Ouch: American Slashes Barclaycard EQD Earning Potential

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage

Over the past few years, the “big three” US airlines have made qualifying for status more complicated. Airlines have not only started awarding redeemable miles based on how much you spend rather than how much you fly, but they’ve also added an EQD (elite qualifying dollar) requirement.

In other words, to earn status you not only need to fly a certain amount, but also need to spend a certain amount.

In the case of American AAdvantage, the requirements to earn status are as follows:

GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
25K EQMs or 30 EQSs50K EQMs or 60 EQSs75K EQMs or 90 EQSs100K EQMs or 120 EQSs
$3k EQDs$6k EQDs$9k EQDs$12k EQDs

The good news is that it has been possible to earn EQDs through credit card spend with select Barclaycard products.


  • The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card has offered up to 6,000 EQDs per year — 3,000 when you spend $25,000, and another 3,000 when spending another $25,000
  • The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red and Aviator Blue Cards have offered up to 3,000 EQDs per year — 3,000 when you spend $25,000

Well, American has just announced that they’re devaluing the ability to earn EQDs through credit card spend as of 2019. Starting in 2019:

  • You’ll no longer be able to earn any EQDs for spend on the Aviator Red or Aviator Blue Cards
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver Cardmembers will be eligible to earn only a total of 3,000 EQDs after spending $50,000 on purchases per calendar year — they’re basically doubling the spend requirement to earn 3,000 EQDs, and they’re also halving the number of EQDs you can earn through credit card spend

American’s 777 first class

These changes are effective January 1, 2019, for Blue, Red, and Silver cardmembers who opened their accounts prior to January 1, 2018. Meanwhile they’re effective January 1, 2020, for cardmembers who opened their accounts between January 1, 2018 and October 31, 2018.

American also says that further new benefits will be announced for the cards in 2019, though they don’t yet have the details of what those benefits will be. I’m not putting much weight on that, though it sure is disappointing that they’re announcing this change without any sort of a silver lining.

Bottom line

This is yet another negative change to the American AAdvantage program. As American’s stock price is near a 12 month low and the airline completely lacks a vision, they’re alienating their loyal customers who go for status.

I put spend on the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card specifically for this. You can bet I won’t be putting $50,000 of spend on the card to earn just 3,000 EQDs, so they’ll not only be losing my spend, but also losing the money I spend every year on the card’s annual fee.

The experience of flying Delta domestically is just so much better than flying with American, so I’m always looking for something that pushes me over the edge in making me switch my business. I’m sure getting close…

Did you put spend on Barclaycard Aviator Cards to earn EQDs? How will this change impact you?

  1. Wow! That’s insane. I was very strategic this year about putting spend on the card for the EQD. Certainly won’t next year.
    Agree with you – this might put me over the edge.

  2. The reality is that most are captive to their home airport – I’m a biz traveler and I have really no options out of PHX – American or SW really and I cringe @ cattle call seating for biz travel (and frankly SW isn’t any cheaper most of the time). I’d prefer to NOT fly American but what other choice do I really have?

  3. Huge cut for me – as a marketing professional, I spend a TON on work expenses for trade show expenses and the like, and I used this card for $50k of it to qualify for Executive Plat this year. This benefit was a major reason I haven’t jumped ship to Delta, since the MQD waiver bar is impossible for me for Diamond. This may finally be the reason I jump ship.

  4. Does anyone seriously think FF programs will even exist in five years?

    I mean, seriously, they’re reaching the point where it’s simply not worth collecting or spending them anymore.

  5. As an EXP who earns status from flying (both EQM/EQD) I am happy about this change.

    1. It removes those who depends on $6K EQDs from CC spend to attain EXP out of the equation.

    2. Now that priority is based on 12 month rolling EQD this also will cut EQD levels for those who used this benefit thereby elevating my priority level within my status level.

    Yes this change sucks for some but not for me. Don’t worry I am sure AA is going to bring some more bad changes in the coming weeks for 2019 that nothing will matter anymore about staying with AA. My gut this will turn out to be a tiny negative change for many at the end.

  6. You have to ask Doug Parker what is he thinking. I guess low balling UA DL way of 25k waiver with just 3k EQD is not bad enough. They probably have too many elite frequent flyer (isn’t that a good thing by the way?) and wanted to get rid of more. I understand UA DL way of making the top tier hard to attain to maintain exclusivity, AA doesn’t make it that easy for even the lower tiers.

    Guess what, upgrade these day are hard to come by for EXP 1K DM anyway, good luck having a much lower tier. Now the lower elites from AA will flock to DL (cause UA is worse, no one switches to UA).

  7. Ahahahaha a paltry 3000 EQDs for $50k spend. Nah, I’ll buy a Cessna instead and cancel my Aviator Silver at year end. Voting with your feet is the best way to send a message.

  8. @ Mark — One of the benefits of status is upgrades, including being able to use systemwide upgrades from business to first class.

  9. I’m just waiting for the award chart/SWU deval when they add PE awards. Then we’ll be near rock bottom, because rock bottom is what we’re going for.

  10. Amazing that things keep spiraling downward on Aadvantage loyalty.
    (Although, I did find that in 2018, it was more difficult to reach EQMs and not EQDs.)
    I think there is no benefit (really) to being AA ExPlat. There is no special treatment. When we board, its always Concierge Key first then in a matter of seconds, it moves to 1, 2, 3, 4…… and with the hoards at the front its nearly impossible to be kind/ gracious to board in order. Free drink or food as ExPlat is a joke. We never check bags.
    Therefore, in 2019, if we want to fly to LAX we will buy a full fare ticket. Same will be true to a Europe or Asia trip. I would expect saving about $5,000 a year.

  11. This was one of the distinguishing features between the Barclay AA cards and the Citi AA cards… Can’t imagine Barclay would go along with this change willingly! I’m also someone who put spend on my Aviator Silver card for the EQD….makes the decision whether to renew or not MUCH simpler!

  12. @D

    you state referring to SW : I cringe @ cattle call seating

    Aside from the fact that SW does not have premium economy or biz class, their boarding process (which is what I think you are referring to as the cattle call) is way better than United or American’s group boarding. You get a unique boarding sequence number and you don’t need to stand in line until that literally number is called to board.

    Try it some time

  13. @305 – You nailed it, “because rock bottom is what we’re going for.” I say that, or something similar on every damn AA flight I take these days and the once a year traveler sitting next to me doesn’t understand.

    @conway – Maybe Barclays will replace the lost 25k EQD benefit with an inflatable seat cushion that you can use on the spectacular new DCCXXXVII MAXsuckage aircraft.

  14. “This is yet another negative change to the American AAdvantage program.”

    Nope. This is good news for those of us who actually earn status by flying.

    The shift to CC partnerships has not been a positive trend for maintaining the value/benefit of elite programs within FFPs.


    An AA EXP

  15. Wow, between this change and the massive Citi downgrade to AA lounges access last week I’ll be cancelling Both my Exec and Aviator Silver next year! $650 back in my pocket, and I’m just beyond done with aiming for AA status anymore, there’s NOTHING left of value. AA SWUs are worthless with the reduction in J seats AA is pushing forward with, and the lack of confirmable C space in advance. If you’re not going to get any status or mileage benefits, one might as well travel on an airline with a respectable product… Bye AA, hello DL!

  16. Well, this will pretty much end my American loyalty after 2019; I’m close to requalifying this year.

  17. “further new benefits”
    Yea right. It’s time to give up on this card and on AA as an airline.
    Great job pushing your customers away Doug Parker.

  18. Have you considered moving to Qatar as they have a 3x status credits promo on, all you need is roundtrip business aus to eu and you’re there

  19. I personally hate this card – it is the worst card in my wallet and I am cancelling it this year after I get my EQDs. I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve and my Costco card for everything these days. Tired of being loyal to AA when they do nothing but take away.

  20. @ Ben — Can’t say I am surprised. I guess our tax payments will move to AMEX Blue Biz Plus and Hyatt cards next year.

  21. Interesting. So when are they going to tell customers? Because I have the BarclayCard Red and just cancelled a couple of other cards (in part to get my credit limits under control) in favor of keeping this one for the very reason that putting all my spend on this care would earn me EQDs. I shouldn’t be surprised. None of the legacy carriers are trying to be better than the other. They are all looking for the next best way to take away from the customer experience. I might agree with you about Delta if American wasn’t so convenient for my home and typical destination airports But, apart from the fact that any Delta flight I have taken over the past few years has been on the most broken down boats in the sky (flight to Europe – no reading lights were working, no sound for the TV, water dripping from AC, etc. and the crew could not care less)…. didn’t they start the whole EQD concept?

  22. Wow – I had just upgraded to the Silver card this year for that reason and the EQM. I guess I’ll be dropping this card and just using the chase freedom unlimited for all my “other spend.”

    Wonder if Delta will follow suit on their cards with a EQD waiver downgrade?

  23. Sucks. The ONLY reason I got this card was for the EQD. I’m EXP, but sometimes I easily make 100K miles and am slightly short of EQD. Bye Bye Barclay Card.

  24. As stated plenty of times above, EQDs was the ONLY reason to have this particular card. As soon as I get notified officially of this change I will be calling Barclays and canceling, immediately. Oh, and I won’t be using AAdvantage Citi either unless miraculously they get a card with EQDs after $25K spend. $50K spend is ridiculous for $3000 EQD. My home airport has plenty of options for airlines so I’m not stuck with AA.

  25. It’s actually way, way way overdue. Individual travelers cannot compete with business owners who rack up millions of miles with business product purchases. Personally, I think the airlines ought to cut out mileage based on spend and actually reward their loyal frequent flyers for flights taken.

  26. I’ll be cancelling the red card as well. I would have made ex plat without it, but put spend on it to increase my rolling EQDs and upgrade odds. Not any more.

  27. well, the 10% rebate on Award tickets (up to 10,000) is still a valid arguement to keep the Barclays Aviator card.

  28. @R B they’ll never go back your not as rewarding of a customer as a guy that buys full fare refundable J tickets once a month to Europe/Asia and F tickets for some domestic. That guy is giving the airline way more revenue at a sliver of the cost as he’s only taking about half as many flights

  29. Based on the limited info coming out, combined with the changes last week to the Citi Exec (Admiral’s Club membership), it seems like AA is pitting its banks against each other, and we’ll probably see Citi coming out with an EQD waiver soon. Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s $50k spend for 3k EQD as well, which just makes me roll my eyes.

  30. Cry me a river!

    I’m with Air Canada, and there is only one way to earn Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD), and that is to spend on AC metal. There is no way to earn these with partners of any sort, least of all with credit cards. Oh, and top tier elite status (Super Elite) is earned with 100k miles and $20,000 AQD.


  31. Wow one devaluation after another. Seems like they are on a roll. In less than two weeks, the devaluation of Admirals Club membership and now this. Good going AA for punishing your most loyal customers. Pushing us out…

  32. I will still make over $12K spend with the reduction to $3K only. But it will push me down to the bottom of the EXP list. My AA upgrade rate as EXP (at $16K spend) has dropped to zero for mid-cons. I only get upgrades on 12 seat RJ/CRs.

    I have been considering giving up EXP and dropping to Plat or my LT Gold and just return to UA.

    With the Lounge access changes for AA Club, combined with this, I might just drop AA – only keep a low end AA card and give up AA Club since I will drop AA except for East Coast (N/S) short routes.

    Looks like it makes sense to get the Aviator Business and drop the Silver card.

    All these changes make me wonder whether it Is worth tracking all this stuff. Just fly when I need to, buy cheap F fares, and move to UA with all the Lifetime benefits I have.

  33. This won’t help with any qualifying miles or status efforts.
    But I called up Barclay’s AA line to cancel my AA Aviator card after particularly disgusting flights with AA and they offered to switch me to an AA card with no fees. Then they have kept upping my supposed spend limit.

  34. I seem to have the opposite issue than most here – enough EQD but sometimes a bit short on EQM and for this reason the EQM waiver (5000 and 10,000 miles) is very useful. Does that stay or go? Another day, another way to screw loyalty. What’s next?

  35. It’s $195 fee for the silver, and worth keeping for sure. Especially as an AA captive.

    I buy last minute work flights, so I don’t have a problem reaching the EQDs requirement. I do take a bunch of short hauls and the EQMs bonus help me – alot. It was the difference between PLT and PLTPro last year.

    Between the triple miles on AA metal, the 10K rebate on award tickets, and the two $99 companion passes (which were worth $1,600 on family tickets last year), this card pays for its annual fee 10X over with only $30K of spend.

    Lucky, really wish you would cover this card.

  36. I just opened an Aviator Red Card three weeks ago specifically for this purpose. And of course now if I close it since it has zero use to me, I’ll take a hit to my credit. Thanks, AA!

  37. I also signed up for this card solely for the EQD benefit which I’m hoping to use to attain Platinum Pro status this year.
    For those of you who have the card already, how long does it take the EQD’s to post to your Advantage account and if they don’t post until after Dec 31, 2018 will they still count towards your 2019 status? E.G. If I charge the $25,000 on Dec 30, 2018 and pay my bill on that date, will the $3000 EQD’s that get applied in early 2019 count towards the status for 2018 (So I’d have Platinum Pro for 2019)?

  38. I would call the number on the back of the card. They seem to be on top of the program and are good at answering these questions. My $3,000 EQDs posted after the statement closed when I hit $25k…

  39. I just got off the phone with Barclay’s to cancel the Red card because of the EQD pull. The rep encouraged me to keep the card to see if there were any positive changes coming in 2019. When I said no thanks, she said she would waive the $95 annual fee and give me 5,000 Aadvantage miles if I spent $1,000 in the next 90 days. I consider this a free option so I said fine. I’ll play along for a bit and see what their next step is, though I’m not willing to spend $50k for $3000 EQDs…

  40. Have just received my annual fee notice for my Aviator Silver card.
    Under the travel reward it shows EQMs (5,000 for each $20k spend , max 10,000 for $40k) same as this year.

    Not good – will review my estimated travel for next year and if I don’t need the EQMs will drop that card like a hot cake.

    May also be able to drop my Citi Elite if I don’t need those EQMs and allocate all $90,000 spend on those cards to either AmEx or Chase for decent rewards. AND save the fees – I have no need for Admirals Clubs – where I travel the Centurion lounges are just fine….

  41. if you apply for the red aviator card and get approved, will you get the bonus miles if you have the card previously (within 24 mos), the terms say you “may not be eligible”

  42. Oh my god. I am retired but worked at a job that required me to fly about one week a month for over 30 years. It was all domestic and usually in coach. You people and your points and upgrades and credit cards and deals and obsession over all this makes me laugh and also feel very sad. Your “trials” are so silly based on my experiences of the past few years where I lost three loved ones, including a grandchild, to untimely and tragic deaths. Please have some perspective and look beyond your petty concerns about a missed meal or a two hour delay and wilted lettuce on a salad. I’d crawl through broken glass and skip meals for a week to see my loved ones again… And you are whining that you MIGHT have to sit in coach? Grow the f up.

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