by Mac Candee

Posted: Monday, October 12, 2020

After doing my research and analyzing my own experience, I want to share something many of you have asked me about. And that is - which credit card is best to use when traveling? Of course, this is a very subjective question, which largely depends on your own situation, lifestyle and preferences. This is the second blog post on the subject, where I do a deep dive into different options available on the market, analyzing their benefits, as well as critically assessing which one is best suited for which lifestyle. You can check out the first one here.

Before we get into the topic any further, I want to give general advice to anyone who has an interest in travel credit card hacking. It is very important that if you’re carrying a balance and acquiring interest, you must pay those off in full first. Your number one goal is to always be debt free, after which you can focus on the travel rewards points. If you’re paying interest, it’s going to be between 18%-30%, which can easily get out of hand. This will completely negate the value you receive from getting points from traveling, because you’ll lose all that money in interest. As a rule of thumb, always pay off your credit cards at the end of the month. That’s why it’s really crucial to be responsible, and never spend more than you can pay back, and clear all debt before going further.

Why am I writing this post?

A quick disclaimer - I am not sponsored or endorsed by this company. Everything I’m saying in this blog post is my own personal opinion and experience. I realize this card might not be for everyone, so I’m taking a very critical approach while writing this, as to give you all the information you need in a useful way. I’m not getting any money from writing this, I’m just sharing my positive experience, because this card has saved me so much money with my current lifestyle. My motivation in writing this blog post is to tell you what the benefits are and help you make an informed decision based on your own lifestyle.

Now, let’s get to the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® If you make a lot of domestic business trips, or simply love exploring the world with American Airlines, this credit card has a lot of benefits that will make your travel lifestyle not only better, but also cheaper and more comfortable.

What is it useful for?

In my opinion, this is the best credit card to sign up for during the pandemic, because you’re probably spending less money on things like going out, traveling and entertainment. This might sound a bit counterintuitive, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about collecting points while simply handling your everyday expenses. One of the biggest bonuses is that you only have to make a single purchase to get 50,000 American Airlines miles. It doesn’t have a minimum you have to reach like so many other credit cards do - you can simply buy a pack of gum or do your grocery shopping and you’re good to go. Most great cards I’ve tried or heard of require a spend from one to up to five thousand dollars, which is not always easy to do. Also, these sign up bonus miles can go quite far - I took a trip from Chicago to Sydney, Australia for 40,000 points last year (one way).

Another amazing benefit to make use of during the pandemic is that any purchase you make through this credit card gives you 1X AAdvantage® miles for every one dollar spent. Even if you can’t use them right now, they still pile up in your account and by the time you can travel again, you will have amassed a pretty large number of points. You just have to use the card like you would regularly, and then you can just enjoy all the miles you have gathered once it’s time to travel again. This is also complimented by the fact that for every one dollar spent on American Airline purchases, you’ll get 2X miles.

Other great benefits:

First checked bag free

This perk allows you to travel more comfortably while avoiding that expensive checked bag fee. You can also bring up to 4 people with you who also get the same advantage. This can be used on all American Airlines flights.

Flight Cents:

This benefit rounds up your purchases so that you can get more AAdvantage miles, which you can use later on.

Preferred Boarding:

This allows you to enter the airplane faster. If you want to learn more about how American Airlines organizes their boarding procedures, so you can understand exactly what this benefit entails for you and your 4 companions, click here.

Inflight Wi-Fi Credits.

This card allows you to receive 25% inflight savings as statement credits when you’re traveling on an American Airlines flight.

Travel Coverage

This benefit gives you automatic insurance in many different scenarios, like travel accident insurance and trip cancellation, as well as others. Read the fine print to ensure you understand what is all covered.

Is it for me?

Let’s face it, as good as the benefits sound, sometimes we don’t really need them. So you have to critically assess whether this is going to be the smartest decision for your lifestyle. The annual fee is $99, but it can still bring a lot of use for many people. If we take the Chicago - Sydney example, being able to use those points to go to Australia for free definitely saved me a lot of money. If I had to estimate, I would say the ticket would cost no less than $1,400, which has already paid off the annual fee in and of itself. It can happen that you start using the card, but then realize you don’t make that much use of it. There is always the possibility to change to a no annual fee card as well. You can simply call the company and ask what their options are. Sometimes you don’t even have to close the card - you can simply transfer it to a different product which makes more sense for you and your spending habits.

Final Thoughts

It is a must that before you decide on a certain credit card, you thoroughly analyze your own spending habits and determine what makes the most sense for you - and of course, what will bring you the most advantages. I hope this blog post helps you in making an informed financial decision and aids you in your quest to travel the world! I would be very happy to hear any feedback or questions you might have regarding this topic or any other down in the comments. If you would like more information on this card, please find it here.

Want to see more?


    After three full years of using this card, I can confidently tell you that I have deemed it to be the best travel rewards credit card.

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