I loved the old USAirways credit card from Barclays – it offered 40,000-50,000 USAirways miles after first purchase (of ANY amount-even $1) and 10,000 miles each year in exchange for paying the $89 annual fee, which often could be waived. You could even have multiple cards at the same time, which is pretty rare for points- and miles-earning credit cards!
However, with the merger of USAirways and American Airlines, the card was rebranded the Aviator Red and Citibank became the sole provider of co-branded American Airlines credit cards.
And, after the recent call I had with Barclays’ retention department, I think this is the ideal situation for current cardholders.
At the end of March, I paid the annual fee on one of my Aviator Red cards, thinking that after the yearly 10,000 mileage bonus posted, I would then call and ask for an annual fee waiver. However, it had been three weeks and no miles had posted, so I figured that a call would straighten both the bonus situation and the annual fee out.
I called and after being connected through to the retention department, I asked for an annual fee credit. To my surprise, the CSR immediately agreed with me and waived the fee. This jibed with the report my dad had recently given me, where his CSR had waived his annual fee, too.
Both my dad and I use our cards infrequently, often only when buying American Airlines tickets for the 2x per $1 bonus, so to have the annual fee waived immediately was a pleasant shock.
I don’t think this is a special policy, either. My guess is that Barclays is terrified of losing future cardholder business, as once any Aviator Red account is closed, it is impossible to re-open, thereby eliminating any future earnings for Barclays.
So, I am going to assume that in the future, paying the annual fee continue to be “optional.”
As for the bonus, the CSR informed me that while one of my Aviators would continue to give me 10,000 miles each year, the one I was calling about would not.
I will investigate further, of course, and report back!