There has been a kerfuffle of posts lately about the potential elimination of the US Airways Mastercard from Barclays as American Airlines and US Air sort out the details of their post-merger credit card program. But is it really time to apply for this card?
Yes. And here’s why:
First and foremost, if you have a solid credit score you have nothing to lose by applying. Even if the combined American Airlines decides to keep Barclays as its credit card issuer (very unlikely), the new card will likely come with a new offer as well as the ability for existing cardholders to apply for it without forfeiting the sign-up bonus.
Let’s look at the sign-up offer:
- Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles on qualifying transactions
- 5,000 miles off US Airways award redemptions
- discount only on US Airways/US Airways Express operated flights
- First Class check-in
- Zone 2 boarding on every flight
- 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways purchases
- 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else
- Annual companion certificate good for round-trip travel for up to 2 companions at $99 each,
- taxes and fees extra on companion tickets
- Annual fee = $89 (not waived the first yer)
With no minimum spending limit, this card is an easy way to rack up 30,000 US Airways. US Airways award redemptions can test your patience, but the award chart is attractive right now and if you can grow your miles up to 90K, you can redeem what I’d call the best available longhaul redemption currently on the market, a round-tip from North America to both Europe and Asia for 90,000 miles with no fuel surcharge on a combo of Star Alliance carriers.
Dividend Miles redemption rules are stricter than other Star Alliance loyalty programs. For example, a 10-segment limit is imposed on awards and you can only schedule a stopover in a Star Alliance hub city. Yet these rules are selectively enforced and the lack of geographic knowledge of many US Airways agents and even the rates department that often must manually calculate and store taxes means that a stop in Rome or a stop in London on your way to Tokyo or Seoul, neither European city being a Star Alliance hub, can often slip by.
Even if you use the card once to buy a cup of coffee and never use it again, those 30,000 miles are enough for a U.S. round-trip ticket in economy class (Hawaii not included). Surely that is worth more than the $89 annual fee.
If you do not have status with US Airways or Star Alliance, do not underestimate the early boarding and first class check in perks as well–in an era in which the final boarding groups routinely have to check carry-on bags because overhead bins are full, it is always appreciated to be able to board early.
Also keep in mind that the miles will be merged with American Airlines at some point in the future so if you have an aspirational oneworld award you are eyeing, you may want to conserve your points for that (and sign up for the Citibank card for American Airlines as well).
With the future of this card uncertain, now is the time to apply it. The cost/benefit analysis weighs strongly in its favor.