Editorial Review

Citi AAdvantage MileUp Review: No Fee, but No Free Bags

Designed for occasional travelers, this card doesn't offer much in the way of perks. However, it earns double miles on American Airlines purchases as well as on groceries.

At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Our Take

3.0

NerdWallet rating

The Bottom Line: This isn't a bad card if you want to earn miles in the background without paying a fee. Still, frequent travelers and those looking to maximize their rewards should look elsewhere.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp<sup>&#8480;</sup> Card

on Citibank's secure application

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
None

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
None

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • Needs excellent credit

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: Free checked bags

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Earn back your annual fee in a hurry

Although this card charges an annual fee — $0 for the first year, then $99 — you can make up for it quickly with a free checked bag for you and up to four others on your reservation. The card earns 1 mile per dollar and 2X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and at restaurants. There's a sweet sign-up bonus, too.

Read our review

Full Review

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card is a rarity in the realm of co-branded airline cards: It earns frequent flyer miles, but it costs nothing to carry, thanks to its annual fee of $0.

This could make the card an intriguing possibility for annual-fee-averse households who fly only occasionally. The card’s rewards structure could also sweeten the deal for those with large grocery bills.

But if you fly American Airlines several times a year — or if you’re seeking a card that offers more lucrative rewards or major travel perks — there are better options for you.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best airline credit cards

Key features of the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

Some fast facts about the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Sign-up bonus: NEW: 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*
  • Rewards: 
    • 2 AAdvantage miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
    • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
    • 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
    • No cap on the rewards you can earn. AAdvantage miles are worth about a penny each, according to NerdWallet valuations.
  • APR: The ongoing APR is 17.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%

» MORE: American Airlines AAdvantage program: The complete guide

Nerd note: Holders of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Bronze credit card were automatically converted to the rewards structure of the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card in July 2018. When their current Bronze card expires, they will receive the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card, and they will retain their current account number.

Highlights of the card

  • Annual fee of $0. With most airline cards, you have to consider whether what you’ll earn in rewards will outweigh the cost of holding the card. But since the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card doesn’t have an annual fee, any rewards you earn are pure gains, as long as you don’t rack up interest charges by carrying a balance.
  • Bonus rewards on grocery spending, including grocery delivery. Many airline credit cards offer 1 mile per dollar on everything except flights and other eligible airline spending. The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card gives you 2X miles on grocery shopping, too.
  • A few extras. The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card offers 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases, as well as access to Citi Private Pass and Citi Concierge.

Drawbacks to consider

  • It lacks the perks of other airline cards. A great reason to get a co-branded airline card is for money-saving extras such as a free checked bag, priority check-in or priority boarding. In some cases, what you’ll save on baggage fees can make the cost of owning the card worth it. But the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card doesn’t come with any of those extras.
  • Annual fees or not, other cards offer more lucrative incentives to apply. If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you can find much more generous sign-up bonuses among both co-branded and general travel cards. The annual fees on many of these cards are often waived in the first year. But even if you’re completely opposed to annual fees, there are better bonuses to be had. Both the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, for example, offer big welcome offers for no annual fee.
  • There are better cards for grocery shoppers. Earning 2 miles per dollar spent at the grocery store isn’t bad. But you can find cards that offer higher rewards rates in that category as well as the ability to redeem earnings for cash back or statement credit. Take, for example, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; and 1% back on other purchases. Terms apply. This card, too, charges an annual fee of $0.
  • This card charges a foreign transaction fee. If you use the miles you earn with the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card to book a trip abroad, you may want to leave the card itself at home. Otherwise, you’ll be paying an extra 3% on everything you buy with it. Many travel credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Possible alternatives

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

If you’re an American Airlines loyalist and fly frequently, take a good look at the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. Although it has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $99, it offers plenty of value to offset that fee. For starters, there’s a large sign-up bonus: Earn up to 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles: 40,000 AAdvantage® miles after making $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months and 10,000 after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening*. The card also gives you a free checked bag for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation. A single round-trip with a companion could make up for the annual fee. Without this perk, the first bag you check will cost you $25 one way. You’ll also earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, restaurants and gas stations. Plus, this card grants you preferred boarding and doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel cards

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

If you want a travel card but can’t stomach the thought of paying an annual fee, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card could be a good fit. It has an annual fee of $0, along with a generous welcome offer: New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months that's a $300 cash redemption value. You’ll also earn rich ongoing rewards on a wide variety of spending, including travel, dining, gas stations, ride-hailing apps and more. There’s also no foreign transaction fee — although, as an American Express card, acceptance may not be as widespread internationally.

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

If you travel infrequently and don’t want to fool around with tiered reward categories, why not go with a flat-rate cash-back card that offers a high rewards rate on all of your purchases? The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns 2% cash back on everything — 1% back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back as you pay for it. The good thing about cash back? You can use it on anything, travel included. The card charges an annual fee of $0.

For other options, see NerdWallet’s best credit cards page.

Should you get the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card?

Given its $0 annual fee and its earnings rate on flights and groceries, the may be tempting to casual or infrequent travelers looking for a low-cost way to rack up miles. But other no-annual-fee cards may prove more lucrative in the long run.

And if you travel round-trip more than once a year on American Airlines and typically check a bag, you’ll likely get greater value from a card that offers more bells and whistles in exchange for an annual fee.