Is US Airways credit card a ripoff?
Don't apply for a credit card from US Airways without seeing my review. Is it just a big ripoff for 2013? Some people have asked that, but it's not a ripoff (it actually has some nice benefits). That being said, there are some real drawbacks to be aware of.
So is the US Airways MasterCard any better in 2013?
For starters, you should know that a different bank (Barclays) acquired a majority ownership stake in the U.S. Airways Dividend Miles card program from Bank of America a couple years back. The current promotion from Barclays is better than before.
When Credit Card Forum 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 their customer service.
However in defense of Barclays (and in critique of BofA) despite the rocky transition of ownership, it sounds as if things are now back to normal. That flood of complaints has stopped.
Are the rewards really premier?
The official name of it is the US Airways Premier World MasterCard, but some people feel that the rewards don't quite live up to that label.
It gives 1 Dividend mile per dollar, with the exception purchases on the airline which earn double. Now this in and of itself is pretty typical of an airline credit card. But what isn’t typical is how the reward seat availability reportedly stacks up against the competition…
A graph using that same data was published in the Wall Street Journal about two years ago. The data came from the consulting firm IdeaWorks, who made 6,720 booking inquiries to check the reward seat availability on 24 frequent flyer programs. They checked travel dates spanning a 5 month window for 20 top routes on each airline.
Dividend miles = last place?
This is a reason why some people skip paying the $89 annual fee for the US Airways credit card and instead, apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and its promotion for up to $500 worth of free airfare. I hear from plenty of US Airways aficionados going that route, since they can spend the Sapphire’s rewards on any airline, without restrictions or blackout dates - which unfortunately - are common with this carrier.
You will notice the marketing for the US Air MasterCard touts the benefit of being able to get award flights for 5,000 fewer miles (at 20,000 miles versus the typical 25,000). That is a major plus, but the question is, does having that perk outweigh the drawback of below-average availability for award seats? Because if you have miles and can't use them for the flights you want, what good are they?
And the other benefits?
This card does offer some fairly respectable benefits.
What’s noticeably missing from the list – something that many people have voiced complaints about – is that there is no benefit for first-checked bags. As you know some major carriers like the Delta Airline's American Express give cardholders their first-checked bag for free. With the typical $25 charge each way per bag, that saves a traveling couple $100 per roundtrip. In my opinion, that’s one of the biggest reasons to get an airline-branded card so to see it missing from the Dividend Miles is a letdown.
- 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. 2 of these are given per year, though black-out restrictions do apply with these. Please note you will still have to pay any applicable taxes and fees on the companion tickets.
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. There is a companion ticket (x1) per year and it costs $149 + taxes/fees if used. Its signup bonus is smaller too (last I checked it was 25k miles instead of the 40k with premier).
The rates and other fees?
Most credit cards have 3 or 4 interest rate tiers but there are only 2 with this:
As you see even the lowest tier listed on the application is still relatively high. I've seen comments posted by people who get stuck in that 24.99% tier and feel they deserve better. Here is one such example:
Obviously whether that allegation is accurate or not, there's no way to know without actually seeing their credit score and report. Regardless, remember if you don't carry a balance you won't pay interest. Simple as that.
If you travel internationally, an expense you need to be aware of is that both of these credit cards will charge you a 3% foreign transaction fee. During the last couple years a lot of the travel cards which are in similar price points (around $100) have dropped this fee, but US Airways is still changing it.
Is it the right choice for you in 2013?
The benefits (especially the companion airfare perk) will make sense for a lot of people, but caveat emptor about blackout dates and restrictions.
What are the requirements for approval? Like almost every credit card, Barclays doesn't publish that information. But if it's any help, according to one independent survey I read on another website, 74% US Airways card holders had a credit score of 701 or above (based on their sampling). So do you need good credit to get approved? Yep. If you have bad credit, try for an entry-level unsecured card instead.
Here is the best signup promotion from US Airways right now:
On the other hand, if you prefer a travel card that does not restrict you to a specific airline, then I would highly recommend this offer from Capital One.
They won't give the promised companion certificates to me
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.
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.
AMEX Platinum/US Air Mastercard Combo and Review
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.
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.
US Airways Credit Card
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.
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
- AMEX SPG
- Chase Freedom
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.
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.