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Why I canceled my AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

May 10, 2021
4 min read
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American Airlines offers one of the most robust portfolios of cobranded credit cards, with more than 10 options to choose from with two issuers: Barclays and Citi. While it’s nice to have options, too much of anything can feel like a con.

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Before the pandemic, Caroline English, TPG’s social media manager, decided to apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard, thanks to a generous sign-up bonus.

The information for the Aviator Red card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The chance to earn tons of AA miles and a companion certificate

While English wasn’t actively looking for a new card at the time, she was motivated by the limited-time sign-up bonus. At the time, she earned 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles and a companion certificate (for $99, plus taxes and fees) after making her first purchase within 90 days of account opening.

Related: Your guide to airline credit card companion tickets

Just by buying a $1 chocolate bar, she was able to get 60,000 miles (worth $840 according to TPG valuations) and a companion certificate — a stellar deal at the time.

Then the pandemic happened

If you're able to take advantage of the Aviator Red card's perks, you can enhance your AA flying experience. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As a long-time Chase fan and New York resident, English rarely flew American. But she wanted to diversify her points portfolio and thought the deal was too good to pass up. Before the pandemic, she anticipated that she would fly on American quite a bit in 2020, as TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures, has headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina — an American Airlines hub — and she wanted to rack up as many miles as possible.

That all changed when the pandemic struck, changing the travel industry forever. Soon, English found her new stash of miles — and her new companion certificate — virtually unusable.

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Related: How to redeem miles with the American Airlines AAdvantage program

While travel has picked up in recent months, English still doesn’t feel comfortable traveling quite yet. AA miles expire after 18 months of no activity, but it’s easy to prevent this from happening (even if you’re not flying). For instance, any activity on a shopping or dining portal can easily trigger account activity and prevent your miles from expiring.

Related: Points are still expiring in the pandemic — how I just lost 48,000 of them

An expiring companion pass

On the other hand, English’s companion pass is set to expire on June 30. Other TPG readers have had success extending expiring benefits, so she decided to give it a go. Around the time she had to pay the $99 annual fee again, she called American’s customer service to get her companion pass extended.

To her dismay, the customer service representative did not grant her a pass extension. As a result, English decided to cancel her card before the annual fee was charged again.

“Had they actually extended it, I would have paid $300 for my pass (two annual fees, plus the $99 to book with it), making it not really worthwhile anyway,” said English. “It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to use it, but 2020 was just so unpredictable.”

Bottom line

The year 2020 was like no other. Like English, many of us applied for credit cards to make our travel aspirations a reality before the pandemic descended. If you’re in a similar boat and weren’t able to take advantage of your card’s perks this past year, you have a couple of options. You can call your card issuer for an extension of a benefit or perhaps try to get your annual fee waived.

Related: TPG readers find success with retention bonuses

If all else fails, you can cancel your card if you can’t justify paying the annual fee. As travel picks up, many travel cards can help your 2021 travel dreams come true, so you’ll want to apply now to give yourself time to lock in that sign-up bonus.

Featured image by (Photo by The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023