American Airlines and Citi know what people want, which explains why they’ve just announced a way to make more free flights happen. The AAdvantage MileUp card, which launches on July 22, is the latest offering in American’s co-branded credit card lineup, and its proposition is quite simple: This no-annual-fee card earns you two AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent at grocery stores and on American purchases and one AAdvantage mile per dollar spent anywhere else. The card comes with a signup bonus of 10,000 AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 in the first three months after account opening.
Since getting this card costs you nothing, signing up is like getting free money and miles. And while free is good, consider that 10,000 AAdvantage miles aren’t enough to make a roundtrip flight in the contiguous United States. The least expensive rewards tickets you can get from American start at 15,000 points round trip—and that’s for flights of less than 500 miles. (By contrast, flights to Europe will cost you at least 45,000 miles in the off season.) So while the signup bonus and other perks of this card come with no fee—and it’s easy to rack up more miles with your everyday grocery spending—there may be better options out there for you, including travel rewards cards that offer greater flexibility with points or even one of the other Citi AAdvantage cards, many of which are currently offering signup bonuses between 25,000 miles and 70,000 miles and waiving annual fees for the first year.
If you’re interested in earning AAdvantage miles from Citi, your best bet is probably the AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, which is offering 60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months after account opening; that’s enough for a flight to Europe during the summer high season. The card also comes with priority boarding and your first checked bag free—a great way to take advantage of low-fare Basic Economy flights, which otherwise would upcharge you for a checked bag or even a carry-on.
Other Citi-AAdvantage cards have also seen changes that make them more appealing. The AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, for example, will now earn two miles per dollar at restaurants and gas stations, an improvement to be sure—but one that still doesn’t match the earning potential of a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which nets you three points per dollar at restaurants.
On balance, the new MileUp card is American’s way of competing with the many no-annual-fee rewards cards on the market today. And while it’s hard to argue with free, this card isn’t the best choice if you’re serious about racking up lots of AAdvantage miles. But for those looking for a quick and easy way to grab a stash of miles, MileUp is an enticing way to do it.