[updated] Who decides what the best credit card offer is?

[update 4/30/14 11:21 pm: I see that the 30,000 mile offer with anniversary bonus has been publicly posted on FlyerTalk, so I've included a direct link to it below]


This afternoon I got into what turned into a very interesting discussion on Twitter with The Points Guy over the new BarclayCard US Airways MasterCard link that you may have spotted on all your favorite blogs this morning.

I signed up for the card in January as part of my Blue Cash application cycle and received 35,000 US Airways miles after my first purchase. Historically, there have been a lot of signup offers available for this card, and I felt that was the best one for me, given that I basically never fly US Airways and will never put another dollar in spend on the card.

Who wants an anniversary bonus?

The discussion arose because Barclaycard has issued a new affiliate link for the US Airways MasterCard, offering 40,000 miles after first purchase but with no 10,000 mile anniversary bonus.

Amazingly, Mommy Points was the only one of 4 bloggers I saw writing about this offer today who saw fit to mention that there's no anniversary bonus, which has been a feature of this card for years now.

Which led me to ask the following question on Twitter:

What's the difference?

As The Points Guy points out, both the 40,000 mile and 30,000 mile offer give a companion ticket on the account anniversary, meaning for the first two years of card membership, the only difference is that the 40,000 mile offer gives you 40,000 miles after first purchase, whereas the 30,000 mile offer requires you to wait a year to collect the last 10,000 miles (as reader Paul points out, you can cancel the card and not pay the second year's annual fee, while still collecting your anniversary miles).

The difference comes in the third and subsequent years — and yes, that means after the card has been reissued as an American AAdvantage MasterCard, probably sometime next year and after new applications stop being accepted. Those of us with the "anniversary bonus" version of the card will still be earning 10,000 AAdvantage miles per year, two $118 companion tickets, and be able to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles by spending $25,000 on the card each calendar year.

While those who sign up with The Points Guy's link will have canceled their card years before.

Who decides what the best offer is?

Lots of people criticize affiliate bloggers for promoting their own links at the expense of better, non-commissioned application offers, but I actually find that to be a vanishingly rare phenomenon (promoting cards that no one should actually carry is a different, and serious, issue).

While they usually won't link to better offers directly, at least the top bloggers understand the reputational consequences of promoting a strictly inferior link, so will send readers off to other blogs or forums where those applications can be found.

But what about situations where the offers are so different that a strict comparison is impossible? In those situations, my gut would tell me to give my readers the options together with my analysis, and let them decide for themselves.


Since this is my blog, I'll do the gentlemanly thing and give The Points Guy the last word: