If you travel often - or just often enough - it's worth considering a credit card with travel rewards.
It makes a lot of sense to get a card that fits your particular needs, as well as suits your travel preferences.
Here we're going to look at Barclay's AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, which is as hefty in name as it is in bonuses!
1. The quick verdict
As much as we'd like you to stay and savor every word of this AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard credit card review, we're going to make this very easy for you:
If you are even a casual fan of American Airlines, stop reading and head over to the Barclaycard website to apply for this card.
Yes, it's that good of a deal.
And it will expire on November 30, 2017.
At the time of publication, the sign-up bonus was a whopping 60,000 miles.
A month or so ago, it was 50,000, and not long before that, it was 40,000. You could tempt fate to see if it'll go to 70,000, but why?
The 60K points are more than enough for a domestic round-trip flight—or flights if you can make it work with AA's reduced mileages award options.
Out of the many great options for frequent flyers, this card is a no-brainer for American Airlines customers.
If you haven't been airline-loyal in the past, keep reading to find out why the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard might just make you want to get on board with American Airlines.
2. Main Competition: CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
Frequent flyers of American Airlines might also look to the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard as a travel credit card alternative.
The drawback to the CitiBusiness card is that you'll have to spend $3,000 in three months in order to get the sign-on bonus.
When you consider that there is no minimum spend for the Advantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard, we think the better choice is clear.
If you need more convincing, ValuePenguin blogger Robert Harrow has this to say in favor of the airline travel credit card: "We think the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard is better for individuals who spend $30,000+ per year on their credit card.
At this spending threshold, one of the best features of the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard kicks in—a $100 flight discount."
|AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard||CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard|
|How high of credit score do you need?||>700||>700|
|Average APR||16.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% variable APR||16.74-24.74 variable APR%|
|Annual fee||$95||$95 (waived for the first year|
|How big of sign-up bonus do you get?||60,000 points||30,000 points|
|How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?||None||$1,000 within 3 months|
|How many points do you get for every dollar?||2 points for AA purchases and 1 point for all other purchases.||2 points for AA purchases 2 points at gas stations and other select categories 1 point for all other purchases|
|How much is a point worth in real dollars?||According to The Points Guy, $1 is equal to 1.4 cents per AAdvantage mile. Spend $100 in everyday purchases on the card and get 100 miles, which works out to be $1.40. That means you'd have to spend about $6750 to cover the $95 annual fee.||Same.|
3. Is the card good for Travel?
Based on the strength of its rewards and benefits, this card is good for both the occasional and seasoned traveler.
Some of the perks that will make you feel like a jet-set rock star:
No foreign transaction fees. The cardholder (and up to four companion travelers) can check bags for free on domestic flights; priority boarding; and 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights.
4. Strength: Stellar sign-up bonus
The current promotion of 60,000 AA miles upon signup—with no minimum spending!—is one of the best offers we've seen in a while.
The Citi Prestige card does beat the bonus by 15,000 miles for a total of 75,000—but you have to spend $7,500 in eligible purchases in three months to grab those points.
Whether you want to book that awards flight right away or continue to rack them up for an epic adventure, it is worth noting another perk of the AAdvantage Mastercard:
According to the Points Guy blogger, this card is your key to get past economy flying and get into upgrades and better seating.
5. Weakness: the AA miles don't always get you very far
There is one very large drawback for this credit card:
There are limited options when it comes to redeeming your AA miles for awards flights.
Here's one blogger's gripe at the One Mile at a Time blog:
"Between now and the end of 2017, there's not a single flight from New York to Los Angeles or from Los Angeles to New York that has a saver level seat in first or business class. Not one. Not a single one."
JFK or LGA to LAX isn't exactly the most exotic of itineraries, so it's understandable that you'd pass on this card if this is the route you intend to frequent.
But if you are traveling to other destinations and have a bit more patience when it comes to tracking down award flights, we're confident you'll make good use of your 60K-point signup bonus.
6. Best if you: Live in or near an American Airlines hub
This credit card's rewards are stellar, but they can be rather useless if you live in an area outside of where American Airlines flies.
Granted, AA does fly in and out of most airports in the U.S., but you will find a much better selection of flights—including award flights—if you live in one of the American Airline hubs in:
- Dallas-Fort Worth
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Washington, DC
The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard will work best in the northeast and midwest
While American Airlines flies to a great number of destinations, you'll definitely have more opportunities to fly the airline if you live in either the northeast or the midwest.
Aside from Texas, home to AA's headquarters, these regions host the majority of the airline's hubs, from where most flights originate.
More flights mean more opportunities to book award travel, so these regions have the upper hand.
As you might expect with this level of signup bonus, you must have good to excellent credit in order to win approval.
If you've got a FICO score of 700 or above, then you are free to roam about the cabin...errr, we mean apply.
7. History: The largest airline in the world
American Airlines got its start in 1930 as one of a union of more than 80 small airlines.
Today, it is the largest airline in the world by fleet size (939 aircraft), revenue (the parent company, American Airlines Group, Inc. has $40 billion), and number of destinations (96 domestic and 95 international in 55 countries).
In 2013, US Airways and American Airlines merged, keeping American Airlines as the single brand name for the larger company.
A founding member of the Oneworld alliance, American Airlines combines with its regional airline partners for an average of about 6,700 daily flights to close to 350 worldwide destinations.
Headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in Texas, American Airlines services more than 51 million passengers departing and arriving every year, and has an additional nine hubs in the United States.
8. How the card works
Whether you punch in your credit card number online to purchase your next flight or swipe away at the mall, here's what you can expect as a frequent flyer and shopper:
Earn double points for flights. Use your card to book eligible American Airlines flights and get 2 points per dollar. For the rest of your everyday purchases score 1 point per dollar.
Get a bonus when you redeem. Enjoy 10% back of your redeemed miles (up to 10,000 per calendar year). That means if you redeem all 60,000 of your sign-up bonus points, you get back 6,000!
Check bag for free and get priority boarding. Preferred boarding plus one free checked bag for the cardholder and up to four companion travelers on domestic flights.
Save money inflight. Cardholders get a 25% discount on food and beverages during their flight.
Skip the foreign transaction fees. A good travel credit card won't penalize you for actually traveling. With no foreign transaction fees, AA lets you save more as you see more of the world.
Enjoy upscale offers. The World Elite Travel Services offer priority access to special offers and experiences with retailers, hotels, and resorts around the globe.
Travel with confidence. AA offers coverage for your journey including a personalized concierge, auto rental collision damage waiver, and trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
Avoid fraud liability. If someone steals your card, report it to AA right away and you won't be responsible for any charges you didn't make.
Shop freely with purchase coverage. If you plan to use your card for other purchases, know that you've got benefits including extended warranty, price protection, purchase security, and return protection.
Snag a cool 60,000 bonus miles upon signup. You don't even have to make a purchase. Simply pay the annual fee ($95) that gets charged to your first statement and the 60K will be deposited to your account in 4-6 weeks.
Get double points for every $1 spent on American Airlines and partners. You'll want to start booking—or start booking more—travel through American Airlines and its partners, which offer 2 miles per every dollar spent.
Earn a flight discount. Spend $30,000 in qualifying purchases within a calendar year and nab a $100 discount on a future flight.
Interest Rates and APR
Flaunt your FICO. Higher credit scores get lower variable APR, which starts at 16.99% and can go up to a staggering 25.99%.
Pay to play. Unlike with other cards that waive the annual fee for the first year, you'll get charged $95 on the first statement of your AA card. It's a small price to pay for getting that sweet bonus.
Use your debit card for cash instead. This card is not ATM-friendly by any means. Cash advances carry a $10 or 5% free, whichever is greater, plus a 26.24% APR.
Don't miss a payment. You'll not only damage your credit score, but you'll get socked with a $37 penalty fee.
9. People love: The huge sign-up bonus
People were clamoring over the 40,000 bonus.Then it went up to 50,000.
Now that it's at 60,000, it's a new ball game for both frequent travelers and wannabe frequent travelers.
If you're in it to win it in the travel game, then be sure to take advantage of this mega signup bonus before November 30.
10. People hate: The redemption process
Travelers might find it hard to actually book an itinerary with their AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard awards travel.
If you are patient and aren't committed to a regular back-and-forth itinerary, then you'll have more options.
But if your regular flight path is barred from awards travel, then you might have to wait a year or more before you can redeem your points.
A commenter on the Points Guy blog who goes by the name FlyByNYC is standing by his AAdvantage Mastercard:
"People can say what they want about lack of SAAver space, but it is there.
Perhaps not on the most luxurious of aircraft or the most coveted routes but there are a lot of flights available for 60k miles with AA & its partners."
When you do decide to open the card and snag those signup bonus miles, don't worry about their expiration date:
As long as you keep your card account in good standing your AA miles won't expire.
11. Extra perk: Keeping up with your credit activity
You like paper for your boarding pass, not for your monthly credit card statements.
The app allows you to keep an eye on your account while on the go:
- Check your balance
- Pay your bill
- Review transactions
- See your latest FICO score
- Set up account alerts
Several recent rave reviews showcased some updates to the app.
"They listened!" gushed a reviewer named JV123654, who went on to write, "The login is vastly improved. App is great to quickly check balances, make payments, etc. I use it daily and have had no issues since the last couple updates."
12. Applying for the card online
Visit the website, where you'll fill out an application and get a near-instant decision. If you have trouble with your application, call 866-371-4787.
There is no minimum spend to get your sign-up bonus with this card, but you will have to pay the $95 annual fee, which will appear on your first statement.
13. Closing your account
Call 888-232-0780 and speak to a customer service representative.
Remember though, that your credit score will dip with the lowered credit limit.
If you've got other outstanding debt, consider keeping this card open for a while until you pay the rest of your bills.
As there's no annual fee with the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, it's OK to keep it open until you pay down your debt.
14. Frequently Asked Questions
How can I cancel my card?
Call the number on the back of your card. If you no longer have your card, call 888-232-0780.
What can I use my Barclay credit card for?
Though you'll probably use it most often for booking American Airlines and partner flights, you can use it for everyday purchases, too.
Where and what stores can I use my Barclay credit card?
You can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
How long does it take Barclay to refund my credit card?
It depends on the merchant's refund policy. If you don't receive one in due time, you can call the number on the back of your card to dispute a payment.
How can I check my Barclay credit card balance?
Log on to the website or the app.
How do I withdraw money from Barclay credit card?
You can create a PIN for this card by calling customer service. Your PIN will allow you to use the card at ATMs.
Can I get a cash advance and are there any related fees?
The APR for cash advances is 26.24%, plus a charge of 5% or $10, whichever is higher.
Can I pay for my Barclay credit card with a gift card, a different credit card, or PayPal?
No. You can pay your card with a check or direct debit from your checking account.
Can I use my Barclay credit card without the physical card?
As you'll likely be making an American Airlines purchase via phone or the website, you won't have to swipe your card. Simply keep your 16-digit number and your 3-digit security code handy.
How do I add an authorized user to Barclay credit card?
Call 877-523-0478 to add a user.
Are there any upgrades on the Barclay credit card?
Yes. You can inquire about an upgrade to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver MasterCard after 90 days of having the Red card. You'll pay a heftier annual fee of $189, but there are loftier benefits with Aviator Silver, including trip points on American Airlines purchases and double points on hotel and travel.
How soon can I use my Barclay credit card once I receive it?
As soon as you call the number on the card or go online to confirm receipt of your card, you can start booking travel and shopping.
How do I contact Barclay credit card services?
How do I report a stolen Barclay credit card?
Can someone co-sign for a Barclay credit card?
What credit score do I need to get approval for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard?
What credit score do I have to maintain so my account is not closed?
While no score is required to maintain the card, some users have reported that Barclaycard has lowered their credit limit when other new credit cards are opened within six months. If you keep your credit utilization low on all of your other cards, you should be fine with Barclaycard.
Will my credit score drop when my account gets closed?
Yes, so be sure you've got minimal debt on other cards because losing this credit line will lower your debt ceiling.
Which credit bureaus does Barclay credit card report to?
For credit card applications, Barclaycard pulls mainly from Transunion.
Can I build my credit with the Barclay credit card?
Yes. This is a Mastercard that can be used any time you want to charge a purchase so you'll build credit with this card.
Is there an expiry date on the card?
Yes, just as there is on any other Mastercard.
Is there a credit insurance program and how will it cover me if I lose my job?
There is no credit insurance plan offered. Should you have trouble making minimum payments, contact customer service before your payment is due to inquire about the possibility of a modified payment plan.
Can I have two credit cards from Barclay at the same time?
Yes. There are various other Barclaycards with great bonuses and perks to choose from.
Can I transfer money from my Barclay credit card to another?
No. You cannot initiate a balance transfer from one Barclaycard to another.
Is it hard to get a Barclay's credit card?
Some Barclaycards require good to excellent credit, while other cards are ideal if you are establishing or reestablishing credit. You can call the customer service number and discuss with an agent which Barclaycard is right for your credit history.
How long does it take to receive the card once I have been approved for it?
You'll receive your card in about 7-10 business days.
Apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, and start packing
The majority of travel reward and cash-back credit cards usually have a rather substantial minimum spend, but not AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.
All you have to do is pay the $95 annual fee when it hits your first credit card statement and you'll see the 60K sign-up bonus miles loaded into your account in about 4-6 weeks.
And yes, 60K bonus miles is one of the highest sign-up offers currently available, which is why you should take advantage of this cool deal by November 30, 2017.
If you apply now, you could be fastening your seatbelt on an awards flight very soon.
Maybe you're more of a casual traveler, or just not ready to become airline-loyal?
If that's the case, you might want to check out the Bank of America Travel Rewards card.
Do you use the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard?
How has the card worked out for you?
Any great tips or experiences to share with the rest of us?
Please share in the comments below!