Big Changes Coming to the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

Aviator Red Mastercard

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Few credit cards offer a better, more lucrative welcome offer bonus than the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. Just for opening the card, making a single purchase, and paying the $95 annual fee you can currently earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles (normally 50,000 miles)

These are some of the easiest miles you will ever earn.


Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Card Changes


On Wednesday, Barclays announced a number of big changes to their co-branded American Airlines Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. These changes go into effect on May 1, 2019 for both new and existing cardmembers. See below for the full list of changes.


AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard Improvements

Starting on May 1, 2019, the Aviator Red Mastercard will offer the following improvements.


Aviator Red Mastercard


  • A companion certificate – each year after renewing your card membership, you will receive a companion certificate good for one guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after you spend $20,000 in a calendar year.
  • Onboard WiFi credit – If you pay for onboard WiFi with the Aviator Red Mastercard, you will get up to $25 back in statement credits each year.
  • Flight Cents Program – You will be able to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar to earn more miles at a rate of 2 cents per mile. As an example, if you make a purchase that is $1.50, you will be charged $2. Since the round-up earns 1 mile for every 2 cents rounded up, you would earn 25 additional AAdvantage miles.


AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard Downgrades

Whenever a bank makes updates to a card product, there is usually something that has to give. Below are the negative changes coming to the Barclays Aviator Red Mastercard.

  • Higher Annual Fee – The card’s annual fee will be going from $95 to $99.
  • Removal of the 10% refund on AAdvantage mileage redemptions – Cardholders will no longer earn the 10% back on redeemed miles. It is currently possible to receive up to 10,000 miles back each year when you redeem at least 100,000 miles. We saw Citi end the 10% rebate on the co-branded AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard last May.


Our Analysis

I have long been a fan of the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard as the welcome bonus it offers provides an incredibly easy way to build a stash of American Airlines AAdvantage miles. However, from the bank’s perspective, there was nothing about this card that enticed loyalty and ongoing spending above and beyond the welcome bonus requirement.

All of the new benefits offered appear to be designed to encourage spending on this card. I myself have had this card in the past and after making my initial purchase and paying the annual fee I put it in a desk drawer.

The biggest bummer of these changes is the removal of the 10% rebate on AAdvantage mileage redemptions. This was an easy way to get 10,000 miles back each year every time you went to redeem them. As mentioned above, Citi removed this in 2018, and I am surprised it took Barclays this long to follow suit.


Bottom Line

The normal welcome bonus offer on the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard is 50,000 AAdvantage miles. Now is a great time to pick up the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. Earning 60,000 miles after making one purchase and paying an annual fee are some of the easiest points and miles you will ever earn, and you will lock in the $95 annual fee for at least another year.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any car

2 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    I was recently accepted for this card (earlier this week). If I redeem miles prior to May, will I still receive the 10% back on the miles I redeemed? Do they need to be miles that you earned through the card, or is it 10% of the total amount of points you spend? I currently have about 80,000 miles, and will be receiving 60,000 from the sign up bonus.

    • Nick Serati says:

      Hey Steve. Good question. My understanding is you will still receive the 10% rebate until May 1st for any award bookings you make. They don’t have to be miles you earned from the card. If you redeemed all 80k miles, you would receive 8k back. Capped at 10k.

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