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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

AA had previously confirmed that this card will only be available on AA flights and in airport terminals, however it does appear that an online application page is now live, hosted on Barclaycard’s website. Click here to access the application.

Ever since American Airlines and US Airways merged back in late 2015, the four American AAdvantage Aviator cards have been closed to new applicants; they were offered to existing US Airways cardholders at the time. However, as we reported several months ago, American’s entered into an agreement with Barclaycard US which will allow it to offer credit cards through that issuer (in addition to the lineup of cards it offers through Citi).

While earlier reports said that AA’s first Barclaycard co-branded options wouldn’t be available until early 2017, the airline has just announced that the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard is now open for applications. The caveat is that you can only sign up for the card in the airport and on board American Airlines flights (though we have known about this limitation since the new AA/Barclaycard partnership was first announced).

The currently available Aviator Red card isn’t identical to the version offered to US Airways cardholders around the time of the merger; it has a slightly higher annual fee ($95 vs. $89) and a slightly expanded list of benefits. Here’s the rundown, taken from American’s announcement:

One highlight is the ability to earn EQDs toward AAdvantage elite status. Previously, the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card was the only option of the four Barclay-issued picks to include a “fast-track” to status through spending — and in that card’s case, you’d earn elite-qualifying miles, not dollars (5,000 EQMs for every $20,000 in annual purchases).

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You can meet the EQD qualification for Gold status through the Aviator Red card.

The new Aviator Red card’s option to earn $3,000 in EQDs when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year comes at a great time, since starting on January 1, 2017, you’ll need to meet spending requirements to qualify for each level of AAdvantage status. If you were to earn $3,000 in EQDs by spending $25,000 on the Aviator Red card, you’d meet the revenue requirement for AAdvantage Gold status (though you’d still need to qualify through elite-qualifying miles or elite-qualifying segments as well).

The Aviator Red card’s now offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after you make your first purchase in the first 90 days of cardmembership — so you won’t need to meet a specific spending requirement to earn the sign-up bonus. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, those 50k miles are worth $500, and with that stash in your account you could book a one-way first-class award from the US to Hawaii.

Bottom Line

We weren’t expecting to see any American Airlines-branded cards issued by Barclaycard until January 2017 at the earliest, so this news is a pleasant surprise — especially since the now-available Aviator Red card will allow you to earn $3,000 in EQD credit by meeting an annual spending threshold. While charging $25,000 to the card in a calendar year is no small feat, having this option will definitely come in handy once American’s revenue requirements for elite status go into effect.

If you’re interested, just remember that you’ll only be able to sign up at the airport or on board an AA flight. However with the holidays almost here, many of us will have the opportunity, at least.

Will you be applying for the Aviator Red card at the airport or on an AA flight?

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