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TPG reader Bjorn tweeted me to ask:
@thepointsguy—”What will happen to the US Airways Companion tickets after the merger? My wife and I still have one each.”
In just a couple months, US Airways and American Airlines will finally merge their frequent flyer programs. This step has a lot of implications for both programs, as well as their co-branded credit cards.
You currently get a $99 companion ticket with the US Airways Premier World MasterCard from Barclays. This card will soon convert into the AAdvantage Aviator Red card, which will no longer offer a companion ticket, but each existing companion ticket will be valid until the date specified on it. You will get other perks to make up for it, like up to 10,000 miles rebated to your account each year, which I think is pretty valuable.
Barclays will also offer some targeted accounts the option to upgrade to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card. I’ve already been pre-selected for the Aviator Silver card, and starting this month I’ll be able to use the card benefits, although I won’t have the physical card until the programs merge.
The Silver card does still offer two $99 companion tickets (similar to the ones offered now) when you spend $30,000 annually. The card has an annual fee of $195, but there are many more perks like 3x miles per dollar spent on all US Airways and American Airlines purchases (which is better than what’s currently offered by any of the Citi AAdvantage cards).
The Silver card also comes with the 10,000 mile annual reimbursement, which is worth about $170-180 to me, as I value AAdvantage miles at 1.7-1.8 cents apiece. That alone mostly takes care of the $195 annual fee. One final perk I love about the Silver card is that you can earn elite qualifying miles: you get 5,000 EQMs for $20,000 in spending, another 5,000 EQMs for hitting $40,000 in spending annually. I stack those with the EQMs I get from my Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, and I’m well on my way to re-qualifying for AA Executive Platinum status.
Keep in mind that in order to get either of the Aviator cards, you have to first apply for the US Airways card, and you’ll still get that companion ticket if you do so before the card changes. Down the line, you can then upgrade to the Silver card.
If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.
If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.