As a New Yorker, I’m not hub captive to a particular airline. However, I often choose to fly American Airlines and Oneworld. For all the negative publicity that the airline gets, I still value two things: frequent flyer upgrades and American’s Oneworld partners. And since American isn’t the popular choice in the New York City metro, I probably get upgrades that the equivalent Delta flyer wouldn’t get.
However, there were two recent unrelated credit card devaluations that negatively impact my loyalty with American Airlines. These are cards that I carry in my wallet and actively use, some to a lesser degree than others. Those cards are the American Express Gold, The Platinum Card from American Express, and the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.
First, let’s go over what these card benefit devaluations were.
American Airlines Co-Branded Cards Lose 10% Rebate On Mileage Redemptions
Here’s how the card benefit worked. Cardmembers would get 10% back on redeemed AAdvantage miles each year, with a cap at 10,000 miles returned to your account. You could max out on this benefit by redeeming 100,000 AAdvantage miles in a calendar year.
This was my favorite perk of the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard. In fact, it was the primary reason why I kept the card. Well, it was announced that this 10% mileage rebate is being eliminated on May 1st, 2019. Both Citi’s cards and Barclays’ Aviator cards, the two issuers for American, are losing the benefit.
Credit Card Devaluation #1.
Purchasing American Airlines Gift Cards No Longer Triggers AMEX’s “Airline Fee Credit”
Among the many great benefits of the The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card, American Express Gold Card was an annual “airline fee credit.” Each year, you selected an airline to receive credit back from incidental airline fees (like checked bags, airline lounge memberships, etc.)
While it was excluded from AMEX’s terms, buying airline gift cards used to be an active loophole to trigger the benefit. (The fact that you had to use this loophole is an annoyance in and of itself, but that’s a separate issue.) However, recent data points show that as of early February, this loophole no longer exists for American Airlines gift cards.
The reason is that gift cards used to trigger as “Airline Miscellaneous Taxes & Fees” on your AMEX statement and therefore AMEX would have no idea you were purchasing a gift card. Now, American gift cards are clearly coded as what they are, gift cards. No word yet if other airlines will follow suit.
Credit Card Devaluation #2.
What’s The Impact Of These Credit Card Devaluations?
For many of you, maybe not much. However, I personally put significant value in the benefits above and it disincentives me to use the AAdvantage program and will have me fly American’s competitors more. Here’s why.
Cancelling The Citi Card
With the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, I don’t value any of the other perks that come with the card, except for perhaps trip delay and cancellation coverage. Priority boarding and free checked bags already come with my American elite status.
With the card’s devaluation come May, I am incentivized to burn more of my AAdvantage miles now to receive my rebate. Then, I’m cancelling the card.
Shifting My AMEX Airline Fee Credit Away From American
With the American Express cards, I have a total of $300 in airline fee credits for 2019 ($200 with the Platinum Card and $100 with the Gold card). Instead of cancelling these cards since I value its other many benefits, I will simply shift over these airline fee credits to another airline.
Normally, AMEX requires you to stick with the airline you select at the beginning of the year to receive the credit. I selected American back in January. However, I was able to change my airline by simply calling card member services. The new airline I selected to receive the airline fee credit? Delta. And I’ve purchased those Delta gift cards already.
Two recent credit card devaluations, one with American Airlines’ co-brand card issuers and one with American Express are dissuading me from flying American or its partners. The latter situation isn’t necessarily American’s fault, and I recognize that.
Is it a complete dealbreaker? Will I no longer fly American because of this? No, of course not. As mentioned, I still personally value some of American’s frequent flier benefits. But it’s small shifts that can influence consumer behavior over time. And I’ll be flying Delta more in the near future.
Heck, with Delta’s best ever bonus offers for its lineup of co-branded cards, I’m even considering signing up for one. Beyond the bonus SkyMiles, I don’t have status with Delta so the checked bag and priority boarding could actually come in handy. Since you know, I’ll be flying Delta soon.
Will any of these credit card devaluations impact your flying or mileage redemption behavior?