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AAdvantage Aviator Red review – Get it for the bonus or elite qualifying option

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This article was last updated Jan 06, 2017, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

Worth $95?

You’ll find the card worth the $95 annual fee if….

You fly American Airlines and check bags on domestic flights, but don’t have free checked bags through your status or another credit card. Checked bags with American Airlines start at $25 per direction, so you would need to fly four one-way flights in order to break even on the annual fee.

If you often travel with companions, then it would be possible for the card to pay for itself even fast as up to four companions can also check their bags for no fee.

If you don’t check bags or you have a free checked bag though status or another credit card, it is a bit more challenging to make a case for the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® to be worth it and will depend significantly on your travel patterns and how many miles you redeem per year.

You spend more than $1,000 a month on the card. That will earn you over 10,000 AAdvantage® miles in a year, and we value AAdvantage miles at about 1.5 cents each, so that’s over $150 in value from the miles you earn.

You’re trying to earn elite status. The $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars you earn after spending $25,000 in a calendar year can add up and get you to the next AAdvantage elite tier.

If you redeem a lot of American AAdvantage® miles every year, having the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® card is an easy way to get up to 10,000 miles back per year thanks to the benefit that gives you 10% of the miles you spend back, up to 100,000 miles spent. Most people would consider saving 10,000 miles to be worth paying the $95 annual fee, but not everyone is spending 100,000 miles a year.

If you have a more flexible travel schedule and are able to make use of American’s reduced mileage awards, you can save 7,500 miles on select routes throughout the year. If you want to visit new places but aren’t dead set on any one destination, this is an easy way to save a lot of miles and could make it worth paying the $95 annual fee.

If you’re not saving money on checked bags or saving miles, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® probably isn’t the best option for you. It is not a strong card for spending on, nor does it have many other stellar benefits like lounge access or an annual travel credit.

How the miles work

When using the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® card, you will be earning American AAdvantage® miles. All redemptions will be according to their award chart.

In many cases, you will need to call American Airlines if you are trying to book an award. You can easily search online for awards on American Airlines, Air Berlin, and British Airways flights. Flights on most other partners cannot be booked online.

What airlines can you book?

You can book flights on American Airlines as well as any of their partners. For most partner flights, you will need to call American Airlines in order to book.

American Airlines’ partners are:

  • Airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Alaska Airlines
  • El Al
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fiji Airlines
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways

What can you do with the points?

There are so many options for travel that you can book with your points, but to name just a few:

  • Fly between the U.S. and Europe for as little as 22,500 miles during the off-peak season (October 15 – May 15) in Economy.
  • Fly in Cathay Pacific First Class on your way to Asia for as little as 80,000 miles each way.
  • Redeem your American Airlines miles to fly in Etihad’s stunning First Class Apartment. Redemptions from the U.S. to the Middle East cost 115,000 miles each way, but you can also fly from London to Abu Dhabi and experience the First Class Apartment for only 62,500 miles.
  • Fly from the U.S. to Southern South America on LATAM’s business class for 57,500 American Airlines miles.
  • Fly from the Continental U.S. to Alaska for 15,000 miles each way in economy.

Earning points

The card earns 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.


Travel protection

Barclays credit cards don’t have best-in-class travel protections. Nonetheless, here are the details of what you do get.

Car rental coverage

The car rental coverage only applies to the primary cardmember and will cover rentals of up to 15 days within your country of residence or 31 days outside of your country of residence. The benefit will cover up to the actual cash value of the car that was originally rented. This is a secondary insurance within your home country, so you will go through your personal insurance first.

Trip and baggage delay

This card has no trip delay insurance. If your baggage is delayed, you are covered for $100 per day for up to three days and will cover only “essential items.”

Trip cancellation / interruption

When you have made your travel purchases on your AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, you will be covered up to $1,500 in the case of trip cancellation or interruption. The trip cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the cardholder or an immediate family member or default of the common carrier due to financial insolvency.

Medical Evacuation

There is no medical evacuation coverage from the Aviator Red card.

How does it compare to other cards?

Whether or not the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® will make sense for you depends on how you plan to use the card. As a general rule, it will not be the most rewarding card for your spend, and likely will not give you the most other benefits either. We’ll take a look at the Aviator Red compared to a few competitors based on the following monthly spending pattern:

  • $200 gas
  • $400 groceries
  • $100 restaurants
  • $100 travel
  • $700 other

Make sure to compare credit cards after considering your own spending patterns.

When spending on your Aviator Red, you would earn 1,600 American Airlines miles per month. In a year you would earn 19,200 American Airlines miles, which would be 5,000 miles short of what is needed for a domestic round trip ticket.

vs Discover it® Miles

The Discover it® Miles earns unlimited 1.5x miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. The equates to $270 over the course of the year when you redeem your points toward travel purchases, according to the spending pattern outlined above. You don’t need a minimum amount of miles in order to redeem them.

A huge bonus of the Discover it® Miles is that Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel!. If you earn 27,000 miles, Discover will give you an additional 27,000 miles at the end of your first year. The first year, this would equate to $540 earned back from your spending. You’ll also be able to be reimbursed for up to $30 of your in-flight wifi purchases. The Discover it® Miles has a $0 annual fee.

vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. According to the spending pattern above, you would earn 1,700 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per month and 20,400 Ultimate Rewards points per year.

Not only is this more miles than you would earn through your Aviator Red card, but Ultimate Rewards points are generally considered to be more valuable because they can be transferred to a variety of partners including United, British Airways, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, and more. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers valuable trip cancellation, delay, lost/delayed baggage, and primary car rental coverage insurance.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card annual fee is $95.

vs Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (World Elite versions tend to get good travel protection)

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is another easy card with no bonus categories to keep track of. You’ll earn Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases.

Over the course of a year, you can earn $360 in cashback that can be applied to your travel purchases or any other purchases you make. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has a $0* annual fee and also grants you some trip cancellation, interruption, travel accident, and car rental insurance benefits.

vs Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® is a rotating cashback card. Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Over the course of a year, according to the spending pattern we outlined above, you would earn 17,800 Ultimate Rewards points. If you do not have a premium Chase credit card, these points can be redeemed for $178 in cash back, but if you do have a premium Chase credit card these points can be transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partner programs. There is a $0 annual fee.

vs Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card earns Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment and Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases. Citi considers ‘entertainment’ to consist of the following: live entertainment, theatrical productions, concerts, live sporting events, movie theaters, amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses, and carnivals), tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries), record stores, video rental stores, and on-demand internet streaming media.

We will assume that one quarter of your travel expenses would fall into this category. With the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, you would be able to earn 16,750 ThankYou points in a year. The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card also offers trip delay, cancellation, travel accident, and rental car insurance coverage. There is a $0 annual fee.

Questions and Answers

Does the card report to the credit bureau?


Can you share points with others?

With American Airlines you can always book a ticket for someone else out of your account, but you will pay a fee if you want to transfer your miles to someone else.

Can you combine points with other rewards-earning cards?

Not really. If you have another credit card that earns American Airlines miles, all of your American Airlines miles from both credit cards will go into the same account. If you have another card that earns a different kind of miles (like United) you will not be able to combine them.

Is it a Chip and PIN card?

Yes, this card has an EMV chip and can be assigned a PIN for transactions at kiosks and other places that don’t take a signature.

What happens to your points if you cancel the card?

If you cancel your credit card your miles will remain in your American AAdvantage account. Your miles are subject to American AAdvantage® expiration policy which requires earning or redeeming miles every 18 months to keep your account active.

Can you get the annual fee refunded?

You can get the annual fee refunded for up to 30 days from the closing date of the billing cycle in which the fee was posted. Beyond that time, you will not be able to get any amount of the annual fee refunded.

What is the best introductory offer?

The best offer that is currently available is for 40,000 miles. You’ll be able to earn 40,000 American Airlines miles after making your first purchase within 90 days of opening the account and paying the $95 annual fee.

Is there airport lounge access?

There is no airport lounge access included with the Aviator Red.

Can you get both a shopping portal and category bonus?

Yes! When shopping online you should always go through a shopping portal to increase the number of points and miles you are earning.

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