AAdvantage MileUp No Annual Fee Card Review (2019)

Filed Under: American, Citi
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In the summer of 2018 we saw the introduction of the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, which is a no annual fee co-branded credit card being issued by American Airlines and Citi.

While there are lots of airline credit cards out there, historically we haven’t seen many no annual fee airline credit cards. So let’s take a closer look at this card — what is the sign-up bonus like, how does this card compare to other American Airlines credit cards, etc.?

American AAdvantage MileUp Card Basics

Generally speaking, I don’t recommend putting your everyday spending on an airline credit card, because I tend to think you’re better off instead going with a card earning transferrable points or cash back.

That being said, often it can make sense to have an airline credit card for the perks it offers. So how does the AAdvantage MileUp Card fit into the equation — can you get big perks with no annual fees, or is this card simply not worth it?

Sign-Up Bonus: 10K Miles + $50 Statement Credit

The MileUp Card offers a sign-up bonus of 10,000 American AAdvantage miles plus a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first three months from account opening.

While that’s not a huge bonus, it’s pretty good for a no annual fee card, and the spending requirement is reasonable.

Note that you’re not eligible for the bonus on this card if you have received a welcome bonus on this exact card in the past 48 months (however, having had another AAdvantage card doesn’t preclude you from getting this bonus).

Since this is a Citi card, there are some other rules to be aware of, like that you can apply for at most one Citi card every eight days, and at most two Citi cards every 65 days.

Redeem your American miles for travel on Etihad Airways

No Annual Fee

As mentioned above, the MileUp Card has no annual fee. Not only is the card free for the primary cardmember, but you can also add authorized users at no extra cost.

There are a couple of other things that make the no annual fee status of this card worthwhile:

  • If you have a Citi AAdvantage personal card that you otherwise want to cancel, you can likely downgrade it to this no annual fee card, assuming you’ve had it for at least 12 months
  • Having credit cards long term positively impacts your credit score, and holding onto some no annual fee cards long term is an ideal way to accomplish that

Earn 1-2x Miles Per Dollar Spent

The MileUp Card offers the following return on spending:

  • 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases
  • 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on grocery store purchases
  • 1x AAdvantage miles on all other purchases

Earn 2x miles on grocery store purchases

It’s noteworthy that this no annual fee card offers a better return on grocery store spending than virtually any other American Airlines credit card.

There’s no cap to how many miles you can earn through spending on this card. Do note that the card has foreign transaction fees, though, so you’ll ideally only want to use it for purchases within the US.

25% Inflight Savings

The MileUp Card offers 25% savings on food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when you pay with your card. Being able to save money for purchases you’d make anyway on American Airlines is pretty awesome.

Is The AAdvantage MileUp Card Worth It?

The AAdvantage MileUp Card is unique in that it has no annual fee and offers some potentially useful perks. Getting 25% back on inflight purchases, a modest sign-up bonus, and 2x miles on grocery store purchases, is pretty good.

However, in general, I’d note that:

Does It Ever Make Sense To Get A No Annual Fee Airline Card?

It depends on how you look at it. Sure, I suppose there’s a limited downside to having a no annual fee card for the modest welcome bonus, the 25% savings on inflight purchases, etc.

However, in general, it just doesn’t make sense to use an airline credit card that awards only a mile per dollar spent on a bulk of purchases. I value American miles at 1.3 cents each, so you’re much better off using another card, in my opinion.

On the most basic level, I tend to think a vast majority of people would be better off with something like the no annual fee Citi® Double Cash Card (review), which offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases.

Assuming you value American miles at less than two cents each for everyday spending, then a card like that would be a no brainer.

Comparing MileUp Card & Other American Airlines Credit Cards

While it’s nice to have a new no annual fee option, I do think American’s premium credit cards are potentially worth paying annual fees on. Both the personal and business Citi AAdvantage Platinum cards offer generous welcome bonuses, with the first year annual fee waived. The details are as follows:

Since I value American miles at almost 1.3 cents each, I value those bonuses at $650-$780, so that will cover a lot of annual fees.

These cards also offer perks that make them worth holding onto long term, including:

  • Preferred boarding on domestic American flights
  • First checked bag free on domestic itineraries for you and up to four companions on the same reservation

American MileUp Card Summary

It’s nice to see airlines issuing a greater variety of credit cards, including no annual fee cards.

On the plus side, the MileUp Card is a huge improvement over the old no annual fee Bronze Card that American used to issue, which only offered one mile for every two dollars spent.

However, I generally don’t recommend using a card that offers only one mile per dollar spent, given all the other great cards out there. However, I get why they offer a card like this. There are lots of brand loyal people out there who like using a credit card from a certain company, even if the value isn’t amazing.

The value from an airline credit card comes mostly from the perks the card offers, and that’s why I think a card like the Platinum Citi AAdvantage Card could make more sense, since the free checked bags and preferred boarding benefits add up quickly. If you get the card and find it isn’t worthwhile, you’ll generally be able to downgrade it after a year to this card.

If you want to learn more about the American AAdvantage MileUp Card or apply, follow this link.

Apply Now

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Comments
  1. I use it for groceries but the main reasons for keeping it are because it’s free and I no longer have any other AA credit card for the purpose of adding miles in the event I need to top off for an award redemption.

  2. I think you underrate this card – it should not be anyone’s main card, but it is free, offers a good bonus category, offers a way to earn AA miles, and also keeps a relationship with Citi, which often targets cardholders for bonuses associated with opening checking accounts

  3. Like everyone else said.
    Top up AA miles + groceries.

    I’ll add to it. For those young or little credit history, having bunch of these cards is not a bad thing.

    Be mindful of the 48 months thing but think about it, if you are in college by the time you graduated and have a way of meeting bonus spend, you should be eligible for better AA cards. In the mean time, there are other good sign up bonus cards out there to worry about.

    Get this card early (and many other no AF cards) and keep it till you die. By the time you reach 30 it’s not too late to get rid of low CL cards.

  4. I have a Citi AAdvantage Gold card which I never, ever use. I keep it because it’s my oldest card (more than 20 years) but frankly, I’m tired of paying for cards I don’t use. This sounds like a good downgrade option.
    Is it possible to sign up for the new card, get the bonus, and then “downgrade” the Gold card to the new one, essentially combining them? Or would that mean canceling my oldest card?

  5. Off topic but would be great if you can cover: Marriott finally introducing peak and off peak as of sept 14.

  6. @Kristina Johnson – I downgraded to the Mileup card when it first came out but keep in mind if you downgrade, you don’t get the signup bonus but I got out from under a $100 annual fee for a card I wasn’t using.

  7. I no longer have interest in this card because I just got AMEX gold which is 4X at US supermarkets.

  8. Following the same logic, if you are lifetime GLD or PLT with AA, free bag and priority boarding are free without any cards. Then NONE of AA credit cards make sense to keep after getting the signup bonuses.

  9. @Alex_77W

    You are missing the non AA part of keeping cards open. You don’t want to hurt you average age or utilizations.

    And you might want one card to keep miles active.

    Yes most $95 fee airline card benefit overlaps with status. You can either look it as, you buy Gold status for the annual fee or you don’t need a card and save annual fee by having status.

    But don’t forget, lifetime status is not really lifetime. It’s until the airline had enough of it. AAdvantage might fold into something else or they just strip lifetime benefits, you get to keep your status but it gives you nothing.

  10. Worth mentioning even though expires on September 22 – Worldwide Car Rental Insurance, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, Citi Price Rewind, 90 Day Return Protection. Still continue – Damage & Theft Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty.

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