The wait is over! Barclaycard has released the online application page for the Aviator Red Mastercard.
Barclaycard was the issuer of the US Airways co-branded cards before US Airways merged with American Airlines. When the merger occurred, existing cardholders were given the option to convert their cards to a variety of new Aviator cards in the lineup. Unfortunately, those cards were not available for new applicants at that time.
When American Airlines negotiated its co-branded credit card agreements with card issuers Citi and Barclaycard, they divided up turf based on distribution channels. American announced the results of the negotiation back in July. Barclaycard ended up with exclusive rights to market their cards on American flights and in airports.
Barclaycard was supposed to begin offering cards in January 2017, so it was a surprise that they released their new webpage for online applications on December 15. Barclaycard has put together an attractive offering for the first of the Aviator cards made available. The table below summarizes the key features of the Aviator Red card:
|Sign-Up Bonus||40K Miles|
|Spending Requirement||None, bonus earned on first purchase|
|Annual Fee||$95, first year not waived|
The sign up bonus on this card is very solid considering there is no minimum spending requirement. This is an easy way to rack up some AA miles. In addition, the card offers the following features:
- First checked bag free for primary cardholder and up to four companions
- Group one boarding
- 10% mileage refund on award redemptions up to 10K miles per year
- 25% savings on in-flight purchases of food, beverages and headsets
A More Accessible Sign-Up Bonus for Many Travelers
One of the disappointing trends in the travel rewards industry over the past couple of years has been banks imposing much stricter rules regarding sign-up bonus eligibility. Citi has imposed some of the toughest rules of any bank. You are not eligible to receive a bonus for a card if you have opened or closed any card within the same product family in the past 24 months. This means that if you have opened or closed any Citi AA card in the past two years, you are ineligible for the bonus on ALL Citi AA cards. This is a big impediment for those seeking to earn more AA miles.
Before Barclaycard’s recent release of the Aviator Red card, Citi was the only issuer of AA cards for new applicants, severely limiting options for AA flyers to rack up miles via signing bonuses. Barclaycard not only gives travel hackers another bank to choose from, but also one that has not imposed strict sign-up bonus rules like the big three of Chase, Citi, and Amex.
What to Expect Going Forward
When Barclaycard originally released the lineup of Aviator cards there were five versions – four personal cards and one business card. This time around, they have released the Red version, and have confirmed that a business version will be coming out as well. Many potential cardmembers may be wondering if they can get the Silver version, which is the high-end card with the most robust set of benefits. The news here is even better than expected: While you cannot yet apply for the Silver card directly, you can apply for the Red card and product change up to the Silver card, while still only paying the $95 annual fee carried by the Red card instead of the $195 annual fee of the Silver card for the first year.
Barclaycard has stated they have many things in store for this product lineup coming in 2017, although they haven’t released all the details yet. We know for sure there will be at least three versions of the Aviator cards – Red, Silver, and Business. There could be up to five versions if they eventually release the other versions that were made available to US Airways cardholders during the transition. The complete lineup consists of:
- AAdvantage Aviator Mastercard – This card carries no annual fee, but only offers 1 mile per dollar spent and the only other benefit is a 25% discount on in-flight purchases.
- AAdvantage Blue Mastercard – This card carries a $49 annual fee. The incremental benefits over the no annual fee version are 2 miles per dollar spent on AA flights and no foreign transaction fees.
- AAdvantage Red Mastercard – We covered the details of this card above; the main changes on the new version vs the old version are that you receive group 1 boarding instead of group 2 on the old card, and the annual has increased from $89 to $95. It is also a World Elite Mastercard instead of a World Mastercard.
- AAdvantage Silver World Elite Mastercard – This card carries a $195 annual fee, but comes with a nice lineup of benefits, especially for those aiming to qualify for elite status. The Silver card carries the following benefits in addition to the Red card benefits:
- You earn 3 miles per dollar on AA purchases, and 2 miles per dollar on hotel and rental car purchases.
- You can earn 5K elite qualifying miles (EQMs) for each $20K in annual purchases, up to a maximum of 10K EQMs per year.
- You can earn $3K elite qualifying dollars (EQDs) for each $25K in annual spend, up to a maximum of $6K in EQDs per year.
- You can earn a companion certificate each cardmember year by spending at least $30K, which entitles you to one to two additional tickets for $99 (plus taxes and fees) on paid flights operated by American Airlines.
- You can receive a $100 statement credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry once every five years.
Qualifying for Elite Status
The Aviator Silver card and the Citi AA Executive card both allow you to earn 10K EQMs by hitting annual spending thresholds. If you hit the thresholds on both cards, you can earn 20K EQMs total. A unique feature of the Barclaycard is that you can also earn EQDs, which are not offered on any of the Citi AA cards.