Given my current AA lockdown, I suppose this is one of the least surprising answers ever on Middle Age Miles.
Truth be told, we were planning to cancel this card anyway, as we’ll explain in more detail below.
Details of Our Barclays AA Aviator Business Card
We were approved for the Barclays AA Aviator Business card in January 2018. The card was coming up on its second anniversary. In 2018, we spent about $8,000 on the card. When we came up for renewal in early 2019, Barclays actually waived the annual fee as a retention bonus.
During 2019, we spent a little more than $26,000 on the card, in order for me to earn 3,000 AA Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) at the $25k spend level. These EQDs were necessary to put me over the threshold to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status, so they were extremely valuable.
It would have only taken about $4,000 in additional spend to earn a one-guest Companion Certificate on the card. This was tempting, but it would have (a) come with opportunity cost on the additional spend (roughly $60; 1.5 cents per dollar); (b) required a card renewal (at $95, although Barclays may have waived the annual fee again if I fished for a retention offer); and (c) cost $135 for the companion fare. Given our other options to get discounted flights using points, or using the $100 companion discount on our Ritz-Carlton Visa card, the Companion Certificate on this card wasn’t a compelling deal.
Features & Benefits of the Card
The Barclays AA Aviator Business card’s primary features and benefits are:
- Annual fee = $95
- Current sign-up bonus: Up to 75,000 AA miles
- 65,000 AA miles after $1,000 spend, plus
- 10,000 AA miles when a purchase is made on an employee card
- It’s really a fantastic sign-up bonus, worth about $937 at our baseline value of 1.25 cents per AA mile
- Earning structure:
- 2x AA miles/dollar on AA purchases
- 2x AA miles/dollar at office supply stores, on telecom charges, and for car rentals
- 1x AA miles/dollar on everything else
- 5% AA mileage bonus each year upon your account anniversary
- Note: We received this bonus on or slightly before our actual account anniversary, and also before our annual fee posted
- Our account anniversary date was January 16; we first saw the bonus miles in our AAdvantage account on January 16 this year; the bonus miles were dated as of January 13
- Earn 3,000 AA EQDs when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year
- First checked bag free for cardholder and up to 4 companions when traveling domestically on AA + 25% savings on in-flight food & beverages + preferred (Group 5) boarding for cardholder and up to 4 companions
- Companion Certificate for one guest at $99 + taxes/fees (all-in, about $135), if you spend $30,000 in your cardholder year
- This Certificate is received only after you pay the annual fee for your next cardholder year
- No foreign transaction fees
None of the spend categories on this card are best-in-class or even close, so there’s no reason to put ongoing spend on this card – unless you need the EQDs to qualify for a higher elite status level on AA.
But if you need the EQDs to reach Executive Platinum status, this can be an extremely valuable benefit.
Deciding Whether to Keep or Cancel
Normally, and for most people, we believe that it’s a straightforward decision to cancel the Barclays AA Aviator Business card at renewal rather than pay the annual fee.
The possible exceptions would be (a) if you need the EQDs; (b) if you’ve spend enough to earn the Companion Certificate and value it highly; or (c) you use the card for free checked bags on AA and don’t have any other options for getting this benefit (through elite status or another credit card).
In my personal circumstances, given that my AAdvantage account is locked and may be terminated, it’s a no-brainer to cancel this card now.
But even if I wasn’t locked, we were planning to cancel. The main reason was that it made sense to cancel this current card, wait a few weeks, and get another one to collect another sign-up bonus. (I know, everyone else who has been terminated or locked by AA cringes to read this; but note that a new application would be made using a public offer and link.) We have read numerous data points over the past few months of people being able to get another sign-up bonus after cancelling the card. Then, if we wanted to earn the 3,000 EQDs again through $25k spend, we could simply do so on the new card. (Of course, all this assumes that I could be approved again. Barclays can be notoriously finicky about documentation for business cards, but we have legitimate businesses that should pass muster.)
We also had a very specific strategy about when to cancel. You may recall from our discussion of the card’s benefits that the 5% annual mileage bonus posts on or slightly before the actual anniversary date. Knowing that our account anniversary date was January 16, we’ve been watching the account like a hawk over the past few days. We wanted to get the 5% bonus (about 1,300 AA miles in our case) and then cancel immediately, before the annual fee even posted.
That timing worked like a charm (setting aside the fact that my AA account is locked). The 5% bonus miles posted today (Jan 16), although they were dated January 13 in my AA account. I called Barclays right away earlier today to cancel, and my annual fee had not yet posted. I believe that it would have posted either at the end of January or on my next statement close date.
A Couple of Other Things about This Card
For reasons unknown to us, the Barclays AA Aviator Business card has probably the worst website in all of credit card land. It feels like it was coded about 30 years ago. It doesn’t function well, and it’s impossible or difficult to get detailed information that you need.
In addition, when you make a payment on the card, your available credit line doesn’t reset for several days. That’s annoying as well.
My Cancellation Call
This morning, I called the number on the back of my card (855-284-9166) to cancel. It took a while to get through the Barclays automated system. But once I finally reached an agent, cancellation was smooth and easy. I told the agent that I liked Barclays and wasn’t cancelling because of them; rather, I had issues with American Airlines and wasn’t going to need the card any longer for that reason.
The agent was very pleasant. She didn’t try to change my mind about cancelling the card. I didn’t fish for a retention offer (because I wasn’t going to keep the card in any event), and she didn’t say anything about one either. The entire call took 6 minutes, and I was probably on the phone with the agent for only 2 minutes.
For the reasons we’ve described above, this is a “cancel” card for almost everyone.
Only a few weeks ago, we would have suggested that those who cancel may consider re-applying later to see if they can be approved for another card with a new sign-up bonus. Back then, this would have seemed like a high-reward, low-risk strategy. But in light of the spate of AA account terminations and lockdowns, we’d suggest that you think twice about this and play things involving AA a bit more conservatively. If it would be your only AA sign-up bonus in a calendar year, maybe it’s ok; but if it would be your third or fourth, it seems like a good idea to hold back.
Do you have anything to add to our keep-or-cancel analysis, or any other data points on retention offers for the Barclays AA Aviator Business card? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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