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The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a Citi-issued credit card designed for regular American Airlines flyers looking to reduce the cost of air travel and enjoy some useful travel benefits in the process. Though it’s not on our best travel rewards credit cards list, it could still be a worthy addition to your wallet – if you use it properly.
The AAdvantage MileUp Card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on all eligible American Airlines purchases and grocery store purchases (including grocery delivery services), with no caps or restrictions on how much you can earn in those categories. All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent. An easily attainable sign-up bonus sweetens the pot: 10,000 bonus AAdvantage miles plus a $50 statement credit after spending $500 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, with no annual fee, there’s little downside to keeping this card in your wallet.
If you’re a loyal American Airlines flyer (or can be made to convert) and you’re in the market for a new credit card, MileUp is worth a closer look. Here’s what you need to know about its features, benefits, drawbacks, and overall suitability.
When you spend at least $500 in qualifying purchases within 3 months of opening your account, you get 10,000 bonus AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit. The miles portion of this bonus is good for a one-way short-haul main cabin flight within the continental United States.
Earning AAdvantage Miles
The MileUp Card earns unlimited 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on all eligible American Airlines purchases and purchases made at grocery stores and through grocery delivery services. All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent.
Redeeming AAdvantage Miles
The most cost-effective way to redeem your AAdvantage miles is American Airlines award airfare. Here’s how that works.
Mileage Redemption Thresholds for Award Travel
You need 12,500 miles to redeem for a one-way economy flight within the continental U.S. The redemption threshold is just 7,500 miles for one-way economy flights of less than 500 miles. Round-trip award flights within the continental U.S. start at 15,000 miles (less than 500 miles each way) or 25,000 miles for longer flights.
Business and first class one-ways start at 15,000 miles for short-haul flights and 25,000 miles for long-haul flights. There are no blackout dates or other restrictions on award travel. Check American Airlines’ award chart for details, as these redemption requirements are subject to change.
Mile Values and Other Redemption Options
When you redeem for airfare, you can generally expect your points to be worth at least $0.005 to more than $0.02 per mile, but values may be higher on longer-haul and international flights.
If you have at least 1,000 AAdvantage miles, you can combine miles and cash to redeem for discounted fares. When you use this option, your miles are always valued at $0.01 apiece ($10 for every 1,000 miles). You can also put miles toward an annual membership with Admirals Club, American Airlines’ airport lounge club, and hotel stays, vacation packages, and rental cars offer in conjunction with American Airlines’ partners.
Finally, you can redeem for magazines, newspapers, gift cards, LifeLock identity theft protection, and other non-travel items. However, these redemption methods usually value miles well under $0.01 apiece, so you’re probably better off redeeming for travel. If you’re earning miles too fast to redeem them for airfare, it may be time to think about another credit card.
When you use your card to pay for in-flight food and beverage purchases, you get 25% off the list price. There’s no limit to how much you can save.
There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
This card requires excellent credit. Any significant credit blemishes may adversely impact your application.
- No Annual Fee. This is one of the few premium airline credit cards that doesn’t charge an annual fee. Most competing cards’ fees start around $100 and rise from there. If you don’t expect to earn miles or rack up other benefits fast enough to offset an annual charge, MileUp is your kind of card.
- 2X Miles on Grocery Store and Delivery Service Purchases. Unlike some basic airline cards, MileUp’s 2X tier includes an expansive category that everyone can appreciate: groceries, specifically grocery stores and deliver services. Even if you’re no gourmet, having a go-to grocery card that also earns travel rewards can’t hurt.
- Easily Attainable Sign-Up Bonus. You need to spend just $500 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account to get 10,000 bonus AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit. That’s far easier to swing than some competing cards’ bonuses, which can require $3,000 to $5,000 in purchase spending over the same time frame.
- 25% Discount on In-Flight Purchases. This card offers 25% off in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights. If you’re already in the habit of buying food and drink in the air, this is a great way to stay within your budgetary rails.
- No Blackout Dates. You never have to worry about blackout dates crimping your award travel style. You can redeem your points for award travel on any day, at any time, if there’s a seat available on your chosen flight. This is great news for travelers who tend to fly at busy times like the winter holidays and spring break.
- Mediocre Return on Baseline Spending. This card earns just 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on all non-grocery, non-American Airlines purchases. That’s a lower rate of return than most other airline credit cards, which offer accelerated earning potential on travel purchases and purchases in other select categories. If you’re looking for a higher return on spending, check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card instead.
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you regularly travel overseas, this will basically negate your mileage earnings while you’re abroad. Most competing travel cards don’t charge annual fees. Look to Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for fee-free international travel with reasonable annual fees.
- No Lounge Access or Loyalty Benefits. This card doesn’t offer airport lounge access or airline-specific loyalty benefits. Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express and The Platinum Card from American Express both carry airport lounge benefits, while United MileagePlus Explorer offers convenient benefits, such as priority boarding and free checked bags.
- No Anniversary Point Bonuses or Companion Fares. The MileUp Card doesn’t offer anniversary point bonuses or companion fares for loyal travelers. Since these perks can really add up over time, this is a glaring omission. Reasonably priced airline cards with annual point bonuses or companion fare benefits include Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card.
- Hefty Penalty APR. Unlike some competing cards, MileUp charges penalty interest. This rate may kick in as soon as you miss your first payment and remains in effect indefinitely. If you occasionally miss your statement due date because of cash flow problems or unpredictable expenses, look for cards that don’t charge penalty interest.
If you live near a major American Airlines hub, adding a branded AA credit card to your collection is likely a sound choice. And it’s clear that the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a sound option – though not necessarily the only option – for American Airlines fliers with healthy grocery budgets.
Of course, MileUp isn’t perfect. The foreign transaction fee is a major drag, and there’s not much in the way of value-add here beyond the rewards program, sign-up bonus, and in-flight discounts. You’d be forgiven for seeking out a more generous airline card.