Last Updated: 12/23/2012
Barclay’s issues two versions of the US Airways credit card: the World Mastercard and the Premier World Mastercard. In this post, we’ll compare the offers, and help you understand why the Premier World Mastercard, despite its higher annual fee, is almost always the better choice.
Note that for a while there was a so-called “hidden gem” offer that we had discovered, which provided a higher sign-up bonus. Sadly, that offer now seems to be available only for those with Chairman Preferred Status, thus we don’t cover it in this post.
The table below compares the USAirways World and World Premier cards.
|US Airways World Mastercard||US Airways Premier World MC|
|Base rewards||1 mile per $1 of spend on all net purchases||2 miles per $1 of spend on USAirways purchases; 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.|
|Balance Transfer Bonus||Earn 1 mile per $1 of any balance transfer done within 90 days of account opening. Earnings capped at 10K miles.||Earn 1 mile per $1 of any balance transfer done within 90 days of account opening. Earnings capped at 10K miles.|
|Waiving Award Processing Fee||No||If you spend $25K or more in a year, the Award processing fee will be waived ($25 per domestic ticket; $35 per mexico/caribbean ticket; $50 per Hawaii or INTL ticket) for 12 months.|
|Companion Ticket Bonus||One(1) $149 companion ticket each year, black-out dates apply; good for travel in the contiguous US and Canada||Two(2) $99 companion certificates each year; black-out dates apply; good for travel in the contiguous US and Canada|
|Redemption Discounnt||5k discount on miles required to redeem awards. Example: ticket normally requiring 25K miles would only require 20K.||5k discount on miles required to redeem awards. Example: ticket normally requiring 25K miles would only require 20K.|
|Sign-up and Spend Range Bonus||15,000 bonus miles after 1st purchase||30,000 bonus miles after 1st purchase|
|Rewards Expiration||Don’t expire as long as account has activity within any 18-month period||Don’t expire as long as account has activity within any 18-month period|
|International Transaction Fee||3% of transaction amount in USD||3% of transaction amount in USD|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Greater of $10 or 3% during 1st 15 billing cycles; after that, $10 or 4% of the transfer, whichever is greater||Greater of $10 or 3% during 1st 15 billing cycles; after that, $10 or 4% of the transfer, whichever is greater|
Earning Rewards with the US Airways Credit Card
If you fly US Airways a lot (or plan to), then the US Airways Premier World Mastercard will benefit you more than the straight-up World Mastercard, since you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar of spend on US Airways purchases, versus just 1 mile for the non-premier version.
Additionally, you’ll earn an extra 15,000 Dividend Miles with the US Airways Premier card, worth about $180 according to GetDebit’s calculations. This incremental bonus alone will cover more than 4 years of the annual fee difference of $40 ($89 for the Premier World versus $49 for the World credit card).
Callout: Real Value in US Airways Companion Tickets
Both the basic USAir World Mastercard and the Premier World Mastercard offer discounted companion tickets each year. The basic USAirways World credit card gives you 1 companion certificate for $149 (not including taxes and fees), good for travel in the continental US and Canada (blackout dates do apply). With an average flight in the US ranging from $300-$400 (or more), it’s safe to say that there’s at least $200 of value here.
The Premier US Airways credit card ups the ante, providing you with a certificate good for 2 companions for $99 (again, not including taxes and fees). Here, with the upside of each ticket at around $250, that’s roughly a $500 bonus each year (more than makes up for the $89 annual fee!). While these certificates do have black-out dates, based on some quick online research, it appears many folks derive value from them, as this Flyertalk post attests to. It’s also worth noting that you need to use the certificate all at once, meaning you’d need to take 2 companions (perhaps a wife and child?) on the same flight.
Callout: Preferred Miles And Award Processing Fee Waiver
When you spend $25K or more in a calendar year with the Premier World credit card, 10,000 of those earned Dividend Miles will be converted from base miles to Preferred Miles. Additionally, after reaching this spend threshold, the USAirways Award Processing Fees will be waived. This is a fee that US Airways charges you when you redeem your awards (go figure–I thought the whole idea of an award was a “free ticket”!) For domestic tickets, US Airways hits you up for $25; Mexico and the Caribbean is $35; and all other international destinations will cost you another $50.
Should I Ever Apply for the US Airways World Credit Card, Or Should I Go For The Premier World Mastercard Version?
As long as you think you’ll be able to use the companion certificate, then this one’s an easy one: you should always go for the Premier version of the World Mastercard. Why? Simple: the incremental $40 in annual fees ($89 for the Premier versus only $49 for the basic US Airways World) is more than offset by the 2 lower-priced companion fares (we estimate their worth to be between $400-$500 per year, easily double the value of the companion ticket earned on the basic card).
Even if you don’t plan on using the companion certificate, the higher sign-up bonus (30K versus 15K miles), plus the 2 miles per dollar of spend on US Airways you’ll get with the US Airways Premier version, all work in favor of the Premier version. If you want to be 100% sure, we recommend you run the GetDebit Ranking Engine, inputting your own unique spend profile, to get a more detailed analysis.
GetDebit’s Closing Thoughts on US Airways Credit Cards
One thought we always like to close on regarding airline cards is that the math and economics are only part of the equation. While one airline loyalty card or another may earn you more or less rewards, if you strongly prefer flying a particular brand, or you find their routes the most convenient, etc, then sometimes the economics become a secondary consideration. We can’t help you much with these qualitative considerations, but at least we can help you fill in the blanks on the quantitative side! GetDebit signing off!