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Aviator Red vs Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select – Which is better for AA miles?

by on Fri January 6, 2017 • 20 Comments
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Since Citibank and Barclaycard both issue credit cards that earn American Airlines miles, and both banks offer multiple flavors of cards, there are plenty of options available. 

Here we’re going to look at the Barclaycard Aviator Red and the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, the most popular AAdvantage card issued by each bank, and help you see the differences and similarities in benefits and determine the best fit based on your needs.

We’re going to into more detail below, but the short answer is:

  • Get the AAdvantage Aviator Red if you want a new signon bonus and already earned one from Citi, need to earn extra Elite Qualifying Dollars, prefer to deal with Barclay over Citi, or if you would like to upgrade or downgrade your Aviator Red to another Barclaycard, like the Aviator Silver, at some point.
  • Get the Citi /AAdvantage Platinum Select if you’re getting an AAdvantage card for the first time, want to avoid an annual fee the first year, want better travel protection, and don’t care about earning AAdvantage elite status.

Here’s a rundown of the major features of each card. They’re pretty similar, so we’ve listed benefits that both cards offer, as well as benefits only available with just one of the cards…

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select and Aviator Red

  • aadvantagemc170Earn 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.  
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines flight discount when you spent $30,000 or more during your cardmember year.
  • Check your first bag for free for yourself and up to four traveling companions when traveling domestically.
  • aviatorred170Preferred boarding for up to four traveling companions on domestic flights.
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 miles back per calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Aviator Red only

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase
  • Earn up to $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars by spending $25,000 in a calendar year
  • $1,500 Trip Cancellation coverage – in case an illness or other covered reason forces you to cancel your flight or trip purchased with the card
  • Chip + PIN – this card can be assigned a PIN so you can use it at kiosks like train ticket machines when you’re traveling abroad
  • $95 annual fee

AAdvantage Platinum Select only

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Trip Delay coverage – up to $500 for lodging if your flight is delayed 12 hours or more
  • $5,000 Trip Cancellation coverage – in case an illness or other covered reason forces you to cancel your flight or trip purchased with the card
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first 12 months

AAdvantage Aviator Red 

Pros

  • There’s no minimum purchase requirement to earn the intro bonus – just make one purchase of any size and you’ve earned it
  • You can earn the intro bonus even if you already have or had a Citi AAdvantage card before. Citi won’t let you earn the bonus twice in less than two years.
  • You get the opportunity to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars toward elite status
  • It’s the only way to access the Aviator Silver card, which offers Elite Qualifying Miles. To get the Silver, you need to open an Aviator Red and hold it for at least 60 days before upgrading.
  • Like all cards from Barclaycard, it has full Chip + PIN functionality, so you can assign a PIN and use it to make purchases at kiosks, toll booths, and other places that don’t accept cards without a PIN.

Cons

  • There annual fee isn’t waived the first year, so you have to pay $95 on your first statement.
  • The travel protection isn’t as good as with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, which offers trip delay coverage and higher trip cancellation coverage.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select

Pros

  • Good 50,000 mile introductory bonus, bigger than the Aviator Red bonus
  • Better travel protection, with $5,000 in trip cancellation coverage vs $1,500 for the Aviator Red, and $500 in trip delay coverage, vs none for the Aviator Red
  • The annual fee is waived the first year

Cons

  • No ability to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars
  • You need to spend $3,000 on the card before you can earn the sign on bonus.
  • Chip-only for international travel, no full PIN capability so you might not be able to use the card at unmanned kiosks

Which Should You Get?

These cards are both pretty similar on the surface. When American Airlines and US Airways merged, American Airlines decided to continue having their credit cards issued through Citibank and since US Airways cards were previously issued through Barclaycard, American Airlines decided to offer a very similar credit card through Barclaycard as well.

In short, it probably doesn’t make a big difference what card you get.  You’ll probably better off getting the Citi AAdvantage card if you don’t have one already, because the annual fee is waived the first year and the travel protection benefits are stronger.

But if you’re interested in earning Elite Qualifying Dollars to help you toward AAdvantage elite status, get the Aviator Red, which unlocks that feature, and gives you a way to get the Aviator Silver for even more elite qualifying opportunities.  You might also get the Red if you already have the Citi AAdvantage so you can snag a quick signon bonus to boost your AAdvantage miles.

Another thing you might want to consider is what bank you prefer. Some people prefer to work with Citi over Barclay or vice versa. In other cases, you might want to consider what bank you have a better chance of getting approved with.

The final consideration that we would recommend is whether or not you will want to keep the card. You often have an option to upgrade or downgrade a credit card within a bank’s credit card offerings. For example, you could upgrade your Aviator Red (Barclaycard) to an Aviator Silver (Barclaycard), but you could not upgrade an AAdvantage Platinum (Citibank) to an Aviator Silver (Barclaycard). Likewise, it may be possible to downgrade credit cards later on.

Especially in cases like the Aviator Silver, where you cannot apply directly, it is worthwhile to lean in favor of one credit card over the other if you would like to product change later on.

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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

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$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

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20 thoughts on Aviator Red vs Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select – Which is better for AA miles?

  1. Lance DaBeck

    I have both cards, and have received intro benefits. Should I lose one, which one, to save the $95/yr?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Lance – If you care about earning ‘elite qualifying dollars’ then keep the Red. If you travel abroad a lot, the Red is easier to use because it has the PIN feature built in.

      Otherwise, the trip delay and trip cancellation coverage of the Citi AAdvantage is better.

      Reply
  2. EKRez1

    My Aviator Red Card is a Mastercard World, not a Mastercard World Elite.

    One question I have, if I want to upgrade my Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard to the Citi AAdvatage Platinum World Elite Mastercard, would I qualify for the current promo for 60K miles and waived annual fee for the 1st year? I have this Citi AA Gold card since 1993!!!

    Or, should I just apply for a new Citi AAdvatage Platinum card?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @EKRez1 – You would have to apply separately for the Platinum to be eligible for the bonus and waived annual fee.

      Reply
  3. Rick

    The Barclay Aviator is a World Elite MasterCard. I have a Barclay’s JetBlue World Elite MasterCard, which offers $5,000 trip cancellation coverage and $300 trip delay coverage. I would expect that the Barclay Aviator World Elite MasterCard has the same travel protection.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Rick – It would be great if it was consistent – but just checking again in a live Aviator Red account it’s $1,500 trip cancellation and no trip delay coverage.

      Reply
  4. Janice Ryan

    I have had a City Gold Card for many years, does that mean I can not apply for the City Platinum card. Looking for miles to go back to Asia next year. Already have 115,000 thousand on Advantage and recently opened the 35,000 mile Starwood Card, which I have already reached the spending requirement. Usually get one business and one economy seat and switch with my wife during the long flight. Need to get to 215,000 to do this. Hoping to open enough cards to get the miles by August.

    Reply
  5. Berto

    I was thinking about getting both but am trying to find out if one bonus negates the other. I can’t find that but your line here makes me wonder if you are implying that:

    “Get the Citi /AAdvantage Platinum Select if you’re getting an AAdvantage card for the FIRST time”

    I’m working on a separate minimum spend bonus and would like to get the Aviator first. Any reason I shouldn’t get the aviator first if I plan on getting both?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Berto – You can earn a sign on bonus for both cards. We recommended the Citi card first because there’s no annual fee the first year.

      Reply
  6. SR

    Hi, I’m moving to Japan and was wondering of getting this card or the Arrival Plus world elite card or even the Citi AA card?. What would you recommend getting? I do have some AA miles.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @SR – About how many AA miles do you have now? And do you prefer economy or business class travel? If you’re after economy class travel, the Arrival Plus is probably the better bet since fares from Japan to the US are often under $1,000 roundtrip.

      Reply
      1. SR

        Hi, so I just have under 13,000 miles and I’m looking at trying to save up to travel in business class from Japan to the US. Though I want to use my miles to fly JAL since they offer a better service. It’s kind of why I’m a little torn on the issue. Do you happen to know if Japan uses the chip/pin cards?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @SR – You’ll need 120k miles for a roundtrip in business. So if you get the Barclaycard Red that’s 40k. And if you get the Citi AA that’s anywhere from 30k – 50k depending on the offer. As long as a merchant accepts Visa or Mastercard you’ll be fine – maybe PIN required at some kiosks.

          Reply
          1. SR

            What would you recommend for a first time travel card? Forgot to mention that this would be my second card.

    1. MileCards.com

      @Dave C – Yes in the sense that if you’re iced out of Citi, Aviator is an option for a fresh bonus.

      Reply
  7. UAPhil

    The Barclay Aviator is one of the few “chip and pin” cards issued by US banks. Since I frequently travel to Europe, where “chip and pin” is required for some toll booths, ticket machines, etc., I kept my Aviator and cancelled my Citi AA card. I also renewed my Aviator this year, even though Barclay’s was unwilling to offer me a retention bonus.

    Reply

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