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Renewing AAdvantage Aviator Barclaycard and Converting Arrival Plus

I know what you are thinking: she renewed Aviator card due to  10,000 miles anniversary  bonus. WRONG! Visualize Alec Baldwin’s SNL impersonation of Donald Trump (you don’t have to be into politics to appreciate it, am I right?) Anyway, the offer I signed up for back in the day didn’t come with anniversary miles. Of course, you know me and how much I love paying annual fees. Not.

You also might be surprised when I tell you the reason why I wanted to hang on to my Aviator card. Free checked bags on AA flights? WRONG! I have exactly one flight on American within the next year or so, and it’s international, so bags fly free. I wanted to keep my Aviator card around so I would get a better rate on redeeming AAdvantage miles on hotels.

Most people think I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs for burning my AA miles on lodging. To that, I say: I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs, period. Plus, have you tried to find domestic sAAver space lately for four people during high season? How did it work out?

Few months ago, I’ve burned AA miles on a vacation rental in Key Largo and got about 1 cent per point. It’s not great, of course, but it will allow me to take my mom to visit beautiful Florida Keys and save us over $1,000 in the process. That’s money I can put away towards our trip to Europe next year. The key to getting around 1 cent per mile on hotels is having a co-branded AAdvantage credit card.

At the moment I actually happen to have both Citi and Barclays AA products. However, I’m hoping to cancel Citi version in a near future so I can reset the clock in order to qualify for another sign-up offer of 50,000 miles. Like I said, AA miles may not be as valuable as they used to be, but getting 1 CPM on vacation rentals is still a good option for families. Officially, Citi AA card has to be closed for 24 months, though I know some who have gotten the bonus twice in one year. YMMV, but Citi has gotten a lot better at tracking this sort of thing.

That left me with figuring out what to do with Aviator Barclaycard. Obviously, paying $89 just to have the option to redeem miles on hotels at a better rate is NOT very smart. So, the plan was to cancel unless Barclays  waived the annual fee like they did last year. Even though I’ve been doing this hobby for a long time, I absolutely hate making retention phone calls and do everything I can to avoid them.

However, last year the process was pretty painless. And this time was no different. The lady agreed to waive the fee without any sort of begging on my part. Even better, she said there is an offer attached to my account: spend $1,000 in 3 months, get 5,000 bonus AA miles. Done! I accept.

At the moment I’m working on minimum spending on several cards, but getting 6 AA miles per dollar is too good of a deal to pass up. That’s because in addition to the bonus, I’ll be earning 1 mile per dollar on spending itself. I can always burn the miles on a $60 credit towards a hotel stay or just save them for a possible future flight redemption. I have several big bills coming our way within the next few months, so meeting the spend shouldn’t be an issue.

Converting Arrival Plus to Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard 

This is something my reader Lisa M. suggested to me in the comments on this post, where I’ve mentioned  converting Plus version  to regular Arrival in order to avoid paying $89  renewal fee. Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard is a better option IMO, and I would still keep my leftover 5,000 points without the need to make a qualifying travel purchase. Plus, I’m not even sure Arrival is  available at this point since online application has been pulled. Some readers also indicated that reps told them this option is a no-go.

Since Arrival Plus card was in my husband’s name, he had to make the dreaded phone call. Interestingly, Barclays’ rep wouldn’t agree to speak to me and insisted my husband handles the conversion. I had to repeat the name of the card several times, but we got it done.

Here are the details:

  • 2X points on gas, utility and grocery store (excluding Target® and Walmart®) purchases. 1x points on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Redeem points for deposits to a U.S. checking or savings account, statement credits or gift cards, starting at 1,000 points for $10

I wouldn’t use credit inquiry on this card, but it’s a very good conversion option. Keep in mind, when I got the paperwork, it said the redemption starts at 2,500 points, so I’m guessing they just haven’t updated the terms online. This is similar to regular Arrival, except you can redeem your points toward statement credits, not just travel purchases.

I also like the fact  that the card earns 2 points per dollar on utilities. I don’t have a 2% cash back card, so this may come in handy if I’m simply earning rewards on everyday purchases. Of course, the bulk of my spending goes toward sign-up bonuses, but things may change down the road. It’s nice to have extra options.

Something the rep didn’t tell my husband on the phone and I almost missed: the offer of 1,000 bonus points after first purchase (no minimum). It was buried in the paperwork, and I’m glad I spotted it before throwing the thing away. Hey, 10 bucks is 10 bucks! All in all, Barclaycard delivered and then some.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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11 thoughts on “Renewing AAdvantage Aviator Barclaycard and Converting Arrival Plus

  1. We had every intention of canceling one of AAdvantage cards and I was a week late on the annual fee coming through 🙁 No success in them waving it either. Oh well. The free checked bags doesn’t excite me as much when I found out the hard way that it doesn’t apply to flying Alaska Air so we still paid for bags on the way home from our last trip and looks like it’ll be the same story on our next trip.

    • @Emily I believe you have at least 30 days (maybe 60?) to get the refund of the annual fee once it posts. So call them back, you may still have time. And yes, the free checked bags are handy, but only on AA operated flights.
      I would try again and see if you can get a retention offer and a fee refund. You never know.

  2. Just a note on annual fees – many banks will give you 30-60 days after the annual fee is due to decide if you want to pay it and keep the card. In other words, if the annual fee posts on November 3 and the bill due date is November 27, you may have until Dec. 27 to pay the fee before they close the card.

    IMPORTANT: YOU MUST CONFIRM THE TIME PERIOD AND POLICY WITH THE BANK. When I’m trying to cancel a card and don’t like a retention offer, I’ll ask this question so I know how long I can play HUCA. Sometimes I’ve gotten a better offer speaking to a different person on another day or calling after the bill due date.

    To get to my point: For some reason, I forgot to ask the question on my last AAviator rodeo with Barclays. The rep was offering nothing so I wanted to play HUCA. I had intended to call again on the bill due date, but it was a busy day and I forgot about it. I did not pay the AF and then a few days later, a new bill was generated. Barclays actually charged a late fee for the AF, which I found very unusual compared to my previous experience. Of course, I called and threatened to cancel AAviator and some other cards I have with them. They removed the late fee as a “courtesy gesture”, I immediately paid the AF (because I get 10K annual bonus miles), but they still offered no retention bonus. So, lesson learned, with Barclays you need to decide on the annual fee before the bill due date.

    If you pay an annual fee and are still thinking about cancelling the card later, you should ask the bank about their refund policy. Do it every time, because banks constantly change things with their T&Cs. I’m pretty sure that I had waited 30-60 days after the due date on the AAviator or another Barclay’s card in past years without any issues, but obviously something has changed with their policies.

    • @Erik Agree on all counts. Policies change constantly, so it’s best not to assume that the bank will refund the fee when the time comes. Personally, I like too call before the fee hits and have everything settled just in case. I was fortunate with Aviator card for two years in a row, but plan on burning the miles before the next fee hits. At the moment, I don’t have a huge amount anyway. I’ve noticed that Chase just changed its fee refund policy quietly where you only have 30 days, so it’s good to stay on top of things, for sure.

  3. The thought of putting my husband on the phone to authorize me to speak on his behalf is a powerful reason for me to cancel the card. 🙁

    • @Sheila I can totally relate! I prefer to cancel cards rather than ask my husband to call. In the past, we got into fights due to these kind of phone calls. That’s why I tread lightly. But in this case I had $50 on the line, so I just told him to suck it up! Nicely, of course. 🙂

    • @Avi Check out this post and the very first screenshot on the page should explain it:
      Basically, you go to “redeem miles” and select hotels. Then you have to log in at the top right hand corner, and if you happen to have a co-branded AA card, the system will recognize it. As a result, the rates in miles will be lower compared to those who don’t have a co-branded AA card. It works out to around 1 cent per mile, sometimes a bit lower, occasionally higher. It’s a nice option for suites and vacation rentals. Let me know if this makes sense.

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