About AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: May 8, 2017

American Airlines fans have plenty of credit cards to choose from and the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard from Barclays is one of them.

Like it’s competing American Airlines credit cards, the AAdvantage Aviator offers an interesting mix of free miles and bags, along with certain boarding perks and opportunities to earn miles with nearly every purchase you make.

It can be pretty confusing to try and figure out which American Airlines reward card is best, but we’ll try and clear up a bit of that confusion by giving only the most pertinent information about this card’s travel and non-travel benefits, its rates and fees and the reviews the card gets (if any) from fellow consumers and other websites who review credit cards.

Once we take you through each of these topics, we’ll end with one final section that helps sum up everything we talked about and give you a few options if you think this airline rewards card isn’t the best fit for you.

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s Travel Benefits

The AAdvantage Aviator is what’s known as an “airline rewards card”, which means it’s linked to a certain airline and gives you rewards and perks you can use for your flights and, in some cases, at hotels.

Free AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines has a frequent flyer program called AAdvantage. Members of the program rack up miles every time they purchase an American Airlines flight.

Now, most of the flights you book won’t get you that many points – it could take you a couple of years to earn enough miles you can use for a free flight.

The AAdvantage Aviator Red, however, gives you a huge mile boost by offering you 40,000 free AAdvantage miles after you make your first purchase. Those miles will take between 4 and 6 weeks to show up in your AAdvantage account.

You’ll also get 2 miles for every dollar you spend on the American Airlines website, as well as 1 mile for every dollar you spend on everything else.

The final perk? Ten percent of the miles you redeem will be credit back to your account. If you spend 25,000 miles on a flight, you’ll get 2,500 miles back.

Based on our research of numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we believe that a three-person family can easily charge 24,000 a year to their credit card, which means you could earn at least around 65,000 miles the first year you own this card.

The Value of Your AAdvantage Aviator Red Miles

We did a quick search of two flights and found that you could book a mid-week round-trip flight from Miami to New York City for 25,000 points and a weekend round-tripper from Seattle to Chicago for 50,000 miles.

While the point totals can vary wildly depending on where and when you fly, we’re pretty confident in saying that you can get at least one round-trip flight with your first-year points.

Beware: Your Miles Can Expire

Your AAdvantage miles won’t expire if you redeem rewards at least once every 18 months.

However, you can lose your AAdvantage Aviator Red rewards-earning if you don’t have a balance or haven’t made transactions or payments for six consecutive months.

Pro tip: American will charge you $75 for booking a flight “less than 21 days prior to departure.”

Other Travel Perks

Once you book your flight, you’ll enjoy three specific pre-flight and in-flight rewards:

  • 1st checked bag is free
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% off in-flight food/beverage purchases

A few thigs to keep in mind are that the free bag applies to you and up to four other people traveling on your reservation booked with your Aviator Red.

The priority boarding, which gets you on the plane before economy class, also applies to you and up to four traveling companions.

The in-flight purchase discount doesn’t apply to in-flight entertainment or internet and is only good on American Airlines flights or the following carriers marketed by American (code-share flights aren’t eligible):

  • Compass
  • Envoy
  • ExpressJet
  • Republic
  • SkyWest
  • Air Wisconsin
  • Mesa
  • PSA
  • Piedmont
  • Trans States

Non-Flight Travel Benefits

Because the AAdvantage Aviator Red is part of the World Elite Mastercard network, you’ll get special perks and discounts when you use your card to book.

General Airline Travel

Some of those discounts include savings at Park ‘N Fly airport parking facilities, ticket discounts on several international airlines and free business-class upgrades when you book an economy seat on Lufthansa flights.

Luxury Hotel Stays

The card also gets you a multitude of perks and freebies with hotels within the World Elite network. Some of these hotels include the W Chicago, Starwood hotels, the Hotel Imperial in Vienna and Couples Negril in Jamaica.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption

If a trip you booked with your AAdvantage Aviator Red is canceled or interrupted because of certain health issues, then you could be reimbursed for part or all of the cost of the trip.

This benefit comes with certain restrictions and conditions, all of which are included with the benefits guide Barclays mails to you along with your card.

Pro tip: Your AAdvantage Aviator also gives you compliment insurance on car rentals, a feature common with many travel credit cards.

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s Rates and Fees

A credit card’s interest rates and fees are an important part of owning your card because they’ll kick in if you make a late payment or if you don’t pay off your entire balance every month:

  • Purchase APR: 16.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% based on your credit scores/history
  • Balance transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Late fee: $37

Based on the research we did for our Best Airlines Rewards Credit Card of 2017, we believe that the AAdvantage Aviator Red credit card has one of the highest APR levels in the airline rewards industry.

This distinction is usually reserved for Chase cards, whose lowest APRs are usually at 16.49% and highest APRs top out at 25.24%.

You can avoid the AAdvantage Aviator’s high APR by paying your entire balance every month.

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s Reviews

Several credit card sites aside from HighYa have done their own reviews of the AAdvantage Aviator Red card.

WalletHub

WalletHub gave the Aviator Red an 84 out of 100, saying it’s a “good airline affiliated travel rewards credit card” and that it’s “worth serious consideration by American Airlines customers.”

However, the review is outdated because it includes a $100 flight credit if you spend more than $30,000 on the card.

WalletHub knocked the card because you had to spend so much to get the flight credit, but they still rated it highly in spite of that downside.

Doctor of Credit

Doctor of Credit praised the AAdvantage Aviator Red for offering 40,000 miles without a spending requirement. Many cards require you to spend a certain amount of money before you can get free miles.

“AAdvantage miles are pretty valuable, and you can’t beat 40,000 miles with no spending requirement. Because you need to pay the $95 annual fee, you are essentially buying miles at $0.23 apiece.”

Miles Card

MIlesCard.com gives the Aviator Red a 3 out of 5 stars, pointing out that the card is worth its $95 annual fee if you fly American often (free bags will add up) and redeem your miles often (10% bonus).

Our Conclusions About the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

The AAdvantage Aviator Red has some good things going for it:

  • 40,000 bonus miles on 1st purchase
  • 10% bonus on miles redemptions
  • Free bag for up to 4
  • Priority boarding for up to 4

In our opinion, this card hits the gold standard for upper-tier airlines rewards cards: free miles, bags, and boarding.

If this card were to canceled become an upper-echelon airlines reward card, it would also offer a couple of free passes to American Airlines’ Admirals Club airport lounges.

When taken as a whole (benefits, rates, and fees) we think the AAdvantage Aviator Red is an excellent card for people who love to travel American Airlines.

How the Aviator Red Compares to Other Airline Rewards Cards

We believe the AAdvantage Aviator Red stacks up well against other airline rewards cards when you compare the category-by-category benefits.

For example, the 40,000 rewards points are hovering in the same space as the United MileagePlus Explorer and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier cards’ 50,000-mile intro bonus.

The Aviator Red is 20,000 miles behind the Gold Delta SkyMiles intro bonus of 60,000 miles, although, as we’ll explain in a few minutes, the difference isn’t that big when you consider how valuable the miles are.

We also love how you get a free bag and priority boarding like you do with the United card, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and the Gold Delta SkyMiles card.

Where the Aviator Red Falls Short

All in all, we think this is a great card with few weaknesses.

As we mentioned earlier, it lacks the free lounge passes that make the United MileagePlus, in our opinion, the top all-around airline rewards card of 2017.

Miles May Not Get You Far

Another aspect of this card that we don’t like is the limitations you have when booking rewards seats. The Seattle-to-Chicago flight we checked required more points than what you’d get with your bonus.

Now, how many miles your flight costs depends on where you’re going and when you book. Because cheap rewards seats are a popular choice among rewards travelers, they tend to disappear quicker.

If you book too late in the game, you’ll end up with a bunch of 30K-50K seat options that render your intro bonus of 40K pretty ineffective for free travel.

Alternative Cards With Better Miles Value

There are cards out there that can get you more value out of your miles but won’t offer the same level of perks you get with the Aviator Red.

For example, both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier and Frontier Airlines World Mastercard are great for travelers who want to maximize their miles for flights in North America.

Your Rapid Rewards Premiers’ 50,000 bonus miles can get you three round-trip flights to and from any number of destinations because awards seats start out – in many cases – around 8,000 or 9,000 points.

With the 40,000 miles you get with the Frontier Airlines card, you can book two round-trips.

Yet, neither of these cards give you priority boarding or free bags.

Southwest, of course, gives you two free bags whether you’ve got the Premier card or not. However, Frontier Airlines charges for baggage.

And, Southwest and Frontier don’t have their own network of lounges so they can’t offer free entry like the United MileagePlus Explorer or discounted entry like the Gold Delta SkyMiles.

Do Some Comparisons Before You Decide

As you think through your decisions about the Aviator Red, take a few moments to read through our Best Airline Rewards Card of 2017 guide. It will give you a sense of what some of the more popular airline rewards cards offer.

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1 Consumer Review for AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

Average Consumer Rating: 3.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 0 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 0 1 star:  0
Bottom Line: 0% would recommend it to a friend
  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Lower the limit - not impressed anymore with the AA Aviator

    • Dallas, TX,
    • Jun 5, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    As any new relationship, great card. My limit was $8,000. I got the 40,000 miles the first time I used it (and paid the $95 membership).

    However, two months down the road, I had a family emergency and used credit cards to pay for the medical bills, since there was no time to get the money. My mother passed away (on top of medical bills, now it comes funeral bills), and there was nothing we could do.

    Next month, my limit was dropped (I received a letter from the bank a week later) from the $8,000 to $2,700, leaving only $330 available. The previous month I dropped the balance from the upper $6,000 to the lower $3,000 (I am glad I did, otherwise, I would have been "over my credit limit," and I would have been charged fees too, kind of scam to me). It was not an issue to pay the balance. I was working on the payment of all the other credit cards also.

    I called AA Aviator/Barclaycard to inquire about this. I received the "sorry for your loss" and nothing we can do. By lowering the limit, my credit FICO dropped, so now they put me on the "non-preferred" interest rate of 24.95% (Really? All my credit cards, the ones that have interest, are on the preferred 14.9% or lower). I am not late on any of my payments with any credit card or lender, and I went from the upper 700 on the FICO to the mid 600 after the medical emergency. I am now on my way up to get my FICO in the upper 700 as before. I have no problem, and I will get it back in about three to four months.

    So, I was disappointed, perhaps an isolated case with the Aviator credit card, but received no sympathy from the bank (they never had it). I was Platinum with AA, so I did not care much about the Priority boarding or the bags flight free, now I am Gold. I applied for the Sapphire CC from CHASE, what a card! It cost you $450 a year, but you get money back on "changing a flight," fees, and others (up to $300 a year). In addition, it comes with the Priority Pass to the Club, any of the Priority Pass Clubs that are available in many airports (AA Aviator doesn't even give you one or two passes per year as the United Airlines credit card, at least AA Aviator should give you a one or two passes per year). I did not even have to renew my Admiral Club Card this year (just expired last month $450 a year for the last five years, I don't need it anymore).

    I am happy with the Sapphire, it has three times the limit of the AA Aviator, and it comes with a lot of points that I can use for miles, any airlines, anytime, no blackouts, hotels, and more. Perhaps an isolated case, the AA Card was good for me at the beginning, but thanks to Barclaycard Bank, I found Sapphire. I will keep the AA card for a year since I paid for the membership, but once I reach $0.00, it is gone!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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