The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® justifies its annual fee with its frequent flyer benefits and a sign-up bonus that's easy to earn, though its rate on earning AAdvantage® miles is low.
Citi is an advertising partner
The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® makes it easy for frequent flyers to earn miles in the American AAdvantage program, which offers flights to more than 1,100 destinations around the world. Cardholders also get access to a few benefits you would normally only get with elite status, as well as an introductory balance transfer offer.
This card can be ideal for individuals who want to earn American AAdvantage miles for flights around the globe — especially since the sign-up bonus is so easy to earn.
Earn 60,000 bonus miles
One area where the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® stands out is in its sign-up bonus, which doesn't have a minimum spending requirement like competing offers do:
Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.
Since many airline credit cards require you to spend thousands of dollars within a few months to qualify for a bonus offer, choosing the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® instead can be very advantageous. After all, you could earn the bonus miles after buying something as simple as a pack of gum or using your card to pay your phone bill.
What it's worth: Around $600 in American Airlines airfare
Who's eligible to earn this bonus?: According to Barclays, you must be at least 18 years of age and be a resident of the United States or a U.S. territory to qualify. The fine print also lists this rule: "You may not be eligible for this offer if you currently have or previously had an account with us in this Program."
What can you get with 60,000 miles?
The simplified sign-up bonus this card offers is a huge draw for new customers, yet what can you actually get with 60,000 American AAdvantage miles? That really depends, but you do have plenty of options to consider since American and its oneworld® partners let you fly to more than 150 countries worldwide.
If you take a look at the American AAdvantage award chart, you can see the minimum amount of miles you will normally need for an award flight. Just remember that the American AAdvantage award chart can serve as a guide, but that flights will sometimes cost more or less in miles.
Some examples of itineraries you could book with 60,000 American AAdvantage miles include:
- Round-trip MileSAAver economy flight from the 48 U.S. states and Canada to Europe (60,000 miles + airline taxes and fees)
- Two round-trip economy MileSAAver off-peak flights from the 48 U.S. states and Canada to Mexico (25,000 miles + airline taxes and fees per passenger)
- Round-trip MileSAAver Business class flight within the 48 U.S. states and Canada (50,000 miles + airline taxes and fees)
- Two round-trip economy MileSAAver off-peak flights from the 48 U.S. states and Canada to Alaska (30,000 miles + airline taxes and fees per passenger)
- Eight one-way economy MileSAAver flights of less than 500 miles within the 48 U.S. states and Canada (7,500 miles each + airline taxes and fees)
Earn 2X miles with American Airlines
The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® may stand out due to its sign-up bonus, yet the card's earning rate on purchases isn't so great.
Once you sign up, you can Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Keep in mind that other airline credit cards frequently have bonus categories outside of just airfare purchases, which can help you rack up miles considerably faster. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® lets cardholders Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases.
Several airline credit cards from other issuers have their own bonus categories that let you rack up more miles, so make sure to check and compare.
The following graph shows how the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® compares on rewards value earned per $1 spent for the average cardholder (using our estimated points and miles values for each card's rewards program). As you can see, the card's earning power ranks low:
Average rewards earned per $1 spent
How much are American AAdvantage miles worth?
American AAdvantage miles are worth approximately 1 cent each, which means they are worth a little less than miles offered by competing programs. For example, Delta SkyMiles are worth approximately 1.3 cents each and United Airlines miles are worth approximately 1.6 cents each.
As mentioned, the American AAdvantage program still posts an award chart, but the chart only serves as a general guideline. Once you begin looking for ways to redeem your miles, there's an excellent chance you'll find some award flights that cost considerably more or a little less than the figures in the chart.
We've recently found one-way flights that cost as little as 5,000 miles and as much as 460,000 miles for a first-class fare.
When it comes to redeeming miles for flights, you should note that the American Airlines AAdvantage program is part of the oneworld® alliance. This means that you can redeem your miles for flights with American as well as all of their partner airlines, which include British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and more.
The miles required for an award flight on American Airlines vary by the fare type, region, demand and travel dates. Fare types include: MileSAAver Off Peak awards, traditional MileSAAver awards and AAnytime awards (Levels 1 and 2).
MileSAAver off-peak awards cost the least number of miles, and they may not be that hard to find if you're flexible on your travel dates. Meanwhile, AAnytime awards cost more in miles but are available more often than not. The following chart shows each type of fare and how many miles you'll need for a handful of popular awards:
|MileSAAver Off Peak|
|AAnytime Level 1|
|AAnytime Level 2|
You should also know that, outside of award flights, there are other ways to redeem your American AAdvantage miles. For example, you may be able to use miles for upgrades, stays with hotel partners, Admirals Club® membership, charitable donations or rental car bookings.
Other AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® benefits
American Airlines and Barclays offer AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® holders several important benefits, some of which you would normally get with elite status.
Each of the major cardholder perks are explained below:
The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® offers a $99 Companion Certificate for each anniversary year. To be eligible, you have to spend $20,000 on purchases and your account has to remain open at least 45 dates after your cardmember anniversary date.
Cardholders also receive a free checked bag on American Airlines itineraries. This perk also applies to up to four other companions traveling on the same itinerary. Since baggage fees on American Airlines cost around $30 per flight, you can easily recoup the card's annual fee by flying on American Airlines a couple times a year.
Cardmembers and up to four companions on the same itinerary also qualify for preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.
This card won't require you to pay foreign transaction fees when you use it for purchases outside of the United States.
When you use your credit card for in-flight food and beverage purchases, you'll get automatic savings of 25%.
The Flight Cents™ program allows you to round up your purchases to the next dollar so you earn more AAdvantage miles over time. You are not required to opt in to this program.
This card also comes with some complimentary travel insurance benefits, which include travel accident insurance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, baggage delay insurance and an auto rental collision damage waiver.
Qualify for a 0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening, after which you'll pay the regular variable APR of 15.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable depending on your creditworthiness. Also be aware that a $5.00 or 3% whichever is greater balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies if you transfer other debts to this card.
How does the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® compare to other cards?
It's easy to see why you would consider the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, yet it's important to consider a few alternatives before you sign up for an airline credit card. Here are a few comparable cards to consider before you pull the trigger and apply.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® vs. AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver World Elite Mastercard®
The AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver World Elite Mastercard® is not accepting new applicants, yet it is worth considering if you want to upgrade your card. A $195 annual fee applies, yet this card comes with a higher earning rate of 3X miles for every one dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 2X AAdvantage® miles for every one dollar spent on hotels and car rentals and 1X AAdvantage® miles for every one dollar spent on all other purchases. You also get elite benefits like $25 per day back on in-flight food and beverage statement credits, $50 back on in-flight Wi-Fi credits each anniversary year, a free checked bag, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, preferred boarding and 0% foreign transaction fees.
Finally, this card is better for frequent travelers who are pursuing elite status since you get the chance to earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) through credit card spending.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® vs. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has a similar annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months, although this fee is waived the first year. You'll also get a better earning rate: You can Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases.
Similar benefits are offered, which include preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same itinerary, preferred boarding and 0% foreign transaction fees. This card also gives you a $125 American Airlines flight discount when you spend $20,000 or more on your card within a membership year you renew your card.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® vs. Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Consumers who want luxury travel benefits should compare the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® over the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®. Though the two cards have the same rewards rate, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has a significantly higher annual fee of $450 per year. However, this fee can be worth it since you automatically get Admirals Club airport lounge membership, which has a retail value of $650 for new members.
Other card benefits include a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, priority boarding, priority check-in, free checked baggage and more. You can also earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) through credit card spending alone. Specifically, you can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 in purchases within a year.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a flexible travel credit card that is not actually affiliated with the American AAdvantage program. However, this card gives you an unlimited 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. You can redeem your miles for any travel purchase (including American flights) at a rate of 1 cent per mile, and you can also transfer your miles to an array of Capital One airline and hotel partners.
A $95 annual fee applies for this card, but you do get a fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership and no foreign transaction fees. You also qualify for a few more flexible redemption options, including the ability to redeem your miles for purchases made through PayPal or Amazon.com.
Is the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® worth it?
The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is worth applying for if you want to earn miles that work within the American AAdvantage program. This is especially true since you can earn a large number of bonus miles on your first purchase, and since you'll only have to pay $99 per year to enjoy important cardholder perks.
With that in mind, you should still take the time to compare this card to other American Airlines credit cards as well as flexible travel credit cards that let you book flights with multiple airlines. You can also consider pairing this card with another card that offers a better earning rate on regular purchases.
The information related to AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver World Elite Mastercard® and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.