The AAdvantage Aviator Red is a good choice if you’re looking for a fresh signon bonus, or trying to earn AAdvantage elite status. Otherwise, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select offers similar benefits with no annual fee the first year.
Decent signup bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after making your first purchase within 90 days of card membership and paying the $95 annual fee.
Get your first bag checked for free. The first bag is checked free for the primary cardholder as well as up to four companions traveling on the same reservation on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
Preferred boarding. The primary cardholder will receive preferred boarding on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
Earn elite qualifying dollars. If you want AAdvantage elite status, you can earn $3,000 EQDs when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year on the card.
No foreign transaction fees on purchases outside of the U.S.
Slow point earning. You’ll only earn 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on other purchases.
$95 annual fee upfront. There’s no waiver of the fee the first year.
Limited travel protection. There’s no flight delay coverage, and trip cancellation coverage of $1,500 is less than many other travel credit cards.
You’ll find the card worth the $95 annual fee if….
You fly American Airlines and check bags on domestic flights, but don’t have free checked bags through your status or another credit card. Checked bags with American Airlines start at $25 per direction, so you would need to fly four one-way flights in order to break even on the annual fee.
If you often travel with companions, then it would be possible for the card to pay for itself even fast as up to four companions can also check their bags for no fee.
If you don’t check bags or you have a free checked bag though status or another credit card, it is a bit more challenging to make a case for the Aviator Red to be worth it and will depend significantly on your travel patterns and how many miles you redeem per year.
You spend more than $1,000 a month on the card. That will earn you over 10,000 AAdvantage miles in a year, and we value AAdvantage miles at about 1.5 cents each, so that’s over $150 in value from the miles you earn.
You’re trying to earn elite status. The $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars you earn after spending $25,000 in a calendar year can add up and get you to the next AAdvantage elite tier.
If you redeem a lot of American AAdvantage miles every year, having the Aviator Red card is an easy way to get up to 10,000 miles back per year thanks to the benefit that gives you 10% of the miles you spend back, up to 100,000 miles spent. Most people would consider saving 10,000 miles to be worth paying the $95 annual fee, but not everyone is spending 100,000 miles a year.
If you have a more flexible travel schedule and are able to make use of American’s reduced mileage awards, you can save 7,500 miles on select routes throughout the year. If you want to visit new places but aren’t dead set on any one destination, this is an easy way to save a lot of miles and could make it worth paying the $95 annual fee.
If you’re not saving money on checked bags or saving miles, the Aviator Red probably isn’t the best option for you. It is not a strong card for spending on, nor does it have many other stellar benefits like lounge access or an annual travel credit.
In many cases, you will need to call American Airlines if you are trying to book an award. You can easily search online for awards on American Airlines, Air Berlin, and British Airways flights. Flights on most other partners cannot be booked online.
You can book flights on American Airlines as well as any of their partners. For most partner flights, you will need to call American Airlines in order to book.
American Airlines’ partners are:
There are so many options for travel that you can book with your points, but to name just a few:
The card earns 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Barclaycards don’t have best-in-class travel protections. Nonetheless, here are the details of what you do get.
The car rental coverage only applies to the primary cardmember and will cover rentals of up to 15 days within your country of residence or 31 days outside of your country of residence. The benefit will cover up to the actual cash value of the car that was originally rented. This is a secondary insurance within your home country, so you will go through your personal insurance first.
This card has no trip delay insurance. If your baggage is delayed, you are covered for $100 per day for up to three days and will cover only “essential items.”
When you have made your travel purchases on your Aviator Red card, you will be covered up to $1,500 in the case of trip cancellation or interruption. The trip cancellation or interruption must be caused by death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the cardholder or an immediate family member or default of the common carrier due to financial insolvency.
There is no medical evacuation coverage from the Aviator Red card.
Whether or not the Aviator Red card will make sense for you depends on how you plan to use the card. As a general rule, it will not be the most rewarding card for your spend, and likely will not give you the most other benefits either. We’ll take a look at the Aviator Red compared to a few competitors based on the following monthly spending pattern:
Make sure to compare credit cards after considering your own spending patterns.
When spending on your Aviator Red, you would earn 1,600 American Airlines miles per month. In a year you would earn 19,200 American Airlines miles, which would be 5,000 miles short of what is needed for a domestic round trip ticket.
The Discover It Miles card earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. The equates to $270 over the course of the year when you redeem your points toward travel purchases, according to the spending pattern outlined above. You don’t need a minimum amount of miles in order to redeem them.
A huge bonus of the Discover It Miles card is that Discover is currently matching all miles earned for the first year. If you earn 27,000 miles, Discover will give you an additional 27,000 miles at the end of your first year. The first year, this would equate to $540 earned back from your spending. You’ll also be able to be reimbursed for up to $30 of your in-flight wifi purchases. The Discover It Miles card does not have an annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns two points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. According to the spending pattern above, you would earn 1,700 Ultimate Rewards points per month and 20,400 Ultimate Rewards points per year.
Not only is this more miles than you would earn through your Aviator Red card, but Ultimate Rewards points are generally considered to be more valuable because they can be transferred to a variety of partners including United, British Airways, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, and more. The Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers valuable trip cancellation, delay, lost/delayed baggage, and primary car rental coverage insurance that is not provided by the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year.
vs Citi Double Cash (World Elite versions tend to get good travel protection)
The Citi Double Cash is another easy card with no bonus categories to keep track of. You’ll always earn 1% back when you pay for your purchases and another 1% back when you pay your credit card balance. This works out to 2% on all purchases.
Over the course of a year, you’ll earn $360 in cashback that can be applied to your travel purchases or any other purchases you make. The Citi Double Cash does not have an annual fee and also grants you some trip cancellation, interruption, travel accident, and car rental insurance benefits.
The Chase Freedom, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, earns Ultimate Rewards points. A huge difference, however, is that Ultimate Rewards earned with the Chase Freedom cannot be transferred to airline and hotel transfer partners unless you have a premium Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Plus Business credit card.
The Chase Freedom earns 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar spent on all categories and earns 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on categories that change quarterly. Gas, groceries, and restaurants often make an appearance at least once a year – we will assume this for our calculations. Over the course of a year, according to the spending pattern we outlined above, you would earn 17,800 Ultimate Rewards points. If you do not have a premium Chase credit card, these points can be redeemed for $178 in cash back, but if you do have a premium Chase credit card these points can be transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partner programs.
The Chase Freedom does not have an annual fee.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred earns 2 Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment and 1 ThankYou point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Citi considers ‘entertainment’ to consist of the following: live entertainment, theatrical productions, concerts, live sporting events, movie theaters, amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses, and carnivals), tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries), record stores, video rental stores, and on-demand internet streaming media.
We will assume that one quarter of your travel expenses would fall into this category. With the Citi ThankYou Preferred, you would be able to earn 16,750 ThankYou points in a year.
Your Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to airlines and hotels that Citi partners with if you have a premium Citi card like the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige. If you don’t, you’ll only be able to redeem your ThankYou points for cash back at a rate of one cent each. The points you earned over the course of the year would be worth $167.50.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred also offers trip delay, cancellation, travel accident, and rental car insurance coverage.
The Wells Fargo Propel credit card earns 3 points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations, 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Over the course of a year, you will be able to earn 24,000 points according to the spending outline we presented above.
When you redeem your points, they are worth one cent each if you want cash. This means that you’ll have earned $240 back in a year. If you instead use your points to book travel via Wells Fargo’s GoFarRewards site, they will be worth 1.5 cents each giving you a total value of $360 in a year. The Wells Fargo Propel card is Chip + PIN, but is also an American Express card, so it will have lower acceptance abroad.
This credit card has no annual fee.
With American Airlines you can always book a ticket for someone else out of your account, but you will pay a fee if you want to transfer your miles to someone else.
Not really. If you have another credit card that earns American Airlines miles, all of your American Airlines miles from both credit cards will go into the same account. If you have another card that earns a different kind of miles (like United) you will not be able to combine them.
Yes, this card has an EMV chip and can be assigned a PIN for transactions at kiosks and other places that don’t take a signature.
If you cancel your credit card your miles will remain in your American AAdvantage account. Your miles are subject to American AAdvantage expiration policy which requires earning or redeeming miles every 18 months to keep your account active.
You can get the annual fee refunded for up to 30 days from the closing date of the billing cycle in which the fee was posted. Beyond that time, you will not be able to get any amount of the annual fee refunded.
The best offer that is currently available is for 40,000 miles. You’ll be able to earn 40,000 American Airlines miles after making your first purchase within 90 days of opening the account and paying the $95 annual fee.
There is no airport lounge access included with the Aviator Red.
Yes! When shopping online you should always go through a shopping portal to increase the number of points and miles you are earning.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).