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The strategy for downgrading the Barclay Aviator Red
For those of you who don’t know about the Barclay Aviator Red it is the grandfathered Barclay US Airways card. A couple years ago it became an all out free for all with 40k and 50k churnable sign ups offered after just first purchase and paying the $89 annual fee. I was lucky enough to land two of these, earn 90k AA for $178, and have since canceled one of the cards, consolidated the credit line, and got the fee waived for the 2nd year on the remaining card. Well, I was just billed for the $89 annual fee. After multiple retention calls I could not get the fee waived and ultimately settled for downgrading the card. Here’s my strategy for downgrading the Barclay Aviator Red to an Aviator card.
The overall strategy is to best position myself for signups come January
In case you missed it, Barclay will be allowed to start issuing new cards come January. They struck a deal whereby they will be able to market to customers on flights and in airports. The rest of the business has been given to Citi and their Aadvantage cards. This is a HUGE opportunity for us since Citi has imposed some very restrictive repeat sign up bonus rules: You can only get a bonus once every 2 years per FAMILY of card. PHEW, that is restrictive.
So what’s the best path forward for signups and Aadvantage accrual? Barclay.
The odds are that the very Aviator Red that I hold in my wallet is going to have a very attractive sign up bonus in January. In addition to this, Barclay doesn’t have any clear rules for getting a repeat bonus. This is FANTASTIC. I think it’s fair to assume that Barclay is going to be aggressive in their offer when they debut in January and as a result a lot of people will be tempted. With this in mind, we want to be positioned to take advantage of those sign ups.
I downgraded to save the annual fee, but also rid my account of the Aviator Red
By downgrading, I’m no longer an Aviator Red cardholder. Which means comes January, if I wanted to apply for a great new sign up offer I wouldn’t be duplicating a card that I already retain. It’s unclear whether this would be an issue, but why risk it? In addition to this, I just saved $89.
The best benefit of the card is the 10% back on Aadvantage redemptions ( up to 10k refunded)
I’ve redeemed 150k AA this year. I’ve maxed out my 10k refund so I can’t receive any more miles back on award redemptions until 2017. Yes, I could redeem for the reduced mileage awards…and that’s a good point – but I’m traveling revenue for the rest of the year to hit my Executive Platinum status. No blood lost for me. So I can wait til January when I may target some more flights. I used AA to book Cathay First Class back in January for 67.5k AA
If the new offer isn’t that good or I don’t want to put another mark on my 5/24 I can do a couple of things.
- If I want to sign up for a card but don’t want the 5/24 hit I’ll sign up for the Barclay Aviator Red Business card
- I get the same benefits as the personal, namely:
- 10% on Aadvantage redemptions
- 25% on in flight purchases
- Free bag for me an up to 4 additional passengers on my itin
- 7500 AA discount with reduced mileage awards
- I get the same benefits as the personal, namely:
- If the offers aren’t that attractive to me, then I call into Barclay and upgrade my card
- This gives me a free, several month, window to determine the value of the card
By downgrading to the normal Aviator I still get 2x AA points and 25% in flight, but most important I save my Credit Line and save an annual fee
Credit Utilization is the single most important factor to credit score. It is how much you owe over how much you can spend. Every month you use up some of your total line and that percentage impacts your credit score. If you build up a balance by only making minimum payments or not paying in full..your score will go down as you use up more and more of your utilization. Ideally, you want a single digit utilization.
Barclay has been good to me in terms of rotating my credit line as well
When I had 2 Barclay Aviator Red cards they rolled one line into the other without any soft pulls or difficulty at all. Citi actually performs a HARD PULL to do this. Ridiculous if you ask me. You’re rolling one line into the other – it’s the same credit. Barclay doesn’t do this and THIS is huge. WHY?
Because it means if I want to apply for a new card, and get held up because they can’t give me more credit, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get an approval by simply rolling some line out of my FEE FREE card and into the new sign up.
By downgrading my card I don’t actively hold an Aviator Red, haven’t received a bonus in 2 years, and am well positioned for whatever may hit the market come January
If I like it…odds are I will be an attractive applicant and can received a sign up bonus for a card I held a week ago. If I don’t like it, and know I’m going to redeem some points, I’ll just upgrade my Aviator and save 10k points for $89. It’s a win-win situation.
By saving 2 years of annual fee, I may be tempted by a very lucrative Barclay Silver offer – perhaps one that competes with Amex Delta Platinum ( currently 70k + 10k EQM)
I’ve saved $178 in annual fees over the past two years with this card. Currently the annual fee on the Barclay Silver ( which allows EQM accrual by meeting a certain spend) is $195. It’s not a far stretch to think that Barclay may position itself to compete directly with Amex and their Delta cards. If that’s so…my annual fee expense account has saved itself nearly the first year’s fee and could afford going for the premium card.