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AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® review

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® review

Published: October 25, 2018
Published: October 25, 2018
Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4.1 rating
4.1 rating
4.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.8
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.8
Rewards Flexibility: 3.8
Features: 3.0

In a Nutshell:

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is an excellent means for collecting bonus AAdvantage miles. It offers up a 60,000-mile bonus for simply paying the annual fee and making one qualifying purchase.

Rewards Rate

  • 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed miles back each calendar year

Sign-up Bonus
60,000 miles if you make a purchase within the first 3 months and pay the $95 annual fee

Annual Bonus

  • 10% of redeemed miles back each year
  • $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars each year you spend $25,000

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$631

APR
17.74-26.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as long you earn or redeem miles every 18 months
  • No limit on how many miles you can earn
  • Free online redemption
  • Stretch your miles further with MileSAAver awards
  • No fuel surcharges on most flights
  • Change award tickets at any time for no fee, as long as origin and destination are the same
  • One-way and open-jaw flights permitted

Cons

  • Blackout dates on some awards
  • $35 fee for phone award booking
  • Stopovers not permitted
  • Complicated routing rules

Flight Options

  • Airline partners: 23
  • Daily flights: 14,250
  • Destinations: 1,000
  • Countries served: 150

Other Notable Features: First checked free, preferred boarding privileges, 25% savings on inflight purchases, reduced mileage awards, earn $3,000 in EQMs each year you spend $25,000, no foreign transaction fees, World Elite Travel Services, personalized concierge service, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, $0 fraud liability, extended warranty, price protection, purchase security, return protection.ay

If your preferred airline is American, or you happen to live in an American Airlines hub city (Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, or Washington, D.C.), applying for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is an easy way of scoring a ton of miles at a minimal cost.

With this card, 60,000 intro bonus miles are yours after paying the $95 annual fee and making one purchase. This limited time offer stacks the card up against the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, which offers 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months. If you’re in it for the intro bonus, the Aviator Red Card is the way to go.

Though the intro bonus is the main draw, cardholders can still look to the Aviator Red Card for future American Airlines purchases, which earn 2X miles per dollar.

Unfortunately, American Airlines purchases are the only ones that yield more than 1x miles. Surely that will push some folks back to Citi’s suite of AAdvantage credit cards.

Bottom line: Thanks to its intro bonus, the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard makes sense for just about anyone, whether you fly American often or not. Frequent fliers can use the bonus to quickly pad their AAdvantage account; infrequent fliers can use the bonus to fund a vacation.

Middling rewards

2X miles for every dollar spent on branded purchases (in this case, American Airlines) is pretty standard for airline co-branded credit cards. While some airline cards offer 2X or more miles on purchases in additional categories like dining, gas, etc., the Aviator Red Card does not. Because of the fact that cardholders are limited to 1X miles on what is likely the majority of their expenses, it’s hard to argue that the Aviator Red Card is a good option for everyday purchases.

Cardholders are gifted back 10 percent of their annually-redeemed miles each calendar year, which is a rare benefit, but again, if you’re not accruing enough miles to make that 10 percent worth pursuing, it’s not all that enticing. Let’s say you take six domestic trips a year with American, spending $400 for each round-trip flight. You’ll earn 4,800 miles that year and will be gifted 480 miles back. It’s a nice touch, but kind of shrug-worthy unless you’re flying constantly. If you are flying constantly, there are better ways to earn more.

Nice perks at the airport and in-flight

As is the industry standard, the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard makes your first checked bag free, but you’ll also get a free first bag for up to four companions on domestic American Airlines flights. Once through security, you’ll be pleased to know your card grants you and up to four others preferred boarding. After takeoff, you’ll receive a 25 percent discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases.

The value of these perks for a solo traveler is pretty subjective, but if you’re traveling with family or in a group of friends, the amount saved on bags alone can quickly hit triple digits.

Valuable travel benefits

For frequent travelers, the value of trip cancellation and interruption coverage can’t be emphasized enough. If you use your card to pay for a trip, you’re guaranteed all World Elite Mastercard benefits, including cancellation and interruption coverage. Additional travel benefits include personalized concierge, auto rental collision damage waiver, and more.

Though most of these benefits may go unused, each is a tremendous asset in the event that it’s needed.

Coverage when shopping

From a rewards standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense to use the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard to pay for a new TV (you’ll only earn 1X points, unless American Airlines starts selling electronics).

However, if you don’t have another credit card with price protection, it does make sense to use the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard to pay for a new TV. This card comes with a bevy of benefits for shoppers, including price protection (which may pay you the difference if you buy an item and later find it for a lower price), $0 fraud liability, and extended warranty, among others.

AAdvantage award flights

So how valuable are AAdvantage miles after all? It’s an answer that can change on a daily basis, as is the case with any airline rewards program. The key takeaway here is that American puts a price tag on AAnytime Level 1 (main cabin) award trips at 20,000 miles for one-way flights travelling within the contiguous 48 U.S. states. Round-trip flights are available for as little as 15,000 miles if your travel plans are flexible, but most round-trip economy flights will be in that 40,000-mile range.

If you put some research into your redemption, big value can be found in AAdvantage miles, it’s just a matter of being flexible with flight times and strategic with dates.

Why get the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard?

  • American Airlines is your primary airline or you live in a hub city and are considering switching to American.
  • You want to earn 60,000 intro bonus miles without having to first spend thousands of dollars, as is required by most other airline cards.
  • You travel with family regularly and want to save on checked bag fees.
  • You don’t already have a credit card with premium features found on a World Elite Mastercard.

How to use the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard:

  • Always use it for American Airlines purchases to earn 2X miles per dollar spent.
  • Pay the $95 intro fee and make one purchase within the first 90 days to earn 60,000 intro bonus miles.
  • Redeem miles for award seats in the main cabin and consider being flexible with travel times.

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