It’s Time to Apply for the US Airways World MasterCard

Last week I wrote about the temporary increase in the sign-up bonus for the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard®, but some readers asked me if it was worth considering The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® instead. Barclays launched new offers for both cards through its affiliate channels at the same time, which is why you may have noticed an up-tick in the number of card-related posts. How different are the two cards, and which one should you apply for?

The current US Airways offer is actually not that different from what’s been available previously. US Airways has often provided an opportunity to get 40,000 miles with little or no minimum spend after a new approval. What distinguishes the current offer — 40,000 miles after first purchase and paying the $89 annual fee — is that it’s being offered through affiliate channels. Past affiliate offers have often been less generous. The card also has new benefits like a free checked bag for you and four companions, and some older benefits like a $99 companion fare.

US Airways 40000 miles

Contrast that with Lufthansa’s card, which tends not to offer different offers through different channels but which does vary the number of miles offered. When the bonus goes up, it merits consideration regardless of the application channel.

I believe the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® has a better offer for some people because it can be used to book up to two round-trip domestic flights on United Airlines or, if you’re willing to pay fuel surcharges, go toward the cost of an international award on Lufthansa with greater award availability than if you had to use United miles. In fact, you can get an economy class transatlantic award for just 50,000 miles, and business and first class awards are priced less than United charges for partner awards to Europe. Are there cases where United’s miles are better? Sure. But Miles & More makes sense where award availability is a concern and you care less about routing rules. It’s also a good idea to diversify. I accrue both and use them for different purposes.

However, you should still consider applying for the US Airways credit card sooner rather than later. The merger between US Airways and American Airlines is progressing, and though it isn’t moving as quickly as I anticipated it does look like the loyalty programs will be merged sometime close to the beginning of 2015. At that point your ability to apply for a US Airways credit card may be restricted, but your miles will still be useful as part of a new American AAdvantage program.

Until then, there are some valuable opportunities to earn and use US Airways miles. They have, for example, much more generous routing rules than American Airlines while working with the same oneworld Alliance partners. You can still book awards with some former Star Alliance partners, including EVA Air, Turkish Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. And you can add to the miles you’d earn from a credit card sign-up bonus with regular promotions to buy or share miles at under 2 cents per mile.

What it comes down to are changes you know will probably happen vs. changes you probably don’t expect. You probably know that US Airways and American Airlines will devalue their award chart further after they merge. You probably know that this combined loyalty program will restrict access to the remaining Star Alliance partners. And you probably know that you won’t have another chance to apply for this US Airways credit card. One might even argue that by providing one of their best historical offers through affiliate channels, Barclays is making a last go to get as much publicity as possible and keep those customers after the programs merge.

Meanwhile, the Lufthasa Miles & More credit card has a limited time offer, and potentially more utility in some situations, but it isn’t going to go anywhere in the next year or so. Someone with a long horizon could apply for The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® now and the Lufthansa card next year (if not sooner).

UPDATE: A reader asked me to include another offer for the US Airways MasterCard. This one provides only 30,000 miles after first purchase as a sign-up bonus and waives the first year’s annual fee, but it does include 10,000 miles as an anniversary bonus after paying the second year’s annual fee. The net result is that if you’re willing to wait a year, then you can get the same 40,000 miles with no annual fee for the first year and an additional 10,000 miles every year thereafter. You can learn more about it on FlyerTalk.

Is this a better offer? It depends. The Terms & Conditions say that you still have to pay the second year’s annual fee to get the 10,000 anniversary miles. But if you’re going to keep the card for two years or more you have the potential to earn more miles over the long term. My own opinion is that I’d rather have 40,000 miles up front and pay the $89 for the convenience, canceling the card before the second year’s fee is due. More miles usually makes it easier to book high-value awards.

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  • Ben L

    If I remember correctly, this new USAir offer does NOT come with the annual bonus of 10k correct?

    Right now I have a USAir card (opened 11/2012) that does have the 10k annual bonus. I tried for my 2nd USAir card in 3/2013 and was denied and tried again for my 2nd USAir card in 1/2014 and was denied again. However, I was approved for the Arrival on 1/2014 (I applied USAir 1st, no instant decision, called and denied by rep for already having the card, asked if I would be eligible for Arrival and rep said yes, hung up and applied for Arrival and was instantly approved….all on the same day!). I doubt I will be able to convince Barclays to give me a 2nd USAir card so my plan was to cancel my current USAir, wait ~6 months (12/2014) and then apply for USAir. I feel confident that Barclay will continue to offer the USAir card all the way up until they no longer are allowed too (2015) and may even sweeten the deal by December. But I’m debating whether I should give up the (possible) opportunity to get 10k USAir/AA miles every year for $89 and instead opt for the 1 time sign-up bonus. The other USAir card benefits do not matter to me. Thoughts on this predicament?

    • Scottrick

      As Fanfoot says above, this affiliate offer does not include a 10K anniversary bonus. I’ve added a non-affiliate link for the card that does. However, it has only a 30K bonus the first year. So paying the annual fee allows you to get the 40K miles all at once. IMO, the 10K anniversary bonus offer is only preferable if you plan to keep the card for more than a couple years.

      • Fanfoot

        @Scott, My experience differs. The 10K showed up BEFORE I paid the 2nd year annual fee. On both my card and my wife’s card. I then cancelled. Had been planning to wait for the fee to hit, assuming $89 was a reasonable choice for 10,000 miles but I didn’t have to. As always YMMV

        • Scottrick

          It’s great that you got the miles without paying the fee, but I can’t promise something other than what’s in the T&C.

  • Fanfoot

    @BelL – correct, no 10K bonus on annual on the new cards. On one of the older cards for the wife & myself I just got the 10k for each, also got a reminder in the mail saying we’d be hit with a fee and told us the exact date, and cancelled the cards just before that date.

    In our case we had no trouble getting a 2nd US Air card from Barclay’s. Both instantly approved. I am now hoping for a 3rd, but not counting on it. I have cut the credit line on the remaining #2 cards each to 5K following the general advice to improve your chances. I am also putting some spend on both cards. The wife got the 15K offer that everybody (but me) gets, I did not. Anyway, I’m putting spend on both cards in anticipation that they might look at this (have heard on blogs et al that they do).

    Obviously we only have until early next year to apply for new US Air cards. You will probably not be able to apply past February 2015 or something, so you might as well take one more shot before then. I’d like to see another no fee first year offer, but we’ll see what happens.

  • jordan

    On the 30k offer do you still get your 1st checked bag free?

    • Scottrick

      I don’t know the answer to that. The checked bag waiver is a new benefit, so there are few opportunities to learn from others’ experience, but it’s not listed on the 30K offer’s T&Cs.

    • Scottrick

      Correction: Someone else on Twitter says that this card is also eligible for the free checked bag.

  • GemmyB

    I’ve had this card for a year now and I got an email from US Airways a few days ago letting me know that I now get these additional benefits, so it doesn’t look like you have to apply for a new card to get them.

  • JM

    If I already have a US Airways card can I apply for a second and get the points?

    • Scottrick

      It’s been possible in the past. I’m not sure what the current situation is. I know that Barclays has been tougher in general on issuing multiple active accounts to the same individual. If you have few or no open accounts, then your odds may be better.

  • Frank

    I cancelled the card 7 months ago. In the FAQ, there is something like this “This offer is only available to first-time Cardmembers”. If I apply again and approved, will I get the 40000 miles bonus?

    • Scottrick

      You might or might not. If Barclays enforced the rules, you would not get the miles again. But banks don’t always enforce the rules, or enforce them only up to a certain point (say, 18-24 months). I think it’s still too early to get a second bonus on this card.

  • AJ

    The search engine shows no annual fee first year, but ap says $89. Which is it?

    • Scottrick

      Which offer is this? I did a Google search for “Barclaycard Arrival MasterCard” and didn’t find any offers without an annual fee. A link or screenshot would be helpful.