AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
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The Barclaycard-issued AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard offers one of the best sign-up bonuses without a minimum spending requirement of any airline card currently available. If you ever fly on American Airlines, you may want to consider adding this card to your wallet.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-earn credit card sign-up bonus that can fast-track you to free flights, the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard will do the trick. Just pay the $95 annual fee and make any purchase within the first 90 days of opening the account and you’ll earn 60,000 AAdvantage miles –enough for a round-trip flight for two in economy from Los Angeles to Miami or a round-trip flight for one from New York City to Brussels, Belgium in economy class, for example.
Bankrate estimates this mileage bonus to be worth between $600 and $750, depending on the flight you choose. Note that these examples and other award travel options are subject to taxes and carrier-imposed fees that start at $5.60 per person per award.
All eligible American Airlines purchases will earn 2x miles for every $1 spent. All other purchases earn 1x miles per dollar. You’ll also get to check one bag for free for you and up to four others traveling with you on your domestic reservation. Without this perk, the first checked bag for each person costs $25. For families, this alone might make it worth the $95 annual fee, as long as American Airlines is what you mostly fly.
Longer-term, the Aviator Red card may not make sense as an everyday card as the rewards rate of 1x miles per $1 can easily be bested by other credit cards. But, if you’re trying to accrue miles for a specific trip, and you don’t want to be bogged down with a hefty annual fee or meet a minimum spending requirement, this card can give you a nice boost toward that goal at a minimal cost.
There’s also an introductory 0% balance transfer offer for the first 15 billing cycles for balances transferred within the first 45 days of opening the account. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount being transferred, whichever is greater. Depending on how much debt you’re looking to move, you might save more with a different balance transfer credit card.
Who should get this card
If you live near, or fly to an American Airlines hub a few times a year, you could benefit from owning this credit card.
Fees and APR
- Annual fee is $95.
- You’ll pay a variable APR of 16.99% to 25.99% on purchases based on creditworthiness.
- Enjoy an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the account. After that it’s a variable 16.99% to 25.99%.
- Balance transfer fee is 3%.
- Pay no foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S.
Extras, perks and using points
Cardholders get their first checked bag free and preferred boarding for up to four traveling companions, a 25% savings on in-flight purchases and an automatic rebate of 10% of redeemed miles, up to 10,000 miles per calendar year.
If you spend $25,000 or more on the card within a calendar year you’ll earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars which can help you qualify for elite status with American Airlines, which in turn comes with its own perks and benefits.
If you spend $30,000 or more on purchases in a year on your card, you’ll earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount.
Cardholders are also eligible for reduced mileage award travel on American Airlines for MileSAAver awards to destinations selected every other month.
To redeem your points, log into your American Airlines AAdvantage account, choose your qualifying flight and select the redeem miles option. There is no fee to redeem your miles and you can choose a combination of cash and miles, or pay entirely with miles. You can also use miles to upgrade your flight.
How this card compares
For high-flying frequent travelers who want elite airline perks, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is calling your name.
For a $450 annual fee, this card comes with Admirals Club membership for you and your authorized guests, a perk that normally would cost nearly $1,000 in the first-year alone. There’s also a fat sign-up bonus.
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is the middle tier of three consumer credit cards offered in partnership between Citi and American Airlines. It offers modest travel perks, a nice sign-up bonus and fairly standard everyday rewards.
Chock-full of value, the JetBlue Plus Card is well worth the $99 annual fee, especially if you fly at least a few times a year and want to earn points to use on even more air travel. The sweet sign-up bonus could be enough for a round-trip ticket within the U.S.
Southwest enthusiasts love the airline for its liberal policies. There are no blackout dates, no change fees and no charge for the first two checked bags. And perhaps the biggest perk of being a Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card holder is the opportunity to earn a pile of points through the sign-up bonus points towards their unbeatable Companion Pass offer, which allows you to fly a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free, as often as you like for just the cost of taxes and fees.
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