Co-branded airline cards were suffering.
As new cards kept arriving that offered the ability to transfer points into real airline miles (that are worth significantly more than points that can’t be transferred into airline miles), often with lower annual fees, that also earn more miles per dollar than on the airline card, the co-branded cards were becoming completely useless. Even though they often offer double miles for purchases on their airline, other cards do even better than that for airfare.
–Starwood effectively earns 1.25 miles per dollar spent.
–Starwood business earns those 1.25 miles per dollar plus has Open Savings for up to 10% automatic cash back at places like HP, Microsoft, Fedex, Hyatt, and more on top of points.
–Premier Rewards Gold earns 3 miles per dollar on airfare and 2 miles per dollar on gas and groceries and a 15,000 point bonus when you spend $30,000 in a year, effectively making all purchases worth at least 1.5 miles per dollar if you can reach that threshold.
–Freedom with Exclusives earns 1.1 miles per dollar spent plus 10 miles per transaction and 5 miles per dollar in rotating categories (currently for grocery stores-and of course for gift cards sold at grocery stores).
–Sapphire Preferred earns 1.07 miles per dollar spent and 2.14 or 3.21 miles per dollar spent on dining, airfare, hotels, and car rentals.
–Ink Bold, Ink Cash, and Ink Classic earn 5 miles per dollar on office supplies (and gift cards sold at those stores) and on cable and telecom bills and 2 miles per dollar on gas and hotels.
To combat that Delta and United spruced up their offerings with benefits that make it worth having their cards.
–United MileagePlus Explorer gives the first checked bag for free you and a companion, priority boarding, the ability to always redeem for a standard award, your miles will never expire, 2 club passes every anniversary, and in a bid to make their card more competitive, a 10,000 miles bonus every year if you spend $25,000, which makes your effective earning at least 1.4 miles per dollar. The other big benefit they add is free primary car rental CDW coverage, as nearly every other credit card only gives coverage secondary to your own personal car insurance coverage.
-Delta AMEX gives the first checked bag for free for you and 8 companions and priority boarding as well. Plus it gives 20% off on food and entertainment spending on Delta flights. No real incentive to put any spending on the card though.
-Delta business gives the same as the consumer card, plus has Open Savings for up to 10% automatic cash back at places like HP, Microsoft, Fedex, Hyatt, and more on top of points.
The AA card didn’t offer any compelling reason to be a cardholder besides for the rotating reduced mileage awards.
Finally they have added some more reasons to be a cardholder:
-First checked bag for free for you and 4 companions
-Free priority boarding
-25% off in-flight purchases
-A 10% refund on award redemptions, of up to 10,000 miles refunded per year. The automatic refunds will process within 8 weeks of redeeming the miles.
-They have gotten rid of the ridiculous mileage earning cap (that no other card has) and reintroduced double miles on AA purchases.
-If you spend $30K on the card in a year you will get a $100 AA travel certificate.
Effective today, if you currently have the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature, Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard, Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard, or the Citi Select AAdvantage American Express card you now have these benefits as well.
All in all not enough to make it worth spending on the card, but it can make having the card worthwhile if you travel on American.
AA, Delta, and United all waive their annual fee for their cards for the first year, and then charge $95.
I’d imagine it’s only a matter of time before USAirways introduces a card with waived baggage fees as well, as they are the odd one out after this move.