One of the interesting results of the American Airlines and US Airways merger from 2015 was the variety co-branded AAdvantage credit cards because American partnered with Citi Bank and US Airways partnered with Barclaycard. Shortly after the merger was finalized, existing Barclaycard US Airways Dividend Miles credit cards were automatically converted to the AAdvantage Aviator Red or Aviator Silver cards. Then Barclaycard began issuing the AAdvantage Aviator series of cards (Aviator, Silver, Red, and Blue) to new applicants. Shortly thereafter, when the US Airways Dividend Miles program was officially killed off, Barclaycard had to stop issuing new AAdvantage Aviator credit cards as Citi had the exclusive rights to issue co-branded American AAdvantage credit cards.

After over a year of Citi owning the exclusive rights to AAdvantage branded cards American Airlines announced a new credit card agreement in which both Citi and Barclaycard would have the rights to issue co-branded credit cards. Although there was not much information as to when Barclaycard would begin allowing new applicants to apply for the cards, it appears that day is here; Finally!

Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red Card vs. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

Currently the only card featured on Barclaycard’s website is the AAdvantage Aviator Red card. The Aviator Red card carries almost the same benefits as the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, but with a new notable differences.

Signup Bonus

Barclay’s AAdvantage Aviator Red card features a signup bonus of 40,000 miles when you make a single purchase within the first 90 days of opening the card. Also, if applicants apply while on an American Airlines flight an additional 500 miles will be deposited in their account regardless of the application outcome.

Citi’s AAdvantage Platinum Select card currently features a bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 moths after being approved. If I were trying to earn miles quickly and was only after a signup bonus I would much rather open the Aviator Red card and put the $3,000 spend on a more rewarding card.

Earning Miles

The Aviator Red card earns 2x points on American Airlines purchases and 1x points on everything else.

This earning structure is identical to the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card so if you plan on earn AAdvantage miles through spending on the card the two cards are indistinguishable.

Barclaycard also offers the Aviator Silver card which earns 3x points on American Airlines purchases, but that card is not yet publicly available to new applicants.

Annual Fee

Barclaycard’s AAdvantage Aviator Red card carries a $95 annual fee which is not waived for the first year.

Interestingly the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card does waive the annual fee for the first year. Keep in mind, both issuers have multiple versions of American AAdvantage credit cards to switch between meaning the Citi offering may be better for those looking to earn the signup bonus and move on.

Airline Perks

Because the Aviator Red card links to your AAdvantage frequent flyer number cardholders will receive one free checked bag, Group 1 boarding, and 25% inflight savings. The card also offers a 10% rebate of AAdvantage miles when paying for a flight using miles (up to 10,000 miles per year).

Again, these benefits are identical to those offered via the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card.

Visa vs. MasterCard

Currently, the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator card is offered as a standard MasterCard. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select can be issued as either a MasterCard or a Visa. I know there are people that prefer one issuer to the other so this could be a factor if trying to decide between the two cards.

Unique Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red Features

In 2017 American Airlines will introduce Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) as an elite status requirement. With the Aviator Red credit card cardholders can earn EQDs through annual credit card spending. Cardholders will earn 3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 and another 3,000 EQDs after spending $50,000 on their Barclaycard AAdvantage credit card. If you carry multiple Aviator versions the spend requirements will not be combined so you will have to spend the entire amount on a single card.

Final Thoughts

Now might be the perfect time to open the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red card considering there is no spending requirement to earn the bonus miles and opening this card has no effect on my plans to open a Citi issued AAdvantage card shortly after the new year.

In terms of benefits, the “new” Aviator Red card is essentially  identical to the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card unless you have plans to spend at least $25,000 or $50,000 on the card annually to assist with the new EQD requirement in 2017.

I am excited to see Barclaycard finally opening up the AAdvantage Aviator cards to new applicants and hope to get approved for the Aviator Red card, earn the 40,000 mile bonus, and eventually downgrade to the standard Aviator card with no annual fee.