Editorial Review

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

Designed for occasional travelers, this card offers few perks. But it earns double miles on American Airlines purchases and groceries.

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: This is a decent card if you want to earn AAdvantage miles without paying a fee. Still, frequent travelers and those looking to maximize rewards should look elsewhere.

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

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

None

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
None

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Earns AAdvantage miles

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • No free checked bags

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Needs excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Flexible rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Transfer points to hotels and airlines

This card earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. You can transfer points on a 1:1 basis to about a dozen airline and hotel programs, or you can use them to book travel through Chase at 1.25 cents per point. However, you won't get any airline-specific perks. Annual fee: $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

None

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a rarity among 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 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.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Basics

  • Card type: Airline.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Sign-up bonus: 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.

    • AAdvantage miles are worth about 1 cent each for domestic travel, according to NerdWallet valuations.

  • Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 17.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.

  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

  • Other perks:

    • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.

Where the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card shines

Annual fee of $0

With most airline cards, you have to consider whether the value of your rewards will outweigh the cost of holding the card. But since the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card doesn't have an annual fee, 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

Many airline credit cards offer 1 mile per dollar on everything except on airline spending. The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card gets you 2 miles per dollar spent on grocery shopping, including grocery delivery services. If you spend a lot on such purchases, this bonus category could be valuable.

In-Flight Savings

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card offers 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases. That can make splurging on snacks in the air a little more affordable.

How it compares with other American Airlines cards

Among American Airlines credit cards, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is the most basic. It comes with the fewest benefits — and an annual fee of $0. If you're looking to earn miles with American Airlines but want more premium benefits, consider going with one of the other cards. For more analysis, read NerdWallet's comparison of American Airlines credit cards.

Here's how the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card stacks up with its sister cards on key benefits.

Why you should choose a different card

Dearth of airline perks

A reason to get a co-branded airline card is for money-saving extras, such as a free checked bag, or perks, like priority check-in or priority boarding. Often, what you'll save on baggage fees — typically $30 each way for each checked bag — compensates for paying an annual fee. But the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card doesn't come with those extras.

Mediocre sign-up bonus

Even if you're completely opposed to annual fees, there are better bonuses to be had. For example, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card offers a handsome welcome offer for no annual fee. Its bonus: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. You'll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with each point worth 1 cent toward travel. It charges no foreign transaction fee.

Limited flexibility

Usually, the best redemption options for AAdvantage miles are award flights and seat upgrades on American and its Oneworld partners. But if those choices are too limited for you, you’re better off getting a card with more flexible rewards. Cash-back credit cards, for example, offer rewards that can be used to cover any cost you want.

Consider the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which earns 2% cash back on everything — 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back as you pay for it. The card charges an annual fee of $0.

Foreign transaction fees

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.

Is the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card right for you?

Given its $0 annual fee and its earnings rate on flights and groceries, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card may be tempting to casual or infrequent travelers looking for a low-cost way to rack up AAdvantage miles. But other fee-free cards may prove more lucrative.

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 airline perks in exchange for an annual fee.