Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard Review: Worth It?

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The Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is an airline rewards credit card designed for frequent American Airlines flyers.

The card offers a variety of benefits and rewards, including a generous welcome bonus, free checked bags, priority boarding, and inflight discounts.

This article will cover everything you need to know about this card to determine if you should add this card or a different card to your wallet. Let’s dive right in.

Welcome Bonus After Single Purchase
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
  • Earn up to 75,000 Points: 60,000 bonus miles after making a single purchase within the first 90 day; 15,000 bonus miles after adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase on their card within the first 90 days.
  • 2X AAdvantage Miles on American Airlines Purchases
  • Free Checked Bag for You and 4 Companions on Domestic Flights
  • Preferred Boarding
  • $25 In-Flight Wi-Fi Credit and 25% In-Flight Savings
  • $99 Annual Fee
Learn More

Welcome Bonus

The Aviator Red Mastercard currently offers the following welcome bonus:

Earn up to 75,000 Points: 60,000 bonus miles after making a single purchase within the first 90 day; 15,000 bonus miles after adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase on their card within the first 90 days.

Earning AAdvantage Miles

The Aviator Red Mastercard earns AAdvantage Miles at the following rate:

  • 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases; and 
  • 1 miles per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual Fee

The Aviator Red Mastercard has a $99 annual fee, which you can offset with the first free checked bag, preferred boarding, up to $25 Wi-Fi statement credit, and more.

American Airlines
Photo: American

Card Benefits and Perks

Below are the card benefits and perks of the Aviator Red Mastercard:

Free First Checked Bag

You can get a free first checked bag for you and up to four companions on the same reservation can check your first bag free by just holding this card.

This perk only applies to domestic flights and does not apply to international flights.

This is a great perk if you’re a frequent American flyer, as American typically charges $30 for the first checked bag, which could save you $150 per flight if you maximize this benefit.

Preferred Boarding

You can get Preferred Boarding in Group 5 for you and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation by having this card.

This gives you enough time to access some overhead bin space for your carry-on luggage and enjoy a smoother journey.

25% In-Flight Savings

You can get 25% savings as a statement credit when you use your card to purchase food and beverages on American Airlines-operated flights.

Earn Loyalty Points Toward Elite Status

Spending on this card allows you to earn Loyalty Points toward American Airlines elite status. 

For every AAdvantage Mile you earn using this card, you will earn one Loyalty Point, excluding the welcome bonus.

You can also earn Loyalty points by flying on American Airlines and its partners, staying at hotels, dining at restaurants, shopping online, and many other ways.

Here are the Loyalty Points required for each level:

  • AAdvantage Gold status requires 40,000 Loyalty Points.
  • AAdvantage Platinum status requires 75,000 Loyalty Points.
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro status requires 125,000 Loyalty Points.
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum status requires 200,000 Loyalty Points

Anniversary Companion Certificate With Spending

If you spend $20,000 on purchases each account year, you can earn a Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) if your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date.

Up to $25 Back for In-Flight Wi-Fi

The Aviator Red offers up to $25 back as a statement credits each anniversary year when you use the card to purchase in-flight Wi-Fi on American Airlines operated flights.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

This card has no foreign transaction fees on purchases outside the U.S., which is helpful if you travel internationally to help you avoid paying a 3% fee on those international purchases.

Santorini Europe

Trip Cancellation / Interruption Insurance

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburses you for non-refundable expenses if your trip is interrupted or canceled for a covered reason such as illness, severe weather, or an accidental injury when you pay for your travel expenses with this card.

Baggage Delay Insurance

Baggage delay insurance can reimburse you for the cost of necessary personal and business items if (1) you purchased your trip with this card and (2) your bag is delayed by a common carrier like an airline, train, ferry, or cruise ship, etc.

Common reimbursable items include clothing, toiletries, and phone chargers, which can be a life-saver when you are without your bag.

Secondary Rental Car Insurance

Secondary rental car insurance covers any damage to or theft of a rental car not covered by your primary insurance when you pay for the rental using this card.

Other credit cards offer primary rental car insurance, which pays before your insurance and saves you the hassle of filing multiple insurance claims.

You still need to maintain liability car insurance to cover damage to another person or property.

0% APR on Balance Transfers

The Aviator Red offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply 20.99%, 24.99%, or 29.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

Balance transfers carry of fee of the greater of $5 or 5%. For example, a balance transfer of $1,000 would require a $50 fee.

Pros and Cons

Here’s a quick overview of this card’s advantages and disadvantages:


  • Free first-checked bag and preferred boarding for you and four travel companions.
  • Easy welcome bonus.
  • Earn Loyalty Points towards elite status.


Alternatives to the Aviator Red

Now that you know about this credit card’s various benefits and pros and cons, it’s time to see its alternatives.

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

Better for Earning Miles at Restaurants and Gas Stations

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
  • bonus_miles_full.
  • 2x Miles for American Airlines, Gas Stations, and Restaurants purchases.
  • Free Checked Bag and Preferred Boarding
  • 25% In-Flight Savings on Food and Drinks
  • $99 Annual Fee, Waived for First 12 Months
Our Review Learn More
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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is a good option for American Airlines flyers because it offers a free first checked bag on domestic flights for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation, plus preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.

Plus, you earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar at restaurants, gas stations, and on American Airlines.  

The AAdvantage Platinum card can also help you earn AAdvantage elite status because every dollar spent on the card equals one Loyalty Point.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Better for Admirals Club Lounge Access

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • bonus_miles_full.
  • Admirals Club Lounge Membership
  • Free Checked Bag (for you and 8 travel companions)
  • Priority Boarding and Priority Check-In
  • Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check Credit
  • $595 Annual Fee
Our Review Learn More
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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is a good option for frequent American Airlines travelers since it offers an Admirals Club membership, free checked bags, priority boarding, and priority check-in on American Airlines.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Better for Earning Points and Travel Benefits

Best Starter Travel Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • bonus_miles_full
  • 5x Points on Travel Booked Via Chase
  • 3x Points on Dining and Eligible Delivery Services
  • 2x Points on All Other Travel Purchases
  • 10% Anniversary Points Boost
  • Trip Delay and Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Primary Rental Car Insurance
  • $95 Annual Fee

Click Here to Learn How to Apply

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) is one of the best rewards cards for travelers who want solid earning rates for travel and dining expenses. 

For only $95 per year, this card earns 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3x points on dining, online groceries, and streaming services, and 2x on all other travel purchases

Cardholders will also get a 10% anniversary points bonus, a 12-month DoorDash DashPass subscription when activated by December 31, 2024, and a $50 anniversary hotel statement credit. 

Plus, it provides extensive travel protections, including trip delay, primary rental car, baggage, and purchase protection plans. 

Is the Aviator Red Worth It?

The Aviator Red Mastercard can be worth it if you fly American Airlines at least a couple times a year to take advantage of the card’s free checked bag benefit.

If you a very frequent American Airlines flyer, you should instead get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® for the Admirals Club access.

If you fly multiple airlines or fly only with a carry-on bag, a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) or the more premium Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (review) are better options.

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