|"Great features at the cost of a high annual fee."|
- Aviator Silver Credit Card Review
- Features & Benefits
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver Credit Card Comparisons
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For frequent flyers who can stomach the $195 annual fee, the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard is the best American Airlines credit card to have. Fantastic rewards rates of up to 5.2% and good perks for frequent flyers put this card in a league of its own. The only drawback of this card is its limited rewards redemption: with the Aviator Silver, your AAdvantage miles can only be redeemed for American Airlines flights. Consumers seeking a credit card with broader redemption options should look towards other great travel reward credit cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard instead.
The features we like best about the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Credit Card
- Fantastic rewards rate on American Airlines purchases
- Global Entry TSA Pre Membership Covered
- EMV smartchip compatible
Where we think the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Credit Card falls short compared to others
- High annual fee of $195
- Limited availability to consumers
The AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard is one of the best airline travel credit cards we’ve seen for frequent American Airlines flyers. It offers a rewards rate between 1.9% and 5.2% based on our valuation, which beats out even most cash back cards. One downside to the card is its hefty $195 annual fee. All the benefits that come along with the Aviator Silver credit card, however, help justify that fee for the frequent flyer and AAdvantage member. The Aviator Silver's two most prominent benefits are Global Entry membership (a $100 value) and a companion certificate for frequent American Airlines passengers who spend at least $30,000 per year. We think those two benefits alone make this card worth hundreds of dollars. When you throw on top of it the fantastic rewards rate, this card is hard to pass by for American Airlines and US Airways globetrotters.
When it comes to rewards on the Aviator Silver credit card, there are a lot of opportunities to earn bonus AAdvantage miles, but redeeming rewards are restricted to American Airlines flights. AAdvantage miles are some of the most precious frequent flyer miles around, with an estimated value of $0.017 per mile. Therefore, if a consumer is already a frequent American Airlines customer, the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard is a fantastic card for both the rewards potential and the other perks.
We also think this credit card is great for international travel. Barclaycard has included EMV smartchip technology on the Aviator Silver, which makes it more difficult to counterfeit and therefore offers consumers greater protection. By having an EMV chip, the AAdvantage Aviator Silver credit card is also more likely to be accepted abroad. Additionally, Aviator Silver cardholders will be glad to know that if they do travel overseas, they won't be charged the typical 3% foreign transaction fee that most other credit cards have.
This Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard is only available as an upgrade for current US Airways Dividend Miles credit card users. If you want to get in on its fantastic rewards, you must first sign up for the Dividend Miles card, and then request an upgrade to the Aviator Silver. We anticipate that applications for the US Airways credit card will end soon, so fast action is a must. After the two airlines merge, it is unclear whether there will be any other way of receiving the Aviator credit cards. This is because Citi has an exclusive deal with American Airlines to produce their co-branded credit cards. It is possible Barclaycard will seek to receive a similar deal, but there are no guarantees.
Here we'll break down and evaluate each component and feature of Barclaycard's Aviator Silver World Elite credit card for AAdvantage members.
|Purchase APR||15.99%, 19.99% or 124.99% Variable|
Aviator Silver credit card users will enjoy the best mileage-earning rates of any American Airlines credit card. Cardmembers will receive 3 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible US Airways and American Airlines purchases, 2x miles for every $1 spent on eligible hotels and car rentals, and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. This high-potential rewards structure makes the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard our favorite card for American Airlines travel rewards. No other credit card earns you as much AAdvantage miles as the Aviator Silver.
AAdvantage's partnership with Barclaycard also gives consumers an extra benefit. As with a few other premier Barclaycard travel reward offerings, the rewards that you earn are worth an extra 10% when you redeem them – thus putting even more value in your pocket.
We calculate that consumers can enjoy a rewards rate of 1.9% to 5.2% with the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard, depending on what they spend on. We based this range on different types of spending, from those with the highest rewards potential to the lowest, and an AAdvantage miles value of $0.017 per mile (based on sample flight itineraries). Note that figures exclude the impact of the $195 annual fee.
We will first look at the optimal use of the card – using it solely for US Airways and American Airlines purchases. This gives the greatest rewards bang for the credit card buck. Say you buy a $1,000 international round-trip American Airlines ticket using your Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard. Since you are earning 3 miles on every $1 spent, you earn 3,000 AAdvantage miles ($1,000 x 3 miles / $1 = 3,000 miles). However, since Barclaycard gives you 10% of them back, it’s really like earning a total of 3,030 miles (3,000 x 10% = 30). The value of those miles then are: 3,030 miles x $0.017 = $51.51. So, spending $1,000 on an American Airlines ticket resulted in a rewards valued at $52. The rewards rate is the ratio of the money we put into the card to the money we get back out – or how much the card is rewarding us for the purchases we make on it. The scenario above yields a rewards rate of $52/1,000 = 0.052 = 5.2%.
How about the rewards rate in the worst case scenario? Let’s imagine we use the card to buy something that'd fall into the lowest earning category: a month’s supply of Sour Patch Kids. Approximately 12 lbs worth of the candy costs around $41, and should be sufficient. Using the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard for the purchase will net us 41 AAdvantage miles (as we are earning 1 mile per $1). Don’t forget about the 10% miles dividend! Therefore, we end up with 45.1 miles in total. Those 45.1 miles are worth: 45.1 x $0.017 = $0.77. The rewards rate can be calculated by $0.77 / $41 = 0.0187 = 1.87%!
Therefore the rewards rate you will earn with your AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard on general spending will fall somewhere between 1.87% and 5.1%. As a side note, if you use the card exclusively on hotels and car rentals your rewards rate will be 3.7%.
Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): On top of earning AAdvantage miles, for every $20,000 you spend a year with your Aviator Silver credit card, you will earn 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (up to a maximum of 10,000 per year). These miles help you attain and maintain elite status with American Airline. There are different benefits associated with various amounts of EQMs held in a given membership year. To read more about the Elite program, click here.
$99 Companion Certificate: The most lucrative perk of being an Aviator Silver cardholder is reserved for high spenders. Individuals who spend at least $30,000 per year on their card will receive a $99 companion certificate, which we estimate to be worth hundreds of dollars. American Airlines will mail cardmembers the two certificates after they've reached the $30k threshhold. This certificate works by allowing you to bring up to 2 guests onto any flight (within the contiguous United States and Canada) at $99 each. Unfortunately, a trip to Hawaii does not qualify.
Great Travel Perks: For those who are frequent world travelers, the Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard has some great offerings as well. Firstly, if you use your card to pay for a Global Entry application, you will be given $100 in statement credit to pay off the expense upon approval – essentially gifting you Global Entry. The Aviator Silver also has no foreign exchange fee and comes equipped with an EMV smartchip, which makes using the card abroad easier and less costly than some of its competitors.
Priority Boarding & Checked Bags: The AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard also comes with a slew of American Airlines-specific perks. The benefits begin rolling in before you even pass through security. With the Aviator Silver, you and up to 8 traveling companions traveling on the same itinerary (paid for by the cardholder) will receive 1 free checked back each. At the gate, you will be treated to priority boarding. Once in the sky, Aviator Silver cardholders can receive a 25% savings on purchases of food, beverages, and headsets.
As the big merger approaches, US Airways Dividend Miles Credit Card users must make a choice as to what credit card they want to end up with once the dust settles. Below we outline some competitors to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard to help consumers get a clearer picture as to how this credit card compares to what else is available to them.
If your aim is to earn miles towards American Airlines flights, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is not the card for you. This card’s strengths lie in its flexible rewards system and high overall rewards earning potential. Barclaycard Arrival Plus users get 2.1% back on travel-related expense. This covers airline tickets, hotels, taxis, and a whole array of related items. After you sign up for the card, you will also have a chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.
By offering a more focused and narrowed pool of rewards, the Aviator Silver card is able to give users a higher rate of returns (up to 5.1% when used maximally). If you fly with American Airlines often, and don’t mind only being able to get rewarded with flights, then we recommend going with the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card – provided you will also take advantage of perks such as Global Entry to offset the higher annual fee.
The AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard is the default option, which most existing US Airways credit card holders will be presented with. This card rewards just 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per $1 on everything else – no extra miles for hotels and car rentals like we see in the Aviator Silver. The Aviator Red also doesn’t come with a companion certificate. Instead, if Aviator Red cardholders spend $30,000 in a year, they will receive a $100 flight discount – which is much less valuable than a companion certificate.
All these points may make the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard seem like the inferior card. Is there any reason to get the Aviator Red over the Silver variant? There is. The Aviator Red is quite a bit less expensive. It costs $106 less per year than the Aviator Silver card. This difference in cost can be overcome, if a user is planning on taking advantage of the Global Entry benefit of the Aviator Silver, or can spend enough for its companion certificate. But, for individuals not interested in Global Entry and those who do not spend at least $30,000 a year on their credit card should think long and hard about paying $106 more a year for a marginally better rewards rates.
Citibank also offers a premium American Airlines travel rewards credit card. In terms of earning miles, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard is not that special: 2x miles per $1 on American Airlines purchases, and just 1 mile on everything else. The Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard has it beat in this respect. It’s the ancillary benefits that make the Citi AAdvantage Executive card truly special. Executive cardholders receive access to Admirals lounges at airports, where they can enjoy complimentary amenities such as food and drinks. Just like Aviator Silver users, those with a Citi AAdvantage Executive enjoy priority check-in and a free checked bag for themselves and up to 8 traveling companions. With the AAdvantage Executive card users also can earn Elite Qualifying Miles – 10,000 EQMs each year they spend $40,000 on their card (which is the same max as the Aviator Silver credit card).
The Citi AAdvantage Executive is quite a bit pricier than the Aviator Silver Card. It costs $450 to maintain membership. Which card is better for you depends on your priorities. If you want to simply earn as many AAdvantage miles as possible then the Aviator Silver card is the better credit card for you. However, if you highly value the amenities that come with the Admiral Club membership, the Citi AAdvantage Executive is the only credit card that can provide you with that.
The Citi Double Cash is a cash back card that offers 2% back on all purchases you make. Since it comes with no annual fee, we recommend that those with an AAdvantage Aviator Silver credit card also apply for the Citi Double Cash. This allows a consumer to maximize the savings they receive. The Aviator Silver card could be used on purchases of American Airlines tickets, booking of hotel accommodations and car rentals. The Citi Double Cash can be used on all other purchases, such as groceries, gas, etc. for some incremental rewards.
The only circumstance in which we don’t recommend this combination of credit cards is if you want to receive the Aviator Silver’s companion certificate. By diluting the spending you do between two cards, it may be harder to reach the $30,000 spending requirement of the certificate. If your aim is to obtain and use the certificate, then the marginal increase in rewards on everyday spending the Citi Double Cash gives is not enough to beat the hundreds of dollars you can get out of the companion certificate.
How can I get the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard? As of publication date, it is not possible to directly apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard. It is only available as a replacement card to US Airways credit cardmembers. Even then, if you have not been contacted by the bank about this offer, you must contact Barclaycard and request consideration for the Aviator Silver card.
How will the Aviator Silver be different from the original US Airways credit card? All the benefits available the US Airways Dividend miles credit card holders will be making a return in the Aviator Silver. Some benefits, such as miles and rewards earned per dollar, have been enhanced. The only benefit which will not be returning is the one US Airways Club day pass earned every year – though not all US Airways credit card users still receive this old benefit.
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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.