75,000 American Airlines miles, free checked bags, and much more for a small annual fee of $95 makes this card a winner for business owners.
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You’re listening to the Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Vacula, here to help you travel the world at next to no cost through credit card points, miles, benefits, and rewards. Make money, save money, and take advantage of great deals!
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Thanks for joining me for episode 46 – Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Credit Card Review! 75,000 American Airlines miles, free checked bags, and much more for a small annual fee of $95 makes this card a winner for business owners.
My August 2020 credit card approvals continue – more wins in addition to the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, Discover IT, Hilton Surpass, and US Bank Altitude Reserve card…and I still have some pending applications. One of the first cards in my recent application spree/app-o-rama and one of the best I applied for is the subject of this video.
Six months have passed since I last applied for a Barclays credit card, the Jet Blue Business card, so August was a great time to apply since Barclay’s may deny those who apply for more than one Barclays card in six months. I’m always looking to work on new signup bonuses, spending goals, and add more credit cards to my portfolio for more points boosts, savings, cashback, offers, and much more. Why stop when there is so much to gain – just wait a few months between application sprees.
The biggest win with this card, as you might guess since it’s a common theme in my episodes, is the signup bonus of 75,000 American Airlines miles for spending only $1000 in 90 days after approval and making one purchase on a free employee card. In addition to the signup bonus, you get a free checked bag for you and up to four companions during domestic travels – not bad especially if traveling with two bags including luggage for an overhead bin. You also get preferred boarding for you and up to four companions on American Airlines flights just for having this credit card – not a terrible perk. The credit card also gives a 25% discount on in-flight drink and food purchases, not amazing, but something, and it waives foreign transaction fees.
Next, let’s examine the bonus categories on this card. The Aviator Business card gives 2x points on all American Airlines purchases – an effective 2.6% back on spending when valuing American Airlines miles at 1.3 cents per point – a reasonable redemption value from FrequentMiler.com. This 2x on AA spend is less and less exciting when one has other cards, especially those offering higher multipliers and transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.
The Aviator card also gives 2x points at office supply stores, telecom merchants, and car rentals – not really exciting here although 2x office supply can be great for those who engage in high spending across multiple cards at OfficeMax and Staples during certain gift card promotions. The credit card earns a really low 1x points on all other spending – not impressive. The highlights of this card are not found in bonus categories, but instead the signup bonus and benefits all for a very low annual fee not waived in the first year. However, there is additional value for keeping the card for more than one year, especially for higher spenders.
If one pays the second year annual fee, they get a 5% mileage bonus on miles earned through credit card spending, so the bonus categories effectively increase to 2.1x instead of just 2x for an effective 2.73% back on spend – that’s 1.3 (the value of an American Airlines miles) times 2.1. Nonbonused spending would then also be 1.3% back. Once again, America, especially American Airlines, loves math.
Spending $25,000 in a calendar year gives progress towards status with American Airlines – $3000 Elite Qualifying Dollars or EQDs. I’m generally not a person who pursues airline status since I’ve only done it once with Delta when a card I had gave bonus miles and progress towards status for high spending for a return of better than 2%. Spending for status may make sense for some, though, especially frequent American Airlines fliers. A 25k spend goal may be worth it though especially since there’s an extra bonus on this card after 25k spend.
Paying the second year annual fee and spending $30,000 on the card in a cardmember year (that’s 12 months after approval, not a calendar year, an important detail at least to me) also gives you a companion certificate – pay $95 plus taxes and fees for a companion to join you on a round-trip domestic American Airlines flight. Terms of course apply, be sure to read the fine print because Hawaii and Alaska may be excluded!
This perk is OK, especially for high spenders. Low spenders, though, would likely be better off placing spending on other cards for many reasons including the fact that non-bonused spend on this credit card only gives one mile per dollar spent. The companion certificate is also less appealing for those who have many points and miles to avoid paying $99+ tax for a ticket.
Thanks for listening to this video or podcast episode so far. Please like, subscribe, and hit the notification bell on YouTube if you haven’t already. Share the podcast episode or YouTube video to help support my efforts. Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com for a rough transcript of this episode, past episodes, and additional resources including my credit card questionnaire form for a free consultation! Back to the Aviator credit card…
The Aviator credit card may be worth keeping for the second year, it’s a math problem of course, as to whether you’ll gain more value than the $95 annual fee, but it should be easy to outpace the annual fee assuming you’ll fly American Airlines at least a few times per year valuing the free checked bag perk, priority boarding, and the other features I mentioned. High spenders, as usual, will value the card more than low spenders, but even low spenders may keep the card past year one especially if Barclays offers a retention offer or waives the annual fee.
Even without the high spending, the Barclays Aviator business card should be a huge win – I just think of the high spending goals as bonuses. Neglecting these bonuses won’t lead me to pass up this card, though. Barclays only gave me a $1000 credit line, so hitting high spending goals is almost certainly out of the question for me at least until my credit line increases – it’s one less decision I need to make! So far, after months of having the JetBlue Business card which also has high spending goals, I still only have a $1000 credit limit. Credit limits aren’t so important to me, though, especially since I have multiple cards and I imagine that most who fawn over huge limits don’t even use them. …and that takes me to the approval process for this card and why I only have a $1000 credit limit.
I applied for the Aviator credit card online and the application went to pending with a message to call Barclays to answer questions about my business. The phone rep had basic questions including the nature of my business, average spending, and when my business started…to make sure that it’s not fraud of course. Since I started my business in early 2020, the phone rep said that I’d be recommended a starting credit line of $1000 and should expect a call later in the day.
Hours later, as promised, I got another phone call with some of the same questions and the phone rep said a decision should be made in the next few days. Later in the week, my online application status said declined, and I called Barclays once again. The next and final phone rep said they needed documents to verify my business including an EIN statement and articles of organization, so I mailed documents and was approved!
Clearly, there was some business scrutiny here, but that was fine for me as I have an LLC – I’m a real business: Hurdy Gurdy Travel LLC! Those just applying as a sole proprietor without state filing documents, though, may have a difficult time being approved. Your American Airlines mileage may vary. I’m a big fan, though, of paying the small starting fees to register an LLC.
I used IncFile.com for free documentation, paid a small state filing fee, and have easily gotten my investment back with various credit cards…and of course I’m not stopping the momentum. I’m genuinely puzzled by those who are really conservative with credit card signups since there’s so much value to be had!
Take a few minutes to make phone calls, play the game aboveboard going the LLC route – that’s my opinion for entertainment purposes of course. …and of course, don’t be discouraged from applying for this card just because I had to make some phone calls and mail documents. Just a few minutes on the phone gives a great return!
Another note on approval: Barclays may decline applicants who have opened six or more cards appearing on one’s personal credit report in the last 24 months. Barclays has a 6/24 rule similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule. However, I’m well past 5/24 and I was approved – I think it’s well worth the gamble of a hard inquiry to, as Terry Collins, former manager of the New York Mets said, give us a shot. Those who get the reference will know the situation.
Wrapping things up, the Aviator card is really strong especially in the first year with its huge signup bonus for a low amount of spending and many American Airlines benefits. Even if you decide to cancel after year one, it’s well worth your time if you’re a business owner. It’s especially great getting Barclay’s cards early in the game while you’re getting Chase cards so that you can stay under 5/24, apply when you’re under 6/24, and keep the one card per six months timer rolling!
Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!
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Thanks to generous patrons and fans of this podcast who help support my work. Have a great day!