American Airlines’ Solid No Annual Fee Credit Card

American Airlines’ Solid No Annual Fee Credit Card

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Link: Apply now for the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

I’m rarely impressed by no annual fee airline cards. The way I view it, one of the primary benefits of airline credit cards is that they offer perks when flying with that airline, and typically no annual fee cards offer limited perks.

There’s one exception, though — the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card has no annual fee, and is probably the best no annual fee airline credit card out there. I actually think there are several types of consumers where this might be the best American Airlines credit card, so let me explain why.

AAdvantage MileUp Card benefits & perks

First let’s cover the basics of the no annual fee American AAdvantage MileUp Card:

  • The card offers a welcome bonus of 10,000 AAdvantage miles plus a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first three months
  • You’re eligible for this card (including the bonus) if you have any other American Airlines card; you just can’t have received a bonus on this exact card in the past 48 months
  • The card offers 2x AAdvantage miles on grocery store purchases and American Airlines purchases, and 1x AAdvantage miles on all other purchases
  • Your spending on the MileUp Card can earn Loyalty Points, which can help you qualify for AAdvantage elite status
  • The card offers 25% savings on American Airlines inflight purchases when paying with your credit card

You can read a full review of the AAdvantage MileUp Card here.

American Airlines’ no annual fee card is quite lucrative

Why American’s no annual fee card is worth it

I’m not suggesting that everyone should get the American AAdvantage MileUp Card, though I think it’s by far the most compelling no annual fee airline credit card. With American Airlines’ Loyalty Points system, credit card spending counts toward elite status:

  • You earn one Loyalty Point per dollar spent, and it doesn’t matter whether you have a no annual fee card or a $450 annual fee card
  • The card offers 2x AAdvantage miles on grocery store purchases, which is a useful bonus category you don’t even find on American’s credit cards with annual fees
  • American’s premium credit cards largely offer perks like a first checked bag free, priority boarding, etc., but those perks are redundant if you have elite status, since you get those benefits anyway
  • The 25% savings on inflight purchases can be useful for elite members who are purchasing something to eat or drink when in economy

Then there’s the general value of having no annual fee cards:

  • It helps your credit score to have lots of cards and use them responsibly, so I always try to pick up as many decent no annual fee cards as I can, since those are going to be the cheapest to hold onto in the long-run
  • This card can be a useful downgrade option if you have a premium personal Citi American Airlines credit card, and you decide you want to downgrade it to something less expensive
Earn Loyalty Points with the AAdvantage MileUp Card

How do American’s premium credit cards compare?

The American AAdvantage MileUp Card is a great option for an AAdvantage elite member looking to earn Loyalty Points for their credit card spending. How do the two premium Citi AAdvantage personal credit cards compare?

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (review) is the mid-range card in the portfolio:

  • It has a welcome bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 within the first three months
  • It has a $99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months
  • It offers 2x AAdvantage miles at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • It offers a first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review) is the premium card in the portfolio:

  • It has a welcome bonus of 80,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $5,500 within the first three months
  • It has a $450 annual fee
  • It offers 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases (4x AAdvantage miles on these purchases through December 31, 2022)
  • It offers 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year
  • It offers a first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries, priority check-in, priority security, priority boarding, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • It offers an amazing lounge access perk, in the form of an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, and Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users, which you can add to your card at no extra cost

Different people will prefer different cards in the portfolio depending on their spending profile and AAdvantage elite status. Personally I think there are quite a few people who would be best off with the American AAdvantage MileUp Card. Alternatively, I think there’s huge value with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card thanks to the lounge access perk.

You can always pick up one of the premium cards, and then 12 or more months later you should be able to downgrade to the no annual fee card, if you so choose. That way you can take advantage of the big bonus being offered along with the better perks, and see how valuable they prove to you.

Redeem AAdvantage miles for travel in Qatar Airways business class

Bottom line

The American AAdvantage MileUp Card is a surprisingly lucrative no annual fee airline credit card. Spending on the card can earn you Loyalty Points, which will help you qualify for AAdvantage elite status. On top of that, the card offers 2x miles on grocery store purchases, which is one of the better bonus categories on an American Airlines credit card.

If you ask me, this is the only no annual fee airline credit card that it can potentially make sense to spend money on.

What’s your take on the American AAdvantage MileUp Card?

Conversations (6)
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  1. Forty2 Guest

    I switched both Citi and Barclays fee cards to no-fee some time ago and now exclusively use the Citi card as it has a better LP earn.

  2. Robert Herrington Guest

    I don't fly American often but I have quite a few miles in my account so recently I picked up AAdvantage Platinum Select just so my miles wouldn't expire. If I downgrade it after a year to the no annual fee card, can I use minor spending on it to keep my account active?

    1. Mark Stewart Guest

      Yes, any activity on the credit card keeps it active. You don't have to claim an award. I switched from a $100/ year card to the Mile Up card due to the pandemic and I'm very pleased with it.

  3. Rains Guest

    Can you get the card if you don't have another type of AA credit card?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Rains -- Yep!

  4. Aaron T Guest

    How about a secured airline credit card for those of us who had some “business issues” and can not obtain credit, however want the perks?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Mark Stewart Guest

Yes, any activity on the credit card keeps it active. You don't have to claim an award. I switched from a $100/ year card to the Mile Up card due to the pandemic and I'm very pleased with it.

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Forty2 Guest

I switched both Citi and Barclays fee cards to no-fee some time ago and now exclusively use the Citi card as it has a better LP earn.

0
Robert Herrington Guest

I don't fly American often but I have quite a few miles in my account so recently I picked up AAdvantage Platinum Select just so my miles wouldn't expire. If I downgrade it after a year to the no annual fee card, can I use minor spending on it to keep my account active?

0
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