is $810 back on $20k spending, or just over 4% return for non-bonus spending. That makes it a decent option, especially for non-bonus spending. But you can see by the math that it is highly dependent on whether or not you can make good use of the pass. There is a pretty good chance you can though if you are a family of 3, like we are, and get the Aviator Silver Pass which is good for 2 companions.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Rob – Very true about the Companion Certificate blackout dates. That’s what motivated us to write the “Everything You Need to Know” guide about Companion Certificates, so that everyone can see the blackout dates and other limitations/nuances of the Certificates up front to make informed decisions. Neither AA nor Barlcays was very helpful on this point when we called to ask.

      Understood on your math, and good example. We actually scored even a little higher value than yours when my Dad went with Philly and me to Notre Dame for a football weekend. But that’s an edge case for us. A couple traveling with a kid would have more opportunities to fully use a 2-person Certificate. For us, we’ve had another recent occasion where we used the 2-person Certificate for just 1 companion and the value was a lot less.

      So absolutely agreed in your situation, family of 3 that flies AA. I believe that the 2-person Silver Companion Certificate is worth the $20k spend in your case. This rings even more true if the 5,000 bonus EQMs at $20k spend help you.

      The “1-person Certificate for $20k spend” is a much dicier proposition though.

      Thanks again for weighing in with a thoughtful comment. ~Craig

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