American 10% Mileage Rebate Ending On All Credit Cards

Filed Under: American, Credit Cards

American Airlines has co-branded credit cards from both Barclays and Citi, and historically several of the cards have offered a useful 10% rebate on mileage redemptions.

The way this worked:

  • Eligible cardmembers received a 10% refund on redeemed miles, for a total of up to 10,000 refunded miles per calendar year
  • This was valid for all mileage redemptions, including partner award redemptions
  • The miles would typically post within a few weeks of when the award was ticketed
  • You could receive this benefit at most once per year per AAdvantage account, so if you had multiple eligible cards with this benefit, you could still receive a maximum of 10,000 refunded miles per year

The rebate even applied for partner award redemptions

For those of us who redeem 100,000+ American miles per year, this is essentially an opportunity to earn 10,000 extra American miles per year.

Personally I value American miles at ~1.4 cents each, so I’ve gotten $140 per year of value out of this benefit. Furthermore, I found this to be a reason to hold onto an American card with a sub-$100 annual fee, since you’re getting outsized value right there.

Well, it has now been announced that the 10% AAdvantage mileage rebate will be eliminated on all cards as of May 1, 2019. This applies to both Barclays and Citi cards. I recently wrote about the changes happening to Barclays cards as of that point, and now we know the elimination of the 10% rebate is being extended to Citi as well.

So redemptions through the end of April will continue to be eligible for the benefit, while redemptions after that won’t be eligible.

This is a real shame, in my opinion:

  • I don’t find it worthwhile to actually put spend on any co-brand American Airlines credit cards anymore (I used to put spend on the Aviator Silver to earn EQDs, but they reduced the earnings rates and it’s no longer worthwhile)
  • The cards can be worth having for someone who values priority boarding and a first checked bag fee, but as an elite member that doesn’t get me much value

For many this was the single most valuable benefit of having an AAdvantage card

So as an elite member the 10% rebate was really the one reason to have an AAdvantage credit card, and that won’t be the case anymore.

Will the elimination of the 10% mileage rebate impact if you hold onto a co-brand American Airlines card?

  1. Closing 3 cards after 10 plus years
    Their International partner awards are already to expensive compared to other program
    And their stingy to begin with on all awards
    This is a 10% increase when redeeming up to the first 100;000 miles
    I can say American is consistent in making me hate near 100% of everything they do
    I feel 100% zero loyalty to them as a Lifetime Plat and spend tens of thousands regularly at other carriers to avoid giving them a wooden nickel
    This only reinforces all that

  2. downgrading to mileup card – still may try to get the executive one for admirals club access since I live in an AA hub city and travel 25-50% of the time

  3. Is there a better card to earn AA miles? AA doesn’t have any amazing transfer partners (just Amex?).

  4. Easy call to downgrade or cancel. I keep the AA card open due to the 10% rebate while I keep the United card open due to expanded award availability. Take either of those away and the card is worthless to me

  5. American’s rush to the absolute bottom continues. Gee thanks Doug Parker. You have single-handedly ruined American Airlines…but I’m quite sure you laugh all the way to the bank. Watch out! What goes around comes around. Can’t wait for you to get yours.

  6. @ Alonzo — No changes have been announced to the business cards, and the business cards also don’t offer the 10% rebate benefit.

  7. Alonzo, I thought the business cards didn’t get the 10% rebate anyway. (The Aviator business does give you a 5% annual bonus on miles earned, but that’s not even close to the same thing.)

  8. given that the benefit is administered per calendar year, they really shouldn’t be changing this until january 1, 2020.

  9. AA is being petty, probably gonna cancel my citi card. Kept it open for a while now even though I haven’t really flown on AA for the past 2 years.

  10. The AA elites, especially those in the top tiers, would presumably be most apt to spend large amounts on credit cards so you would think that at least one bank would have at least one card that would cater to that group. But instead they seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Incentives such as free luggage, food/drink credits, early boarding, etc., are meaningless to this group. Moreover, even with a few slightly increased bonus spending categories, there is still little incentive for anyone with that level of spending to put actual spend on these cards because of the many better options. Even the premium-priced Executive Platinum card has only one real benefit (i.e., lounge access), which is also being significantly limited later this year; moreover, elites (who are often flying on premium tickets) are often getting AA lounge access anyway via the ticket and on Oneworld partners (with better lounges) via status.

    So the only arrows in the banks’ quiver up to now were the mileage rebate (which was frankly a pittance, as many elites presumably redeem far more than 100k miles in a year, but still a 10k rebate is better than nothing) and the EQD/EQM bonuses, both of which are being eviscerated. Instead of brand loyalty from the biggest spenders, it’s engendering bitterness, which the comments here alone make crystal clear.

    If either bank would offer a premium card that had something like 5x AA miles on AA spending + 3x (or 4x) for dining and other travel (and maybe some other bonus categories) + 2x for all other spending + Admirals Club access + decent EQM or EQD bonus opportunities + 10% mileage rebate up to 250k in redemptions (or 5% up to 500k in redemptions) + some kind of decent travel/delay protection, I’d go for it in a heartbeat, even if the annual fee were in the $750 to $1,000 ball park. I’d drop a lot of other cards and consolidate spending on this one card.

    If anyone from Citi is reading this (which I presume they might), see above for the model that will bring in and keep the high-spending elites to your Executive Platinum card (or a newly re-fashioned more-premium card). The increased merchant fees alone should more than compensate for the cost of added benefits, even if the $450 price is retained. Add to that the additional interest accrued by those who don’t pay balance in full (I personally know some with the EP card who fall into this category) and breakage of benefits for some, and you’d be making a mint, likely stealing quite a few from the CSR and AmEx Platinum/Gold ranks. If you can do 5x on the Prestige card, why can you not replicate that for AA?

  11. @Mark, yes, you can downgrade to the no-fee Aviator (white) card, or at least you could as of a few months ago, because I did it. (I think I read somewhere recently that it might no longer be possible, so call and ask.)

    @Nicole I wish there were good ways to earn AA miles on cards. SPG cards used to be a passable option, but no more. Amex is not a transfer partner.

    If I had to fly AA regularly, which happily I do not, I’d get the Chase Sapphire Reserve + Freedom Unlimited combo, and when there are AA saver awards, I’d book them via British Airways, who are a Chase transfer partner. When there aren’t saver awards, I’d buy the ticket outright by paying with Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents per point. I recently wrote a whole blog post about this that gave me only a minor headache:

  12. My engagement with AA is largely done through the Amex Platinum card. I fly a few AA flights a year – long haul flights are usually paid first class, so I have baggage. When I am not booking business trips via corporate card, I am buying tickets on the Platinum and earning 5x mileage. I also use the $200 fees to pay for various fees (in my case, AAdmirals club day passes so far this year). BA Avios can be used to book one-off saver fares. You can also buy miles using the Amex Platinum and earn 5x miles. If you want to earn AA miles with spending, Mileup seems as good as any card.

  13. I can understand the economics behind this from AA’s point of view, but they don’t look like they understand people will stop spending on the card.

    So basically a free bag is the main perk of the card for $99 with no incentive for spend. I wonder how long until they come out with another profit warning that their frequent flyer program generated even less money than they expected.

    I would expect next year that the free bag perk will be gone. Isn’t that really the only thing left that is “costing” them money?

    It’ll be a $99 fee for priority boarding and decreasing the miles earned to 1 mile for every $2 spend.

  14. I have both Citi and Barclarys, and just did a redemption (6K returned). Both coming due. Last year kept the Barclays with no fee and some extra miles for spend. So, if they offer that at least, maybe I’ll keep it. Citi card gives me 2X for gas, but now that’s other cards, too. Have the miles-up card, so there’s that…..

  15. Just paid monthly fee 2 months ago solely to get the 10% reimbursement. Going to be seeing what (if any) retention offers are available.

  16. @Lucky – any news on what, if anything, Citi plans to replace this benefit with? At least Barclays announced some new (if not very good) benefits…

  17. How can they change benefits on newly issued cards midterm? Barclays is still giving 6k Eqm for 50k spend on cards that were issued for the first time recently.

  18. Barclays has waived the annual fee on the Aviator red for me the past two years. Coming up for renewal again, so we’ll see if they bite again. Also, perhaps not-so-coincidentally, I was just emailed an offer for 1K AA miles if I put $250 on my Aviator Red in March and April (so $500 total). Been a while since they offered one of these bonuses…

  19. I had the Citi AA card for many years (though I only fly AA occasionally) and only recently decided to ditch it before the annual fee posted. I was only using it for AA purchases, mostly full-fare business class to EZE, so I wasn’t getting any perks out of it.

    I was expecting to be connected to a retention specialist when I followed the prompts to cancel, but instead I got an automated “OK, bye!” *shrug*

  20. Between this and losing a lot of access to the Admiral’s Club with the Exec Platinum card change it appears that my CC fees will be $650 lower (Citi AA, Citi Exec Plat, Barclay AA) going forward. I have been gravitating toward Delta anyway.

    Perhaps, as someone suggested above, the Amex Platinum is the way to go. I can get the 5X points on the rare occasions that I fly AA and cover bag fees with the credit. Plus, access to more lounges, Uber credit, bonus points, and some more stuff that I have forgotten about.

    Don’t like these changes in both my Admirals Club access and the redemption bonuses but, in a way, they are stark enough that there is no ambiguity about what to do.

  21. AASucks, I have the Silver and I got a offer for 2.5k miles for $1k spend in both March and April ($2k total).

    We’re all on the same hamster wheel. Afraid to step off.

  22. I remember the days, not so long ago, when AA miles were a really important part of my card strategy because I could save thousands on premium cabin SAAver award flights. Every penny counted. Fast forward to this day, getting a premium award flight in J overseas can easily cost 350,000 miles. And as an EXP I normally rack up 500,000 miles and four SWUs per year, an amount that would have been astronomical a few years back and given me six or seven premium redemptions , today, the SWUs expire because I can’t use them for ANYTHING and the mileage is only good for one, maybe two premium cabin long haul flights. As for Barclays, they had a good thing going and they blew it – it’s hard to believe they will not lose the majority of their cardholders with this and the previous downgrades. These “enhancements” are insulting to anyone with two or more active brain cells. They should have put a spend requirement of say, $25,000 on the 10,000 mile award redemption and current card holders might stay and spend more on the card.

  23. Got hubby the mile-up no AF card and I have AA Exec for Admirals Club access o we’re good. On Barclay Card is Lufthansa. I’ve started a Citi & Barcla 24 month reset.

    Now let me go read your Hilton AmEx Plat offers

  24. Why is AA trying to kill the Golden Goose?

    In their quarterly reports AA has been quite open about the fact that they don’t make any money on their flights at all. 100% of their profits come from the sale of miles.

    That being true, what are we to make of their dropping the 10% rebate, and increasing the FC TATL award price (in many months) from 140K to 175K, and often even 215K. Searching JFK-LHR for 2 FC OW Awards, from Aug 29 thru Oct 28, the only OW award prices are 175 and 215K.

    It makes no sense to even consider buying OW with cash, and OW with miles, since the price of a retail OW is the same or greater than the price of a RT. So if you want to take your SO RT TATL in FC, that requires at least 700K, or maybe even 860K miles, during many months of the year. Yes a Corporate CEO of a multi-national corporation may accrue that many miles in a year. But having done so, will probably not want to even think about doing another long haul flight, “free” or not.

    But trying to get 700K (or more) miles with credit card signups plus lots of domestic business flying is totally beyond the grasp of the normal road warrior.

    Flying in J is a bit better, as the lowest Anytime award price (135K) is available about half the time. So ONLY 540K miles for a pair of J RT TATL awards. Assuming you go the days AA wants you to go.

    Why does AA expect any normal people to even care about the DisAAdvantage program anymore. My guess is that as more and more folks find out how utterly absurd the Award prices are for anything other than Economy trips to Orlando with the kids, fewer and fewer of them will care. And that Econ trip to Orlando will be cheaper and more comfortable on SW anyway. 😉

  25. I still have a Citi card (free) that gives me 2 miles per $ spent on AA travel. But I cancelled both Barclays & Executive the past few years. I have a Discover IT mileage which gives 3 miles per $ spent the first year. I was SHOCKED by how much I spent on that card in the first year. Literally tens of thousands of dollars which otherwise would have gone to an AA credit card. And I am shifting international travel to OW carriers vs AA. (I just changed and flew MIA-JFK-HKG CX instead of via DFW on AA. While the hard product (mattress pads) is a bit nicer, the service & food was so much better on CX.

  26. If this does happen, I will be canceling my Citibank AAdvantage card on my next renewal. I travel to Asia quite a bit from ORD and there are numerous inexpensive RT fares to be had on foreign carriers. I’ll use up my miles and simply pay cash for a ticket.

  27. I used this 10% last year and this year.

    On December 2018, First class via CX from ORD to HKG is 110K miles. Only paid 101K miles because AA agent immediately deducted 10% benefit while booking.

    Then January 2019, I used it again for SIN-DOH-CMN via QR. Mileage requirement is 70k but received 7k back few days after because of 10% benefit.

  28. @Lucky, you never addressed the (potential?) loss of the 10k anniversary bonus miles for the legacy US Airways cards that got converted to Aviator Red cards. Any word on that?

  29. Wow. I’ve had my citi card since 1991. I even had my picture on the card for many years. (It was an early 90s thing.)

    Now, I’ll be canceling it. Just can’t justify the annual fee. Bye.

  30. Husband and I have 3 Barclays (old US airways) cards. Do I need to keep one at least for frequent AA domestic flights free bags(usually take golf clubs so have to check bags). Also fly to Caribbean a few times a year with checked golf clubs but AA doesn’t consider that either domestic OR international so have to pay fees. What are my other options for free bags? Airport is very small so have to fly AA often. These fees really add up for the 2 of us. Suggestions?

  31. I think the AAdcantage program has been secretly overtaken by Delta operatives seeking to destroy it from the inside. Only reason they’d sully the program so much.

  32. I had be contemplating dropping this card anyway…this change gaurentees I will. Nice work, AA and Citi.

  33. After loosing the AA awards discount, I Just tried to “downsize” to a no-fee card. I was told they have temporarily stopped issuing any free cards until after March 4th. She began to rattle off some of the enhancements being made ($25 wifi statement credit, $99 companion ticket, bring your monkey-for-free days, etc.) but I wasn’t interested in hearing the details.

  34. I blame the Russians for this ongoing destruction of the DisAAdvantage program.

    Obviously Putin has some incriminating video of Parker, and is using it to force him to progressively dismantle the DisAAdvantage program, so as to give Aeroflot a competitive advantage.

    And don’t go calling me a conspiracy theorist. I have copies of the emails to prove it. which I will be releasing next August. 😉

  35. @Robert Hanson – I gotta say, as a single, 20-something male… I imagine that a Southwest Airlines flight to Orlando is one of the levels of hell in Dante’s Inferno or something…

    Pretty sure it’d be boarding Position B01, and still a middle seat in the back row because of family boarding… I mean I’ve never done it, but I just picture it to be a flying daycare haha.

  36. I’m kinda stuck. I’ve had the Citi AA card for over 20 years and it’s really helping my average age of accounts. My Barclays AA card was converted from the US Airways card that earns 10K bonus miles each year I pay the annual fee so I don’t think I want to let that go either as AA would charge me $330 outright. If that perq goes away then the Aviator Red card is gone.

  37. @Tommy Shane Smith “a Southwest Airlines flight to Orlando is one of the levels of hell in Dante’s Inferno or something”.
    And why would flying SW, with a seat pitch of 31/32 inches, be worse than flying AA economy with a pitch of 30 inches, and half of the padding removed from the seats? Not to mention that SW FAs are typically sooo much nicer than AA FAs.

    If you pay $20 for one person for SW Early Bird boarding, that family member can pick a row for the rest, who will board in group B family boarding. If you’re too cheap to spend the $20, or have several children traveling with you, in most cases the group B Family boarding will still let your family get their own row/s, just further back. Rarely would that end up being the very back.

    We always fly FC when on long haul Intercontinental flights. But for flights of less than 2 hours, we don’t mind using our totally refundable SW miles at all. Just remember to bring along your own caviar. 😉

    And of course, I wasn’t promoting SW to Orlando as aspirational travel. My point was for most people, with the greatly devalued AA awards, following the large previous AA devaluations, economy to Orlando is about all someone with normal travel can hope to earn with AA miles. Especially if they hope to bring along a SO, much less children as well.

    AA FC TATL went from 58K Saver, to 85K Saver, to 140K Anytime, to now in some cases for months at a time 175K to 215K. ONE WAY. That would take 700,000 to 860,000 miles for a couple to fly FC RT. Just pathetic news for a couple who has been saving up for a ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ together on AA. 🙁

  38. One thing that I think that is missing from this is the Citi reduced Mileage Awards. When you actually can get SAAver availability, they can provide some great value! It can be a pain to book them, but I use them at least 1-2 times a year.

  39. I have the Barclays Aviator Card. Had it for about 5 years. I downgraded to the no fee option several years back. No free bags but good to keep miles from expiring.

    The most incredible feature of this card is the balance transfer. Only a 1% fee, and has been for years. That gives you 0% for about a year. It is our consolidation card. Can’t resist that offer.

  40. I just re-read the info from my Barclays card and those of us who were getting the 10K annual bonus for renewing will be losing that too. We’ll get it one more time after May 1, so once I get that bonus I’m canceling the card.

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