Last July it was announced that the “new American” would have credit card agreements with both Citi and Barclacyard. Under this agreement, both issuers offer American cards with different benefits and with different marketing channels through which they can promote their cards. Competition is good for consumers, and in this case it has meant that we’ve seen increased offers on cards from both issuers.
At the moment the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 American AAdvantage miles after the first purchase (that purchase can be for any amount — even a pack of gum qualifies). The card has a $95 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year. Previously the bonus on this card was 50,000 miles, so this one is 20% better.
In terms of eligibility for the offer, the terms state the following:
This one-time AAdvantage® bonus mileage offer is valid for first-time cardmembers with new accounts only. Existing cardmembers, existing accounts, and previous cardmember with accounts closed in the past 24 months may not be eligible for this offer. This is a limited-time offer and may be canceled at any time without notice. Please allow 4-6 weeks for AAdvantage® bonus miles to be deposited into your AAdvantage® account after the qualifying transaction has posted and your annual fee has been paid.
In addition to the bonus, the card offers all kinds of other perks, including the following:
- First checked bag free for you and up to four companions on a domestic itinerary
- Preferred boarding for you and up to four companions on a domestic itinerary
- Double miles for American Airlines purchases
- 10% of your redeemed miles back every year, for a total refund of up to 10,000 miles (Citi’s co-branded credit card has a similar benefit, though the two aren’t stackable — you can get the benefit on one card or the other)
- 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets
- Earn 3,000 elite qualifying dollars when you spend $25,000 in purchases on the card in a year
Also keep in mind that if you have this card, after a year you can upgrade to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard, which has a $195 annual fee. That card offers the following perks:
- Up to 6,000 worth of elite qualifying dollars (3,000 when spending $25,000, and another 3,000 when spending another $25,000)
- Up to 10,000 elite qualifying miles (5,000 when spending $20,000, and another 5,000 when spending another $20,000)
- An annual $99 companion ticket on your account anniversary (when you spend $30,000 on purchases)
If you do want a “fast track” to American status, then the Aviator Silver Card is the way to go. But you need to have the Aviator Red Card for a year before you can upgrade.
If nothing else, the 60,000 AAdvantage mile sign-up bonus on this card is a fantastic offer, especially given that you earn the bonus after just one purchase. If you’re not a frequent American flyer, the card at least gets you some basic benefits, like preferred boarding and a first checked bag free, along with a 10% refund on award redemptions.
For more frequent flyers, the Barclaycard offering is what you want to earn EQDs and EQMs towards status.
(Tip of the hat to US Credit Card Guide)