Barclaycard Red Aviator 40,000 Offer: Worth it?

Barclaycard is now offering another new bonus and this one’s a real catch. It’s the AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red World Elite MasterCard® and it’s offering a great (and easily obtainable) sign-up bonus along with the potential for some other nice perks down the road. Here’s a look at the offer. 

Sign-up bonus

  • Earn 40,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase

It’s not very often that you see bonuses offered for just making a single purchase. And, it’s even more rare to find an “instant bonus” with a high sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles!

Bonus category earning potential

  • 2X for every one dollar you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1X on all other purchases

Bonus earning is pretty standard and on par with the Citi Platinum Select (personal card) and most other airline cards. 

Additional perks

  • First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
  • Group 1 boarding for the primary cardmember on domestic flights operated by American
  • 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back on redemptions (up to 10,000 miles per calendar year)
  • No foreign transaction fees

These perks are very similar to the Citi Platinum Select and are nice additions if you fly American domestically. For the casual traveler who only takes a couple of international trips a year, these perks don’t do you too much good since they are limited to domestic flights. 

Tip: Many Barclaycards come equipped with true “chip and pin” technology making them very useful to have when traveling to places like Europe. 

Annual fee

  • $95

This annual fee is not waived unlike the Citi Platinum Select which waives its $95 annual fee the first year. So you’re essentially paying $95 for 40,000 AAdvantage miles (less than a quarter of cent per mile). 

Hard pull

  • Barclaycard sometimes only pulls from Transunion (although not always) so this is a great way to give your Experian and/or Equifax credit report (just remember YMMV). 

Barclaycard can combine inquiries but your second application may go to pending and you will probably have to recon on that app, so if you don’t want to deal with a reconsideration call then maybe consider waiting a few days to a week to apply for a second card and missing out on the combined hard pull. Otherwise, give it a shot. 

Getting approved for the card

Disclaimer: There is no way of guaranteeing you will be approved so take that into consideration!

There are already a lot of data points out on applications for this card but they appear to be all over the place.

The good news is that there are people getting approved for this card who have recently opened up other Barclaycards like the Wyndham and Arrival Plus. Some people (including myself) got approved for those cards as recent as a week prior and still got approved for the Aviator Red. Others have been denied for too many new accounts with seemingly identical credit reports, so YMMV.

I think it’s still somewhat of a luck of the draw, but considering the data points and how easy two of my reconsideration phone calls with them have been this week, I don’t think you should let some recent inquiries or even a recent account opened with Barclaycard hold you back from applying.  

Something else to consider brought up by Running with Miles is that if you converted a card within the past 24 months to the Aviator Red, then you might be excluded by the 24 month language, so it might be a good idea to wait it out.

For what it’s worth, the Arrival Plus also states it bonus is only valid for first-time Cardmembers with new accounts only” but many people have received bonuses multiple times even after being well past “first-time cardmembers.” Still, I’d probably wait for some data points to come in if this exclusion applied to me. 

Downgrading and upgrading

View from the Wing writes that you should be able to product change this card after 90 days to the more expensive Aviator Silver (which you can no longer directly apply for). That card usually comes with an annual fee of $195 but due to federal regulations, if you product change from the Red to the Silver, you can still retain the lower annual fee (at least for a year).

In addition, if you spend $50,000 spend in a year, you’ll get:

  • 10,000 elite qualifying miles (3,000 when you spend $25,000, and another 3,000 when you spend an additional $25,000)
  • 6,000 elite qualifying dollars (5,000 when you spend $20,000, and another 5,000when you spend an additional $20,000)
  • A companion ticket
  • You also can get 3X on American Airlines purchases 

If you’re interested in obtaining or maintaining status with American, those options might appeal to you, especially since the Citi Executive doesn’t offer the option of elite qualifying dollars. 

Redemption possibilities

Right now, this is a great time to cash in on American Airlines AAdvantage miles — I don’t think things have been this good for about a year. With the easily obtainable Aviator bonus you could get 40,000 miles in a hurry. 40,000 miles can get you roundtrip economy tickets around the US, to the Caribbean, Mexico, and even upper South America.

But what I really like to think about is combining these earnings with other cards out there on the market right now. Two other cards that you should consider for earning large bonuses of American AAdvantage miles are the:

Both of these cards just increased their public offers to 50,000 miles after spending $3,000. 

With just three cards (and one $95 annual fee due the first year) that’s enough to earn 140,000 American Airlines miles! If you’re interested in booking a top premium cabin then that’s enough to get you a round trip in business class to a lot of places and more than enough to book a top first class cabin on a long-haul one-way.

With those miles you could book:

  • Etihad First Class Apartment or Qatar first class for one way to or from the Middle East at 115,000 miles
  • Etihad or Qatar business class roundtrip to or from the Middle East at 140,000
  • Roundtrip business class to Europe at 115,000
  • Close to enough to book a roundtrip in business class to Africa at 150,000
  • Only 20,000 miles short of booking 2 roundtrip business class tickets to Hawaii
Etihad First Class Apartment
Earn enough miles to fly the Etihad First Class Apartment.

Business card coming, too?

In the article referenced above, VFTW also writes that a business version of this card is on its way in 2017! That means even more earning potential. 

If the Aviator Red proves to be like most other cards issued from Barclaycard, there’s real churning possibilities. Thus, the possibility to cash in on a nice chunk of AAdvantage miles every 3 to 6 months might be possible in 2017.

If you’re patient enough and were able to get the business version of the Aviator Red when it comes out and also snag the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cards, you might be able stockpile over 200,000 AAdvantage miles over the next 3 to 6 months and have enough miles to book a roundtrip long-haul first class flight on some of the top airlines like Etihad. Qatar, or Cathay Pacific. 

Final word 

The only reasons why I wouldn’t jump on this card is if I were 1) still under 5/24 (probably never going to happen for me); 2) potentially excluded by the 24 month language; or 3) if I had just hit some cards that pulled my TransUnion report (Capital One and other Barclaycard) then I might wait out a month or two. But even then, this is such a great offer that I might even risk the rejection unless I had absolutely no need or potential use for AAdvantage miles. 

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