With American Airlines and US Airways merging next year, the US Airways Mastercard issued by Barclays will be converted to an AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard. The new card will have the same features as the Citi Platinum AAdvantage card, leaving many cardholders wondering which card to keep and which one to cancel.
There is one primary difference between the Citi and AAdvantage Aviator Red card: The annual fee on the Barclay card is $89, while the Citi card is $95. The Red AAdvantage card will no longer offer a 5,000 mile award discount, annual $99 companion ticket, or the ability to earn 10,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles after completing $25,000 in annual spend. Instead, it will offer the same benefits as the Citi Platinum AAdvantage card:
- 10% discount on award redemptions (up to 10,000 miles per year)
- Annual $100 flight discount after $30,000 spent
- 25% off in-flight purchases
- First checked bag free
- Priority boarding
It appears the Barclay Red AAdvantage card will not be eligible for AAdvantage Reduced Mileage Awards, though that may change once the card actually becomes available in 2015. The current US Airways card comes with a 10,000 mile annual bonus, which will continue to be paid out once the card converts to the Aviator Red card.
With both cards otherwise offering the same benefits and just a $6 difference in the annual fee, it may be worth keeping both accounts open. Those who earn and redeem over 100,000 miles each year will find value in the 10% award redemption rebate, which is capped at 10,000 miles per year. However, the Aviator Red card will just pay out a flat 10,000 mille renewal bonus each year – so you’ll have to wait some time for the bonus to post, but at least there is no mileage redemption requirement. If you have both cards, you’ll triple your rebate eligibility to 30,000 miles per year. With AAdvantage miles normally valued at 1.8 cents each, this benefit alone easily off-sets each card’s annual fee. However, if you don’t think you’ll maximize this benefit or Reduced Mileage awards, then I’d stick with the Barclay Red AAdvantage card since it has a slightly lower annual fee and the potential to get you up to 20,000 miles back each year.
Another factor to consider is the length of your account history. If your Citi AAdvantage card is three years old and you’ve just picked up the Barclay US Airways card, then it’s better for your credit if you hold on to the older Citi card.
No matter what you decide to do, now is a good time to pick up both cards. Recently Citi increased the publicly available sign-up bonus on the AAdvantage Platinum card to 50,000 miles after $3,000 spent and waiving the annual fee. Meanwhile, US Airways has sent out targeted offers of 50,000 miles after $1,000 spent. Even if you are only eligible for the publicly available 40,000 mile bonus, it’s an easy sign-up bonus with no spending requirements past the first purchase and well worth the $89 annual fee, which isn’t waived.
If the $99 companion ticket and ability to generate elite qualifying miles through spend is important, the premium AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard will offer these benefits. This card will have a $195 annual fee and offer an annual companion ticket after $30,000 spent and 5,000 EQM’s after spending $20,000. A maximum 10,000 EQM’s can be earned this way each year.
No matter what you think you’ll do in 2015, you should absolutely pick up both the Citi Platinum AAdvantage and Barclay US Airways Premier Mastercard now, just for the sign-up bonuses alone. Then, depending on what your travel needs are next year, make your final decision whether to cut or keep either card.
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