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American Airlines travelers looking for a no annual fee credit card currently have just one option: The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card. The card lacks many travel benefits, like free checked bags and priority boarding, yet it offers a few surprisingly valuable mileage-earning and shopping perks.
Not all of these benefits are well advertised, so here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.
Earn bonus AAdvantage miles from purchases
Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases. All other purchases earn at a rate of 1 mile per dollar spent.
For comparison, the no annual fee Citi AAdvantage Bronze card — which the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card replaced — earned only 1 mile for every $2 spent on non-American Airlines purchases. That means that this new card earns four times the miles on grocery purchases than the card it replaced.
» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage program: The complete guide
Score an easy-to-earn sign-up bonus
Most travel credit cards require thousands of dollars in spending to earn a sign-up bonus. With the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card it’s easier: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Double dip, if you want
You can earn this bonus even if you have another Citi/AAdvantage credit card. The only restriction on earning this bonus is that you can’t have earned a sign-up bonus on another MileUp account in the past 48 months.
Even better, earning this bonus doesn’t lock you out of earning a bigger mileage bonus from a non-MileUp Citi/AAdvantage credit card in the near future.
For example, even if you have the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, you can apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and earn the welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Only cardmembers who “have received a new account bonus for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® account in the past 48 months” are prevented from earning this bonus.
» Learn more: Which American Airlines credit card should you choose?
Spend toward Million Miler status
You can make progress toward earning lifetime elite status on American Airlines by spending on your American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card. For every $1 in purchases that post to your AAdvantage account by Dec. 31, 2020, you’ll earn 1 mile toward Million Miler status.
When you reach 1 million Million Miler-eligible miles, you’ll earn AAdvantage Gold elite status plus 35,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. If you’re able to earn 2 million eligible miles, you’ll get AAdvantage Platinum status for life as well as four systemwide upgrades. You can use those upgrades to move to the next class of service anywhere American Airlines flies — including to Europe, Asia or Australia/New Zealand.
» Learn more: Guide to American Airlines elite status
Save on in-flight purchases
One of the few travel benefits that the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card offers is 25% back on in-flight food and beverage purchases charged to your card. You’ll automatically receive a statement credit equal to 25% of the purchase on your credit card statement.
Because this is really the only travel benefit that you get with the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, an annual fee card like Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® might be a better choice if you’re looking for perks like a free first checked bag, preferred boarding and a discount on domestic awards. It comes with an annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99. But certain users will get enough value to make up for it.
Get purchase protection
Though lacking in travel benefits, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card offers some generous shopping protections.
Free extended warranty
Just by making a purchase with your American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, you can extend the item’s manufacturer warranty by up to 24 months. If the item breaks, Citi will reimburse, replace or repair the item. This benefit excludes any type of land, air or sea vehicle and their parts. Otherwise, any item with a manufacturer’s warranty is covered up to $10,000 per item.
Get damage and theft protection
In addition to a complimentary extended warranty, your purchases are also protected against theft and damage for the first 90 days. If possible, Citi will pay to repair or replace the item. The coverage is limited to the amount you paid for the item, up to $1,000 per incident. If you are really unlucky, the coverage only covers up to $50,000 per year in claims.
Complimentary ShopRunner membership
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card holders are eligible to enroll for a free ShopRunner membership. Members get free two-day shipping and free returns on items from over 140 online retailers. This is an especially valuable perk at a time when many of us are doing socially distanced shopping.
Make contactless payments
If you’re shopping in-store, you can avoid touching the payment terminal by “tapping” your card to pay. The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card comes with a contactless chip that makes this touch-free payment method possible. Even better, you can add your card to a mobile wallet and then “tap” your phone to pay.
The best of the rest
Other benefits of the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card include:
Free FICO score: Get your Equifax FICO Bankcard score each month for free just for being a cardholder.
Citi Concierge: Utilize the Citi Concierge to get assistance with shopping, gift-giving or travel needs.
No authorized user fee: Friends and family members can help you earn AAdvantage miles with an authorized user card.
The bottom line
While the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card lacks many travel benefits and protections, it still comes with a variety of valuable benefits — particularly for a card with a $0 annual fee. By using these benefits, you can get a lot more value out of the card.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card