New Aggressive Pitch for Onboard Credit Card Signup — ‘Get Both’ for Big Bonuses

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I was surprised flying American Airlines this week that the onboard credit card pitch for the Barclays AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red World Elite Mastercard® included the flight attendant noting that this is ‘a new card introduced in 2017 (sic) and that if you already have the American Airlines card issued by Citi you can get this one too.’

Explicitly mentioning a competitor product seems to be a new part of the script since I’ve seen several references to this from other flyers on Facebook as well.

  • American Airlines has two consumer card issuing banks.
  • Barclays gets exclusivity pitching their cards onboard and in airports (but not within 100 feet of an Admirals Club)
  • Citi gets exclusivity over other marketing channels, including inside of clubs

These are separate products. You can have both. In fact both banks issue both personal and small business cards, and it’s possible to get one of each, from each bank. And together they offer 230,000 miles in initial bonuses.

The personal and business cards from Barclays charge you an annual fee, but don’t have minimum spend to earn the points.

I find that availability on American’s own flights is limited (though better than a year ago). Over the past several years I’ve redeemed my American miles more than any other currency for long haul travel in first class on Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Etihad, and more. I almost always use the miles for partner airline travel.

Cathay Pacific First Class

Etihad First Apartment

Citibank doesn’t seem to have a hard limit on the number of their cards you can have though of course how much credit they’ll make available for each person will vary. After you apply for one card in my experience they’ll consider another application from you 8 days later, but you can’t apply for more than 2 cards in 65 days.

Generally Citi will give you the bonus on a new card account if you haven’t opened or closed a card in that product’s family in the past 24 months. For this purpose the personal and business cards are separate, it is possible to earn the bonus for both a personal and a small business card.

It is possible to get both the Barclays personal and small business card. And as my American Airlines flight attendant observed these are separate from the Citibank cards. You can apply for cards from both issuers.

This is great for consumers — more bonuses, but also competition between the banks which drives up bonuses.

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, 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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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. The in-air announcements are extremely annoying.Yes, you CAN get as many cards as you will be approved for, but you’re not necessarily getting a bigger bonus because Citi is competing with Barclaycard. At any rate, bonuses on credit cards and sales on purchased miles are all meaningless as AA miles are increasingly worthless.

  2. Gee – and as for all those miles that you can’t use……I had applied for this aviator card a while back and they charged me for annual fee and sent me a statement before I even received the card. When I called about this to ask why I should be paying for a card that I hadn’t even yet received (they claimed they had already sent it out, yet without having received it, I had no way to use it, so I’m paying for something that I don’t have) but since they refused to delay charging me the fee, I cancelled the card. I was informed that I could never again apply for the card – my thought – good riddance. As for the miles, I have almost 3 million miles sitting in my account and as an EXP who takes several world wide trips a year in either First or Bsns continue earning. When I try to use those miles for either upgrade (which are virtually NEVER available) or a free ticket (which would get me routings with stops, or at very inconvenient times) I end up just purchasing a ticket. My trend now is to purchase on whomever has the best schedules and fares – not necessarily on AA or One World. I’m done with that game and with the Aviator – it’s a no deal.

  3. @ElliottS — It sounds like you are a very good candidate for using an award booking service to help maximize the value of a large mileage balance. I imagine it would be money well spent (~$100-150 per ticket), and would save you a lot of cash relative to those business / first class fares you’re purchasing. Gary has such a service, and there are many competitors out there.

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