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The LuxuryCard Gold Card

Military Churning Views on the LuxuryCard Gold Card

Gold is hard to photograph if your photography skills consist of an iPhone X and a dinner table.

This card exists for Instagram “influencers” to flaunt their poor financial decisions under the guise of excessive wealth to the masses. Its only play is exclusivity, like that app that cost $1,000 just to show people you could afford it. Also like that app, the Gold Card has an unwaiverable annual fee of $995. For that, you get 2% cashback on all purchases (free with the Citi DoubleCash), a $200 airline credit (available as $300 travel credit for just $550 annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve, among others), and a Priority Pass membership (the bare minimum benefit for every single premium travel card out there). That’s it. Why anyone with any modicum of respect for personal finance would get this card is beyond me.

So of course, I got the card. This is my story.

Back When Barclays Was Cool

There was as much empty space under the card as there was on the card benefits page.

In the early days and simpler times of churning, Barclays gave out SCRA annual fee waivers and dropped card interest rates to 0% for all their cards for anyone on active duty (similar to the current Amex model). Then Barclays came up with their LuxuryCard lineup, or LuxuryCard had this idea and Barclays was just the servicing bank, I’m honestly still unsure how this sordid relationship works. The peak offering was the Gold Card with its $995 annual fee for honestly less benefit than the Amex Plat. Terrible return for the fee but the $200 airline credit made this a no brainer if they were just handing them to the military for free. So I got the card with a $20k limit and milked the bennies for a year. If you happened to be in the churning game before me (pre-May 2016) the Gold Card even had a 50k point sign up bonus, worth a cool $1,000. I missed it by 2 months.

Back When Barclays Got Really Uncool Really Fast

Suddenly, Barclays went all Citi pre-MLA on us and sent out letters stating the SCRA benefits would be revoked for accounts acquired after going AD and that we would be getting charged that $995 annual fee on our next account anniversary. This was an unfortunate blow, but the letter also stated another curiosity: the 0% interest rate would be honored for the life of the account. I surely wasn’t going to pay this AF but I could keep the account open until that fee would hit and maybe find a use for a $20k interest-free limit. Later on, I applied for the Barclays Aviator Red for its 50k AA miles bonus after any 1 purchase and the $95 annual fee. This card came with a cool $17k credit limit and I pretty much figured I was done with Barclays and their non-AF waiving practices.

Back When Barclays Unwittingly Redeemed Itself

The pocket guide was just full of luxurious pictures of people that were smart enough to travel without paying $995 per year.

About a month before I needed to close the Gold Card account to avoid its absurd AF, I found myself on a Disney Cruise with the wife. We sat through some Disney timeshare briefs (Disney Vacation Club) for the chance to win some shipboard credit (that I did not win). As it turned out, the Disney Vacation Club, in an unprecedented feat for a timeshare, actually made financial sense to buy into if you could do so without financing. It also turned out that the DVC package required to attain a bunch of shipboard discounts, making it even more of a financial win, was priced to the tune of $30k. I did not have a spare $30k to blow on Disney vacations like so many apparently do, which meant I would have to finance and, at a Disney interest rate of 9.99%, that would have negated all the financial benefit I figured out earlier.

But wait, I had the LuxuryCard Gold Card sitting at 0% interest and $37k of unsecured credit with Barclays. Could I really just charge a $30k DVC membership to a credit card? Surprisingly, yes. The mouse will happily take your money any way you offer it. So I put a call into Barclays and transferred $15k of my credit limit on the Aviator Red to the Gold Card, bringing the Gold Card credit limit up to $35k. I then swiped the Gold Card (a 2% cashback card, mind you) to the tune of $30k in one charge and the wife and I became DVC members.

After waiting for the charge to clear, liquidating the 30k points that netted me $600 in cashback, and closing the card account to avoid the AF, I was left with a $29,400 unsecured 0% interest loan from Barclays (that gets paid back at 1% per month, about equivalent to a 30-year mortgage) and a financially savvy DVC membership. To date, it’s been one of my best financial plays.

The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

Military Churning Views on the AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

Not a bad looking card, better without that pesky blur though

This little ditty is a unique animal in the military churners wallet. Unique because Barclaycard, who used to be one of, if not the best SCRA applying companies in America, up and did a 180 on their policy in 2017 and became the worst SCRA applying company. So much so, that not even the MLA could break their armor for annual fee waivers and thus you will have to pay all Barclaycard cards’ annual fees. It’s a lot less fun when you don’t get to churn on easy mode.

Anywho, that doesn’t matter for this, the Aviator Red card. It doesn’t matter because the annual fee is $99 and for that, you get anywhere from 40k-60k American Airlines miles depending on the current sign-up promotion. No minimum spend, no tiered gimmicks, just make any old purchase on the card, pay off the annual fee, and you’ve essentially bought 50k AA miles for $99. That’s an easy round trip ticket (likely more) in CONUS, for $99. It’s probably the only time this blog will recommend you pay actual money for travel benefits.

In addition to the bonus you get a $99 companion certificate, $25/yr in AA inflight wifi, preferred boarding, first checked bag free, and a “flight cents” thing where you can round up all your purchases to the nearest whole dollar, and those extra cents buy you sort of discounted AA miles at 2 cents per mile. It’s sort of discounted because you can currently buy AA miles from AA right now anywhere between 4.7 and 1.6 cents per mile, depending on volume bought.  To achieve a better than 2 cents per mile rate, you would be looking at spending $2,686.50 for 100,000 miles with a bonus 27,500 miles for their current promotion.