The question that matters about the US Airways credit card

Signup bonuses play a vanishingly small role in my miles and points strategy. They consume, on the other hand, approximately 95% of the the attention of most miles and points bloggers, one reason I scarcely read any other bloggers these days. It's trivially easy to manufacture 100,000 American AAdvantage miles should you foresee a need for them, while most bloggers will tell you only a madman would forego the chance to "opportunistically" acquire them at a cost of just $250. Then, as if to emphasize the absurdity, they spill even more ink over a 5,000 Starpoint increase in the signup bonus for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card!

Ongoing benefits (like companion tickets) and lucrative bonus categories are miles ahead of signup bonuses in my decision making.

So in all the supposed "assessments" of changes to the Barclaycard US Airways MasterCard after the merger with American Airlines is completed (for example see here, here, here) I always look for one piece of information that's invariably missing: what's going to happen to the 10,000 miles anniversary bonus offered by the US Airways MasterCard once it becomes an AAdvantage card?

Barclaycard hasn't made a decision yet

It's clear that if Barclaycard had made a decision about what's going to happen to the "anniversary mile" version of the card, they would have shared it. In fact, they've already mailed out an update on what changes will be made to the card's ongoing benefits (eliminating the card's companion ticket and 5,000 mile discount on award bookings, most notably).

But they haven't shared what's going to happen to the anniversary miles.

Barclaycard wrote oddly specific terms and conditions

Let me preface this by saying the terms and conditions of the US Airways MasterCard include the same language found on all such documents:

"The APRs, fees, and other account terms, as well as the benefits and features associated with the account are subject to change to the extent permitted by law."

That being said, the language related to the anniversary miles is extremely specific:

"Anniversary Bonus Miles: Beginning with the first anniversary of Account opening and every anniversary thereafter, Cardmembers will be awarded 10,000 Anniversary Miles."

Barclaycard has a very expensive team of lawyers

If Barclaycard believed that they could eliminate the anniversary bonus miles without legal risk, they would do so. The fact that they claim not to have made a decision yet is strongly dispositive to me that they believe they do not have the ability to eliminate the anniversary bonus miles for cardholders who signed up for the card under that offer.

Credit card contracts are different than loyalty program terms and conditions

Loyalty program terms and conditions as written today have a plethora of conditions that protect the provider from any legal liability for future enhancements (devaluations) to the program.

Credit card terms and conditions, on the other hand, are real contracts entered into between customers and banks for mutual benefit, and there are substantially more restrictions on the kinds of changes that can be made to them, with or without notice.

Further, Barclaycard is bound by state consumer protection laws and would be vulnerable to claims in every state they have cardholders if they were to make a change they didn't believe was airtight from their lawyer's point of view.


I don't know anything more than anyone else pontificating about the coming changes to the US Airways credit card. But whenever you see an article purporting to explain those changes, now you know what to look for: does the author have any additional information about the anniversary miles, or are they just reciting their Barclaycard-approved talking points?