13 Benefits of Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red + Review

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The Barclays American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard gives you a sizeable welcome bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after just a single purchase. 

Plus, spending on this co-branded AAdvantage card also counts toward earning American Airlines elite status

Other perks and benefits, like free first checked bags, preferred boarding, anniversary companion certificates, and in-flight savings, make this credit card an attractive option for travelers.  

Let’s explore several key facts about the AAdvantage Aviator Red card and how it stacks up against other similar cards. 

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red
  • Welcome Bonus of 50,000 Points
  • Free Checked Bag for You and Four Companions
  • Preferred Boarding
  • $25 In-Flight Wi-Fi Credit
  • 25% In-Flight Savings
  • $99 Annual Fee
Learn More

1. Welcome Bonus of 50,000 Miles After One Purchase

Barclays rewards you with 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after you make your first purchase with the AAdvantage Red Aviator card and pay the full annual fee within your first three months of account opening. 

It’s pretty amazing that you can purchase a coffee and earn enough miles to redeem American AAdvantage miles for one to two roundtrip economy flights or almost enough points for one-way in international business class.

American Airlines

2. First Checked Bag Free

Cardholders and up to four companions on the same reservation can check their first bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries. 

It is important to note that none of American Airlines’ credit cards offer free checked bags on international flights. 

This is a great perk if you’re a frequent American flyer as American typically charges $30 for the first checked bag. You can save more than $100 on a one-way trip when traveling with your family. 

3. Preferred Boarding

Having the Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard allows you and up to four companions on the same reservation to board with Group 5 (Preferred Boarding) allowing you to to secure an overhead compartment for your small belongings, making your journey a less stressful experience.

4. $99 Annual Fee

The Aviator Red card has a $99 annual fee, which is not waived the first year. 

5. $25 Wi-Fi Credit

Each anniversary year, cardmembers enjoy up to $25 statement credits on qualifying in-flight Wi-Fi purchases when flying American. This helps offset a quarter of the annual fee. 

6. 25% In-Flight Savings

You’ll get 25% savings as statement credits if you buy food and drinks on American flights using your Barclays Aviator Red card.

American Airlines Drinks

7. 2X Miles on American Airlines Purchases and 1X Mile Everywhere Else

Cardholders earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on qualifying American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

8. Earn Loyalty Points Through Credit Card Spending

Barclays has several co-branded AAdvantage cards that earn Loyalty Points, including the Aviator Red.  

The revamped AAdvantage loyalty program now makes it easier to earn AAdvantage status through everyday credit card spending. 

Simply use your AAdvantage Executive card to book flights with American Airlines and partner airlines. Plus, you also earn Loyalty Points by engaging with AAdvantage partners through e-shopping at the AA shopping portal, staying in partner hotels, booking qualifying cruises, and a lot more. 

Each eligible AAdvantage mile earns you one Loyalty Point. Welcome bonuses and bonus points in bonus categories do not earn Loyalty Points. 

9. Anniversary Companion Certificate

American Airlines gives you a companion certificate each anniversary year for one guest for $99 (plus taxes and fees). 

You have to spend at least $20,000 on your Aviator Red card, and you must keep your account open for 45 days following your anniversary date.

10. No Foreign Transaction Fees

You can use your AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard across the globe without paying any foreign transaction fees, saving you around 3% on international purchases.

Santorini Europe

11. Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

Aviator Red cardholders receive up to $1,500 per trip for non-refundable travel expenses charged by a common carrier when a trip gets canceled or interrupted due to a covered reason.

12. Secondary Rental Car Insurance

Barclays provides Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver as secondary coverage within your country of residence.

The insurance applies once your personal car insurance has been used up in the event that an eligible rental car gets damaged or stolen within a covered territory. 

Rental Car Insurance
Photo: Hertz

13. 0% APR for Balance Transfers for 15 Months

Barclays offers a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles within 45 days of opening your account. A variable APR that varies from 15.99%, 19.99%, or 24.99% applies depending on your creditworthiness after the promotional period. 

You could save a lot on interest charges if you transfer a balance to the Aviator Red and pay down your entire balance during the promotional 0% APR period. 

Which American Airlines Card Is Better?

American Airlines partners with both Citi and Barclays to issue their credit cards, which was a product of the American Airlines and U.S. Airways merger in 2015.

Each American Airlines credit card has some unique features like lounge access or lower spending requirements for the welcome bonus.

Barclays Aviator Red vs. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles, free checked bags for you and up to four travelers on domestic flights, and priority boarding.

Plus, cardmembers earn 2x miles on American Airlines flights and at grocery stores, and can enjoy a 25% in-flight savings on food and drinks.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum
  • Welcome Bonus of 50,000 Miles
  • 2x Miles on American Airlines
  • 2x Miles at Gas Stations and Restaurants
  • Earn Loyalty Points Towards Elite Status
  • Free Checked Bag for You & Four Companions on Domestic Flights
  • Preferred Boarding
  • 25% In-Flight Savings on Food and Drinks
Learn More Our Review

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and Barclays Red Aviator both provide free checked bags and preferred boarding.

The main thing you will have to decide is whether you want the single-purchase sign-up bonus with the Barclays Red Aviator?

Or do you want the annual fee waived the first year with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum?

The other major differences are:

  • The Citi AAdvantage Platinum earns 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations, instead of 1x miles per dollar with the Barclays Aviator.
  • The Barclays Aviator offers a yearly $25 in-flight Wi-Fi credit.
  • If you spend $20,000 in a calendar year, the Citi Platinum Select offers a $125 flight discount versus the Aviator Red offers a companion certificate for $99 + taxes and fees.

Barclays Aviator Red vs. Citi AAdvantage Executive

The Citi AAdvantage Executive is a great choice if you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer who wants airport lounge access.

This card features an Admirals Club membership (worth $650) that allows the primary cardholder and up to two guests with a same-day boarding pass to enter American Airlines Admirals Club lounges when flying American Airlines, a OneWorld airline (including Alaska Airlines), or JetBlue (excluding flights to Europe). 

Plus, the primary cardholder enjoys access to over 50 partner lounges worldwide.

The annual fee is $450, but you can add up to 10 authorized users for free, who also enjoy Admirals Club lounge access with two guests.

If you maximize this benefit, you effectively pay only $41 per person for a yearly Admirals Club membership ($450 divided by 11 people).

Citi AAdvantage Executive
  • Welcome Bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage Miles
  • Admirals Club Lounge Membership for Cardholders and Up to 10 Authorized Users with Two Guests
  • Free Checked Bag (for you and 8 travel companions) on Domestics Flights
  • Priority Boarding (for you and 8 travel companions)
  • Priority Check-In (for you and 8 travel companions)
  • Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check Credit
  • $450 Annual Fee
Learn More Our Review

Whether to go with the Barclays Aviator Red or the Citi AAdvantage Executive will depend on how often you can take advantage of the Admirals Club access for you, your authorized users, and guests.

The Aviator Red is better for people who fly American Airlines a few times a year and can take advantage of the free checked bag and priority boarding benefits.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive card is great if you can take advantage of the Admirals Club lounge access.

I suggest putting the value of each lounge visit at $25, so you would need 18 visits to the Admirals Club to make the annual fee worth it.

Eighteen visits sound like a lot, but when you have guests or add authorized users, you can easily hit this number.

For example, a family of four could exceed the suggested eighteen visits with three round-trip flights (four people x two visits per roundtrip x three roundtrips equals 24 visits equivalent to $18.75 per person per visit) . 

Barclays Aviator Red vs. Citi AAdvantage MileUp Credit Card

The Citi AAdvantage MileUp is great for people who want to earn American Airlines miles without an annual fee. 

The MileUp card doesn’t offer a big welcome mileage bonus, free checked bags, or priority boarding like other American Airlines credit cards.

But MileUp cardmembers earn 2x miles on American Airlines and at grocery stores, and receive a 25% in-flight savings on food and drinks.

No Annual Fee
Citi AAdvantage MileUp
  • Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Miles
  • 2x Miles on American Airlines and Groceries
  • Earns Loyalty Points Towards Elite Status
  • 25% In-Flight Savings on Food and Drinks
  • No Annual Fee
Learn More Our Review

Advantages of the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

The best advantage of the Aviator Red over other cards is the lucrative welcome bonus that you can easily earn with just a single purchase and an annual fee payment. 

This mid-tier travel credit card offers nice travel perks and benefits for casual American Airlines flyers for a low annual fee, which could be offset by perks like 25% in-flight savings, free first checked bag, and $25 Wi-Fi credits.  

Plus, spending on the card now earns you AAdvantage miles for Loyalty Points, which is excellent news if you’re aiming for elite status. You’ll also get an anniversary companion certificate and travel perks like trip cancellation insurance. 

Additionally, you could take advantage of the 0% APR introductory offer on balance transfers to save on interest charges. 

Disadvantages of the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

The Aviator Red’s $99 fee cannot be waived the first year, unlike other travel cards such as the Citi Platinum Select. 

Interestingly, you can only get your first checked bag free for domestic flights, not international flights. 

The lack of bonus categories, like restaurants and gas stations, for earning extra miles could also be a deal-breaker. 

You’ll also likely find better travel cards with trip delay insurance that earn you more points with paid airfare. 

For example, you could earn more points on flights and receive valuable trip delay insurance with the American Express Platinum, Capital One Venture X, or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.