About Citi AAadvantage MileUp Card
The Citi AAdvantage MileUp is an airline rewards credit card whose main benefit is double miles on certain purchases and a lack of an annual fee.
The card is the American Airlines version of what we consider “starter” travel rewards cards that emphasize a $0 annual fee, modest sign-up bonuses with industry-standard rewards rates.
In a press release about the card’s July 2018 launch, American Airlines exec Bridget Blaise-Shamai said the card is the perfect fit if you’re looking for a low-cost credit card that can earn you free travel.
“We know our customers are looking forward to taking their next trip, and American’s and Citi’s new no-annual-fee card gives more customers a way to put that travel on the calendar sooner,” Blaise-Shamai said. “The AAdvantage MileUp card is an excellent addition to our portfolio of co-branded credit card offerings that deliver benefits for every cardmember.”
The MileUp is one of several credit cards in Citi’s American Airlines stable, with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select is the most prestigious.
Because you have so many options within the American Airline line-up of credit cards, it can be tough to know which one is best for you. Add in the fact that both United and Delta have their own starter cards and you’re left with multiple options.
In this review, we’re going to try and simplify your choice by talking about what the MileUp offers and how its various rewards and benefits compare to airline cards with annual fees as well as starter airline cards like the AmEx Blue Delta SkyMiles and the United TravelBank.
The Citi AAdvantage MileUp’s Rewards
Credit card companies and airlines like to earn your business by marketing credit cards through two major ways: sign-up bonuses and ongoing rewards. The sign-up bonus is meant to dazzle you and get you to sign up, then the ongoing rewards are designed to convince you to use their card to make all your purchases.
In a perfect world, the credit card company wins because they make a little bit of money every time you swipe your card and you win because you earn rewards miles. Exactly how much those miles are worth determines the real value of using the card, though.
In this section, we’re going to talk about the MileUp’s sign-up bonus and its ongoing rewards.
Sign-Up Bonus: 10,000 Miles and $50 Credit
If you can spend $500 in the first three months of owning the card, then you’ll a pair of rewards: a 10,000-point bonus that’s deposited to your American Airlines account and a $50 statement credit.
You can expect those 10,000 miles to show up in your account in about 8-12 weeks, although they could arrive sooner than that.
The $50 credit will take some time to arrive, too, but we were not able to confirm with Citi how long it would take for the credit to appear on your statement.
The fact that it will take some time for your sign-up rewards to appear isn’t rare; most cards operate this way. We want to emphasize it, though, so you don’t get trapped into thinking that you’ll get your bonuses as soon as you hit the $500 spending requirement.
Miles on Purchases: 2x and 1x Bonuses
When we talk about how many miles you get on your purchases, we’re really getting to the heart of credit card rewards. If you know what you’re doing, then you can maximize your rewards and earn the most free travel possible.
The MileUp card provides two sets of bonuses: double miles on grocery purchases and on American Airlines purchases and a point-per-dollar bonus on all other purchases.
So, if you spend $7,500 a year on groceries, then you’ll earn 15,000 miles. What we like about this miles bonus is that Citi is giving it to you in a spending category that tends to be one of the most expensive non-rent categories in a household.
We often see rewards credit cards do double bonuses on travel, gas or eating out. While each of those categories can reach the thousands, our research indicates that the average family will spend considerably more on groceries than, in some cases, than those three other categories combined.
Exactly how much you spend each year on American Airlines purchases (website, in-person, in-flight) varies from household to household, especially if you book flights based on what’s cheapest and not based on the airline carrier.
But, let’s say you fly twice a year on flights that cost you the industry average for a round-trip journey, which is around $350. You’ll end up spending $700 a year, which gets you 1,400 miles.
Now, remember that the $8,200 you spend each year on those double-point categories reflects a relatively small portion of your yearly spending.
Based on our research of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we believe the average family could spend an additional $17,000 a year on the AAdvantage MileUp card, which would get you 17,000 miles, bringing your yearly total to 33,400 miles.
We’ll talk about how this yearly point total compares to other cards in a few minutes. For now, we want to talk about the other rewards and benefits you get with this card.
The Additional Perks: 25% Discount, No Miles Cap
The two other main benefits you get with this card is a 25% discount on in-flight purchases and the ability to earn unlimited miles.
Both of these benefits are pretty standard when it comes to airline rewards cards. While the card’s promotional material did not mention any fine print about the discount rules, our experience with other cards indicates that this 25% discount is actually a credit to your statement a few weeks after your purchase and not when you buy the food, drink or internet during the flight.
Rates and Fees
At the time of publishing, Citi representatives said that the MileUp card’s APR is based on your credit history and that there isn’t a range of rates they can confirm. While Citi wasn’t able to give us an exact APR range, it is worth noting that this card’s predecessor, the AAdvantage Bronze, had a single APR of 14.99%.
Aside from that, the card does not have an annual fee and there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
How the Citi AAdvantage MileUP Compares to Other Starter Airline Cards
As we mentioned before, the MileUp is part of a new wave of airline rewards cards that focuses on offering a decent set of rewards and benefits with no annual fee.
The two cards we’re going to compare it to are the American Express Blue Delta SkyMiles and the United TravelBank. The following chart assumes $25,000 of yearly spending, which includes $700 spent on plane tickets:
|AAdvantage MileUp||Blue Delta SkyMiles||United TravelBank|
|Sign-up bonus||10,000 miles, $50||10,000 miles||15,000 miles|
|Yearly rewards||33,400 miles||28,850||40,450|
Based on our research of these cards, we believe the AAdvantage MileUp is the second-best card in this group. The card’s sign-up bonus, yearly rewards and in-flight discount are better than the Blue Delta SkyMiles.
When you compare the card to the TravelBank, there are two things that stick out. First, the TravelBank offers 15,000 miles as an up-front bonus. It’s up to you which bonus you could better use to your advantage. The MileUp splits the bonus between miles and cash, whereas the TravelBank devotes the entire bonus to miles.
Also, the TravelBank’s rewards rate on non-United purchases is 1.5%, which makes the card’s yearly rewards total superior to the MileUp.
We believe the best card for you in this trio has a lot to do with your travel preferences. If you are loyal to American Airlines, then the MileUp is a solid choice. However, if you have no allegiance to a particular airline, then the TravelBank is a good choice.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of the Citi AAdvantage MileUp
In our opinion, the MileUP is a great starter card for someone who wants to earn miles every year without paying an annual fee. Based on our research, we believe that the 33,4000 miles you per year can be good enough to book at least one round-trip flight with American, if not two, depending on how many points it will take you to book a seat (the earlier you book, the better).
The drawback to the card is that you don’t get any day-of travel perks. You aren’t entitled to priority check-in, priority boarding or free baggage. Also, you don’t get access to any of American Airline’s airport lounges.
Therefore, we think the MileUp card is a good fit for someone who doesn’t travel often and wants an easy way to earn enough miles to get a free flight every year.
If you feel like you’re the kind of traveler who enjoys a little more luxury the day you fly, then take a look at our guide to the best airline rewards credit cards. The article does an in-depth exploration of the top airline cards’ rewards, perks and fees.