When pursuing points and miles using credit card sign-up bonuses, you soon accumulate a lot of credit cards. I was accustomed to carrying multiple cards before I became immersed in these rewards, but the number of cards I currently hold has tripled. As an early-year task, I decided to undertake a top-to-bottom review of my open accounts in order to decide if any should be closed. There are more than a few credit card products on the market that I would like to obtain, so I want to strategize how to adjust my card portfolio in 2018. In a series of posts, I will review the cards I hold from various issuers and decide if it's time to close any. Part of my review will assess how an existing card combines with any new cards I am considering. Because potential cards can impact a keep-or-cancel decision, I will mention relevant products that are on my radar, but I will postpone a full analysis until I am ready to adjust my collection. Previously, I provided background to frame my analyses and reviews of my suite of American Express, Chase and Citibank cards. Today, my last installment will look at my lone Barclays card.
Evaluating my Credit Card Portfolio series
Barclays does not have burdensome rules such as those of other banks, especially American Express and Chase. Generally, you cannot currently hold the card for which you are applying, but there isn’t a set limit on the number of Barclays cards you can have open, and you can even apply for multiple cards in a day. Some reports on reddit suggest that you can even close an Aviator account and be approved for a new card with sign-up bonus in a matter of months.
My card - AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard
The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is my only Barclays points and miles card (I have an unused Apple Rewards card that derived from a promotional financing account I opened with Apple several years that I will not review here). I originally applied for the US Airways Premier World Mastercard in 2015 when Barclays issued US Airways cobranded cards. The card offered an easy 50,000 US Airways Dividend Miles by simply making one purchase and paying an $89 annual fee. With the US Airways-American Airlines merger imminent, these miles would soon convert to American AAdvantage miles. A common tactic recommended on many points and mile blogs at the time was to apply for this card and the Citi AAdvantage Mastercard. The US Airways product eventually converted to its current branding, leaving me with two similar AAdvantage cards. I ultimately decided to keep the Barclays card and close the Citi version.
Let's look at the benefits of Aviator Red card and the value I receive from it:
- 2x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases
- 1x AAdvantage miles on all other purchases
- 10% rebate on AAdvantage miles redeemed (up to 10,000 rebated each calendar year)
- $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars toward AAdvantage status after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year
- 25% off in-flight purchases on American flights when charged to the card
- First checked bag free
- Preferred boarding for cardmember and up to four companions on the same reservation for all American Airlines operated flights
- No foreign transaction fees
There is a $95 annual fee.
My value perspective for this card is similar to the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard discussed in my Citi cards review. Just as I get value from the Delta Amex card , an American flyer would benefit by holding this card. However, I rarely fly American since I live in Atlanta and am primarily loyal to Delta, so the travel benefits of the card do not justify the annual fee. Also, even if I did fly American, I could get better points-earning, e.g., triple points on travel with my Chase Ink Business Preferred, when buying airfare. There are two incentives of the card that do give me pause, however, on whether to close the account.
Keep or close
Barclays regularly offers spending promotions, including the opportunity for 15,000 bonus AAdvantage miles in January 2016. At a value of 1.4 cents per mile, 15,000 miles are worth $210. That covers the annual fee, though I have not received an offer for a bonus that large in two years. Also, the points rebate is very attractive. A single round-trip business class award could provide the full 10,000 mile rebate, itself worth $140. While I have not used an American Airlines award ticket in almost two years, I have a stash of American miles that I could use for my next overseas booking.
Closing too many accounts at once can reduce credit limit, which increases credit utilization, which depresses credit score. Because I intend to close one Chase card and have a Citi card already on the chopping block, I am hesitant to do the same with the Barclays Aviator Red card at this time. Besides the possibility for spending promos and the rebate could provide real value in the coming year. Hence, I will keep this account open, at least until after I complete other account changes, even if that means one more annual fee. Of course, I will be quick to close once there is no significant negative impact on my credit score since I can reportedly earn another large cache of American AAdvantage miles by reapplying in the future!