While there are lots of airline credit cards out there, historically we haven’t seen many no annual fee airline credit cards. That’s a trend that has changed in recent years, as card issuers try to create products for a wider consumer base.
In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the AAdvantage MileUp Card — it’s a card that some might want to apply for outright, and for others it may be a card that’s worth downgrading to, in order to save money on annual fees. It will certainly have more appeal than in the past, given that credit card spending can now earn you American AAdvantage elite status.
What are the sign-up bonus and rewards structure like, and how does this card compare to other American Airlines credit cards?
American AAdvantage MileUp Card Basics For November 2022
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, now that credit card spending can earn you American Airlines elite status, some might consider this to be more worthwhile.
Furthermore, it can often make sense to have an airline credit card for the perks it offers. How does the AAdvantage MileUp Card fit into the equation — can you get big perks with no annual fee, or is this card simply not worth it?
Sign-Up Bonus: 10K AAdvantage Miles + $50 Statement Credit
The AAdvantage 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.
No Annual Fee
As mentioned above, the AAdvantage 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 AAdvantage Miles Per Dollar Spent
The AAdvantage MileUp Card offers the following return on spending:
- 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on grocery store purchases
- 1x AAdvantage miles on all other 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 United States.
Earn AAdvantage Loyalty Points For Spending
In addition to the general rewards structure on the AAdvantage MileUp Card, spending on the card can now also help you earn elite status. As of 2022, American AAdvantage has introduced the concept of Loyalty Points, and credit card spending can help you earn status.
American’s elite requirements are now as follows, and you earn one Loyalty Point for every dollar spent on an American Airlines credit card:
- AAdvantage Gold status requires 30,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum status requires 75,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro status requires 125,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum status requires 200,000 Loyalty Points
In other words, theoretically spending $200,000 on the card would earn you Executive Platinum status.
25% Inflight Savings On American Airlines
The AAdvantage 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 solid sign-up bonus, and 2x miles on grocery store purchases, is pretty good. On top of that, this is the best no annual fee card that can help you earn elite status with American Airlines.
However, in general, I’d note that:
- Airline credit cards are most worth having for the perks they offer, rather than the points you can earn through everyday spending, and you’ll generally find the most perks with premium airline credit cards
- If you don’t want to directly apply for the AAdvantage MileUp Card, I do think it’s a great downgrade option from a card like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (review)
- It could be worth getting this card if you want a no annual fee card that you can keep long term to help build your credit, or if you want the lowest annual fee card that can help you earn AAdvantage elite status
Are No Annual Fee Airline Cards Worth It?
It depends on how you look at it. There’s little 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 one mile per dollar spent on a bulk of purchases. I value American miles at 1.5 cents each, so you’re much better off using another card, in my opinion.
On the most basic level, 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 in the form of ThankYou points.
Assuming you value American miles at less than two cents each for everyday spending, and aren’t going for elite status, then a card like that would be a no brainer.
Which American Airlines Credit Card Is Best?
While it’s nice to have a no annual fee AAdvantage credit card 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:
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (review) is offering 50,000 AAdvantage miles after making $2,500 of purchases within the first three months; the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (review) is offering 65,000 AAdvantage miles after making $4,000 of purchases within the first four months; the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
Since I value American miles at 1.5 cents each, I value those bonuses at $750-975, so that will cover a lot of annual fees.
Personally, my favorite American Airlines credit card is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review), given the incredible Admirals Club access perk that it provides for the primary cardmember, as well as additional users.
These cards also offer perks that make them worth holding on to 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
Spending on all of these cards can help you earn AAdvantage elite status.
The AAdvantage MileUp Card is a great option for those who want an American Airlines credit card without paying an annual fee. The card has some valuable perks, like double miles at grocery stores, the ability to earn elite status with spending, and savings on inflight purchases.
Personally if I were to recommend an American Airlines credit card, it would be the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. While the card has a $450 annual fee, it offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, and Admirals Club access for up to 10 authorized users.
If I were to get a Citi no annual fee card I’d recommend the Citi Double Cash Card, which is my go-to card for everyday spending.