Review: Barclay (American Airlines) AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard

The new iteration of the Barclay (American Airlines) AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard has arrived. New, because this is the first time the card has been offered to the public (having previously been a conversion from the U.S. Airways Premier World MasterCard after the merger of the two airlines). It has one of the easiest bonuses to earn in all of credit cards: make one purchase, pay the annual fee, earn 40,000 AAdvantage Miles.

Before getting to the review, a story about the previous iteration of this card:

T and I both got the (now defunct) U.S. Airways card with an agreement for 40,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase and 10,000 additional miles after the first year’s renewal. Soon after, a similar offer was released, but this time for 50,000 miles. After making our first purchases, I called customer service and requested the additional 10,000 miles from the updated offer and it was granted. What we did not know was that every offer was retroactively granted the additional 10,000, and so we ended up with 60,000 miles. After a $25 statement credit for converting to e-statements, our cards were converted to American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCards and our miles were converted over to AAdvantage miles. At the end of the year, we were presented with a spending challenge: spend $500 in three consecutive months for 15,000 miles PLUS the 10,000 mile bonus previously agreed. T and I happily complied. We then redeemed 50,000 miles for a trip from Honolulu (HNL) to Tokyo (HND) via Hawaiian Airlines and received 10% of our miles back, or 5,000 (x2). In the following year, we were then offered to convert our Red cards to Silver for free, despite the $195 annual fee. Because we weren’t putting spend on these cards, we converted for one thing: a free $100 credit for Global Entry, a program that allows for easy customs entry and confers TSA Pre-check. Finally, when the next year’s annual fee recently came due, we cancelled the cards.

The final tally: in two years, T and I both placed about $3,000-4,000 spend on these cards, max. We paid two annual fees of $89 each before cancelling. For that, we received over 90,000 AAdvantage miles, and $125 in statement credits. With a value of about $0.017/mile, we earned $1,530 + $125 – $178, or $1,477, each. Which feels like we got a bargain out of Barclay and American Airlines.

Barclay (American Airlines) AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard

Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red World MasterCard. Image Credit: courtesy of Barclay and MasterCard.

Benefits:

  • 40,000 point bonus after your first purchase and paying the annual fee
  • Earn 2x points (per dollar spent) on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back (10,000 miles maximum per calendar year)
  • Airline benefits: first checked bag free, Group 1 boarding, 25% inflight savings
  • No foreign transaction fee on purchases
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months
  • Opportunity for (targeted, varying term) spending challenges during the year (e.g., 5,000 miles after spend, or multiplier bonuses)
  • World Elite MasterCard benefits

Damage:

  • $95 annual fee
  • 16.49%, 20.49%, or 25.49% APR variable, based upon your creditworthiness

Analysis:

Your experience with this card will probably vary from ours. But this is still a very easy bonus of 40,000 AAdvantage miles to achieve. If you travel often on American Airlines, or if you’re targeting extra miles for free travel, this may be the card for you. Note: after a devaluation of AAdvantage miles, redemptions have been more costly and very few MileSAAver seats have been released; a coach round trip award fare from Hawaii to the mainland would be 40,000 in Economy MileSAAver (off-peak); a coach round trip award fare from Hawaii to Japan be 90,000 miles (although I did see a few 32,500 fares available, which would suggest a round trip cost of 65,000 miles is theoretically possible). Check award availability and cost well before making plans. You might also consider booking travel on OneWorld alliance partner airlines, but you may have to call to book the award.

Another consideration: American Airlines has branded credit cards with both Barclay and Citi; of the flexible travel points out there (Amex, Chase, Citi, and SPG), only SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) points transfer to American Airlines.

 

 

 

Questions, Comments or Criticisms?