Credit Cards

Citi Platinum AAdvantage vs. Barclay Aviator Red: Which Card Should You Keep?

With American Airlines and US Airways merging next year, the Barclays US Airways Mastercard will be converted to an AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard. The new card will have the same features as the Citi Platinum AAdvantage card. This leaves many cardholders wondering which card to keep and which one to cancel.

Mastercard credit card
Håkan Dahlström / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0

There is one primary difference between the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and Barclay Aviator Red card. The annual fee on the Barclay card is $89, while the Citi card is $95. The Red AAdvantage card will no longer offer a 5,000 mile award discount, annual $99 companion ticket, or the ability to earn 10,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles after completing $25,000 in annual spend. Instead, it will offer the same benefits as the Citi Platinum AAdvantage card:

  • 10% discount on award redemptions (up to 10,000 miles per year)
  • Annual $100 flight discount after $30,000 spent
  • 25% off in-flight purchases
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding

It appears the Barclay Red AAdvantage card will not be eligible for AAdvantage Reduced Mileage Awards, though that may change once the card actually becomes available in 2015. The current US Airways card comes with a 10,000 mile annual bonus. This will continue to be paid out once the card converts to the Aviator Red card.

With both cards offering the same benefits and just a $6 annual fee difference, it may be worth keeping both. Those who earn and redeem over 100,000 miles each year will value the 10% award redemption rebate, which is capped at 10,000 miles per year. However, the Aviator Red card will just pay out a flat 10,000 mille renewal bonus each year. You’ll have to wait some time for the bonus to post, but at least there is no mileage redemption requirement.

If you have both cards, you’ll triple your rebate eligibility to 30,000 miles per year. With AAdvantage miles normally valued at 1.8 cents each, this benefit alone easily off-sets each card’s annual fee. However, if you don’t think you’ll maximize this benefit or Reduced Mileage awards, then I’d stick with the Barclay Red AAdvantage card. It has a slightly lower annual fee and the potential to get you up to 20,000 miles back each year.

Another factor to consider is the length of your account history. If your Citi AAdvantage card is three years old and you’ve just picked up the Barclay US Airways card, then it’s better for your credit if you hold on to the older Citi card.

No matter what you decide to do, now is a good time to pick up both cards. Recently Citi increased the publicly available sign-up bonus on the AAdvantage Platinum card to 50,000 miles after $3,000 spent. Plus, the annual fee is waived. Meanwhile, US Airways has sent out targeted offers of 50,000 miles after $1,000 spent. Even if you are only eligible for the publicly available 40,000 mile bonus, it’s an easy sign-up bonus with no spending requirement past the first purchase. And well worth the $89 annual fee, which isn’t waived.

If the $99 companion ticket and ability to generate elite qualifying miles through spend is important, go with the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard. The card  will offer these benefits at a $195 annual fee. You’ll also earn an annual companion ticket after $30,000 spent and 5,000 EQM’s after spending $20,000. A maximum 10,000 EQM’s can be earned this way each year.

No matter what you think you’ll do in 2015, you should absolutely pick up both the Citi Platinum AAdvantage and Barclay US Airways Premier Mastercard now. That way, you’ll bag the sign-up bonuses while they’re still available. Then, depending on what your travel needs are next year, make your final decision about which card to keep.

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16 Comments

  1. Ryan Prillman

    Very good article. I think ill keep the citi aadvantage platinum card since they upgraded mine to a world elite mastercard which gives me a slew of added benefits. Citi also gave me a much healthier line of credit in comparison to the Us Airways card issued by Barclays.

  2. Timely post; thank you. I am very confused as to all of the cards out there right now.

    I currently have three US personal Mastercards from Barclays, plus one US business mastercard from Barclays. Why so many? Two reasons: companion passes and spending $25k on each gets me 40k PQM’s each year. With those 40k PQM’s I am able to hit Chairmans and enjoy those perks.

    So for me, I would like to get as many cards for the new AA that have the potential to earn PQM’s. Can you give a run down of which specific AA cards offer that?

    • The Citi AA Executive card offers 10,000 EQM’s each year you spend $40,000. Unfortunately Citi carps EQM’s at 10k, no matter how many cards you have.

      • Thanks for the reply. Citi caps at 10k…is that policy or is that reality? Barclays had told me only one 10k PQM per person as well, but my experience over the last several years was contrary to their policy.

  3. From what I’ve been reading the Barclay’s Silver Aviator AA Mastercard is by invitation only. The perks are good. I have a Barclay’s US Airways Mastercard that expires in January. So far I haven’t been offered the upgrade to Silver Aviator. If the offer doesn’t come by January I will not renew my Barclays AA (US Airways Mastercard) and switch to the Citi AA Advantage Card. Barclays is play a real interesting game. The mailings received thus far state that in 2015 they are dropping the $99 companion ticket, preferred miles with 25K in charges, and reward miles ticket with 5K fewer miles and replacing them with the “EXCITING” new benefits – 25% off inflight purchases and 10% redeemed miles back – NO THANKS Barclays -keep your”EXCITING” new benefits!!!

    • The Silver card is currently by invite only. However, I imagine since Barclay can’t accept new applications for AA branded cards, next year they’ll allow folks with Red cards to upgrade to Silver.

  4. I did a 100000 mile reward redemption. I have both Citi and US Air cards. I received a 10% rebate of miles in total, but it was 5% from Citi and 5% from US Air. Has anyone else had this happen? Also, if I were to just keep one, would that one then give me all 10%?

    • That’s exactly what happened to me – half the rebate came from the Citi card and the other half from Barclays. I think they do it that way because the 10% rebate offered by both cards isn’t combinable, so if you have both cards they’ll show 5% as coming from Barclays and 5% from the Citi account.

    • Same thing just happened to me. Except what is really weird, is 25% came from Citi, then 25% came from Barclay, then another 25% from Citi and another 25% from Barclay. I just have the Barclay Red Aviator and the Citi Platinum cards, not multiple of each.

      I was disappointed that I didn’t receive 20,000 points for my mileage redemption.

    • I redeemed 60K miles in January and got 6K miles (half from Citi and half from from Aviator). I redeemd another 60K in May and got another 6K rebate (total =12K so far, beyond the 10K cap…) . Then I redeemed 85K in September, and this time only got back 5,500 miles (half from each), which puts me exactly at the 20K cap that would be expected from having BOTH cards. So while you get half rebate from each card at a time, the total cap for the year is higher.

      • Sorry, Wrong math: total rebate for the year is 17,500. Certainly beyond the 10K for one card, but capped before the 20K expected

  5. Does anyone know of any repercussions to canceling either card? I asked US Airways once about canceling theirs, before the merger went through and they said I would lose any miles I had earned through use of the card. I would like to cancel my Aadvantage Citicard now, but not if it means I’ll lose the 250,000+ miles I’ve earned on it. Plus if you book travel through American’s frequent flyer program, which card are the miles taken from? If I could guarantee they are taken from my Aadvantage card, then I would burn those to 0 and then cancel the card, so as to not lose miles by canceling the card prematurely.

    • There shouldn’t be repercussions after the sign-up bonus posts to your AAdvantage account. She person you spoke with sounds like a typical misinformed agent. The only time you lose the points from an account is if a.) the sign-up bonus hasn’t posted or b.) if it’s a bank rewards card (i.e. Arrival Plus, Chase Ink, etc.) and you haven’t transferred your points before closing it down.

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