The annual fee for our Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red card recently showed up on the account and it was time to decide if we should keep it or cancel it. This was originally a US Airways card that was converted when the airlines merged. The card has been on the chopping block for a while and I had three options. Keep it, downgrade it or close it.
I listed the reasons to keep it and why it would make sense to downgrade or close it.
- Free Checked Bag – The primary card member and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation may each check one bag free of charge when traveling on domestic itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines or its affiliates.
- Priority Boarding – Eligible cardmembers will board after Priority boarding is complete, but before the rest of economy boarding. The boarding benefit will display on your American Airlines boarding pass as Group 5.
- 25% rebate on eligible inflight food and beverage purchases.
- Anniversary $25 Wi-Fi Credits
- $99 Annual Fee
- Poor Earning Structure of 2x points on American Airlines purchases, so the card never leaves the drawer except when we’re flying American and use it for Wi-Fi and onboard food purchases.
- No longer getting 10,000 bonus miles each year on the anniversary date
- We’re eligible for the signup bonus for other American Airlines co-brand cards and can earn 60K points or more and keep the most important benefits listed above.
That last point made it clear what the path forward should be. I decided that we were willing to close the account, so I got some information to call Barclays.
I needed to prepare because the Aviator Red card isn’t mine; it’s Sharon’s. She doesn’t like to talk on the phone (Note from Sharon: Understatement of the year. I HATE to talk on the phone), so when I pick my spots to have her call a bank, I need to list out all of the possibilities of what might happen on the call and what to say for each one. This gets difficult if I’m hoping for a retention offer like I did for most of our cards one year. That wouldn’t be needed in this case since I was planning on canceling the card UNLESS they threw some amazing offers at us, and based on my pre-work it appears that Barclays has currently shut down almost all retention offers on its card portfolio.
As Sharon called the bank, I stood by in case they made any offers or asked questions. She put in the account information and went through an automated system. In less than 5 minutes, Sharon canceled the account without talking to a person. There was no attempt to keep her as a cardholder or offer to transfer to an agent for assistance.
The most interesting thing was that the system prompted her with the most common reasons people give when calling to cancel the card. She said it was the annual fee and then that we’re not using the card.
That was it. The automated system then said that we’d receive a credit for the annual fee to the account, which already posted retroactively to the date Barclays charged the fee.
I know that it’s a possibility to cancel a card without talking to anyone. If you’re looking for a retention offer or downgrading, you should NEVER say to the automated system that you want to cancel. Instead, you should say annual fee or say you have a question about your account so you can talk to a person. However, since I wanted to cancel and the chance for a retention offer was small, this was our best outcome. Sharon didn’t have to talk to anyone at the bank and the call only took 4 minutes (Note from Sharon: It felt like a lifetime. But at least I never had to talk to an actual PERSON. That was cool!).
The call made me wonder why Barclays, who was pretty good in the past about offering spending bonuses and retention offers, has cut back? Are they not interested in keeping Aviator cardholders?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary