Is US Airways credit card a ripoff?

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Is US Airways credit card a ripoff?

Postby CreditCardGuru » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:31 pm

The offer for the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is currently unavailable. Any mentions of it below will remain for reference purposes.

There's no telling how much longer co-branded US Airways credit cards will be around, given the carrier's merger with American. If you're planning to take advantage of the US Airways Premier World MasterCard while it's available, read our review before applying. The card has some nice benefits, but also a couple drawbacks.

What to know about the US Airways MasterCard in 2014?
[imga=U.S. Airways plane in sky"][/imga]
For starters, you should know that Barclaycard acquired a majority ownership stake in the U.S. Airways Dividend Miles card program from Bank of America a couple years back.

When reported this news on the blog, a record number of complaints from existing cardmembers were posted about high fees, unfair terms, difficult mileage redemption, and difficulty dealing with customer service.

However in defense of Barclaycard, despite the rocky transition of ownership, that flood of complaints has stopped.

The biggest drawback: Low reward ticket availability
The card gives 1 Dividend mile per dollar, with the exception purchases on the airline which earn double. This is pretty typical of an airline credit card. But eventually you're going to want to turn those miles into flights, and that's where another factor comes into play: rewards seat availability. If you have miles and can't use them, what's the point in getting an airline card to get more miles?

Unfortunately, US Airways doesn't fare to well in reward seat availability, according to an October 2013 survey from the travel software company Switchfly. Researchers made 7,560 booking queries with 25 carriers and tracked the percentage of queries that yielded two available economy reward seats at the lowest mileage redemption level. In the four years Switchfly has done the survey, US Airways has come out at the bottom (or near the bottom) every time. Here are the 2013 results:
[imga=Switchfly reward seat availability"][/imga]

Based on this data, fewer than half of the booking queries yielded available reward flights on US Airways. So be sure to check out this list of blackout dates before you get the card.

Update: In April 2014, US Airways announced that it would be doing away with blackout dates starting June 1, 2014. This means that, as long as a seat is available on the flight you want, you'll be able to use your miles to buy it. However, as with other frequent flier programs, that doesn't guarantee that you'll get a rewards ticket at the lowest redemption level. On popular travel days and itineraries, you can expect to shell out more miles.

If you're worried about the lack of reward flight availability, consider a generic travel rewards card, such as the Barclaycard Arrival, which, like the US Airways card, has an $89 annual fee. Another possibility would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred and its promotion for up to $500 worth of free airfare (which has a slightly higher annual fee -- $95). You can use your rewards on any airline, without restrictions or blackout dates, which unfortunately are common with this carrier.

The biggest selling point: Good benefits
This card does offer some respectable benefits and perks.

  • Easy-to-reach sign-up bonus: A lot of airline cards make you spend a certain amount (generally $1,000 and up) by a certain deadline (generally three months after opening the card) to get the sign-up bonus. This card gives you 30,000 miles after your first purchases (and 10,000 more if you transfer a balance within 90 days of opening your account).
  • Priority boarding: Unfortunately it's not Zone 1, but cardholders still get to board during Zone 2. During check-in the first class line can also be used.
  • 1 Club pass per year (valid for a one-day visit). Getting to use the lounge only once per year isn't ideal, but it's better than nothing. Normally that would cost you $29 if purchased online in advance or $50 if purchased at the Club.
  • $99 companion ticket certificates: As far as companion ticket benefits go, US Airways is pretty generous. Other airline cards with comparable annual fees generally give a discount on companion tickets, or make them available only after a certain amount of yearly spending. But US Airways caps the price of a companion ticket at $99 and gives you TWO of these $99 companion tickets per year. Please note that black-out restrictions will still apply, your trip must be within the continental U.S. or Canada, and you will have to pay any applicable taxes and fees on the companion tickets.
  • Lower redemption levels for business flights to Asia: US Airways is renowned for its famously low redemption level for business flights to Asia -- 90,000 miles for a round trip. Its rules are also pretty generous when it comes to allowing stopovers on reward flights, so you can book yourself quite the world tour for 90,000 miles. There's no telling how long you'll be able to book this kind of deal, given the merger.
Previously, there was one thing noticeably missing from the list of benefits: free checked bags. This is a very common benefit among major carriers' airline cards. For example, the Delta Airline's American Express lets cardholders check a bag for free and throws in a free bag for a traveling companion. With the typical $25 charge each way per bag, that saves a traveling couple $100 per roundtrip. So, to see this benefit missing from US Airways' card was disappointing.

Well there's good news: Starting April 30, those with the US Airways MasterCard will get one free checked bag.

Barclaycard also has a more basic version of the US Airways card for a $49 fee. The rewards are the same but it doesn't include the Zone 2 boarding, first-class check-in, or the one-day Club pass. You get one companion ticket per year and it costs $149 + taxes/fees if used. Its sign-up bonus is smaller, too (25,000 miles instead of up to 40,000 with premier). Plus, once the free-checked-bag benefit kicks in, it won't apply to those with this basic version of the card.

The rates and other fees?
Most credit cards have three or four interest rate tiers but there are only two with this:

[imga=interest rates on application"][/imga]

If you travel internationally, be aware that both of these credit cards will charge you a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.

Is it the right choice for you in 2014?
The benefits (especially the companion airfare perk) will make sense for a lot of people, but you might find your travel restricted by blackout dates if you're traveling before June.

Yet, if you're planning a trip to Asia and have flexible travel dates, US Airways has some of the lowest redemption levels out there (in business class, no less).

Get the card only to find out it's being phased out in the merger? Not to worry -- you can just transfer any remaining miles into an AAdvantage account (combining them with AAdvantage miles you already have).

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They won't give the promised companion certificates to me

Postby LMS » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:48 pm

They won't give you the certificate codes over the phone or e-mail, they *have* to mail them to you. What good is the benefit if they won't let you use it/won't give it to you. Otherwise I have no problems with the credit card.

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Postby firecrew1 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:25 pm

Offer Ripoff! Up to 40,000 miles with balance transfer. I transferred $100.00 only to find out it has to be $10,000 and you will have to pay the 3% fee which comes out to $300.00. You also can't use one of the checks they send you if you happen to owe that much on another card and wanted the miles that bad. I never thought they could come up with something this low.

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AMEX Platinum/US Air Mastercard Combo and Review

Postby MOC » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:02 am

I just thought I should give my opinion on the card. I also have an AMEX Platinum and the Marriott Rewards Visa Signature card. The AMEX Platinum gives me US Airways lounge access which the US Airways MasterCard does not ironically, besides the one time pass only for the named account holder. Prior to getting US Air Silver Preferred, I used the $200 airline allowance from AMEX Platinum for bags. The only benefits of the US Air MasterCard boil down to a 5000 mile discount on flights and the companion tickets. The waiving of the award fee and the 10,000 preferred miles conversion only happen at $25,000 annual spend. They didn't even charge an award fee prior to this card so that is not a real benefit. I'm fairly sure that US Airways has a good cut of the transaction fee judging by their pushing of the card.

Something they did not mention was the World MasterCard benefits which include car rental insurance and travel insurance. This is fairly common on many cards though and is secondary as is usually the case, so it is not worth jumping up for. The World MasterCard benefits on the website aren't ever updated so that is not that great.

I fly US Airways all the time since they serve all the NC regional airports pretty heavily with connecting flights to everywhere from Charlotte. The prices and award travel have not been that troublesome for me. In comparison other airlines almost always have higher prices. It is impossible to find a 25,000 mile reward from Delta. United is never that cheap either, and their rewards look higher than 25,000 too. If you live in NC and maybe Philadelphia which is becoming a bigger US Airways hub, then the card might be good for you. Otherwise it isn't that great. US Airways uses United as codeshare for almost all the flights in the Midwest and West, and the 5000 mile discount does not apply to codeshare flights. All flights must be US Airways or US Airways Express for the 5000 mile discount. I will probably switch to a travel rewards MasterCard when I don't have silver preferred with US Airways. For now, I want to earn as many miles as possible with them, and my other cards fill the gap.

The best card for US Airways is probably the AMEX platinum for the lounges and the $200 allowance for bags. The $450 annual fee for the AMEX is only really justified if you use the other benefits such as the other lounges and car rental programs. Unfortunately there is no way to convert points from any other card directly to US Airways. You can use points for tickets through AMEX Travel (actually Travelocity). The points are then worth 100 points = $1 which isn't that grand.

I actually haven't had any trouble with customer service and receiving my benefits and bonus miles. My only complaint is that they send you a paper copy of the companion certificates, which you have to keep. They don't track the paper copy and require you to send it in when you redeem the companion ticket. It is just a cheap way for them to get out of rewarding all those people who inevitably lose the paper copy.

If you don't need the other $250 worth of benefits from AMEX Platinum and you aren't flying frequently with US Air, then get one of the better travel rewards cards and use the points to cash for travel benefits.

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Postby Hutch » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:40 am

I just discovered that when I need a seat, none are available. I want to travel to London, Envoy, in the next two months. There are no seats available for at least the next 90 days at 100,000 miles, but plenty available at 200,000 miles. Not one flight any time, any day.

I have found out from other US Air card folks this is not unusual, and the chart in this article only proves my point. I will use my miles (300,000) for domestic travel as soon as I can and then drop the card. There must be better cards out there for their yearly fee. I think I'll use the miles to fly to some city that Virgin serves on the East Coast, and then pay the very reasonable price for "priority coach", which has bigger seats and more tilt room. That's all I really need to be comfortable. I can sleep anywhere, any time, in a recliner.

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US Airways Credit Card

Postby CCGuy1 » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:58 pm

I've had the Barclays USAirways Mastercard for over 5 years and due to mounting frustration decided to switch.

Spent a lot of time researching. Sharing this as some may benefit.

*I eventually chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Flexible, great customer service (or so people say. we'll see). Great benefits for joining, etc.

That being said, my research showed the USAirwaysMC benefits are actually very generous BUT they are inflexible and you must mold yourself to them. I personally have a difficult time stomaching this, but will keep it open as a 2nd card.

Cons (frustrations):
1. Award travel unavailability. ESPECIALLY booking and upgrading with points. I have no doubt the award travel chart is accurate that shows USAir at the bottom of the barrel. In one instance checked upgrades the same route for the same day every week for 4 months leading up to the flight and the entire time there were zero seats "available for upgrade", although the seating charts showed several seats available in all cases.
2. Customer Service weak.
3. Nickel and Dime. Perfect example - some cards (e.g. AMEX Delta) allow for free 1st checked bag. Not here.
4. Continuous trend over the last few years of eroding cardholder benefits.

1. Mileage specials are good but you should choose off-peak times. Not kidding when I say inflexible - e.g. Europe is off peak for 6 weeks a year from Jan 16 through Feb 28.
2. If you travel enough to qualify for Silver Preferred a lot of the nickel and diming goes away.
3. This card works very well in tandem with the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest card. Those SPG miles can be transferred over to USAirways as needed and bonuses can be received.
4. Companion tickets great for kids and domestic travel.

That pretty much sums it up. Other cards I also considered but didn't like quite as much as Chase Sapphire (in order of preference):

- AMEX Blue Cash Preferred
- AMEX Platinum
- Chase Freedom

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Postby lexareece » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:09 pm

I have had a USAIR Business Card since 2002, It was then through FIA Card Services. Have never had a problem still, although I am just not a huge fan of Barclays.

My business will generally use AMEX for purchases, but sometimes you just have to have a MC/Visa thats where the USAirways card fell into place. At the time USAIR also numerous flights from Baltimore. I wouldn't say its a ripoff I have probably got 30 flights off it since we got it.
In my Wallet-
[size=60]Bank of America-Platinum Privledges Cash Rewards Visa Signature 12K
American Express- , Starwood Preferred Guest 6K, Hilton Honors 6K, Amex Everyday 10K, Business Gold Rewards
Chase- Freedom Visa Signature-6K, United Millage Plus Explorer Platinum Visa-5K
Barclays- US Airways Dividend Miles Business Master Card 24K[/size]

[size=60]In a Drawer
Bank Of America- Platinum Plus Rewards- 22K, Royal Caribbean Visa Signature 8K
Discover- More Card 8K
Citi- Thank You Mastercard Card 6K, Hilton Honors Visa Signature-10K, American Airlines World Master Card 6.5K
Credit Union Card- 20K- 6.9%APR NO Fees Period(for when I get in trouble[/size]

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Postby Doughboy » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:23 pm

I just applied and got a card and my wife also applied but was turned down. I will definitely not renew my card after receiving my 40,000 miles and companion tickets. I have found US Air to be the most uncooperative airline I fly. It is no wonder they are not rated as one of the best airlines.

I too, like another forum member, heard about the offer on a recent flight that they announced was only being offered on certain flights and you had to sign up on the flight to take advantage of the offer. I call this high pressure.

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Postby jimmyjjohn » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:14 am

I applied for a US Airways Visa card, with the written promise by US Airways for an “Annual certificate good for two guests.” US Airways sent me the Visa Card that was issue by Bank of America.
· Subsequently, US Airways replaced Bank of America’s Visa card with Barclay’s Bank of Delaware Master Card. The certificate of December 2008 never arrived.

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Postby globetrotters » Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:02 pm

This is absolutely the worst card to get, EVER! We applied for and received the card and were supposed to receive 2 companion tickets, a certain number of miles, and have 0% interest for 12 months. They only gave us one companion ticket and started charging us 25% interest 4 months after opening the card, stating we had no "proof" that it was supposed to be 0% for 12 months.......THE PROOF IS ON THE DAMN WEBSITE RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES. Needless to say, the biggest rip off and worst customer service we have ever experienced. Not only will we be cancelling this card, but we will not be flying with them either.

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