A Tale Of Two American Airlines Companion Certificates: Barclays vs Citi

Earlier in the day Citibank shared that the companion tickets earned from their American Airlines co-brand business card (after $30,000 spend in purchases each cardmembership year, at card renewal) that expire in 2020 will be extended to June 30, 2021.

Barclays has shared that their American Airlines companion tickets – offered as an initial bonus on new consumer cards, and earned from spend on their Red, Silver, and Business cards – will have their expiration extended as well,

Existing AAdvantage Aviator Red, Silver and Business cardmembers who hold a companion certificate with an expiration date between 3/31/2020 and 5/31/2021 will be extended through 06/30/21.

Like Citi, Barclays flight discounts that expire “between 3/31/20 and 5/31/21…will receive a 6-month extension from the current date of expiration for redemption.”

Yet the companion tickets are being handled differently because they’re issued differently. Barclays issues a lot more companion tickets, and they have varying expiration dates as a result.

In fact, the companion ticket was a staple of the old US Airways credit card dating back to when Juniper Bank provided funding for America West to acquire US Airways (and took over the ability to issue new US Airways cards from Bank of America). It used to be valid for 2 passengers to travel at $99 plus tax each and came annually as a perk of the card.

The companion ticket went away from the consumer card with the new co-brand deal that gave Barclays the ability to acquire customers inflight and in airport (but not within 100 feet of an American Airlines club) and gave Citi the rest of cardmember acquisition channels. However it returned to the primary Barclays Red card a year ago.

You now earn a companion ticket (one companion) that you can bring for $99+tax after $20,000 spend per year. The premium Aviator Silver card gives you two companions after $20,000 spend in a year.

And of course Barclays had been offering the companion ticket, along with miles, as a new cardmember premium until several weeks ago.

While there are restrictions on fare class and there are blackout dates, and there’s an antiquated process of mailing in certificates, I find that these are undervalued. I don’t have any problem using them, and love them now that I travel with both my wife and my daughter. I have an Aviator Silver card that I’ve used to earn elite qualifying miles and dollars, and earned a companion pass for two along the way. Even though my daughter isn’t yet two it’s nice to buy her a seat, and at $99+tax roundtrip why wouldn’t I?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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