Barclays American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red Credit Card Review

The Barclays American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard offers 60,000 miles after a single purchase. It also comes with several valuable benefits such as free checked bags and priority boarding for you and up to four companions on the same reservation. 

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Aviator Red Card Information

Application Link: Barclay AAdvantage Red Aviator World Elite Mastercard.

Current Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase plus a Companion Certificate that you can use for one guest for $99 plus taxes and fees. Plus 0% APR for 15 months for balance transfers with a 3% transfer fee.

Recommended Bonus: At least 60,000 miles.

Annual Fee: $99

Earning Rewards: 2x miles with American Airlines and 1x miles on all other purchases.

Red Aviator Card Benefits

Free Checked Bag- The Aviator Red gets you a free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions on the same reservation. American charges $25 per checked bag, so the Aviator Red can save you a lot of money if you are traveling with family. 

Preferred Boarding- Cardmembers plus up to four companions on the same reservation can enjoy Group 5 preferred boarding. 

Companion Certificate- The Aviator Red comes with a companion certificate for one guest for $99 plus taxes and fees (between $21.60 and $43.20). You get this benefit your first year by just paying the annual fee, but on subsequent years you have to spend $20,000 each year to qualify.

  • The certificate has several restrictions including that it is limited to travel within the Continental U.S., it is only valid for round-trip economy flights, and the companion is not eligible for mileage accrual or upgrades.

Access to Reduced Mileage Awards- American Airlines offers award discounts called reduced mileage awards that can save you miles on round-trip flights. You can save 7,500 miles on flights over 500+ miles and 2,000 miles on flights under 500 miles. The list of discounted cities changes monthly, but you can get the discount for that month of travel if your origin or destination is on the list and you can find “saver” award availability.

25% In-Flight Savings- You receive a 25% statement credit when purchasing food and beverage on American Airlines operated flights with your Aviator Red.

$25 Wi-Fi Statement Credit- This card comes with a $25 Wi-Fi statement credit for each card member year on American Airlines operated flights.

No Foreign Transaction Fees- This benefit saves you about 3% on international purchases compared to credit or debit cards that charge foreign transaction fees.

The Red Aviator also has several Mastercard World Elite benefits: 

  • Cell Phone Protection– This benefit gives you up to $1,000 in yearly coverage when you pay your cell phone bill with your Aviator Red. You are limited to 2 claims per year with a maximum of $800 per claim. 
  • Special Discounts– Your Red Aviator gets you several special discounts such as:
    • $10 Lyft credit once per month if you take 5 rides in a month and pay with your Red Aviator.
    • 5% Cash Rewards at
    • $5 off every $25 Postmates purchase (excluding delivery fees, tips, and taxes).
    • $5 off Fandango for every two movie tickets purchased.
  • Free ShopRunner Membership– ShopRunner allows you to get free two-day shipping at hundreds of online retailers. 
  • ID Theft Protection– Mastercard offers ID Theft Protection to monitor changes to your credit file and suspicious activity related to your personal information. 

Advantages of the Aviator Red Card

Sign-up Bonus After One Purchase– Most credit cards require you to spend $2,000 to $5,000 in the three months to get a sign-up bonus. For the Aviator Red, you can get 60,000 American Airlines miles by making a single purchase such as buying a bottle of water or a pack of gum.

Cell Phone Insurance- Having free cell phone insurance saves you about $65 per year per person. If you have multiple phones on your cell phone account that can easily justify the $99 annual fee of the card. 

Companion Certificate– The Companion Certificate is a nice perk, especially for the first year where you get without having to spend $20,000 in a year. To maximize the Companion Certificate, you should target a round-trip flight price of at least $325 considering it will cost about $120-140 to use the certificate.

Disadvantages of the Aviator Red Card

Lack of Points Multipliers- The Citi AAdvantage Platinum, which also has a $99 annual fee and very similar benefits, earns 2x points on restaurants and gas stations in addition to 2x miles on purchases with American Airlines. Whereas, the Aviator Red only earns 2x points with American Airlines. Barclays really needs to add additional points multiplier such as 2x on hotels for the Aviator Red to be considered superior to the Citi AAdvantage Platinum.

Lack of Purchase Protections- Barclays removed several purchase protections in October 2019 such as extended warranty, price protection, and purchase protection. Citi removed similar protections for almost all of their cards as well, but it would be nice to see some of these purchase protections return given the annual fee of the cards.