AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard Review

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The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard from Barclays offers a hefty sign-up bonus that is easy to earn, so you don’t have to be a big travel spender to get value from this card. Yes, there’s an annual fee, but we think the card benefits are worth it.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

overall rating
4.4
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 26.49% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X miles for every one dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.9
for Fees
3.0
for Rewards
4.8
for Credit
4.0

Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee.

Top Rated For

  • Best Overall Credit Cards
  • Best Airline Credit Cards
  • Best Sign-up Bonus Credit Cards
  • Best Credit Cards for Excellent Credit

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
    Brand Loyalist

This card can work well for frequent flyers trying to stockpile miles and occasional travelers who prefer planning and saving for larger trips. If either of those qualities describes you, you may enjoy all the sign-up bonus miles the card offers, and the option to easily earn extra miles on each purchase (more on that below). Airline fans will enjoy a handful of loyalty perks, and if you already have a Citi American Airlines card, adding this Barclays card to your wallet may seriously amplify your AAdvantage miles earning power.

Pros

  • Generous, easy-to-earn sign-up bonus

  • Good selection of travel perks

  • Optional program to boost miles earning potential

  • Valuable miles

Cons

  • Annual fee

  • Few purchase categories earn extra miles

Pros Explained

  • Generous, easy-to-earn sign-up bonus: Most airline cards require you to spend a couple thousand dollars within three or four months after opening an account to earn the sign-up bonus, but this card does not. You can literally buy a pack of gum and pay the annual fee, and the hefty bonus is yours. You don’t have to be a big spender to earn extra miles, and we love how accessible that makes this airline card.  
  • Good selection of travel perks: If you’re seeking an airline card, you probably have an affinity for the brand and would enjoy some loyal customer perks. This card delivers. Open this card and you (and your travel companions, in some cases) can fly with American Airlines more comfortably, thanks to benefits like a free checked bag, preferred boarding, and statement credits for in-flight purchases like snacks and Wi-Fi.  
  • Optional program to boost miles earning potential: Turn spare change into extra miles with the Flight Cents program connected to this card. Enroll for free and each card purchase will be rounded up to the nearest dollar amount (or more, whatever you decide), and earn a half-mile per extra cent. It’s an easy way to accumulate more miles without thinking twice about it. More on this below.
  • Valuable miles: Our research found each American Airlines AAdvantage mile is worth about 2.1 cents, on average. That’s quite high considering other airline miles are only worth about half that.

Cons Explained

  • Annual fee: If you use the free checked bag benefit on just two round-trip flights each year, the annual fee easily recoups this fee cost. However, several comparable airline cards waive their annual fees for new cardholders the first year, but this card does not. It’s not a deal breaker—just something to keep in mind.
  • Few purchase categories earn extra miles: It’s typical for airline-branded credit cards to offer extra points on airline purchases, but it’s a bummer this card doesn’t offer extra points on any other purchases. The Flight Cents program is a helpful tool, but you still only get 2 miles per $1 on American Airline purchases, and not on additional expenses like dining out or gas, which other American Airline credit cards offer.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard Sign-Up Bonus 

You only need to make one purchase—of any amount—and pay the $99 annual fee within 90 days of opening this card to earn 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles. Because American Airline miles are so valuable, this bonus is worth about $1,260, based on our calculations. That’s a ridiculously good bonus for such a low spend requirement, and one of the best offers among similar airline cards right now.  

The bonus value doesn't stop there, either. Right now new cardholders who pay the annual fee and make a purchase within 90 days of opening their account can also get an introductory companion certificate for $99, plus taxes and fees. This is a standout deal, considering you'd need to spend $20,000 each year to earn the travel pass with this card otherwise.

If you’ve had this card before, you may not be eligible for this bonus offer.

Earning Points & Rewards

With this card you’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases (like flights booked directly on the American Airlines website). All other purchases earn just 1 mile per $1. You can also earn miles on flights with 24 partner airlines, including Hawaiian Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. You just have to buy the flight through directly from American Airlines and earning rates will vary among partner airlines.

Note

Watch the online AAdvantage portal for ways to earn more miles on vacation packages, dining, and online shopping purchases. 

However, this card also offers the option to enroll in Flight Cents, a program that rounds up each purchase to the nearest whole dollar for a little extra miles-earning boost. 

Through this program, you’ll get 0.5 miles for each cent rounded up. So if you spend $100.25 on groceries, Flight Cents will round your purchase total up to $101.00 and you’ll earn 37.5 miles on that extra 75 cents, for a total of 137.5 miles on that purchase overall. Without Flight Cents, that same purchase would earn 100 miles. At the end of each billing cycle, Flight Cents earnings will be rounded up to the nearest whole mile and the total number of miles will be deposited in your AAdvantage account. 

Overall, there’s no limit on the number of miles you can earn with this card. AAdvantage miles don’t expire either, as long as you earn or redeem miles once every 18 months. 

Redeeming Rewards

AAdvantage miles are best used to book flights directly with American Airlines or partner airlines online through the AAdvantage program portal or via the American Airlines app.

AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for a variety of other things, such as rental car and hotel reservations, vacation packages, magazine subscriptions, and gift cards. However, we advise against redeeming miles for non-travel rewards, as those options are usually an awful value. Miles cannot be redeemed for cash, statement credits, checks, or direct deposit. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Make a small purchase—like a pack of gum or cup of coffee—and pay the annual fee right away to get all the sign-up bonus miles in your account ASAP. Use this card to pay for flights booked directly through American Airlines and to supplement your earnings, enroll in Flight Cents. That will give you a little earnings boost on all your purchases, since there aren’t any extra earning categories tied to this card. 

Tip

To really maximize your American Airline miles earning potential, pair this card with an AAdvantage card issued by Citi to get another quality sign-up bonus and more ways to earn extra miles on everyday purchases like gas and dinners out. 

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s Excellent Perks 

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard has a number of quality benefits that exceed what’s typically offered by average travel cards:

  • Airline companion pass: In addition to the introductory companion pass offer, if you spend $20,000 each year (about $1,667 per month), you'll pay only $99 plus taxes and fees for a companion certificate good for a friend or family member on qualifying domestic flights.
  • Free checked bag: You and up to four travel companions on the same reservation get one free checked bag per U.S. flight. 
  • Annual Wi-Fi statement credit: Use your card to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi on American Airline or select partner flights and you’ll get statement credits for the expense up to $25 each year. 
  • Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay: Pay for your flight, train, cruise, or other travel ticket with this card and get reimbursed for costs associated with your disrupted trip. 
  • Insurance coverage for delayed luggage: Get reimbursed up to $100 for three days to cover the cost of everyday necessities you need while your bags are delayed more than 12 hours.
  • Travel accident insurance: Financial compensation for you or your beneficiaries if an accident occurs during a trip paid for with this card.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s Other Features 

This card also comes with these additional perks: 

  • Preferred boarding (board after priority but before economy)
  • Discounts on in-flight purchases
  • Earn extra miles on select restaurant purchases via the AAdvantage Dining Program
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Extended warranties
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
  • Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
  • Access to travel offers through Mastercard’s World Elite program 

Customer Experience

Barclays is ranked fifth for customer satisfaction out of 11 major card issuers, according to the 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The issuing bank scored 806 on a 1,000-point scale, which is in line with the industry average. As a cardholder, you’ll also have free access to your FICO score through your online account. Barclays customer service can be reached 24/7 by phone. 

Security Features 

In addition to standard security protections such as $0 fraud liability and opt-in account alerts to monitor activity, Barclays also uses a two-step identity verification process to deter unauthorized account logins.  

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s Fees 

The only fee worth noting with this card is its $99 annual fee, but as mentioned above, the sign-up bonus and benefits are worth the cost. It’s also a good card for traveling internationally, as it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

For AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
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CURRENT CARD
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
overall rating
4.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 26.49% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X miles for every one dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.