How will the airline merger affect my US Airways miles?
Cathleen McCarthy is a journalist whose articles on travel, commerce and consumer topics have appeared in dozens of publications. She writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com
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Dear Cashing In,
have a US Airways credit card and almost all my miles are with that airline.
What's going to happen to my miles and my credit card now that American
Airlines is merging with US Airways? I'm hearing that US Airways is going to be
taken over by American. -- Concerned
Dear Concerned Flier,
too early to know exactly how the merger between American and US Airways will
play out. The union could eventually lead to a turf war between the credit card issuers affiliated with each airline -- Citi offers a number of American
Airlines cards and Barclays issues US Airways cards.
you won't see changes to your credit card or your frequent flier program any
time soon. The merger won't be finalized until later this year and loyalty
programs probably won't be affected for a quite a while after that.
what we do know. US Airways will become part of the American brand, so Dividend
Miles members like you will become AAdvantage members. In its presentation to
investors Feb. 14, American Airlines announced that Dividend members will join
AAdvantage, "the first and best developed loyalty program in the world."
United and Continental are any indication, it could take up to two years for
that to happen. That airline merger was announced in March 2010, but the two
frequent flier programs remained separate until May 2012, when Continental's
frequent flier members were absorbed into United's MileagePlus. It's impossible
to know how long the current process will take, of course.
won't lose any of your miles. They will simply become AAdvantage miles. Some
time after that, you'll be reissued a new credit card to reflect that, but
whether it will come from Barclays
or Citi -- or whether both banks will issue versions -- remains to be seen.
now, if you had to trade your US Airways credit card for the AAdvantage card,
your perks and annual fee would not be much affected. If anything, the
AAdvantage card offers a couple things the US Airways card doesn't -- including
a 10 percent annual dividend on miles redeemed.
option to consider is signing up for an AAdvantage card now and collecting the sign-up
bonus (up to 30,000 miles). Ultimately, you'll end up with one new, reissued
card, but you'll have stashed the extra miles.
As with any credit application, signing up for the AAdvantage card now will result in a hard pull on your credit report, which will have a slight negative impact on your credit score.
Either way, you will eventually be part of a much larger frequent flier program. Both
US Airways and American are sizable airlines, and the combination will create
the world's largest carrier, with a frequent flier membership that's triple the
size of Dividend Miles. The US Airways program has about 30 million members,
while AAdvantage has about 70 million. Combined, the two programs will have 100
US Airways flights you've been taking won't disappear, they'll just become
American flights -- which a lot more frequent fliers will be able to access. This
could impact your ability to score seat upgrades on those flights. On the other
hand, you'll have access to all of American's flights, encompassing 130 destinations
that US Airways doesn't service.
merged airlines are expected to go with American's partner alliance, oneworld,
instead of US Airways' Star Alliance, which will reduce your access to other
airlines, mainly overseas. (United is also a member of Star Alliance.) oneworld
has 13 member airlines compared to Star Alliance's 27. On the plus side, you'll
be able to use your miles to purchase flights on American to 336 destinations
in 56 countries, including 53 U.S. cities US Airways does not reach.
See related: American, US Airways merger could launch credit card battle, Watch out for fuel surcharges on reward flights
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