American Announces the End of the Frequent Flier Program With Elite Status That Can Be Earned Without Flying

American, Frequent Flier Programs

Beginning with elite qualifying for 2023, American will scrap the current elite qualifying system and now create something called Loyalty Points which can be earned by flying, spending on co-branded credit cards, or shopping/dining. This is officially no longer a frequent flier program. It’s a big spender program.

Admittedly, American’s current elite qualifying program is dizzyingly complex. There are three different metrics which matter:

  • Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) – Even though regular redeemable miles switched to being based on revenue, EQMs continue to award based on miles. There is a multiplier that gives more for higher fares and less for lower fares (with none for Basic Economy). There is also a way to get extra EQMs if you have certain credit cards.
  • Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) – These are the dollars you spend on American tickets. They haven’t had access to dollars spent on partner tickets, so those are still based on a multiplier x miles flown to figure out how many EQDs you get.
  • Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) – These are the number of segments you fly on American and partners.

Just understanding what these mean is hard enough, but then you have to figure out how to qualify using these metrics. You need to combine EQDs with either EQMs or EQSs. Here’s the normal, non-pandemic chart.

Now, the game has changed. This complexity is all gone, and instead, travelers will earn Loyalty Points which are earned as follows:

  • The base redeemable miles you earn when flying American or partners — you know, the ones that are 5x for regular members, 7x for Gold elites, and so on of the fare you paid — will now also become Loyalty Points. This means Basic Economy again earns toward elite status, and now those who are elite and get higher multipliers will get to have that apply to elite qualification as well.
  • Base credit card spend — usually meaning 1 point per dollar spent — will also feed Loyalty Points. Credit card sign-up bonuses and category bonuses do not count, so it’s a flat 1 point per dollar… or possibly more of less if you have a card that doesn’t award 1 point per dollar for regular spend.
  • All base miles earned by spending with partners, including dining and shopping programs among others, will now go toward elite qualifying as well.
  • Any miles that are bought, gifted, or transferred from a partner (like Bonvoy) do NOT count toward Loyalty Points.

There is no minimum flying required at all. The qualification is very simply stated:

As Heather Samp, Managing Director of AAdvantage Member Engagement told me, the airline went deep searching for the right way to do this.

What does loyalty mean? It’s people on the aircraft, but it’s also people at the grocery store swiping their AAdvantage card. I definitely view that as loyalty to the same degree as someone boarding our aircraft.

That feels like the airline is admitting something that has been increasingly obvious over time. The money made from credit cards and partners is enormous, and now American is just recognizing the importance.

There are a million scenarios of what this looks like in practice, and I can’t run through them all. I’m sure there are many points and miles bloggers who can do that for you, and I’m happy to leave it to them. What I really wanted to understand was what this would do to the elite population in general. Naturally, I couldn’t get American to give me any of their projections, but Heather did say this about how they looked at this coming out of the pandemic with people struggling to qualify.

There are two types of members, some who we hope will resume [flying] — which we want to keep — [but] also welcoming new members. The flying profile of new members is much different than road warriors. We imagine [the elite population] will increase, but we don’t think it will feel like a devaluation.

And that may very well be true, but it’s so hard to know. I would think it would become a whole lot easier for people to qualify for Gold. Spend $30,000 on the credit card in a year and you’re there. But if you don’t fly American at all, then what good does elite status even do? If you fly once a year, you now have the ability to get stapled to the bottom of the upgrade list, but you probably still won’t clear. It’s more about the ability to reserve preferred seats and get Main Cabin Extra if available at check-in.

But Gold is entry level and that’s not the big issue. The real question is what this will do at the higher levels. I would imagine that someone who qualifies for Gold will now be able to justify combining flying and spending to reach Platinum. The same goes all the way up the chain. It’s easier once you’re already an elite because you get more miles when you fly. I imagine it will still look like a pyramid, but the overall size of the pyramid will grow.

It’s been said more than once that “if everyone is an elite, nobody is.” United and Delta still seem to firmly believe that, but American has a different view. This will certainly be attractive to people who go off to grad school, take parental leave, or, ahem, go through a pandemic. It will give more options to qualify and that flexibility is going to be welcome.

Newbies who didn’t qualify before but now become Gold will be happy as well, early boarding, preferred seats and all that. They won’t get upgrades, most likely, but what they will get is still a nice set of perks that may keep them on American over some other airline.

The top tier elites should be happy as well, I’d think. They’ll just keep flying and spending on their AA credit cards — much to the delight of Citi and Barclays — while maintaining their position at the top of the pyramid.

The real question in my mind is what will happen in the middle. Will upgrades become harder to get for that group? American says that it will be watching closely, but the team has done surveying and focus groups, and they think this is going to work out well for everyone.

I like that it’s different, but if you don’t keep the core flier happy, then you have a problem. We shall see how this goes.

59 comments on “American Announces the End of the Frequent Flier Program With Elite Status That Can Be Earned Without Flying

  1. Just when I think American can’t do anything else to piss me off, they drop this bomb.

    Fortunately for them my love for flying nonstops from DCA still exceeds my hate for them. (i.e., no, Tim Dunn, I’m not interested in connecting through ATL)

    1. Bill – Why does it piss you off? It makes it easier to qualify. You afraid that it’ll hurt upgrade chances or is it something else? Just curious.

      1. Good question. I guess I’m old school enough that I want airline status to be something you actually have to earn with real, honest to God seat time, not just another pay to play scheme.

        As a former frequent flyer, these credit card programs discriminate against those who actually earn their status through flying. Most importantly, many or even most corporate travelers must use a corporate charge account or their corporate issued credit card which eliminates many of their best customers from being able to participate in the airline branded credit card schemes.

        Then, of course, there are the little things like exchanging a knowing glance with another weary passenger also with a platinum tag on their briefcase (back when platinum was as high as you could go), knowing you each earned it through the sacrifice of hours and hours of your lives aboard redeyes, transcons, delays, connections, cancellations and missed family events.

        Airlines are still in the business of flying planes. No matter how many people sign up for their stupid credit cards, they need to properly reward the people who actually put their asses in their seats. The airlines that don’t do exactly that prove that they aren’t properly focused on their actual best customers and shouldn’t be surprised when those best customers take their business elsewhere.

        1. “knowing you each earned it through the sacrifice of hours and hours of your lives aboard redeyes, transcons, delays, connections, cancellations and missed family events” Perfectly said!

          1. Hopefully your employer compensated you appropriately for that. If not, you chose the wrong career and/or employer.

            1. Spoken like somebody who never had to earn a living on the road. Of course it’s “other people’s money,” I’m sure as hell not flying to Paris (Texas), Hartsville SC and Massena NY on my own dime!

        2. Bill – Fair enough. I can understand the road warrior “knowing glance” bit of it. It’s part of the club, and those new “non-golfing” members to use a country club analogy just aren’t the same. But then again, the question remains as to how many more people will now join the club just based on spend. And if they are doing it based on spend alone, then who cares?
          They don’t fly anyway. Maybe it just helps their annual vacation better, and it keeps them on AA instead of someone else. I really need to see how this shakes out.

          As for cc spend, it’s still far easier to earn by flying. CC you get 1 point per dollar whereas flying you get at least 5 points per dollar. The corporate card thing doesn’t really phase me either. I mean, everyone has a lot of personal spend, and if they direct that to an AA partner card, AA is happy and they get rewarded with elite status that they may not use.

        3. As someone who rarely got to travel on “other people’s money” (and even then had to use a corporate Amex) *and* achieved UA MM through mostly personal travel, I have little sympathy for self-declared corporate “road warriors” who look down on leisure travelers … who exactly has been keeping the airlines in business for the last year or so? I am not an AA flyer, but I am happy that an airline finally wants to recognize my loyalty to their various lines of business.

          1. Nobody said anything about looking down on leisure travelers so I’m not sure what that comment is supposed to prove.

            Regardless, if there aren’t asses in their seats, the “various lines of business” including their ripoff credit card schemes will disappear very quickly along with the airline.

            Rewarding the people who actually fly their airline more than those who patronize their ancillary lines of business would seem to be common sense.

      2. Noted travel columnist Joe Brancatelli says it better than I ever could:

        Joe Brancatelli // Joe Sent Me // JBrancatelli@JoeSentMe.com

        JOE’S STUFF
        BRANCATELLI FILE: THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT
        With surprisingly little fanfare, American Airlines this week announced the end of flying-based elite levels. It is literally the final nail in the coffin of “frequent flyer” programs that reward you for, you know, flying. We’re just skin sacks in seats now. Fly or don’t fly, American genuinely does not care anymore.

  2. “There are two types of members, some who we hope will resume [flying] — which we want to keep — [but] also welcoming new members. The flying profile of new members is much different than road warriors. We imagine [the elite population] will increase, but we don’t think it will feel like a devaluation.”

    To me it sounds like AA is fearful of losing there elite regular high dollar travelers, who now are conducting business locally or over Zoom. Oh sure they will still fly, but it will be less often & more likely for vacations. This isn’t an AA problem, it’s an aviation problem.

  3. American Airlines: A credit card company that happens to fly airplanes. The same can be said for Delta and Southwest, too.

    1. The difference is that, even pre-covid, Delta and Southwest made money operating passenger operations, something American did not do.

      I’m not sure of all of the financial implications for American because of all of these loyalty program changes although many AAdvantage members are trying to calculate the implications on their own relationship with American.

      I do know that American has to figure out how to become a lot more profitable than it was pre-covid; as government funding for the airline industry ends, every airline is plotting their own path forward and it will be very much worth watching how AA is able to use its loyalty program to increase its profitability.

      1. As often happens on airline blogs, that worn-out credit card statement doesn’t present the story in its full context. If one looked only at the raw numbers in some (cherry-picked) quarters, that statement appears to be true. But one minor (really major) fact gets conveniently ignored by those who are making those statements (i.e., the person who originally pointed this out for the cherry-picked time frame). An airline credit card has little to no value without the airline. But why let facts get in the way of a vendetta? I think it’s pretty sad that there are people who are rooting for American Airlines (or any company for that matter) to be liquidated, and cost thousands of hard-working people their livelihoods.

        1. I might also point out that the quarters in question were profitable for American on a GAAP basis (even though the dollar amount of the profit closely matched the revenue generated from credit card activity, which is what spurred the vendetta-driven comment). That’s a far cry from the post-2001 time frame (which is only 20 years ago) when almost every major legacy carrier (including the “perfect” airline, by the way, in case that fact has been conveniently forgotten or ignored) was posting losses and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. We might want to ask ourselves, does anyone really want to go back to those times? Let’s see where the airlines are five years from now.

        2. nobody is rooting for anyone’s demise. Period.
          You can define cherrypicking however you want but multiple years of the past 10 even before covid is not cherrypicking.
          Of course airlines have to strike a balance between their “core” mission of flying passengers and all the associated businesses that have sprung up around the airlines. and of course a loyalty program means nothing if the company it is attached to is not viable but that doesn’t change that some airlines financially do a better job of delivering for shareholders and customers better than other airlines The goal of a for-profit company is to give away only as much as is necessary to maximize profits. Loyalty programs exist because the airline industry is highly competitive, more so in the US than in most other parts of the world.
          Southwest is actually the best example of an airline that has excelled very well w/ what would be considered a fairly weak loyalty program.
          The statement below by cactusneedle is very accurate. Not only is the airline industry very competitive but so increasingly are loyalty programs, esp. bank-affiliated ones. Other industries have seen how well airlines have done w/ loyalty programs (that was bound to happen when airlines borrowed against their FF programs) and want a bigger piece of the pie.
          and based on filings which each of the big 3 made as part of obtaining loans against their loyalty programs, Delta gets the most revenue from its loyalty program while also generating the best profit from its passenger operations.
          That reality doesn’t make Delta “perfect” (your words, not mine) but it does say that American is not doing as good of a job of running either its passenger or loyalty programs as other airlines.
          We shouldn’t have to whisper that reality in the bathroom because it is uncomfortable for some to hear. and neither should the reality that someone is doing better mean that others are doomed to failure.

          1. Facts are really fun things to Tim Dunn. Take a couple out of context and apply them in unique ways, a la Tim Dunn, and you can convince yourself that you’re just “sharing the hard truth” that only Delta is amazing and AA is lousy.

            Delta told investors in 2019 that their new American Express deal would increase the “benefit” from $3.4B/year in 2018 to $7B/year by 2023. If you even do the simple math, Delta wasn’t profitable from flying passengers in 2019 either, Tim. Ancillary, refinery, and Misc revenue was $2.0B. Total profit was $4.0B. And Delta said in their 2019 10-K that Loyalty contribution was $4.1B alone meaning their entire profit for the year could be attributed to their loyalty program if we take things as simply as you attempt here.

            Delta did make more money than AA in 2019. That’s true. But coming up with these simplistic “AA can’t make money flying passengers” comments is just a bit silly given the complexity around diverse revenue streams in the industry and the accounting associated with loyalty programs particularly before the pandemic when a lot of the information was not shared about these programs with investors.

            Delta didn’t make money flying passengers either using Tim’s simple and incorrect math.

            1. You do know the difference between revenue and profits, don’t you? They are not the same.

              Plenty of professional analysts, not me, have come to the conclusion that AAL consistently does not make money on its passenger operations. They simply do not say that about other airlines.

              With this move, American is trying to find a balance between non-transportation and transportation revenue. Given that there are 3 US global airlines which have pretty similar models, there will be differences about which work better.

              As someone on here says a WHOLE LOT “different is good.” but different does not yield the same results.

            2. I know the difference. Thanks. Simply using Delta’s own 10-K to show you how silly your simplifications are for the loyalty programs of both airlines and your love of saying “aa can’t make money flying pax but delta can”.

          2. Tim, In reading a number of airline blogs, it sure reads like there are some people who want to see American liquidated. They also seem to have an irrational hatred of Doug Parker. Maybe it’s just envy. I might quickly remind the critics that the vast majority of the new aircraft that are responsible for a large percentage of American’s debt were ordered by the former management prior to AMR’s Chapter 11 filing. What was the alternative? A bunch of 40-year-old MD-80s still flying around? The one thing better overall airline profits have done is allow carriers to invest in newer aircraft, as United is doing. Even the “perfect airline” is buying new aircraft. Different airlines invest in themselves differently. One way isn’t automatically better than another. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. American is buying used aircraft (A319s and E170s) when it sees a good situation. So is United. I’m glad all of the major U.S. carriers can do that, not mad like some people.

            The desire to compare airlines like kids compare new bicycles is really a bit silly. At the risk of repeating myself, it’s okay for airlines to try new things, have slightly different business models, and invest in new aircraft and other capital improvements as long as they can service the debt, serve their stakeholders, and make a profit. The members of the board of directors are the people who are charged with watching these things. If the shareholders were as concerned about American’s finances as you and other critics pretend to be, Parker would have been out a long time ago. They have real-world data. We don’t.

            American’s investor relations page has a prospectus for a new EETC offering to finance new aircraft. It’s quite enlightening. If Amerian was as cash-strapped as you suggest, it couldn’t float this kind of offering. It would be using other sources. Corporate finances are really no different than personal finances. It’s about cash flow. As for the “perfect airline,” I’m being facetious, although I can wander into sarcasm. To read your posts, Delta is perfect. And most other airlines are fatally flawed. News Flash: No airline (or company for that matter) is perfect.

            1. Excellent post, agreed on all counts.

              People seem to want to reduce everything from business to politics to a competition, winners and losers, because it’s simple to comprehend. It takes a little more brainpower to consider everything between the two extremes.

            2. Given that American Airlines supported deregulation of the U.S. airline industry which transitioned it from a regulated utility to a competitive, free market industry, they, not me, chose to participate in a highly competitive industry.

              I get that some people try to make their point by using exaggeration but when people use phrases like “perfect” airline and people not participating in this discussion wanting anyone to fail, the point is lost.

              As hard as it is for some to accept, American Airlines and only American Airlines has consistently lost money operating its passenger operation. They need to figure out how to turn the company around. Their latest loyalty program changes might help – or they might not.

              As a free market, profit-motivated enterprise, they are free and, in fact, encouraged to do what is in the best interest of their shareholders – which own the company.

  4. I like it. AA is going after the people that really brings value to the bottom line. A lot of that are the credit card spenders. Let’s face it, AA credit card is gigantic rip off. It’s good to give it some additional value.

    1. What do you mean “ripoff.” A gold card costs next to nothing, and you earn unlimited miles. Nothing ripoff about it.

    2. I find the AA credit card to be a good value. For the $99 annual fee I use it to get in group 5 boarding which makes buying a basic economy ticket more tolerable for myself. I like the free checked bag option too. I don’t use the card for purchases outside of AA tickets since the redemption value isnt good. The early boarding is more than you get with the JetBlue Mastercard.

  5. What does earning Loyalty Points look when flying Partner ticket flights vs. AA ticketed flights.

    E.g. I could get a discounted Business class RT ticket from JFK-LHR-BLR on an average for $2500.
    The same flight can be ticketed as AA or BA today.
    If ticketed as AA, a base member will earn 12500 base miles while if ticketed as BA, earns roughly 100% base miles+25% cabin bonus on the 18000 miles trip i.e. 22500 miles.
    So in this scenario which is better for earning Loyalty Points? BA ticketed flights right?

    1. Could be based on just the absolute value of the points. But you’ll also have to consider what BA will charge for redemptions. I’m not sure if they add fuel surcharges and the like for flights on AA metal versus BA, but their cash requirement charges have been pretty onerous for BA flights in their program.

    2. Shri – That would be correct if the math is right. Have to remember that taxes do not count toward the calculation of base miles, so if it’s $2500 all in, the spread might be even more.

      1. Thank you! Yes, I see this working out well for me since I do atleast two RTs to India every year.
        And I have been using AA Dining program for years now and now its just matter of getting Citi’s cobranded AA card now.

        I had Barclays Red Aviator however closed it few years back and with their life time language, I wont qualify for the SUB again.

  6. I’m not an expert at frequent flyer programs by any stretch of the imagination. But it seems to me that anytime loyalty programs are changed, the reaction tends to be negative, even when the changes are positive or benign. I guess most people just don’t like change – or they don’t want to read through all the fine print (which is my reaction – LOL). Playing Captain Obvious and repeating myself (which I’m prone to do), the only way to know if something is going to work is to give it a shot. And what’s so terrible about doing something a bit differently than the competition?

    1. Agreed. It’s unlikely to make a difference to me personally as I am for now aiming for AS status (and maintain UA lifetime Gold). But the loyalty to the brand approach that rewards activity not tied to a butt in an airplane seat makes sense to me. Not sure if the program really got significantly easier to comprehend as people still need to figure out the earnings based on partner charts, fare classes and elite status, and now add to that the opportunity cost when putting charges on AA cards that would earn better value on other cards. But for now I am pretty neutral about this change.

  7. I am an executive platinum on AA. Have been for more than 15 years.

    I am wondering how they will prioritize upgrades with this new system. Right now the upgrades go by elite status… And then within individual tiers it is divided out as to how much you have spent on American in the last nine months.

    My guess would be they would let you qualify for a higher tier with spending on the cards… But keep the priority for upgrades within the tier based upon what you spend on American only. That way they get the best of both worlds… They can make more money from the credit card people because the points or more valuable, but they also encourage frequent fliers to spend more on the airline itself.

    1. @John they clearly said it’s by status, then Loyalty points. It won’t matter where those Loyalty Points come from… flight revenue or credit card spend. If they have more LP than you they’re higher on the list.

      1. How do they allocate upgrades within a tier? That is the question I’m trying to get answered.

        I read through the email they sent me explaining the changes…and it didn’t explain the changes. My thought is, as always, benefits never get better when companies make changes like this.

  8. I look at it two ways. First, the value of elite status (and I’m one on United) has been so de-valued as to make it almost worthless. The biggest benefit of elite status was upgrades and those are gone. There is some limited benefit to shorter lines, more attractive access to reservation agents and more people willing to assist you, but the days where elite status meant your own semi-private club, automatic upgrades etc., are gone.

    Second, if you want first class, pay for it. Otherwise, don’t expect something for nothing!

    1. I’m beginning to think you are right. Citibank offers a 2% back on everything card. Chase Prime Reserve offers 3 points per dollar for travel and meals which can be 4.5 cents off the regular dollar price of travel brought thru Chase. The airline credit cards are good deals the first year if there is a big bonus for signing up but mostly just offer a mile per dollar spent after the bonus and it is usually hard use the miles at more than 2 cents per mile whatever the airline is.

      1. There are myriad better credit card deals than any of the airline cards, even factoring in some freebies like a few checked bags.

        That’s sorta my point. I’m not going to be conned into a worse credit card deal than I could get otherwise just to be loyal to my airline of choice.

  9. I guess that I am missing something in this. I don’t see how this is an improvement.
    30,000 points = $6,000 of airfare (excluding taxes) at 5 points/$. That’s 50% more than UA’s $4,000 spend only criteria.
    Unless you are running a ton of spending through an AA branded card, I think you’re toast.

    I don’t know about the rest of y’all… but my corporate travel has to run through my corporate card. Without any help from an AA branded card, both UA and DL seem like much lower bars to me. I don’t see any reason why I’d run any of my corporate travel though AA now unless schedule/etc make it otherwise attractive. And if work travel ever rebounds to being 80-90% of my travel again… I’ll have status on UA and/or DL long before I ever could on AA with this math.

    1. MJX – Well, if you’re already an elite you get bonuses on flying.
      Golds will only need to spend just shy of $4300 to get status since they get 7x instead of the 5x for general members. Let’s say you’re using $4000 as your benchmark. That gets you 28,000 Loyalty Points and then you just need to spend $2000 on the credit card during the year or use dining or shopping partners to get there. That’s a pretty low bar.

  10. 1. Fly less — the last 18 months have proven we can do that.

    2. Buy first class — or whatever premium-level seat makes you happy, on whatever airline offers the best deal/timing/route.

    3. Ignore FF programs — they’re barely better than a lottery.

    1. Dan – I disagree with point 3. Relying on upgrades… that’s no better than the lottery for all but the most frequent travelers, but there are very clear tangible benefits that you get every time including preferred seating, priority check-in and boarding, and bonus miles. (I’d add free bags, but you get those with the credit card anyway.) So if you’re going to fly, no reason to ignore the game. Just don’t bend over backwards and let it make your decisions.

      1. If you buy F you get all of that — preferred seating, priority check-in and boarding, and bonus miles — anyway. That’s my point. Plus, the ticket fare basis tells everyone in the chain who needs to know that you paid for that seat, it wasn’t an upgrade.

      2. AAs Flagship Business Seat costs about $650 between JFK and LAX/SNA, scoring that upgrade isn’t that important. You can buy a business class seat for about $350 above coach and ignore all the tiers and status games. I am sure AA would rather fill its business class cabin with revenue passengers than give away free upgrades so a transcon business tickets will rarely get exorbitantly expensive any more.

  11. The headline on your email is confusing. It can be read as AA is eliminating elite status that can be earned without flying—the exact opposite of the meaning you intended.

    1. Lol I thought I was the only one that read it the way. Guess it was wishful thinking from my perspective!

        1. Maybe that’s why I was so angry when I read the post, I was expecting the exact opposite after interpreting the headline that way!

  12. Personally, I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the old insane EQD amounts anyways (for EXP status) once it went back to ‘normal’, and I’m only 50k EQMs away from 2 million miler. So this doesn’t necessarily seem like a worse approach if one is already elite. I guess time will tell how difficult it is to achieve this amount of spend in reality.

  13. I am going to throw something out there without having yet analysed the hypothesis, so please don’t flame me!

    Could some of this be a way to combat the airline-unaffiliated points cards (e.g., Ink, Sapphire)? If I redeem points via Sapphire for an “award” ticket, the airlines see that as a purchased ticket. So, I am better off using one of those cards rather than an airline-branded card. Perhaps the AA Loyalty Points program neutralizes the threat.

    Would love to hear others’ thoughts.

    1. cactusneedle – I don’t think you’re wrong on that at all. American has always had a different, more protective view of its co-brand relationships. United with Chase and Delta with Amex have become slaves to the money. They actively participate in points transfers from those partners’ non-cobrand cards, so they contribute to the lowered utility of their own cobrands because of the money that Chase and Amex sink into them. American sees it differently and doesn’t like points transfers. The current Citi promo they say is still very much just a temporary thing due to the pandemic. They say it will end. They want people to keep earning on AA cards. The lower redemption values using AA points vs a partner where you can transfer, like BA, helps make that more valuable as well. So I think this all adds together to try to make the co-brand card more valuable, and that’s American’s goal.

      1. AS has been doing something similar recently by offering elites the option to earn EQMs (capped at 20k for $20k spend) on their BofA AS cards. I had little reason to actually use my AS Visa in the past since I have cards with better earnings (so it was basically an annual fee for the companion pass and occasional 20% discount for inflight food purchases). But now I have shifted some actual spend to the card.

  14. The biggest news in the credit card loyalty program wars this week is coming from American Express that is rolling out a new small business checking account and debit card package that will include Membership Rewards. Visa and Mastercard are issued by banks so they cannot duplicate (or have not chosen to do so yet), the intermingling of traditional bank and credit card services.
    The AMEX deal has the potential to dramatically change the value of brand-specific loyalty programs such as airline credit cards and their associated loyalty programs.

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