When friends and family ask me, “What is the easiest way to earn frequent flyer miles?”, I always refer them to the American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. While the card itself isn’t all that great, there is one clear reason why this card is a must get. The current sign up bonus is at a highest 60,000 miles, which is worth roughly $720.
However, the best part is that you can earn those miles after making 1 purchase! So after paying the $95 annual fee and making one purchase of your choosing, you will have 60,000 American Airlines miles. And to make it even better, you get your first checked bag free with this card, saving even more money.
So what can you do with 60,000 American Airlines miles?
My wife and I recently flew from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Philadelphia to Salt Lake City for 50,000 miles total that I earned from this card. However, we were able to fly Business Class and First Class on this route. This saved us $1,400 and we still have 10,000 miles left over!
While I wouldn’t recommend this card to be a primary spending card as the earning categories aren’t great. You will earn…
- 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases.
- 1 mile on everything else
You can find this card among the cards in our top credit card offers page
However, this card is a great way to complement another American Airlines card like the American Airlines Platinum Select Card.
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Good card; my wife got it recently with 50K miles; we asked and just received another 10K to match the current offer. Always pays to ask!
If you were paying cash, would you have been willing to pay $700 each for these tickets? If the answer is no, then you did not get $1,400 in value for your miles. The value of these miles is what they are worth to you, not what they are worth according to the airline.
A day at the spa could be worth $1,000 according to a resort, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth $1,000 to me (I guarantee you it is not) — and if I redeemed 20,000 points for it and claimed that I got 5 cents per point in redemption value, then I am only kidding myself.
You are claiming 2.8 cents per mile based on what American was charging, not based on what the value of that travel was to you. They are two totally different things, and I suspect that the amount you personally would have been willing to pay was closer to the $250 than the $700. Once you decide what you would have paid, you divide that amount by the number of miles you redeemed, and that is the value you got.
This semantic argument of “you didn’t actually save XX.XX because you would never have paid XX.XX” argument is always fun. The other way to look at it, if a television is going for $1,000 and is too expensive for you, but it goes on sale for $500 and you buy it, I’m pretty sure you’d say you just saved $500 on that tv regardless of the fact that you never would have bought it at full price. How is that any different than using miles for air fares? The seats they sat in were going for (worth) $1,400 but via a sale (using free miles) they were free. Therefore they literally “saved” $1,400 whether they actually would have coughed up the cash or not. Or, in other words, you say “potato” and I say “potato”.
@Chris — In your TV example, you saved $500 from the regular price, but that doesn’t mean that the television was worth $1,000 to you. If you would have actually been willing to buy it at $1,000, then you got $500 in consumer surplus. If it was only worth $500 to you, then it means that you waited until the market price was equal to the value of the television to you. If you would have been willing to pay $600, you created $100 of consumer surplus.
And the comparison just clouds the issue because in the TV example you are talking about a sale price in a cash transaction. In the Puerto Rico example, we are talking about making a conversion between a rewards “currency” and a true cash transaction and clouding the issue with multiple variations on the product line (coach vs. premium). They are separate issues.
Think about it this way. I can buy a business class ticket to fly to Caracas on Feb. 22, with a return on March 1, for $4,131, or I can get a screaming deal by redeeming 60,000 American miles. Based on a price of $4,131, that would suggest that I am getting 6.9 cents per mile in “value.” The problem is that I have absolutely no desire to go to Caracas, whether I finance my trip in dollars or miles. In fact, going to Caracas currently has negative value to me given the risks inherent in that trip. So if I were to redeem 60,000 American miles for a trip to Caracas, I would be creating negative value for myself, not realizing value of 6.9 cents per mile. Again, your value is determined by what it is worth to you, not by the price set by the airline.
You wasted your 60,000 bonus in a cheap flight to Puerto Rico
You definitely don’t want this Barclays card. If you have a problem with a merchant charge, they will side with the merchant. Stay away!
One of the reasons why American Express is always in my wallet.