Will American Offer A Credit Card EQD Waiver In 2017?

In June, American announced some major updates to the AAdvantage program. First of all, they announced that as of August 1, 2016, redeemable miles would be awarded based on dollars spent rather than distance flown (we already knew this was coming, though prior to that didn’t know the date it would happen). Furthermore, American announced that there would be a revenue requirement to earn status starting in 2017.

AAdvantage-Program

This requirement is as follows:

GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
25K EQMs or 30 EQSs50K EQMs or 60 EQSs75K EQMs or 90 EQSs100K EQMs or 120 EQSs
$3k EQDs$6k EQDs$9k EQDs$12k EQDs

As you can see, you essentially need to spend an average of 12 cents per mile to meet the revenue requirement for each elite level (which is steep).

Why we thought American would offer a credit card waiver

The “big three” US carriers seem to follow one another pretty closely. Both Delta and United also already award redeemable miles based on revenue rather than distance flown, and they both offer an opportunity to get the minimum spend waived in conjunction with credit card spend:

  • With Delta, all elite qualifying dollar requirements can be waived by spending $25,000 on a Delta Amex Card
  • With United, elite qualifying dollar requirements can be waived for Silver, Gold, and Platinum members by spending $25,000 on a United Chase Card

So it only seemed logical that American would offer the same.

American-787

But…

Well, Delta has a really close relationship with American Express, and United has a really close relationship with Chase. For a while we thought American also had a close relationship with Citi, though it seems that wasn’t totally the case.

A couple of months ago, American announced that going forward they would no longer have an exclusive credit card agreement. Instead they’d have co-branded AAdvantage cards issuers by both Citi and Barclaycard. On one hand I think this is good for consumers, since it means there will be more competition.

On the other hand, it also means that clearly American and Citi couldn’t come to terms on an “exclusive” agreement.

I don’t know how the credit card waiver works behind the scenes at Delta and United. Are the airlines getting paid by the credit card companies if someone gets an elite waiver through a credit card? Or do they somehow get improved terms on their overall agreement? I suspect it’s more along the lines of the latter than the former.

Regardless, it’s clear that the relationship between American and Citi isn’t as close as the relationship between American’s competitors and their issuers.

Here’s where American stands

We’re less than three months from 2017, and we haven’t yet received any word on a potential credit card waiver. I decided to follow up with American about this, to ask if they’re still considering this, or if there will definitely be no opportunity for a waiver in 2017.

Their answer was that it’s something American is still reviewing, and that they’ll share updates as soon as they have them.

What do I make of this?

  • On one hand it’s less than three months until the new year, so if something hasn’t been announced already, it seems unlikely that it will be at all
  • On the other hand, now that Barclaycard and Citi are competing, it seems like there’s only upside to one of the issuers in striking a deal with American; imagine how much of an advantage one of those issuers would have if elite members had an incentive to spend at least $25,000 on their co-branded credit card

Of course in these deals logic often doesn’t prevail. At the same time, American should want a credit card waiver to happen, as it’s in their best interest. They’d have more engaged members who have their co-branded card at the top of their wallet, and there’s value in that, even if they’re not directly meeting the spend requirement for status through flying.

Bottom line

Given the degree to which the big US carriers follow one another, it’s interesting to see that American ended up not going with an exclusive credit card agreement. So it could go either way, though it wouldn’t surprise me if American doesn’t offer a waiver.

Do keep in mind, however, that there are creative ways to minimize American’s EQD requirement by flying partner carriers, especially airlines like Qatar Airways on discounted business class tickets.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-30

Will American’s decision on whether or not they introduce an EQD credit card waiver impact whether or not you’re loyal to them?

Comments

  1. I wish Etihad’s new announcement of one mileage program for elite miles and status for 6 partner airlines included AA.

    Anyways the only other way you can get EQD waived is you have a foreign address and register an AA account using that address.

  2. So not only is AA’s elite program even crappier now, it’s also harder to earn.

    No thanks. #DumpAA

  3. I’ve been an AA credit card holder for thirty (30) years and an AA elite for almost a decade but if they don’t offer a significant (along the lines of Delta…like everything else they’ve done!) EQD credit card waiver, my loyalty will come to an end as a $12K threshold for EP without one is just way too steep for my blood. And watch the ranks of AA elites shrink!

  4. With American, “still reviewing” means “we have an answer but aren’t saying because you’re about to get screwed and we don’t want you to stop trying to earn status yet.” This is the same as the question regarding whether SWUs will still be good from economy to business once premium economy cabins are installed. American is “still reviewing” which means “no, you can only use them to premium economy, but if we told you that now, everyone would stop trying for executive platinum and jump ship so we aren’t going to tell you this until after everyone has requalified for the year.”

  5. Earning EQD on partners is going to be closest thing to an alternate way (since partners earn zip on United). Frankly, it rewards flyers more.

  6. The article you link to about flying partners to get the EQD’s based on distance is that you assume that Qatar will earn 30%-35% EQD’s for business (I)….HOWEVER since that article was written the actual chart is out:
    https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/partner-airlines/qatar.jsp

    And on a Business (I) fare only EQD = only 20% of distance flown!

    So earning EQD through partner travel is NOT as easy as people may think. NOT having an EQD waiver really is a huge problem….AA is not strong enough of an airline to compete against DL with a WORSE program!

  7. @ Ben — It is worth noting that as of now, Delta has not shared their requirements for earning elite status during 2017 (for status expiring January 31, 2019). They could eliminate or modify their MQD requirements and/or waiver. I haven’t bothered to look at United’s requirements for any updated language, because I no longer care unless they expand the waiver to the 1K level.

  8. Actually, you can earn PQD on United partners, just that the ticket has to be booked on United’s site = more $$ sometimes.

  9. Just dump the whole program.

    Give everybody free luggage and food instead.

    What kind of people are in charge of this program ??? ass holes

  10. “Anyways the only other way you can get EQD waived is you have a foreign address and register an AA account using that address.”

    @Indian
    Where did you see this? As far as I can see, no EQD is waived for foreign people with Aadvantage account worldwide.

  11. Could you get EQDs for booking someone else’s ticket? I don’t plan on putting any spending on my AA card, let alone $25k. I have family members who’ll travel AA occasionally but nowhere near enough to reach any status, so if I could just book their flights for them, I’d be able to reach my minimum. Otherwise, hello, Alaska Airlines!

  12. @Indian While I think UA does not require EQDs for non-US residents my understanding is that AA does not make an exception for non-US residents and that the EQDs apply to all.

    Frankly as someone who tends to book close-in and spends well in excess of 12K I am looking forward to the 2017 changes. Prioritizing upgrades based on date (ie those that pay less get higher priority) always struck me rather stupid.

  13. I have received 10K EQM each year with my AAdvantage Executive WorldElite Citi card….. when I spend $40K each year (which Ive already done this year and have the 10K elite points in my account already). Will this continue? It’s a $450 card. If those bonus spend points go away – then I need to dump that card. I’m also on the fence with dumping the AMEX Platinum Card as I don’t see any real benefits (can’t stand the crowded Centuriun Lounges and silly Priority Pass).

  14. @Indian:

    “Anyways the only other way you can get EQD waived is you have a foreign address and register an AA account using that address.”

    I’d like to know how to do this, too!

  15. At this point, it seems rather late to be still “reviewing.” Maybe they are in negotiations with their two banks but it would seem more likely that the negotiations were settled earlier when they announced that they would use two cards. I think the waiver is not in the cards (excuse the bad pun!).

    No matter how this turns out, I’ll probably be staying with AA at least for the near future. The benefits of status have been so depleated that I’m not sure that spending $25k on their card makes sense when I can earn/use points to greater benefit on other cards.

  16. I usually make Exec Plat with about 5 to 6 k of spend. No way in hell I will spend 12k on AA just to get status that is worth less now anyways. If they don’t I plan on using my SWUs and then flying only on AS partners (that you can credit 100% of economy) from now on

  17. As an Executive Platinum member, I like that they are introducing an EQD requirement next year. Most business travelers will easily qualify for the minimum spend. I know a lot of readers on this site are interested in the credit card game or mileage runs, but that means there are a lot more elites competing for upgrades. With the EQD requirement, I feel like they are going back to rewarding their most loyal (and lucrative) customers.

  18. I hope they don’t.

    Hand out all the credit card RDMs you want. This EXP doesn’t care. But status should be earned by flying.

  19. “At the same time, American should want a credit card waiver to happen, as it’s in their best interest.”

    There’s a lot of complex analytics that the loyalty, consumer insights, and co-branding teams go through to evaluate if that statement is true, usually with the help of several consultants. Chances are, if they aren’t introducing it, it wasn’t true (or true enough).

  20. The main question is if it is worth it
    Will Plat Pro have free award changes like DL plat or UA Plat (till 60 days out)

  21. I am close to making American Gold and United Silver for 2017-2018. American gave me a 3 month trial of Gold which is good until November, so I booked 2 flights on American that I might not otherwise have – SFO to PDX and SFO to PHX.

    American Gold did not give me any benefits that I don’t have already as an American credit cardholder. For all 4 flights, I was on the list for an upgrade, but ended up around 10-14 on the lists. I figured I’d at least get an upgrade (suing the 500-mile thingy) for one of the 4 flights, but no.

    Since it’s easier for me to get Silver (and possibly Gold) on United with my travel schedule until December, I’m going to get the CC waiver using United. American’s Gold program kind of sucks!

  22. This Exec Plat will be jumping ship if there is no EQD waiver. There is just little incentive to stay with AA after 13 years of flying them.

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