As far as US airlines go, American is in the unique position of having co-branded credit cards with two issuers. This came after the merger of American and US Airways, as American’s credit cards have historically been issued by Citi, while US Airways’ credit cards have been issued by Barclays. American made the decision that they could maximize their profits by having a non-exclusive co-brand agreement.
American has different marketing agreements with both issuers, though. For example, Citi products can be advertised on American’s website, through the mail, and in Admirals Clubs, while Barclays products can be advertised in airports and on flights.
A new 50K bonus on the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard
Barclays has a new welcome bonus on the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, as they’re offering 50,000 AAdvantage miles plus an introductory companion certificate after making your first purchase within 90 days of account opening.
The card has a $95 annual fee, which isn’t waived the first year.
As a point of comparison, previously the card had a bonus of 60K miles after making a single purchase, so this bonus is 10,000 miles less than before, but does offer a companion certificate.
AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard benefits
The card offers a bunch of other benefits, 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
- 25% inflight savings on food and beverages
- $25 back as statement credits on American inflight wifi purchases every cardmember year
- Earn an anniversary companion certificate each anniversary year good for one guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after spending $20,000 on purchases, and your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date
How valuable is the American companion certificate?
As I mentioned above, the new welcome bonus is 10,000 miles less than before, but you are earning a companion certificate as part of the welcome bonus, which you don’t usually earn.
Unfortunately I don’t find American’s companion certificates to be terribly valuable. A few things to be aware of:
- It’s only valid for travel within the lower 48 (the Alaska one is valid for travel anywhere Alaska flies)
- It’s only valid for a roundtrip ticket in economy
- You have to book your ticket through American Airlines Meeting Services, so it can’t be booked online
- The certificate is valid for one year from the date of issue
- You have to pay $99 plus taxes and fees when redeeming it
- The companion booked with this certificate isn’t eligible for mileage accrual or upgrades
The Aviator Red Mastercard is generally a great card to consider, given the low spend requirement to earn the bonus. The previous bonus we saw was for 60K, which is the best bonus I recall seeing on the card.
Usually 50K is the regular bonus, but this time around they’re throwing in a companion certificate the first year. Personally I don’t value that much. Perhaps others disagree.
Unfortunately the card doesn’t have the annual fee waived the first year. If you prefer a card with an annual fee waived the first year but a higher spend requirement, consider one of the co-branded Citi AAdvantage Cards.