AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® review: Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus

A group of friends laugh with one another as they take their seats on a flight.Image: A group of friends laugh with one another as they take their seats on a flight.
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Pros

  • Strong sign-up bonus
  • Lots of travel perks
  • Intro balance transfer offer

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • Limited reward redemption options

The major benefits and drawbacks of the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

This airline rewards card is a good fit for people who fly American Airlines frequently. It’ll cost you an annual fee of $99, but the sign-up bonus and travel perks can help offset that cost.

Here are some other things to know if you’re considering this card.

Solid sign-up bonus

You can quickly earn 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles by making a single purchase and paying your $99 annual fee in full within 90 days of opening your account. Bonuses of this size often require spending thousands of dollars, so this one purchase requirement makes this card unique.

Intro APR on balance transfers

This card has a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles from account opening. After the intro period is over, the variable balance transfer APR goes up to 18.24%, 22.24% or 27.24%. Note that you’ll need to complete any balance transfers within the first 45 days of account opening to take advantage of the offer, and there’s a balance transfer fee of 5% (minimum $5).

You don’t often find 0% balance transfer offers on travel cards — another differentiator for this card. But if paying off debt is your goal, it might make more sense to look for another balance transfer card that has an equal or even better intro offer without a costly annual fee.

Lots of travel perks

With this card, you’ll get quite a few useful and cost-saving travel perks, including the following:

  • Free checked bag — You can check one free bag on both American Airlines and American Eagle flights. And if you have traveling companions on your reservation, they’ll get one free checked bag, too — this applies for up to four people on your reservation.
  • Preferred boarding With this card, you’ll get to board ahead of economy boarding right after priority boarding passengers, and so will your traveling companions.
  • Annual in-flight Wi-Fi credit — When you fly on American Airlines operated flights, you can get statement credits on up to $25 of in-flight Wi-Fi purchases per cardholder anniversary year.
  • Other travel benefits — As a cardholder you can also get travel accident insurance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, baggage delay insurance and auto rental collision damage waivers when you follow the terms of each benefit. Plus, you’ll get access to upgrades and other premium travel services.

Earn an anniversary companion certificate

Another great perk of the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is that you can earn a companion certificate on your anniversary date.

As long as you spend $20,000 or more on the card during the year and keep your account open at least 45 days after your anniversary date, you’ll qualify. The companion certificate will cost you $99 plus taxes and fees, and you can use it for domestic economy fare flight.

Ability to earn rewards on flights and purchases

With this card, earning rewards is straightforward — but there’s only one bonus category, and the rewards rates aren’t that high.

You’ll get two miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. And all other purchases will only earn you one mile per $1 spent.

What else you need to know about the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

Here’s a few other things you may want to know if you’re considering applying for the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®.

  • Earn points toward status — With every purchase on the card, you’ll earn points toward American Airline’s status program. Learn more about the benefits of AAdvantage®.
  • No foreign transaction fees — This card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
  • In-flight savings — Get 25% back in statement credits on in-flight food and beverage purchases when using your card.

Understanding your points and redemption

How much are AAdvantage miles worth in dollars? According to Credit Karma’s point valuations, which includes estimated valuations of the best airline rewards programs’ points or miles, each AAdvantage mile you earn is worth 2.11 cents.

While you’ll generally get the best value by redeeming miles for flights on American Airlines or

on oneworld® airlines and partner airlines, you can also redeem your miles for other things like …

  • Upgrades on American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia flights
  • Rental cars
  • Hotels
  • Vacation activities
  • Admirals Club membership
  • Luxury experiences
  • Newspapers
  • Donations

Who this card is good for

This card may be a good fit for people who fly American Airlines regularly and will be pretty satisfied by benefits like a free first checked bag, annual Wi-Fi credits and miles earned on spending.

The sign-up bonus alone may make this an attractive card in the first year, but frequent fliers may get more out of longer-term perks like preferred boarding and travel coverage.

If you don’t regularly fly American, a more general purpose travel rewards credit card might be a better fit.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

If the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® doesn’t seem like the best fit for you, consider our picks for the best American Airlines credit cards — or these other cards.


About the author: Lance Cothern is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. His work has appeared on Business Insider, USA Today.com and his website, MoneyManifesto.com. Lance holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in … Read more.