American and Citi have made a lot of changes in the last few weeks in regard to their credit card programs. First American Airlines announced a partnership with Barclaycard starting next year to offer a second batch of co-branded credit cards. At the same time, Citi started announcing reductions in benefits on the ThankYou Prestige card.
The timing of the two announcements was very close together and although this is some speculation, the two may be tied together. As American on-boards Barclaycard to their AAdvantage program, Citi is likely unhappy about splitting their credit card signups with Barclaycard now. On the consumer side, we get more options which is always a good thing for us, but Citi is losing its exclusivity.
As a result Citi may be pulling benefits from cards like the Prestige card since they are no longer exclusive with American Airlines. Once again, this is speculation, but would make sense given the situation. This may be a result of talks with American, maybe Citi wasn't willing to meet the demands of American and this is part of the pull back on the breakdown, or maybe this has no association at all.
What I'm really interested in here is if these moves are indicative of where we are heading with transferable points between Citi and American Airlines. American Airlines still doesn't partner with a credit card company to offer transferable points/miles. With Citi removing Admirals Club access and reducing their points redemptions with American, I don't expect to see a transferable points structure from Citi.
If this remains the case as I suspect it will, this was a huge misstep by American. While we don't know what they will do with Barclaycard, American remains the sole major airline in the US without a transferable points system from partner credit cards. This immediately gives a leg up to Delta and United who both have a transferable points structure with Amex and Chase respectively.
If we don't see transferable points from American, it just solidifies the idea of moving loyalty to another company. In my eyes American is continuing to misstep in the loyalty arena over and over again, reaffirming my move to Delta. We will see what the future holds, but for now American seems to be making some very bad moves.