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Keep or cancel? Aviator credit card options for American Airlines miles

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This article was last updated Dec 03, 2016, 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 Mastercard® online and the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Mastercard® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. These offers and/or promotions may have changed, expired, or are no longer available since publication.

If you had a US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard, you received a new Aviator credit card from Barclays that earns American AAdvantage® miles.

This is all part of the merger between American and US Airways, and while we answer a lot of common questions about the cards here, you might be deciding whether to cancel your new card, especially if you already have an American AAdvantage credit card.

The first thing to consider before you cancel is this:

You can only apply for an AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Mastercard® online – the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Mastercard® option you can ask to switch to after you’ve opened your account.

To help decide, let’s walk through your options based on the specific Aviator Card. There are 2:

  • AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Mastercard® (closest to the popular Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card)
  • AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Mastercard® (consider if you want to earn elite status)

AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®

aadvantageaviatorredworldelitemastercard

This is the card most people already have, and pretty similar to your old US Airways Mastercard.

Here’s a summary of benefits:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you make your first purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee
  • 2X AAdvantage® miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1X AAdvantage® mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 10% of Your Redeemed Miles Back (up to 10,000 back per year)
  • Free Checked Bag: One bag each for you and up to 4 traveling companions on your reservation when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
  • Priority Boarding. Get preferred boarding on domestic American Airlines flights.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • EMV Chip with PIN capability
  • $95 annual fee

What’s different from your US Airways card?

Not much. Your annual fee is the same and the miles you earn from spending are the same.

The biggest difference is that you’ll no longer get a companion certificate each year for $99 travel. That benefit is gone, so if you valued that you’re unfortunately out of luck unless you want the more expensive $189 per year AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Mastercard® credit card. And even then you only get the certificate if you spend $30,000 or more per year on the card.

What do you get in addition?

A new feature that’s not part of the US Airways card is the ability to get 10% of the miles you redeem back each year, up to 10,000 miles back.

What alternative is there?

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is the closest alternative from Citibank. You earn Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases* and receive the same baggage and boarding benefits on American flights as the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®.

One key difference is the Aviator allows you to earn a $100 credit for American Airlines travel each year you spend $30,000 on the card, while the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® doesn’t. So it’s easier to offset your annual fee cost with the Aviator and for that reason it’s a better choice.

And the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® lets you earn up to $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars by spending $25,000 in a calendar year.

If you want a lower annual fee, consider asking Barclays to downgrade you to one of the lower fee Aviator cards mentioned below.

AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Mastercard®

aviatorsilver

This is the premium card that can earn you miles that count toward AAdvantage elite status. It’s only available as an upgrade from the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®. You can upgrade after holding the Aviator Red for 90 days.

Here’s a summary of benefits:

  • Earn 3X miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles for every dollar spent on eligible hotels and car rentals
  • Earn 1X mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) for each $20,000 in annual purchases made with your card (10,000 maximum EQMs per year).
  • Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases in a calendar year, and earn $3,000 more EQDs after spending $50,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • $99 companion certificate each year you spend $30,000 on the card
  • Get 10% of Your Redeemed Miles Back (up to 10,000 back per year)
  • Get your $100 Global Entry application fee credited
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • EMV Chip with PIN capability
  • 25% in-flight savings
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 8 companions on your reservation (one bag per person) on domestic American and US Airways flights
  • Priority Boarding. Get preferred boarding on domestic American Airlines flights.
  • $189 annual fee

What’s different from your US Airways card?

The big benefit is the card lets you earn elite qualifying miles to help you reach AAdvantage elite status faster. And it lets you earn a companion certificate like you used to with your US Airways card, though you have to spend $30,000 on your card to get it.

So the Silver card is really best if you plan to reach AAdvantage elite status, and need some extra miles to get to the next level.

Otherwise you’re probably better off with the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®.

What alternative is there?

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is the only other card that lets you earn AAdvantage elite qualifying miles, but it’s more expensive with a $450 annual fee because it offers full Admirals Club airport lounge membership. It also requires you to spend a full $40,000 to earn 10,000 qualifying miles. There is no 5,000 mile option after $20,000 in spending. So if you just want elite qualifying miles the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Mastercard® is a better choice.


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