Great Targeted Offer For AAdvantage Aviator Cardholders

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I can’t really remember seeing so many credit card bonus spend offers in such a short time. It seems that the banks are really jostling to get their card to the top of our wallets this holiday season. Last month I highlighted three of these offers that I had received, some of which were targeted. Those offers were all relatively small in magnitude, though they did offer a pretty good return.

Well apparently the arms race continues as I received a similar (possibly targeted) offer for my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator. Only this time, Barclays upped the ante considerably — this offer is for 30,000 bonus miles after spending at least $2,500 each month for the next six months. That means $2,500 in December. Another $2,500 in January. And so on through May. That’s kind of a long time.

The only time I dated a girl longer than six months I ended up marrying her! As a United guy, I certainly don’t want to marry my Aviator card, right? So I initially brushed it aside.

Then I began to think it over, and realized this provides the opportunity to buy American miles at 0.83 cents each with virtually no effort.

The Aviator bonus offer

Terms of The Aviator Bonus Offer

The spend requirement for this offer is $2,500 per month for six months — $15,000 total. That means that if I succeed in hitting the threshold each month, come next summer I’ll have earned a total of 45,000 American miles — 15,000 for the spend and 30,000 for the bonus.

Earning 3 miles per dollar spent doesn’t seem too shabby. And for otherwise unbonused spend, it’s actually really good.

It seems that the offer might be targeted, which I know is kind of annoying. If you have the card and haven’t received a mailer with this offer I’d suggest calling Barclays to ask.

For context, I hadn’t even activated my Aviator card since it arrived to replace my US Airways card last spring. That shows just how much I cared about this card.

Can I Do This?

My family probably spends $2,500 per month (unfortunately), so that’s not really a problem. The issue is that the majority of our spend already earns some sort of category bonus. So to some extent, this would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Or more accurately, we’d be foregoing the opportunity to earn an equivalent amount (or more) of Ultimate Rewards and Thank You points to earn American miles, the latter of which I value less.

So while I could technically shift all of our spend for the next six months, that didn’t seem like a great strategy. I again dismissed the idea.

Should I Get Creative?

The promo mailer stayed on our kitchen table teasing me with those 30,000 bonus miles.


Maybe I could create this spend like the really slick guys do? Then I remembered that I have 3 kids under the age of 5. And I don’t live particularly close to any of those stores that make that stuff work. And I hate driving around. So while that might work for some, I needed something a heck of a lot easier even if wasn’t as efficient.

Let’s call it the “Can I do it from my laptop while holding a baby in one arm while watching football on TV” test.

If some spending strategy could pass that test, I’d be in.

Plastiq To The Rescue

Then I remembered Plastiq, the service that allows you to pay any bill with a credit card.

From your laptop.

With a baby in one arm.

While watching TV.

Check. Check. And check.

I used Plastiq last summer to earn the signup bonus for a card with large minimum spend. It worked fine. All of my payments arrived at the mortgage company without issue, even if it did take a little longer that maybe I thought it should. (I received an email from Plastiq recently saying that they are now able to send a lot more payments electronically, including to my mortgage company, such that payments should arrive in a more timely manner.)

plastiq welcome

It just so happens that my mortgage payment is on the order of $2,500. That’s convenient because it would allow me to basically make one charge per month for the next six months to my Aviator card to earn the 30,000 mile bonus.

Given that Plastiq currently charges a 2.5% processing fee, the “cost” of doing this would be:

equation plastiq

That means I’d essentially be paying $375 for 45,000 American miles, or I’d be acquiring them at 0.83 cents each.

Even given the upcoming devaluation, that seems pretty good, and is much less than the 1.8 cents that Ben claims to still value them at.

And most importantly, it wouldn’t require much effort. Heck, I could probably even schedule the payments in Plastiq in advance and not have to worry about missing a month and blowing the whole thing up.

A Slight Gotcha

After writing this post, I realized that the annual fee for my Aviator card will come due in March, right in the middle of the six month offer.

The decision as to whether to keep, cancel, upgrade, or downgrade this card is fairly complicated. Given my lack of interest in this card — remember how I hadn’t even activated it until last week — I was originally planning on canceling it. Since my account doesn’t seem to be eligible for the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus, I don’t really see the point in keeping it.

That means that instead of paying $375 in Plastiq fees to earn 45,000 Advantage miles, I’ll also probably end up paying the $89 annual fee. That will bring my total cost to acquire the miles to $464, or right around 1.0 cent per mile. Still pretty good I guess, but it does seem like kind of a sneaky way for Barclays to get me to keep the card for another year.

Bottom Line

If American were selling miles tomorrow at 0.83 cents each (or 1.0), I think I’d be a buyer. I might even buy more than 45,000 of them. That seems to indicate that I should do this deal.

There are definitely a lot of ways to do this more cheaply, but for those who have a mortgage of about the right size, and who are either too busy or too lazy to bother with more exotic strategies out there, I think this is a very viable method.

In fact, I would go so far as to argue that if you were targeted for this offer, have such a mortgage and aren’t already paying it with Plastiq for the next six months, yet decide not to do this deal, then you must value American miles at less than 0.83 cents. 

Given that, I think I’ll do it.

Were you targeted for this offer? Are you going to take advantage of the bonus?


  1. The only shame about that offer is that you can’t get the bonus points until after the devaluation. 🙁 Otherwise, very nice!

  2. $15000 spend to earn 45000 miles? 3 miles a dollar? I’d value a mile at ~1.5 cents (1.8- hassle -EQM/RDM miles foregone – upgrade potential). 4.5% bonus. Compared to my BAMF 3.48% priceline that’s an extra %. Would take it.

  3. Just curious as to when exactly you received the mailer? Also, just wondering if you opted for snail mail vs. online notifications (I don’t really receive anything by from them by snail mail since I opted into online only communications). Thanks!

  4. Do you get a commission for pushing the Plastiq? FT posts claim problems and delays with this service. Use at your own risk.

  5. I called to cancel my AAdvantage card last week (I only ever use it for the free checked bag and didn’t feel the need to pay $89 for that when my company would otherwise reimburse me). Without me even asking, they waived the fee! That said, AA is my preferred airline, which they asked and might have used as justification for waiving the fee.

    It makes me think that Barclaycard is grappling to keep its AA customers since the new AA card is with Citi.

  6. I got this same offer and went ahead and registered, but I’m not gonna spend my time manufacturing spend for the next 6 months. I think this is really a sub-par offer.
    But, I did call Barclay and got them to waive the annual fee for next year, so at least I have that going for me.

  7. I received both an email and a mailer about the offer. The email came on Nov 20 with the subject line:

    Register now to earn 45,000+ AAdvantage Miles

    The mailer was about the same time.

    I have 3 relatives with the card, same spend habits as me (which is to say they hadn’t registered the card yet either), and I don’t think any of them got the offer.

  8. Nick,

    I mentioned in the post that it take 10-14 days for Plastiq payments to reach my mortgage company. And I also mentioned that Plastiq says that many more payments will be delivered electronically, so that will go down.

    My read is that those who use the service as it is intended — like to pay an actual bill — have little to worry about.

  9. Received same offer. Registered. Debating actually doing it. $2500/month is relatiively easy and cheap with VGC’s at $5.95 each. Boom 45,000 plus miles. Walmart anyone?
    Problem is using these garbage miles. Europe is out as all AA seems to show are BA flights. Hello fuel charges. Especially in J or F.
    Award chart got crushed on premium partners(CX) from recent deval to Far East.
    Domestic AA? Meh.
    Likely pass.

  10. @Kimberly – it sure seems like they don’t want to lose these customers, they credited my annual fee back in August and I assume they’ll keep that up just to keep people around.

  11. I received a very different offer.
    I was offer to spend $500 a month in DEC, JAN , FEB and I would receive 15,000 bonus AA miles for doing so. I was much happier with that.

  12. Travis, the fact that this promo coincides with your annual fee due date is not a coincidence. This is what they’ve been doing to try to get people to keep their cards. For those of you who aren’t getting these types of offers, just wait until you are approaching your annual fee.

  13. Luis —

    I have no doubt that is their strategy. I’m also sure that they conveniently started it with the December holiday shopping season.

    Given other reports, it seems I should have a good shot at getting the annual fee waived.

  14. Not sure why you want to do this… You can spend $3K and get 50K almost every other month with Citi AA… After 6 months you would get 150K AA for $9K spend.

  15. alcwj:

    1: I don’t have the Citi AA card.

    2: Does it pass the “Can I do it from my laptop while holding a baby in one hand and watching football on TV” test? If so, do tell…..

  16. The thing I found most interesting was my wife and I were both targeted wth offers

    Note that these are the same offer, just worded differently.
    I took a pass on these offers for most of the same reasons you gave above as most of the “regular” spend I would put on the cards would already be bonused on other cards.
    Unlike you however, I would not be a buyer of AA miles at the same price. It’s the currency we currently have the most of and seem to have the hardest time spending given our travel patterns.

  17. I have a Silver card and did not get the offer. My offer today was 2X on supermarket, movie, and utilities for 3 months for a max of 2,500. Not great but something.

    I already did $30K in the last 6 months on the Silver card – so they likely don’t want to give me the offer.

  18. That’s a much better offer than I received today via email. My AF will likely post in a month from today.

    “Your AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Mastercard® gives you the power to explore and discover as much of the world as you wish. From January 1 through March 31, 2016, you’ll earn 2 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles for every $1 spent when you use your card for supermarket purchases, movie theater purchases and utility payments (including electric, gas, water, television and telephone) up to 2,500 bonus miles.¹”

  19. I had a fraud against my red card and got the run around clearing it up and escalated.

    When I inquired about when annual fee was going to be do and indicated I would canceling when do they waived fee on card for another year. from due date

    Barclays does not want those cards closed out as it their last finger hold on American Flyers including everyone who came over from USair. Without any business relationship they can not shove other products and services at you if you opt of of SPAM.

  20. “You can spend $3K and get 50K almost every other month with Citi AA… After 6 months you would get 150K AA for $9K spend.”
    Can someone explain the above statement from alcwj? I have the Citi AA MCard which I barely use now so as to get the 10K EQM on the Silver Barclay’s (I also never got the offer from Barclay’s)

  21. @IDR

    I think alcwj was talking about applying for new cards from citi. Not sure if they have tightened the rules, but you used to be able to sign up for a new card and get the initial bonus (spend $3k for 50k miles) prettty frequently.

    So, he’s saying you could apply for a new card every few months, not that spending $3,000 on an existing card would earn a 50,000 bonus.

  22. Thanks for the response NRTBound. I think that you’re right since that’s the only kind of 3K/50,000 mile bonus I could find.
    I called Citi this past year to see if I could close my current account and then reapply. I was told that recipients of the offer had to have not had a CitiAA card linked to their SS number for the preceding 24 months to qualify…..

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