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American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card review

Published: October 9, 2018

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Published: October 9, 2018

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Ratings Policy
Airline Rating:
3.1 rating
3.1 rating
3.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.6
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Flight Options: 4.8
Features: 3.0

In a Nutshell:

For American Airlines flyers who are looking for an introduction to AAdvantage miles, the MileUp card is a good deal – it lets you earn bonus miles on grocery purchases.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2 miles per dollar on grocery stores and eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
10,000 miles and $50 statement credit if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$463

APR
17.99-25.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as long you earn or redeem miles every 18 months
  • No limit on how many miles you can earn
  • Free online redemption
  • Stretch your miles further with MileSAAver awards
  • No fuel surcharges on most flights
  • Change award tickets at any time for no fee, as long as origin and destination are the same
  • One-way and open-jaw flights permitted

Cons

  • Blackout dates on some awards
  • $35 fee for phone award booking
  • Stopovers not permitted
  • Complicated routing rules

Flight Options

  • Airline partners: 23
  • Daily flights: 14,250
  • Destinations: 1,000
  • Countries served: 150

Other Notable Features: 25% savings on in-flight purchases, Citi Concierge, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation & interruption protection, worldwide travel accident insurance, damage & theft purchase protection, Citi Price Rewind, extended warranty, 90-day return protection, Citi Private Pass, $0 liability, Apple Pay

For rookie flyers wary of paying an annual fee, American Airlines has finally introduced a no-fee card into its arsenal. With a 10,000-mile bonus and double AAdvantage miles on your grocery store purchases, the AAdvantage MileUp card offers a good value and makes for a decent – if not great – introductory card.

Earn AAdvantage miles on everyday spending

The AAdvantage MileUp card lets you earn miles at a faster rate than usual for an airline card, thanks to its bonus on grocery store purchases. While most airline cards only offer bonus miles on purchases made directly with the airline, the MileUp card offers 2X miles on American Airline purchases and grocery purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases.

Modest sign-up bonus

The card offers a modest bonus of 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit if you spend $500 in the first three months. While there are much more impressive sign-up bonuses to be found, the MileUp card at least rewards it to you with a very modest spending threshold and no annual fee.

Plus, the bonus is available to current AAdvantage cardholders, including AAdvantage Platinum and Executive card members. The MileUp card could be a good opportunity for those cardholders to snag an additional bonus for no fee.

Worldwide flight network

One of the major pluses of the AAdvantage program is that your miles can take you practically anywhere you want to travel. With 25 travel partners and 14,250 daily flights to 1,000 destinations in 150 countries, American Airlines offers one of the largest travel networks in the world.

Redemption can be complicated

On the downside, the AAdvantage travel program is not the best option for newbies or travelers who prefer simple, straightforward redemption options. There are great values to be found in the AAdvantage airline chart – such as MileSAAVer awards which allow you to travel on as few as 7,500 miles. But, outside of expensive AAnytime awards, you’ll have to deal with blackout dates and limited award seats.

Also – for those trying to book complex itineraries — you’ll have to navigate your way through some of the most complicated routing rules in the industry. AAdvantage divides its award chart into zones and doesn’t allow you to book tickets that cross over a zone to get between two zones. Also, it’s sometimes difficult to find availability on AAdvantage’s airline partners, since many do not show up in the site search. Finally, AAdvantage doesn’t permit itineraries with stopovers, though it does allow one-way and open-jaw tickets.

AAdvantage MileUp card benefits

Though the MileUp card doesn’t charge an annual fee, it still offers some very useful benefits for frequent AAdvantage flyers, including a 25-percent discount on in-flight purchases and several purchase and travel protections:

  • 25 percent savings on in-flight purchases – Card members receive a 25 percent discount on food and beverage purchases on American Airline flights (the discount doesn’t apply to other in-flight purchases, such as Wi-Fi).
  • Citi Concierge – Citi’s concierge service is available by phone 24 hours a day to help you with travel, shopping, dining, entertainment and other needs.
  • Worldwide car rental insurance – When you use your MileUp card to rent a car, Citi will cover it in the case of loss or theft. The coverage is secondary, which means that it only covers what is not already covered by another policy, but it is a worldwide policy that covers rentals in any country.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection — Citi provides up to $5,000 per traveler, per trip purchased with the card in case a trip is interrupted or canceled for an unforeseen instance, such as illness, injury, death or weather issues.
  • Worldwide travel accident insurance – Citi provides up to $500,000 in travel accident insurance in case of accidental death or dismemberment for trips purchased with the card.
  • Citi Private Pass – Citi Private pass gives you early access to tickets for music, sports and dining events.
  • Damage and theft purchase protection – Citi insures items purchased in cases of damage and theft within the first 120 days – up to $10,000 per item, up to $50,000 per year.
  • Citi Price Rewind – You can set Citi Price Rewind to automatically search for price updates on an item that you recently purchased – Citi will refund the price difference if it finds a lower price on that item within 60 days of your purchase.
  • Extended warranty – When you purchase an item with your card, Citi will extend that item’s warranty for an additional 24 months (up to 84 months total).
  • 90-day return protection – If you try to return an item within 90 days of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, Citi will reimburse you for the item, up to $500 per item, up to $2,500 per year.
  • Apple Pay – You can use your MileUp card to pay in-app or at stores that accept Apple Pay.

However, there is one benefit that is distinctly absent from the MileUp card: It doesn’t waive foreign transaction fees. The MileUp card isn’t the best candidate for foreign travel since you’ll incur a 3 percent fee on your charges outside the country. If you plan to voyage abroad, you’ll need to find a no-foreign-transaction fee card to pair with it.

Why not get the AAdvantage Platinum card?

If you’re thinking of getting your feet wet with the MileUp card, we’d ask you to consider: Why not apply for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard instead? Yes, the AAdvantage Platinum card charges a $99 fee, but don’t let that deter you — the fee is waived in the first year, and the Platinum card offers a better earning scheme that offers bonus miles on restaurants, gas station and American Airline purchases as well as a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus if you spend $2,500 in the first three months.

As you can see from our table below, the average cardholder who spends $15,900 with these cards is likely to get more than twice as much value with the Platinum card (and probably a couple of plane tickets in the bargain):

AAdvantage MileUp card first year value AAdvantage Platinum card first year value
($15,900 spend x 1.27 points x 1.9 cents) + (10,000-mile sign-up bonus x 1.9 cents) + $50 statement credit = $624 ($15,900 spend x 1.33 points x 1.9 cents) + (50,000-mile sign-up bonus x 1.9 cents) = $902

 Why get the AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard?

  • You don’t fly often enough to pay the $99 fee for the Platinum card, or you can’t afford an annual fee.
  • You want to collect bonus AAdvantage miles through your grocery store purchases.

How to use the AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard:

  • Be sure to spend $500 in the first three months to earn the sign-up bonus.
  • Keep your account active so that your miles don’t expire.
  • Use the card for all your grocery store and American Airline purchases.
  • Use the card for travel purchases to take advantage of its travel protections, including trip cancellation insurance.
  • Charge your rental vehicle to the card to take advantage of rental car insurance.
  • Put your purchases on the card to use its purchase protections.
  • Avoid using the card for purchases outside of the U.S., since you will be charged a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.

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