I Just Upgraded To The AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard

Filed Under: American, Credit Cards

Over the past couple of years, American has made some major changes to the AAdvantage program. They’re negative almost across the board, from adding a revenue requirement to status, to awarding miles based on dollars spent rather than distance flown, to greatly devaluing the AAdvantage award chart, to cutting in half the number of systemwide upgrades that Executive Platinum members get.

I used to be an enthusiastic AAdvantage member and love the program, while now I just feel indifferent. I couldn’t with a straight face tell anyone the AAdvantage program is great, or that they should switch their business to American (unless they lived in Charlotte, Dallas, Phoenix, etc.).

For a while I’ve been considering dumping status with the “big three” US programs altogether. Paid first class fares are largely pretty reasonable nowadays, and as a result, upgrades are also much tougher to come by than in the past.

Now that the first quarter is over, I figured it made sense to finally figure out what I’m going to do with my American status this year. Am I going to throw it away or requalify?

The benefit of the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card

Since last year, American has a non-exclusive credit card agreement, as they have credit cards issued by both Citi and Barclaycard. As I wrote about last November, the only co-branded card American has that gives you any sort of a break on the elite qualifying dollar requirement is the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card. This card gets you:

  • Up to 6,000 worth of elite qualifying dollars (3,000 when spending $25,000, and another 3,000 when spending another $25,000)
  • Up to 10,000 elite qualifying miles (5,000 when spending $20,000, and another 5,000 when spending another $20,000)
  • An annual $99 companion ticket on your account anniversary (when you spend $30,000 on purchases)

So if you do put $50,000 of spend on the card, you get 6,000 elite qualifying dollars, 10,000 elite qualifying miles, and a companion ticket.

American-Business-Class-A321 - 3

I finally upgraded to the Aviator Silver Card

The odd thing is that you can’t apply directly for the Aviator Silver Card. Instead you need to have the Aviator Red Card, and then that card can eventually be upgraded to the Aviator Silver Card. However, typically you can only upgrade a card if you’ve had it for at least a year.

So yesterday I made the decision to upgrade to the Aviator Silver Card. It was an easy phone call — they saw the offer on my account, and after them reading disclosures for about five minutes, my card was upgraded. However, the new benefits only kick in at the start of the next billing cycle.

I think I can creatively spend the $50,000 on the card, which would get me 6,000 elite qualifying dollars and 10,000 elite qualifying miles.

That means I’d really only need 90,000 elite qualifying miles and 6,000 elite qualifying dollars to requalify for status. Given how much I fly (even just domestically), that’s quite manageable to me, and doesn’t take that much effort.

Then I also get the companion certificate. Using my mental accounting, the value of the companion certificate covers the annual fee.


Bottom line

At this point I just can’t bring myself to completely give up status. I already have a fair number of elite qualifying miles with American this year, and with a 6,000 elite qualifying dollar and 10,000 elite qualifying mile boost, I shouldn’t have much trouble qualifying. That’s especially true since American offers 200% elite qualifying miles for paid first and business class tickets, and I also travel a fair bit on partner airlines on discounted premium cabin tickets, which earn a good number of miles.

Anyone else upgrading to the Aviator Silver Card and using it to help with status qualification?

  1. Didn’t you say that you didn’t care about status anymore Mr Trump? Also 50k creative spend, what does that mean?

    A post about your creative spend is more useful than any posts about benefits of Amex platinum card.

  2. I did the same thing a few weeks ago. I’m not sure I’ll make exp this year, but I’ve been exp for a decade. Like you, I see much less value in the aa program now versus the past, but I also have a hard time letting go of exp. I don’t fly nearly as much as you nor as much as I used to but, I wanted to see if there was value in this card.

  3. Can you earn 20k eqm for meeting the spending target for both silver card and Citi Exe (i believe it is 40k spent)?

  4. If it’s anything like the AA Citi Executive card, you won’t get the EQM and EQD this calendar year, or even as soon as you spend $50k. It will be on your card anniversary. I could be wrong as it’s a different bank.

  5. Biz class tix are so affordable now, status is becoming almost irrelevant. I closed both citi and barclay silver.

  6. To each his own, but $50k spend to get a companion cert and some elite miles/dollars of a status you don’t really care about? I’d much rather put that $50k on a card that would earn UR or MR points so you have much more options. While a $99 companion cert definitely has value, we both know that it’s not worth directing $50k spend (or even 1/4th of that).

  7. Have had the card for 3 years now, but going to downgrade it to the red. Why? when you reach the spending minimums it takes you infinite phonecalls to get the miles correctly posted, the companion certificate arrives almost 3 months after your first anniversary, even though the 3x miles is a pretty attractive offer, better to use the 2x Citi AAdvantage, in case of anything happens, Citi card insurance is by far much better, I had a problem (paid for family of 5 tickets, 2 with Aviator and 3 with Citi) and The aviator card said they were not going to cover such and such, while Citi reimbursed everything (proportionally for the three tickets) in less than 10 days.
    If you have both, and you hit the spending minimum on both cards close in time, get ready to “fight” over the phone to explain Barclay how the miles should be posted, as they have absolutely no idea.

  8. You get 2 companions, not one for $99 a piece within continental US. So actual you get more than your post suggests after spending $30k per anniversary year.

  9. @Alex H: Plus when you use cash to buy a discounted business class ticket, you are treated like a revenue customer. When you redeem miles/are upgraded, you are treated as if you got the ticket “for free”.

  10. Lucky – love your posts and have learned a tremendous amount from you from what you write and advise. However, I am very confused by you at times. In this case, your actions do not correspond with what you preach. Time and time again in many posts, you talk about how staying loyal to an airline does not hold the value that it once did and how most of the airlines loyalty programs are incredibly devalued, etc., etc. Also, I just read your post about how it took 5 people and 75 minutes for AA to issue you a ticket. You complain and complain but yet you now go out of your way to upgrade a credit card in order to help you achieve a certain level of status with AA. In addition to getting the boost of EQM’s via the upgraded credit card, you elude to the fact that you plan to fly AA on many trips for the remainder of the year. Do you see where I’m going with this?? You talk out of both sides of your mouth on this issue. Why do you continue to support a company like this and why do you continue to go out of your way to achieve elite status with AA when you basically preach against it and you complain about the operations of AA? The sooner people figure out that when you STOP catering to organizations such as AA and when it effects their bottom-line ($$), that’s when things will change for the better. People like you continue to feed their mission of complacency and give them no incentive to improve as long as you continue to support them.

    Sorry if this comes across as negative and it’s not meant to be directed just at you. I just wish that people would be more honest and admit that they really do want and like the status with an airline – which is completely fine – just practice what you preach.

  11. So why even bother with status is you fly business and first all the time. You already have good seats, boarding early, etc. Maybe just add a lounge membership card or two.
    I like the Silver Aviator card for regular flyers. You also would get the 50k+ in points for the spending as well of course.

  12. Have had this card for a few years. 10K EQM, and now $6K EQD is very attractive if you fly AA especially with 3 miles per $ on AA spend. The companion certificate is cool too.

  13. Yeah Lucky, this “creative spend” sounds a lot more interesting than how heavy the metal Amex Plat is. Maybe *manufacture* a post or two about that.

  14. I’ve had this card since my US Air days and kept it all these years because it’s a great card for AA loyalists who fly a lot.

    I finally made EXP this year after many years with high spend trapped in the PLT world. Even though EXP status has been stripped of many of the great perks I will continue to pursue status until I find another program which offers more for my particular flying patterns.

    And I don’t think it’s disingenuous for Lucky to have contrasting discussions about the merits or nonsense of elite status – clearly these programs are constantly evolving and the only constant is change. For the moment, the program works for me – six months from now, maybe not.

  15. Worth to note:

    50k spend for the 6K EQD is based on CALENDAR year.
    40k spend for the 10k EQM is based on CALENDAR year.
    30k spend for the Companion Certs are based on ANNIVERSARY year.

    So “creatively” spend accordingly…

  16. EXP brings with it some unpublished perks, best of which is better treatment during irregular ops.

    That said, @Lucky, if you were going to consider pursuing status with a non-US carrier, who would be on your short list right now?

  17. I am so disillusioned with AA’s changes to EXP status that I made major changes in my strategy. Since EXP status is now worth so much less, I discontinued flying SFO-LAX on AA in favor of WN and their companion pass. I also now fly in/out of BUR or SNA depending on where my business takes me, instead of being shackled to AA’s LAX service. Don’t miss the “Eagle’s Nest” bus ride (since they downgraded all service to RJ’s).

    I also am using AS for Hawaii trips, and crediting to AS, as well as crediting some VX flying to AS. Used cash and my Systemwide Upgrades for a London vacation: we’ll see if the impossible to confirm upgrades come through. I look at seating charts weekly. Have two transcon nonstop flights booked on AA, but rather than pay for a second ticket, I booked my wife on miles for one of them.

    Declined a short trip up to Montreal on AA. Took AC instead, flying nonstop, credited to Singapore. Took two UA trips, credited them to Singapore too. Booked one direction of a December vacation on Singapore in Business using their miles and transferred in needed Chase UR points. Booked the other direction on EY in First using AA miles since I have plenty left to burn.

    Decided to can a potential second trip to Europe this year as with the loss of enthusiasm (and systemwide upgrades) I am not all that hyped to spend so many butt-in-seat miles this year. Confirmed the decision to let EXP go, and use the WN companion pass more and just save the money.

    For a guy who has been on a 20+ year business and personal 6-continents travel whirlwind, this feeling of not giving a shit about AA, UA or DL feels like a great weight lifted. It feels good. Subsequently sold my AA stock, every share. Have no airline investments as perhaps there are others just like me.

    I’ve still been out of town 6 of the year’s 14 weekends, and gotten roughly 3 business r/t’s a month; however, I did it on MY schedule, burning MY points or using the cheapest nonstops, Virgin, Southwest and other airlines, and basically kissed my loyalty to the Big 3 goodbye. A shock, but a “freeing” one: I actually kind of LIKE reading a book or magazine AT MY HOME rather than on a plane.

  18. @Alex – yes, you can get both

    @Josh – this is incorrect. I’ve gotten the EQM from Citi and Barclays part way through my cardmenber year. The companion pass is as you describe, though.

  19. You’re gonna spend $50K on that card? You got to be kidding me. This is a bunch of nonsense.

  20. Why would you want to waste time re-upping with American? It is a rare day in hell when even as EX PL I can get enough bonus miles to even equal his flight. Forget about double miles! After 10 years EX PL I left for Alaska and am not looking back. Better service, friendlier FAs, much more upgrade availabilities. AA went in the toilet fast after the merger and continues to degrade their ff program. How could you recommend someone in Phoenix to their program? Those antiques in and out of PHX are the worst in the sky. I booked two $1900 tickets to milan 325 days out with 95% open business class seats and they won’t approve my SWUs either way…usually until the day of flight if history proves true. And I used to get 40,000 miles for this trip, now it is only maybe 20,000 and everything costs more miles. The Big Three are irrelevant any more. You should have more stories on that.

  21. Dear Lucky,

    After posting, I read all the other comments…Dude, you at catching a lot of flack here, and I agree you deserve it. I have learned a lot from you and applaud much of what write, but the on and on about AMEXCO is over the top. I opened bottle of champagne the day Costco stopped taking AMEX and immediately closed my account. I’ll never have AMEX again. As a merchant, I hate their high fees and would never consider accepting their cards. Couldn’t agree more with SST’s comment. Like him, I left AA as an EXPL after 10 years. Only time I will fly them now is to spend my 1.4 million miles, and that will be quick, as fast as they are getting devalued! Us frequent flyers cannot continue to support what the Big Three are pushing over. I put my money where their poor service is and left to Alaska.

  22. I spend on my Aviator Silver all the time. They have frequent promotions so I am frequently earning 2-3x at desirable places like grocery stores.

  23. I have two of these. Anyone have definitive experi mice of earning any of the benefits on two cards?

  24. I applied for the Aviator Red back in January and was approved. I called tonight to convert it to the Silver card (over 4 month after approval) and they told me that offer wasn’t available for my card. Has anybody else been able to convert lately?

  25. Just converted to Silver today. Christopher Rusch, the offer was showing on their website after I logged into my account.

    Quick question – Does the earning prior to the upgrade on the red card apply towards my silver card EQD and EQM earnings?

  26. Yes, earning points are retro…. so, if you had 35k points as Red MC holder and when upgraded to Silver, your points move over to Silver account and can enjoy Silver benefits.

  27. @Sam Biller – I called three times in the last week and was told it wasn’t available and sent a secure message. How odd.

    Here’s the message I got back –
    We wish to kindly explain that the option to upgrade your account to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard is not available at the time; however you may receive this offer in the future. Although we are unable to complete an upgrade through our Secure Message Center, you are welcome to upgrade your account online. Once this option is available, Click the ‘Learn more’ button in the ‘UPGRADE YOUR EXPERIENCE’ section on the home page of your online profile. You are also welcome to call our Customer Care Department at 1-866-928-3075. Our agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss what options are available on your account.

  28. I just upgraded to the Silver card (in sept) and only have had the red since April. I asked about if the new benefits are effective starting my next billing cycle or back to April, and the rep asked two different managers that said since I was a newer customer it would go back to April. So that’s good! But I definitely still prefer the old US Airways. They knew how to treat their status members. Oh well. Welcome to the New American!

  29. Barclaycard sucks! I have had the card since February and every time I try to upgrade they tell me the offer isn’t available. I asked last Friday and here is what they told me.

    Thank you for contacting us regarding your AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard. We can certainly address your inquiry regarding the options available for your account.

    We regret to inform you that we do not currently have an option available to change your account to our AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are pleased to advise that additional offers may become available in the future. You may always respond to this message or contact us directly by phone to inquire about availability. Our customer service department is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-866-928-3075. We will also place a notification on our website if your account becomes eligible; this type of alert would be located below the ‘AADVANTAGE® MILES EARNED THIS PERIOD’ box on the home page of our website.

    We thank you for being a valued customer and we hope you enjoy the rest of your week. If you have any other questions or concerns, please reply to this message.

  30. My EQMs and EQDs posted (on 8 Oct) once I hit the spending marks. Interesting that my next statement isn’t until 16 Oct. Of note, I upgraded to Silver in Sept and all the spending on the Red card from earlier in the calendar year (Jan-Aug) counted to the thresholds.

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