When US Airways and American are finally combined into a single airline, it will no longer be possible to get the US Airways cards. These cards will become American cards, and existing cardholders get to keep them. But no one new will be able to apply for the Barclaycard offering.
That also means we know that the last chance for the 50,000 point signup bonus after first purchase will be when the two frequent flyer programs become one. My advice is to get the bonus points if you can, it’s an opportunity that will go away, and the points will add on nicely to American AAdvantage balances (this card doesn’t conflict with getting signup bonuses for Citibank-issued American AAdvantage cards).
We do not know when the airlines will actually combine. There’s a strong economic incentive to make it as soon as possible, but they haven’t set a date officially because they’re smart enough to hold off if they believe the IT challenges aren’t done.
We are learning, though, about what will change with the card when the programs do merge. The US Airways card’s benefits will be more like American co-brand card benefits.
Here’s what will go away in 2015:
- The $99 companion certificate will go away. If you get the card now, you’re still entitled to one, but come 2015 they won’t be issued any longer.
- Miles towards elite status will go away. Only the pricey $450 annual fee Citi Executive card generates elite qualifying miles at American — 10,000 qualifying miles after $40,000 spend. So it’s not surprising we won’t be able to generate those same miles for only $25,000 spend with this less expensive card.
- Annual club lounge pass and club membership discount. These benefits aren’t offered by the Citibank co-brand card.
- First class check-in
They’re adding benefits next year to align with what Citibank offers:
- The card will entitle you to an annual rebate of 10% of the miles you spend on award tickets (presumably up to 10,000 total miles returned to you, like the Citibank cards). I expect this is going to make the card worth keeping in my wallet (10,000 miles for an $89 annual fee is 9/10th of a penny per point).
- Cardmembers will also get 25% off inflight purchases plus a $100 flight discount after $30,000 spend each year on the card
In essence they’re converting the card from one I want to put money on (for the elite qualifying miles) to one I want to keep but not use (for the annual rebate on awards).
Interestingly, they’re also promising “Enhance your award travel experience with redemption for one-way travel and First Class upgrades.”
As I commented elsewhere, to promise one-way awards is “almost like confirming that the New American will fly “planes” or that the airline is not going to shut down its passenger operation to focus on its core “american way” magazine business.”
Of course when the airlines combine they are going to offer one-way awards as American does now (and United and Delta and joint venture partners British Airways and Iberia and Finnair offer). Although it’s one thing that US Airways members haven’t had but will benefit from.
There’s no mention yet of the fate of the 5,000 mile discount for cardmembers booking awards entirely on US Airways (not including partner awards). I have to imagine that this benefit will disappear because it isn’t something offered by the Citi product. And because US Airways itself will disappear. But no word as yet.
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