American Airlines plane landing in LAX

CNN Underscored reviews financial products based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through our affiliate partners if you apply and are approved for a product, but our reporting is always independent and objective.

Our quick take: The entry-level American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® card lets you earn Loyalty Points toward elite status and AAdvantage miles for award flights, all with no annual fee.


  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on grocery spending.
  • 25% rebate on American Airlines in-flight purchases when paying with the card.
  • Sign-up bonus with low spend requirement.
  • Card holders can earn elite status by spending on the card.
  • No fee to add authorized users.
  • No annual fee.


  • Small sign-up bonus.
  • No priority boarding or free checked bag benefits.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Best for: American Airlines flyers interested in earning and redeeming AAdvantage miles for award flights without having to pay an annual fee.

Introducing the AAdvantage MileUp card

American Airlines planes at the gate at Chicago O'Hare International Airport

Anyone wanting to earn miles with American Airlines without having to pay an annual fee may want to consider Citi’s AAdvantage MileUp card.

The card not only earns miles on every transaction, but is also the only American Airlines credit card that delivers bonus miles on grocery purchases.

Here’s how many miles you’ll earn on purchases:

  • 2 miles per dollar: Grocery stores
  • 2 miles per dollar: Eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar: All other purchases

Another major benefit of the AAdvantage MileUp card is the ability to earn Loyalty Points toward elite status with American Airlines. Every dollar you spend on the card is equal to one Loyalty Point earned, though bonus points on groceries and American Airlines purchases and the sign-up bonus don’t count as Loyalty Points.

For example, AAdvantage MileUp card holders can earn Gold elite status with American Airlines by making purchases on the card and strategically spending via the airline’s shopping portal and dining rewards program. Accruing 40,000 Loyalty Points and earning Gold status with American through eating, shopping and spending on your credit card is a significant benefit for a no-annual-fee credit card if you’re looking to earn airline elite status.

New card holders are also eligible for a modest sign-up bonus. Once approved, card holders can earn 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening.

Finally, card holders also save 25% on American Airlines in-flight food and beverage purchases when paying with the AAdvantage MileUp card.

Advantages of the AAdvantage MileUp card

An American Airlines plane taking off into a blue sky.

Although the AAdvantage MileUp card doesn’t offer as many advantages as other American cards, it does have a few appealing benefits worth mentioning. The first major benefit is that the card does not charge an annual fee, so it’s free to use, as long as you pay your balance in full and on time.

In addition, purchases made with American Airlines and at grocery stores earn two miles per dollar, making it a simple way to double the number of miles earned while shopping at the supermarket. Of course, there are other credit cards that offer more rewards at grocery stores, but most have an annual fee.

Further, American Airlines isn’t a transfer partner of any major transferable points programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. As such, this card is one of the few ways to earn AAdvantage miles without incurring an annual fee.

As far as travel benefits are concerned, the card confers a 25% discount on American Airlines’ in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use the card. This is the only flight-related perk that the card offers.

Finally, one of the best things about the card is that you can earn elite status with American Airlines by simply using the card for purchases. As discussed, card holders earn one Loyalty Point per dollar spent on the card.

Disadvantages of the AAdvantage MileUp card

An American Airlines plane at the gate in Chicago

The AAdvantage MileUp card boasts a slew of useful features, particularly for a no-annual-fee card that makes it possible for card holders to earn redeemable miles and Loyalty Points toward elite status. However, the card has several obvious drawbacks.

From the outset, the card offers a relatively small amount of miles to new card holders. The minimal sign-up bonus on this card won’t help you much if you want to significantly boost your AAdvantage miles balance.

The card’s biggest downside is the absence of valuable airline benefits, especially in comparison to other American cobranded credit cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. That card provides perks like free checked baggage and priority boarding to card holders. If these benefits are important to you, you may want to consider a higher-tier American Airlines credit card.

If you plan to go overseas with your card, leave the AAdvantage MileUp card at home. It adds a 3% foreign transaction fee to all purchases made in a foreign currency. During a vacation or business trip abroad, this could add up to hundreds of dollars in additional expenses.

Related: Traveling abroad? Save on foreign transaction fees with these credit cards.

Stacking up the AAdvantage MileUp card against our benchmark

CNN Underscored has chosen the Citi® Double Cash Card as our “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market — rather, we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better and where they’re worse.

Here’s how the AAdvantage MileUp card scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that’s better than our benchmark. Red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark, and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.

Citi Double Cash Card Citi American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard
Card type Mastercard Mastercard
Sign-up bonus None Earn 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 in the first 3 months
Earning rate 2% on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off) 2 miles per dollar at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases; 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
Redemption value 1 cent (cash back) 1.77* cents per point
Ease of basic redemptions Easy Easy
Advanced redemption options Can transfer ThankYou points to 16 partners if you also have the Citi Premier℠ Card Redeem for first and business class tickets on partner airlines like Etihad Airways, Qantas and others
Quality of advanced redemptions Good Good
Annual fee $0 $0
Foreign transaction fee 3% 3%
Travel perks None 25% discount on American Airlines in-flight purchases; earn Loyalty Points toward American Airlines elite status on all purchases
Purchase protections None None
Travel protections None None
Other perks None None
Introductory APR on purchases None None
Length of introductory APR on purchases N/A N/A
Introductory APR on balance transfers 0% None
Length of Introductory APR on balance transfers 18 months N/A
Introductory balance transfer fee 3% or $5, whichever is greater N/A
APR after intro period ends/standard APR 18.99%-28.99% variable 20.74-29.74% variable
* Based on point valuations calculated by frequent flyer website The Points Guy.

When reviewing other credit cards, we use this format and these criteria to compare them with our benchmark. You can read our credit card methodology for more details on what we take into account when it comes to perks, protections and redemption value.

Other travel credit cards to consider

A Boeing 747 at the gate in Seoul airport.

If you’re searching for a robust travel rewards credit card not associated with a certain airline, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Though you are on the hook for the $95 annual fee on this card, new card holders can earn a 60,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

In addition, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns more on everyday purchases.

  • 5 points per dollar: Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3 points per dollar: Dining, select streaming services and select online grocery purchases
  • 2 points per dollar: All travel purchases
  • 1 point per dollar: All other purchases

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, so the 60,000-point bonus is worth $750 when redeemed through the portal. Alternatively, you can transfer points to Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. This makes the card a great option for those who don’t want to be stuck to a single airline.

If earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles is your top priority, the AAdvantage Platinum Select card is a fantastic option for those who want more features than the AAdvantage MileUp card.

Right now, new AAdvantage Platinum Select card card holders can earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months of account opening. The card earns two miles for every dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases.

In addition, you’ll receive flight benefits like one free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four traveling companions, preferred boarding on American Airlines flights, no foreign transaction fees and a $125 American Airlines flight discount after spending $20,000 or more and renewing your card membership.

However, unlike the AAdvantage MileUp card, the AAdvantage Platinum Select card has a $99 annual fee, which is waived for the first 12 months.

Related: Earn 50,000 American miles with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card.

Should you get the AAdvantage MileUp card?

The AAdvantage MileUp card is an excellent choice for people looking for an American Airlines credit card with no annual fee. The card comes with a few useful features for card holders, such as double points on groceries and Loyalty Points toward elite status with regular spending.

If you don’t mind a small sign-up bonus and limited airline benefits, the AAdvantage MileUp card is a solid option. It might even be a good choice for those looking for their first airline credit card.

However, frequent American Airlines flyers and those looking for a more perks-rich experience when flying with the airline may want to consider the AAdvantage Platinum Select card, which comes with extra benefits like free checked baggage, priority boarding and bonus miles on gas and dining out.

And for those who aren’t loyal to a specific airline and simply want to earn valuable travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best starter travel cards, with broader bonus categories and flexible points that can be transferred to multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Learn more and apply for the American Airlines MileUp Card.

Looking for a credit card that earns travel rewards? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best travel credit cards currently available.

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