Consumer Payment Card News

Super United Card

The merger of United Airlines and US Airways will undoubtedly give frequent flyer members the ultimate in earning power and travel flexibility. It will also be a bonanza for holders of the bank credit card versions of each program. The current United Airlines Mileage Plus program offers members the ability to earn and redeem miles through its Star Alliance and Partners program. Star Alliance participating airlines include Air Canada; Air New Zealand; All Nippon Airways; Ansett Australia; Lufthansa; SAS; THAI; and VARIG. Airlines partners include Aeromar; Air ALM; Aloha Airlines; British Midland; Cayman Airways; Delta Air Lines; LAPA; Mexicana; Saudi Arabian Airlines; and Singapore Airlines. The US Airways Dividend Miles program has similar relationships with other airlines whereby members can rack up miles. US Airways airline partners include Alitalia; Austrian Airlines; Latin Pass; Northwest Airlines; Qantas; Sabena; and Swissair. It is not clear which partnerships will continue after the merger since some of partners from each airline are direct competitors. But what is clear it that members of both airline programs will be able to earn and redeem travel credit throughout the world through a single program. US Airways Dividend Miles members can reasonably expect to receive full credit from United for all miles earned to-date. This could be bad news for United Mileage Plus cardholders, since it increases competition for the most desirable seats to the choicest destinations. What happens to the bank credit card programs is unclear. Bank One/First USA handles the United program while Bank of America runs the US Airways bank card program. It may take a while to combine the programs. Both programs have similar pricing structures, however the annual fee for the basic United Airlines Mileage Plus VISA is $10 more per year than the US Airways Dividend Miles VISA. Once the frequent flyer programs have been combined there is no doubt it will become a super United program.

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