Credit card planning in light of the AA / US Airways merger


Now that the AA / US Airways merger seems to have cleared the last major hurdle, we need to think about how to prepare.  Citibank will continue to carry American Airlines branded cards and so Barclaycard’s US Airways cards will, at some point, go away.  Clearly, if you don’t already have a US Airways card, it makes sense to go for the signup bonus before its too late.  A reader contacted me with the opposite situation, though: he has a US Airways card, but not the Barclaycard Arrival card.  Will the US Airways card be replaced with the Arrival card?  If so, should he cancel the US Airways card now so that he’ll be eligible for the Arrival card signup bonus later?

I thought this was an interesting question.  It does seem likely that Barclaycard will replace the US Airways card with the Arrival card (see, for example, this post by Rapid Travel Chai).  Assuming that’s true, how do we ensure that we don’t lose out on the current 40K signup bonus for the Arrival card?

The question assumes that having one Arrival card (transitioned from a US Airways card) means that it would be hard to get a signup bonus for a second one.  That’s not necessarily true, but I do think its reasonable to assume that getting a second one is harder than getting a first one.  Given that, I suggested that he either: 1) sign up for the Arrival card now; or 2) cancel his US Airways card now (or soon) so that he can sign up for the Arrival card later when he’s ready to.

I’m in a similar situation.  I have two US Airways cards, but don’t yet have the Arrival card.  I think I’ll sign up for the Arrival card before the end of the year and then wait to see what they do with the US Airways cards.  Maybe they’ll offer an incentive to stay a Barclaycard customer?  We’ll see.

Both of the Barclaycard cards, in question, have good signup bonuses, so it would be a shame to miss out on either.  Given that, here’s my recommendation for what to do, based on your situation (and assuming that you want to secure both signup bonuses):

If you have neither card:

Sign up for both the US Airways card and the Arrival card.  Barclaycard can be tough with approvals so signup first for the US Airways card.  You could try again next year for the Arrival card if you’re not approved for that one.

If you have the Arrival card, but not the US Airways card:

Sign up for the US Airways card before it’s too late.

If you have the US Airways card, but not the Arrival card:

Sign up for the Arrival card before your US Airways card is converted to an Arrival card, or cancel your US Airways card before it is converted so as to give you more time.

If you already have both cards:

There’s no reason to do anything at this point.  You could try getting a second US Airways card, but Barclaycard has become increasingly stingy with approvals in these cases so it would likely be a wasted credit inquiry.

What is your strategy?  What are you going to do?

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