Should You Get US Airways AND American Cards Before the Merger?

by on May 25, 2014 · 9 comments

in American, Credit Cards, Oneworld, Sunday Reader Questions, US Airways, Video Blog Post

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Earlier this week, TPG Reader Chris tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy Is it worthwhile to get separate US Airways and American Airlines cards for individual signup bonuses before merging into a single oneworld account?”

Though their merger has been underway since last December, and though 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 likely into 2015. They have two separate loyalty card products, both of which currently offer some great deals.

For example, American offers a 100,000 mile bonus after $10,000 in purchases (within three months of account opening) on the Citi Executive AAdvantage Mastercard. The card also comes with Admirals Club membership, and allows cardholders to earn 10,000 elite-qualifying miles when they spend $40,000 in a calendar year. It also has some other great benefits like access to reduced-mileage awards. However, it has an annual fee of $450 (not waived the first year), which should be taken into consideration.

US Airways has the US Airways Mastercard issued by Barclaycard (which will continue to issue it for some time). This card offers a 40,000 mile bonus after first purchase with no minimum spend requirement, as well as a valuable annual companion ticket. The annual fee of $89 is reasonable, and you get 10,000 Preferred-qualifying miles when you spend $25,000 per calendar year.  You can also have the annual fee waived the first year on this offer of 30,000 miles with first purchase and 10,000 bonus anniversary miles.

TPG reader Chris is wondering whether to get both cards, assuming that they will merge their programs at some point and I think that is a decent idea, but you should also take into account:

1) What other Citi/BarclayCard products might be better? Diversification is a good idea and as we’ve seen with no-notice changes from AA, the program could become worse after the programs already merge.

2) Can you hit the minimum spending? $10k in 3 months is no small number- make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

3) The US Airways Mastercard will lose its benefits in 2015 so maybe you should apply for that card now so you still get the preferred miles and companion ticket.

That way you can earn miles on both ends. Barclays is a bit stricter about giving credit, but if you’ve never had one of their cards before and you have a good credit score, you should be fine. Generally I think US Airways miles are more valuable than American miles right now-you can do crazy routing all over the world, stopovers and more. Plus, due to American’s most recent changes, they’ve now got some of the most restrictive award stopover and routing rules out there. That’s not to say American AAdvantage miles aren’t valuable, but if I could have one or the other, I’d pick US Airways.

Eventually, the loyalty programs will merge

Eventually the loyalty programs will merge.

At some point (most likely in 2015) the two loyalty programs will merge, so if you’re focused on building up both balances you’ll eventually be able to combine them. Just be aware that changes will happen, so I personally recommend using your miles sooner rather than later, since some of your favorite awards may no longer be available once the programs finally do merge completely.

In conclusion, go for both cards, but have a strategy in mind for earning and using those miles.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebook, Tweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

Related Posts:

40,000 Miles After First Purchase With US Airways Mastercard

Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard Bonus Up To 100,000 Miles

Should I Get A US Airways Or An American Credit Card?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • savscott

    If I cancelled the US Air card earlier this year can you get the bonus a 2nd time ?

  • Riddle350

    Would you recommend the US Airways card even if you can’t use the bonus miles before the merger is completed? My line of thinking was that even if a devaluation happens 40k miles for less than $100 spend is a pretty solid deal. Especially for a card that won’t be available in the future.

  • JD

    Yes you can! Rinse and repeat.

  • John

    I received my anniversary bonus of 10K miles on the US airways card well before my actual anniversary. When renewal time finally came, I was going to cancel, but they offered be a retention bonus of a 50% credit off the AF ($44.50) and 5K miles for $1,000 spend. I asked the CSR if I would be getting the annual 10K mile bonus again next year, and she said she didn’t know. I took the offer anyway. Do you know if the annual bonus is a one time deal, or do you get it every year you have the card?

  • Kirchgoens

    What about AA’s lower-level card with the 30k miles after $1k spend in three months, $95 annual fee waived the first year? That’s much easier to attain than the $10k spend in three months for many (me included).

  • Eric P

    Will miles that transfer from US Air be applied to the million miler balance, or just redemable miles?

  • brendon

    i would. I just applied and am going to be buying in on the bonus miles so that way next may when I have to book ill have a jumpstart with AA miles.

  • kg123

    When I click the link above for the offer of 30,000 miles with no annual fee it takes me to application for 40,000 miles with $89 annual fee. When I called Barclays, they say they only offer the card with $89 annual fee.

  • K2

    I keep getting the offers for this card in flight. Is the only benefit to applying through the pamphlet they hand you in the air vs online is the 500 bonus miles? I feel like I would rather get instant authorization than wait for the snail mail route just for 500 miles…

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