US Airways MasterCard: The Dark Horse of Spending Bonuses

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I’ll be the first to admit that I primarily got the US Airways MasterCard for two reasons. First, I was hoping for an easy hit in the 2012 US Airways Grand Slam that never happened. Second, I wanted the 40,000 US Airways miles that were awarded after the first purchase with the card. I didn’t really intend to put a substantial amount of spending on the card throughout the year, but it turns out that that this card is really the surprise dark horse of spending bonuses.

A few months after I got the card (and barely used it) I was targeted for a promotion that awarded 15,000 bonus miles if I spent $1,250 on the card each month for three consecutive months. I met the requirement, and the miles posted within a couple of weeks. Shortly after that I was targeted for a promotion that awarded 5x miles on the first $500 in spending over the summer at gas stations, drug stores, and amusement parks. I finished with that promotion recently and am waiting on those bonus miles.

Then a few days ago I received another targeted promotion that again awards 5x miles on the first $500 in spending, but this time in restaurants, department stores, and electronics stores over the next few months. In all, that will be a total of 20,000 bonus miles on that card for a very reasonable amount of spending over a 12 month period. It’s not quite as lucrative as a sign-up bonus, but it’s not too bad either.

This is in addition to some of the other perks, like the current 2x elite and redeemable miles promotion if you pay for US Airways flights with this card through 10/31 (registration required). The US Airways MasterCard also saves you 5,000 on each US Airways award ticket on US Airways flights. I booked two award tickets on US Airways metal this year, so that is another 10,000 miles that this card saved my family. I have to admit that I didn’t use the $99 companion tickets this year. The companion ticket can be a really good deal, but it didn’t work out very well for me since it has to be used for US Airways flights, and for me that meant that a connection – something I didn’t want to do with my family when their were direct flights available on United.

These spending promotions were targeted, but many people who have this card seem to be targeted in a similar pattern. From what I have gathered, it makes sense to get this card and then not use it heavily after making your first purchase. This seems to increase the likelihood of getting targeted for similar offers to encourage you to use the card.

This is a card that has historically been “churnable”. In fact, it was common for people to have more than one US Airways MasterCard active at one time. Barclays seems to have clamped down on this some, and it is getting harder to justify the need for a second card. I don’t think it is impossible, but there are many more problems reported with getting a second card than in the past. That is important because it may mean that you need to cancel your current US Airways card and wait a bit before applying for another if you want to churn this card. In other words, it’s become a “slow churn” instead of one that you can just crank out over and over again. I’d love to hear recent experiences with this!

As long as they continue to give me a good chunk of bonus points for spending and category bonuses (as well as the other standard benefits) I am likely to hang on to this card for a while even with the $89 annual fee. I will probably drop it at some point so I can get it (and the sign-up bonus) again, but I’m going to at least keep it through the second year. I don’t like to establish a pattern of dumping everything at the one year mark, and the surprise spending bonuses are enough to keep me interested for another year.

Have you been receiving any targeted promotions for this card? What are you plans for the card after getting the sign-up bonus?

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  1. I have to agree that this card has become a power horse after being targeted for 15,000 after $750 in spend over 3 months shortly after getting the card. I am in the middle of that now, so we’ll see what happens after I stop using the card come November.

  2. I never got the targeted promotions after signing up for it about 14 months ago. However, it was my regualr use card for about 8 months until I got my SPG Amex. I haven’t used this one at all for about 2 months now, so hoping for a targeted bonus sometime. My wife however signed up for it about two months ago, and I told her to buy one thing and not anything else with it. Sure enough, she just got a targeted “spend $750/mo for 3 months, get 15k miles” promo, so that strategy seems fairly reliable.

  3. I never got a Barclay’s card until recently. I got this one, and my wife got the NFL card ($200 after first purchase). We both get regular bonus spending promos (the ones you mentioned, and we just got NFL – 5X bonus points at restaurants, department stores, and electronics stores from October 1 through December 31. Up to 2500 bonus points per month ($500 spend/month).). It seems that it’s something that Barclay’s does with more than just this card.

  4. MP,

    Any behind the scenes scoop on GS2012 official death? When was announcement sent in 2011 and how long prior to the first day of launch?

    I was targeted for Barclay’s $500 5x spend per month, but not targeted for others. Curious that both CitiAA and now Barclays each targeted me exactly 90 days prior to annual fee coming due. So, are the bonus points really worth the annual fee?

  5. My wife also received the offer for 15k for $750 in purchases for three months, but I did not. Again, it does seem to point to (lack of) activity on the card, because I was using it more regularly than she was, and thus apparently didn’t get the offer 🙁

  6. I applied for a second World Card last month. No instant approval but called up immediatly and they approved me. This brings me to 4 total; 2 world card, plat card and a business. I’m thinking I will cancel my newest card after i renew next year.hard to beat 10,000 miles each year for $89 but 40,000 free does

  7. @InaCents, great promo!
    @G. David, thanks for sharing. Hopefully you will get some promo love soon.
    @Steve, good to know. Thanks!
    @Rich A, are you using your card? How long have you had it?
    @caveman, it took a few months for me to get targeted the first time. Hopefully yours will come in the next month or two.
    @fauxblogger, the points by themselves aren’t worth the annual fee, but they do weigh into the overall equation. I have no behind the scenes info on the GS. US Airways is tight lipped on that one. Last year it was announced in Aug and started 9/15. Clearly that (sadly) didn’t happen this year.
    @Keith, thanks for confirming the pattern of getting targeted for limited use!
    @Dave, ha ha. Nice!
    @Heels05, good to know it is still working for some!
    @IPBrian, I didn’t even get into the 10K bonus in this post because I think it is an issue all its own. In short, it is one of the biggest myths in the miles and points community. Some of the cards do give 10K bonus RDMs each year, but some do not. They just convert 10K miles to premier qualifying if you spend $25K annually on the card. I thought mine was getting 10K miles, but now that I look at the benefits online it isn’t listed, so I am guessing I don’t have one of the versions that does award that bonus. I’ll find out for sure in a few months. Very confusing.

  8. No targeted offers for me! I’ve had the card almost a year now and have only put a couple small purchases on it when it was first opened. Do you normally receive the offers by mail or email?

  9. I have not been targeted…I stopped using it about 3 months ago, although I do have a $3K 0% interest loan on it right now. Also, does anyone know if the $99 companion pass is annual or a one-time deal? I never got around to using it.

  10. it says that
    Offer available to Dividend Miles members currently with Chairman’s Preferred Status only

    Does it matter? Do they check?

  11. I used that offer a few months ago, and though I’m only silver, got the 40k bonus. Others have reported success at levels other than chairmans’–I don’t think they check.

  12. @James, what was the reason? I have heard many stories of this one getting tougher. Another reason I am hanging on to mine at least for now.
    @Johnny, that link is the one of a FT thread and it seems to work just fine from what I know.
    @Jane, that is my understanding as well.
    @tassojunior, absolutely. I think that the 5K off is in the post somewhere. I love that benefit!
    @HikerT, I usually put links regardless of whether they are mine or not, but it was late and I missed it. I miss my own links sometimes, too! Sleep won out. 😉

  13. I got the card more than 6 months ago, made a couple of purchases then stopped using it. I didn’t get the first two offers, but the 5X points on the first $500 spent at restaurants and stores appeared in the post this week. Of course I will try to do this along with my other credit card spends I am trying to complete this quarter. I too got it to be positioned for the Grand Slam, which I only dabbled in last year.

  14. I received a letter stating that my account will renew on 9/28/2012 (meaning annual fee will be charged), but already in my Dividend Miles account I have

    09/06/12 US WORLD CARD: EVERYDAY 50% BONUS 10,000

    Is this the anniversary bonus or something else? T&C state that 10,000 anniversary bonus miles will be awarded on the billing statement *following* payment of annual fee.

    The card benefits in online account have no mention of the 10,000 Anniversary Bonus Miles but the paper T&C re that come with the card has it clearly listed.

  15. signed up and got approved with 5K limit
    also applied for the Citi Platimun select and got approved for 20K!!!
    Since I getting hit with a credit report might as well apply for 2 cards at the same time.

  16. Got the card about two months ago. Completed the spend for the 40K. No targeted offers yet. If there aren’t any good ones I will drop it before annual fee. I don’t think the annual companion pass is worth it to me.

  17. @Laura, glad you were targeted for this promo. Hope you get more in the future!
    @Kroozer, I am hoping that is the case with my account as well. I would guess those are the bonus anniversary miles,but the description of the miles is a bit odd.
    @Johnny, it generally makes sense to go for multiple in the same day. Congrats!
    @Carl, hopefully they will come your way soon.

  18. I too received the 15k pts for $1250 per month for 3 consec offer however after 4 weeks mine still have not posted. I’m a week from calling.

  19. My husband and I each signed up for the card a couple months ago, and got the 15,000 offer if we spend $750 each month over 3 months. We only had one or two small expenses on each card before we got the offer.

    We are pretty new to this game, so forgive me, but I have a question. We are taking a trip to Florida in a few months (our son will still be under two, barely), and we’re unsure if we should use the US Airways companion pass (so around $400 total), or use miles. I don’t want our passes to go to waste, but I want to make sure it’s a good deal. However, it seems like the pass is only good for roundtrip, so if we decide to fly home from a different city after visiting friends, it might influence our decision.

  20. I too never expected to use this card much. I received a similar targeted offer, but for three months of $750 spend to get 15k miles. As such, I’ve been using this card at the beginning of each month an then finishing off the month with my CSP card.

  21. My husband and I both have this card, neither of us used it much. However he was targetted for the recent spend $750 in Aug, Sept, Oct and get the bonus 15k points. Me, I got nada. I’ve decided I won’t use the card unless a target bonus offer comes my way. I can be patient.

  22. the companion pass was very easy to use and gave us a great value. For a family of 5 to travel on 2 full price tickets plus 3 $99 tickets was a fantastic deal!

    We made a list of all the non-stop destinations for US Airways out of our home airport, and we’ll try to include one in our travel plans each year. We like to save our miles and points for non-domestic trips so the companion pass is great for domestic long-weekend type trips.


  23. I got via email today an offer that read, “Use your US Airways Dividend Miles® MasterCard® at your favorite department store, electronics store or restaurant (including fast food), and earn 2 bonus miles for every dollar in purchases that posts to your account—up to 2,500 bonus miles—October 1 through December 31, 2012.” Not clear to me if that means 1 bonus mile in addition to the standard 1 mile, or 2 for a total of 3 miles per purchase. 2,500 miles isn’t a lot, but it’s something. Haven’t received any other targeted offers.

  24. I finally got targeted for a US Airways Bonus–the same as some of you are talking about above–earn 5x bonus, up to 2500 (i.e. $500 in spending) at restaurants (including fast food), department stores, and electronics stores b/n Oct 1 and Dec 31.

    @Greg–you might want to reread your offer and make sure it isn’t 5x bonus rather than 2x bonus.

    It should not be too hard to get to $500 in spending at restaurants in three months…I just don’t know to what extent I will use this Card at department stores/electronic stores when a lot of times it is more valuable to go through UR Portal–of course, I just have to remember to pay with my US Airways card rather than my Chase Sapphire Preferred at restaraunts.

    One thing is unclear–if I go through the US Airways Shopping Portal, lets say for Best Buy, could I then get the 1x bonus for the shopping portal AND the 5x bonus points under this offer? Not sure, but that could be really beneficial if Macy’s or Best Buy etc. ran an unexpected bonus (like around Black Friday weekend). The terms and conditions state:

    Qualified cardmembers…will earn 5 bonus miles for every one dollar ($1) in new purchase(s) at restaurants, fast food restaurants, department stores and electronics stores (that are not later returned or rescinded) that post to their account between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, up to a maximum of 2,500 bonus miles. Eligible restaurant, fast food restaurant, department store and electronics store purchases are defined by merchant category codes. Each merchant designates a category code to assign to purchases at its establishment.

    The thing that I don’t know is whether shopping on-line through a portal will generate the necessary code. @Mommypoints, do you know the answer to this?

    Another thing to keep in mind for those who get this offer. If you are registered for US Airways Dividend Dining (as opposed to Delta, United, etc.), this offer turns what would otherwise be 1x dividend miles into 10x dividend miles. Breakdown: 5x for the targeted bonus and 5x for the dividend dining miles bonus(assuming you are registered and already have 3 qualified dines–you would get your 5x on Delta, United, etc. otherwise). So, $500 in spending at those restaurants becomes 5000 Dividend miles. Of course, that means that you lose your 2.14 UR points when used at those restaurants. Unfortunately my local sports bar where I watch my Chiefs games are not on the Dividend Miles list and no real good ones are that are near me. Whom, Whom, Whom (sad trombone).

  25. @G – yep, I even copied and pasted the text out of the email I got, 2 bonus miles for every dollar – so the same potential bonus miles, but way more spending ($1,250 vs. $500) needed to get to 2,500 points with 2x rather than 5x bonus. First promotion I’ve been targeted for; maybe they want to see if I put spending on the card (I basically haven’t put anything on it since I signed up) before giving me a more lucrative bonus?

  26. @Greg – That stinks. Well, I can tell you that I used to use this card all the time before I got more wise on points, so maybe that is it. I have not used this card a whole lot in the last 9 months since I got a Chase Sapphire Preferred. I only really maintain the card for the reduced redemption rate anyway…and the new possibility of targeted bonuses 🙂 I really wish I had been targeted for that $750 spend for 15K bonus miles.

    Well, if you have any need for buying things at an electronic store or a department store, then you are getting more points than otherwise with some other cards. For instance, if you need to buy a TV for any reason and want to buy it at a Best Buy, you would get 2x as opposed to 1x points…I haven’t seen any real good UR bonus points (other than the recent 5x at Sears) for buying electronics anyway.

  27. @G – Except I have the Freedom, which in Q4 is 5x on airlines, hotels, and Best Buy and Kohl’s. I don’t think I have another card that gets anything better on restaurants than 2x for the upcoming quarter, so I could shift spending from Sapphire to US Airways card – question is do I value Ultimate Rewards points more than US Airways – I think I probably do, UR points are more flexible.

  28. I dont have this card right now but I can tell you that the issuing bank Barclays/Juniper is definitely a strange outfit. I have never been able to keep more than one card open with them. They always refuse a second card. I have the Travelocity card from them. they actually have offered some decent 0% and low balance transfer deals over the years and they are always mailing those out to me/ Also their customer service is pretty weak, especially any questions about rewards. For a while people could not even redeem travelocity awards online. (total mess) Eventually Ill try this one.

  29. I keep churning this card like crazy in anticipation of the US Airways/American Airlines merger. I have limited use for Dividend Miles otherwise, as redemption at levels I would prefer seems next to impossible.

  30. @Greg: UR 2x points at restaurants is more valuable at face value for the simple reason that you get the yearly dividend as well. That makes it 2.14 points per dollar spent as opposed to 2 dividend miles per dollar spent. Plus, you can take those UR miles and turn them into United miles which can be usedon Star Alliance.

    However, one thing to remember is the discount for redeeming US Airways miles on US Airways flights. The US Airways Dividend Miles become more valuable for that limited purpose. So, if you are close to a roundtrip with the discount in US Airways dividend miles, it might be more worth it to you to grab those bonus points to get closer. Otherwise, this targeted offer is really not that great for you.

  31. I currently have the US Airways Divedend Miles Visa Signature card issued by Bank of America. I was just on a US Airways flight this morning and was tempted to add the MasterCard to my list of cards to apply to in the future. Do you know if one is eligible for the sign-up bonus on the MasterCard if they have a US Airways Visa?

  32. That is so interesting about the 10k anniversary bonus! As with probably many other people, I had assumed that my US Airways card would get a 10k bonus, but I agree, looking online at the Barclay site with the various benefits shown for my card, I don’t see any reference to such an anniversary bonus. I applied for the card through this link (, which does list the 10k anniversary bonus, and I did get the listed 40k bonus after first use, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I get the 10k anniversary bonus as well…

  33. I think the 10,000 anniversary bonus is a hidden benefit. I couldn’t find it anywhere in my terms, but just as I was getting ready to cancel, I saw 10,000 miles in my account. The description was bizarre so I assumed it was the anniversary bonus.

    My annual fee posted 7/31/12.

    And what I assume is the anniversary bonus was posted a couple weeks prior. It is marked as bonus, not preferred miles.
    7/14/2012 07/16/12 US WORLD CARD: EVERYDAY 50% BONUS 10,000

    I also had success getting a second card in August 2012.

  34. I think I remember getting a letter in the mail telling me about my anniversary bonus of miles if I kept the card about a month before my anniversary.

  35. Rachel- Do you have your terms and conditions agreement that came with the card with the July anniversary date? I got my first card in July of 2011, and could have sworn it had the 10,000 anniversary bonus, but they didn’t give it to me, and said I need my terms and conditions (which I don’t have). I too recently got a 2nd card, and the terms and conditions with that definitely says 10,000 anniversary miles.

  36. This is a bit late now but I have been keeping an eye on my mail since I saw this post, and I’m happy to report I got the 15,000 miles for $750/month spend for 3 months today! To add a data point, it was about 6 weeks from my first (and so far only) use of the card to receiving the offer for spending in Nov, Dec, Jan.

  37. How long did it take to get the 40k miles? I’ve got the card, paid off the first bill and would like to use those miles soon. Any idea on how long it should take? Thanks

    • @Rick, it has been a while since I got the card so I don’t remember how long the sign-up bonus points took. I bet it says something like 6-8 weeks, but I don’t remember from personal experience. Sorry!!

  38. Applied and got the card in Feb/2012
    Used the card 5 times (about $70 total charges) and paid the entire statement.
    Received Bonus 40K in March.
    Didn’t use the card in April.
    Received offer extra 15K if spent $1250 in May,June, and July.
    Complied with the 15K offer and received the extra miles in September.
    Received extra 10K – “US WORLD CARD: EVERYDAY 50% BONUS” in Feb/2013 prior to my anniversary. Not sure if it’s the anniversary bonus or perhaps related to the Million Miles&More sweepstakes they had between August-December.

  39. Question. I have the USAirways card and just had my first $89 annual fee post along with the 10K miles to my FF account. 2 nights ago I applied for another 35K mile card and got approved. How ‘inappropriate’ would it be for me to cancel my old card, have them rescind the annual fee, and just work with the new card? I assume they can’t claw the miles back. I’m fine with paying the annual fee since I received the miles, but I’m also fine with not doing that…

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