Another spend promotion for the Barclaycard Aviator Red card

I have written in the past about monthly spend promotions for the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard. These promotions have padded my American Airlines AAdvantage account including one that I received on the first anniversary of card membership. That offer was instrumental in my decision to keep the Aviator Red card rather than another AA card I held at the time from Citibank. Well, Barclaycard is back with another opportunity to earn bonus miles by meeting certain spend thresholds during the last three months of 2017. This is the first time I recall receiving such a promotion that did not coincide with my cardholder anniversary. While not as lucrative as in the past, the terms are a bit more flexible.

The Offer

Th new offer is pretty straightforward. If I spend $1,000 during October, November or December, I will receive 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles for each month I achieve the threshold. If I spend $1,000 in all three months, I will receive an additional 2,000 bonus miles for a maximum bonus potential of 5,000 miles. To participate, I must activate the offer by the end of November (which I have already done).

By meeting monthly spend thresholds, I could earn up to 5,000 bonus AAdvantage miles.

By meeting monthly spend thresholds, I could earn up to 5,000 bonus AAdvantage miles.

Return on monthly spending bonus

While I love bonus points and miles, it is always wise to look at whether you should participate in a promotion by comparing its return to that of your foregone next best points earning opportunity. In economics, this next best opportunity is known as opportunity cost. In this case, before considering the actual return on the Barclaycard offer, I have a more practical barrier to completion. I recently acquired the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard and I am still working on satisfying the $3,000 initial spend for 50,000 AAdvantage miles. While I can almost certainly meet the Aviator spending thresholds in November and December, doing so in October would require that I put on hold spending on the CitiBusiness card. That issue notwithstanding, let's analyze the actual return on spend for this promotion.

The Aviator card earns one mile per dollar on all purchases except those made with American Airlines. I won't be spending any money with AA this fall so the $1,000 per month will earn 1,000 AAdvantage miles. The bonus effectively doubles the miles earned on the first $1,000 of spend in October, November and December. At a value of 1.4 cents per mile, the total return would be 2.8%. What is the return of my opportunity cost? The CitiBusiness card aside, to use my Aviator card I would shift spend away from my most lucrative rewards card, the Amex Everyday Preferred Credit Card. This card earns one American Express Membership Rewards point per dollar. However, by using the card 30 times per billing cycle, something I am easily able to do, I receive a 50% bonus on earned points for an effective earning rate of 1.5 points per dollar. At a value of 1.9 cents per point, the net return on spend would be at least 2.85%. 2.8% return versus 2.85% return is essentially a dead heat and certainly not an incentive to participate in the Aviator promotion. Also, the Aviator card rewards lack flexibility. AAdvantage miles are obviously locked to American Airlines whereas Membership Rewards points can be transferred to a broad variety of frequent flyer programs.

An additional consideration, note, I said "at least." The Everyday Preferred card offers several very attractive bonus categories which also benefit from the 50% sweetener. Before the bonus, grocery store spend earns three points per dollar and gas stations earn two points, both sizable categories for me. If $250 of the $1000 diverted to the Barclaycard product were for groceries and $100 were for gas, my foregone return on the EveryDay Preferred card increases to 4.56%, including the 50% add-on. However, if I could qualify for the additional 2,000 AAdvantage miles would that change my willingness to put spend on the Aviator card?

Return on earning all promotion bonus miles

Earning all 5,000 AAdvantage bonus miles would require spending a total of $3,000. Along with standard miles from spend, my total haul would be 8,000 miles, valued at $112.00, for a return on spend of 3.7%. This does exceed the 2.85% return from the Amex Everyday Preferred but trails the effective return of the Everyday Preferred card including groceries and gas. If the only spend I diverted to the Aviator card was not grocery or gas purchases, then pursuing the full bonus would be worthwhile.


Overall, I appreciate opportunities for promotional points and miles and, in general, the Barclaycard Aviator Red MasterCard delivers in this area. However, the current promotion is only of marginal value to me and then only if I can earn the full bonus potential. To do so, I would have to put $1,000 of spend on the card in the next two weeks to satisfy the October goal. Doable, but a stretch. Whether I continue to participate in the offer will depend on my success between now and Halloween.

Did you get the same or similar offer? Will you be pursuing the additional AAdvantage miles? Let us know!