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AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® review: Accessible rewards and solid travel benefits

You’ll get a decent welcome bonus after making a purchase and paying the annual fee, along with free checked baggage and other solid travel benefits.

 /  13 min
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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for and how we rate our cards. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Snapshot

4.4

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is a good choice for American Airlines loyalists who may not fly enough to earn frequent flier status, but still want to earn rewards from their eligible American Airlines purchases. The card lacks reward flexibility, but it carries a generous welcome bonus and solid benefits for travelers.

Image of AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

*
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 1.6 stars out of 5
    1.6 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

50,000 miles

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Offer valuation

Info

1x - 2x

Rewards rate

Info

$99

Annual fee

20.74%, 24.74%, or 29.74%, variable

Regular APR

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard Card Overview

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s easy-to-earn welcome bonus makes it an attractive card for anyone who travels with American Airlines. You’ll earn miles on all your spending, including 2X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, which you can use toward flights to destinations around the globe. This American Airlines credit card also comes with handy perks that offer additional savings and comfort during your travels.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
    • 1X miles on all other purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • 50,000 AAdvantage miles after making one purchase and paying the annual card fee in full within the first 90 days

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Apr

    0% intro APR offer

    • 0 percent for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 45 days
    • No purchase intro APR offer
    • 21.24 percent or 29.99 percent ongoing APR (variable)
    • Balance Transfer fee: 5 percent or $5, whichever is greater

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • $99 annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Flight cents
    • In-flight savings
    • Preferred boarding
    • First checked bag free
    • Protection and insurance coverage
    • Anniversary Companion Certificate
    • Boosted American Airlines status with your spending

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    The generous welcome bonus is easy to obtain and has no minimum spending requirements.

  • Checkmark

    The Companion Certificate allows you to travel with a companion for just $99 (plus taxes and fees) if you spend $20,000 on purchases and your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date.

  • Checkmark

    Cardholders get access to a number of travel perks like inflight savings and free checked bags with this card.

Cons

  • The $99 annual fee is high for a card that only earns 1X miles on everyday purchases.

  • The spending requirement to earn the companion certificate is high, especially considering the lack of bonus categories.

  • You’ll only earn elevated AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases, making it difficult to accrue miles through card spending alone.

Why you might want the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard Card

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard comes with a decent welcome offer, an intro APR offer on balance transfers, a solid rewards rate toward American Airlines purchases and a nice suite of travel perks.

Welcome bonus: Earn with one purchase and the annual fee

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard has one of the easiest welcome offers to earn — just pay your $99 annual fee in full and make a purchase on your AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard within the first 90 days of opening your account to get 50,000 bonus miles. While other travel cards have larger offers available, this is a great pick because it’s simple to earn. The best airline credit cards  usually require a spending minimum of at least $2,000 for a comparable number of bonus points or miles.

A domestic round-trip award flight with American Airlines can cost as little as 7,500 miles, so this bonus could be enough for multiple flights depending on your travel plans.

According to Bankrate's most recent points and miles valuations, an AAdvantage mile is worth around 1 cent. Depending on how you redeem your welcome offer, those 50,000 AAdvantage miles (when you pay your $99 annual fee in full and make a purchase on your card within the first 90 days) could be worth approximately $500.

Intro APR: A fairly lengthy offer for balance transfers

Travel rewards credit cards don’t often have introductory APR offers, but the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard offers an intro 0 percent APR for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made within the first 45 days. There’s a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5 percent of the transfer amount, whichever is greater. A variable APR of 21.24 percent to 29.99 percent will apply after the introductory period.

This offers the rare opportunity to consolidate debt on a credit card and continue to earn rewards after the end of the intro period. Only a handful of other reward cards on the market offer the same flexibility, such as the Citi Double Cash® Card.

Cardholder perks: A decent variety of travel benefits

The card offers a solid lineup of travel perks. These perks can help offset the card’s modest annual fee and let your earned miles go toward travel sooner.

  • First checked bag free: You and up to four companions on the same reservation can enjoy one checked bag for free on select domestic American Airlines flights.
  • Preferred boarding: You and up to four companions are also eligible to receive preferred boarding on all American Airlines flights.
  • In-flight savings: You can get $25 back in statement credits every year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases on American Airlines, plus save 25 percent on food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights.
  • No foreign transaction fees: You pay no fee on foreign transactions when making purchases overseas with this card.
  • Flight Cents: You can round up purchases to the nearest dollar to earn miles faster.
  • Protection and  insurance: By paying for your trip with this card, you’ll get travel protections such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, and collision and theft insurance on rental cars.
  • Earn American Airlines status with your spending: It’s possible to earn elite status on American Airlines entirely with your credit card spending.
  • Anniversary Companion Certificate: If you spend at least $20,000 on your card and your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date, you can receive a Companion Certificate for $99 (plus taxes and fees), which you can use for a domestic economy fare.

Why you might want a different airline card

While the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard has many appealing features, it does have some drawbacks, such as an annual fee and reward restrictions.

Rates and fees: Annual cost can be hard to justify

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard Mastercard comes with an annual fee of $99 which is charged when the account is opened. This isn’t uncommon with travel cards with elite perks, but if you don’t travel with American Airlines enough to justify paying an annual fee, then it may not be worth it. 

For example, for the same $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers superior rewards in several bonus categories, better travel protections and benefits, and up to $50 in annual statement credits toward hotel stays. You’d also get bonus points on your account anniversary equal to 10 percent of your total purchases the previous year. Points are also valued at 2.0 cents cents each and you can transfer them to travel partners for potentially more value. These all add up to a much more valuable credit card package for the same cost as the AAdvantage Aviator.   

Rewards: No bonus categories and limited redemptions 

Like other co-branded airline credit cards, you’ll earn bonus miles by making purchases with the airline. You’ll earn 2X AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases. But due to the lack of bonus categories, this card isn’t an ideal choice for everyday spending. 

The AAdvantage Program currently has more than 20 partner airlines, including those in the oneworld Alliance, so you can redeem miles with various other airlines. However, partner award redemptions can be complicated and difficult to utilize. You can also gift or transfer miles for a fee. However, if you don't want to redeem miles toward airline travel, you don’t have many alternative redemption options available. You’re also subject to award availability restrictions, which can be more difficult to find on popular routes or dates.

Finally, you can earn unlimited AAdvantage miles, but they will expire if you don’t keep your account active by making a purchase with your AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard or flying with American Airlines at least once every 18 months.

Companion Certificate: Difficult to earn

Cardholders who spend at least $20,000 on the card each year will earn an annual Anniversary Companion Certificate. With it, someone can travel with you on a flight for just $99 (plus taxes and fees) if your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date. 

While this perk can be highly valuable if redeemed for an expensive flight, it requires high spending to earn. And since the card has no bonus categories, spending $20,000 is a value loss compared to the rewards you could earn by spending the same amount on a card with larger reward categories. It could work if you are spending significantly with American Airlines already, but in that case you’d be better served by making those purchases with a card that earns more rewards such as the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

If you’re in an American Airlines hub, you can get significant value from the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard. Bankrate writer Ryan Flanigan opened the card for the sign-up bonus, and he leverages the perks for his American flights.

“What drew me ot the card was the sign-up bonus was easy to obtain and gave me a quick mileage boost. I feel like I can never have enough American miles, as I’m in an American Airlines hub and fly with them frequently, so any way to stock up on more miles is appreciated. Plus, the inflight perks and free baggage for my family give me the value I need to justify the annual fee. While I don’t always spend a ton on this card, I always use this to pay for my American flights.” 

—  Ryan Flanigan, Writer, Bankrate

How the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard compares to other airline credit cards

Compared to other co-branded airline cards, the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard’s reward potential is fairly limited. For example, both the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® allow you to earn bonus miles in different categories in addition to airline purchases.

Image of AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

Annual fee

$99

Intro offer

50,000 miles
Info

Rewards rate

1x - 2x
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $150.

Intro offer

Earn 65,000 Miles
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 2X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Annual fee

$99, waived for first 12 months

Intro offer

50,000 miles
Info

Rewards rate

2X - 2X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

To build AAdvantage miles rewards faster, you could pair this card with another travel rewards card or airline credit card. 

Who is the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard right for?

The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard could be a good option if you are one of the following people.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard worth it?

If you fly with American Airlines at least a couple of times a year, then this card could be a great addition to your wallet. Although there’s a $99 annual fee, you can easily offset this with the checked-bag benefit. Plus, the ability to earn a Companion Certificate each year is excellent for couples or family members who often travel together, provided you don’t mind the spend required for the certificate.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here.

All information about the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Re'Dreyona Walker
Associate Editor, Credit Cards
Re'Dreyona Walker is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, focusing on product guides and reviews. As a personal finance expert, she is dedicated to providing honest product reviews as well as in-depth, comprehensive guides to assist readers in building credit and finding the best credit cards for their needs.
Edited by Former Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.