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TPG reader Mike needs a new credit card. He’s a US Airways flyer, but is thinking ahead to the merger with American. Here’s his question:
“Wondering if you would post about which credit card to get (US Airways or American). I have lot of upcoming travel and typically fly US Airways up and down the east coast. Does it make more sense to get an American credit card since US Airways will be migrating over to their loyaltu program? I don’t want to get the US Airways card and then find out it’s obsolete in a few months. Either way it sounds like I should wait until they combine.”
Though their merger has been underway for a while and flyers on both American and US Airways can earn/redeem miles on both airlines and US Airways recently joined Oneworld, at present, US Airways and American are operating their frequent flyer programs completely separately, and could do so well into 2015. So while that’s the case, my simple advice would be to get both cards now so that you can bank two sign-up bonuses that will then become one large mileage balance when the carriers’ two programs finally merge.
If you’re only going to get one card, though, make it the US Airways Mastercard. Issued by Barclaycard (which will continue to issue it for some time), the sign-up bonus is good at 40,000 miles with your first purchase, the annual fee of $89 is reasonable (though it must be paid before receiving the 40,000 bonus points) and you will get one companion certificate for up to two guests to travel with you on US Airways operated flights at $99 each, plus taxes and fees. Barclaycard will continue accepting applications for this card for a while, and though the card will remain in existence after that, chances are eventually the US Airways card and miles will be folded into AAdvantage and the Citi cards will be the only choices – that’s probably sometime in 2017, but it never hurts to have a long-term strategy in place, and if you’re flying US Airways mostly, then it’s a great choice.
My current top pick for an American Airlines co-branded credit card is the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard thanks to its currently historically high bonus of 100,000 miles when you spend $10,000 in 3 months. The card also confers Admirals Club membership on cardholders and allows you to earn 10,000 elite-qualifying miles when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year. It’s also got some other great benefits like access to reduced-mileage awards. However, it has an annual fee of $450 (not waived the first year), so that’s a big consideration.
In terms of that elite-mileage earning benefit, you have to spend a lot more on the Citi card for AA EQM’s. That being said, if you want a card with a huge up-front sign-up bonus and want the extra elite-style perks it gives you, you might still go for the Citi card and not mind paying that annual fee.
If I were you, though, I’d consider getting both cards – after all, between the two of them, the minimum spending requirement is $10,000 – so it’s kind of like getting two cards with a a $5,000 minimum spending requirement each. The greatest advantage of getting both cards – as long as you have good credit and will be responsible about paying your bills each month – is that you’ll have a much bigger mileage balance and can travel more and enjoy more benefits when you do!
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