About US Airways
US Airways is based in Tempe, Arizona, and has major hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Reagan National Airport in DC. It’s great for East Coasters, as it provides hourly service between Boston, New York and DC.
It is part of the Star Alliance, which includes Continental and United Airlines (which have recently merged into one airline), Asiana Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Air Canada, as well as a handful of others. The Star Alliance is considered the top-notch airline alliance, spanning 27 carriers, 1167 destinations and quite a few top-tier lines.
About US Airways Dividend Miles
We estimate US Airways Dividend Miles to be worth about 0.55 cents apiece, just about the bottom of the barrel in value. Therefore, the 40,000-mile signup bonus you get with the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is worth, on average, a mere $220, and the 25,000-mile bonus with the non-Premier MasterCard only $138.
When flying, you earn 1 mile per physical mile flown, with a 50% multiplier for first or business class. You also earn miles on Continental and United. With the credit card, you earn 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways and 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere. Keep in mind the 0.55 cent valuation, though: that knocks the rewards rate down to around a 0.5% base and 1% bonus.
About the credit cards and elite status
US Airways has four elite status tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Chairman’s. As elite status programs go, it’s only decent: you get priority pre-boarding, companion upgrades, and a pretty generous upgrade window, but you don’t get waived change fees or airport lounge access.
The card also doesn’t help you towards elite status: your own your own with those elite qualifying miles. Plus, the cards don’t waive any checked bag fees, so you’re stuck paying $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second.
US Airways Premier World MasterCard: The Premier US Airways card has a $89 annual fee, but gives 2 free companion tickets a year, plus priority check-in and boarding. It also has a decent signup bonus, of 15k on your first purchase and an additional 15k for spending $750 in the first 90 days. You also get 1 mile per $1 of balance transfers up to 10,000 miles. That’s a maximum of 40,000 miles, but remember the 4% balance transfer fee. Rewards alone don’t make a balance transfer worthwhile. However, a major perk is that you can redeem 20,000 miles for a free flight rather than the usual 25,000.
US Airways Credit Card: The lower-fee personal credit card gets you kind of a raw deal: it has a $49 annual fee, and you only earn 1 mile per $1 on all purchases, including at US Airways. You need only pay 20,000 miles for award travel instead of the usual 25,000, but you don’t get the perks of the Premier like priority check-in and Zone 2 boarding, or the complimentary companion tickets. Your signup bonus is also lower: 7,500 miles for your first purchase, an extra 7,500 for spending $750 in the first 90 days, and the same balance transfer deal as the $89 card. If you’re dead set on a US Airways card, the companion tickets themselves make the extra $40 a year worthwhile.
US Airways Business credit card: The US Airways business credit card has a signup bonus of up to 35,000 miles (25k on your first purchase and 1 mile per $1 of transferred debt up to 10k miles), and it also gives one free US Airways Club day pass. It’s a far better deal than the personal equivalent, particularly because the annual fee is only $79. The balance transfer fee is 3%, but one nice and hard-to-find perk is that the maximum per-transfer fee in the first 6 months is $75. If you transfer $10,000 of credit card debt in one go during the intro period, you’re only charged on the first $2,500 of it.
US Airways Business No-Fee: The no-fee business credit card isn’t a great deal: you only get ½ mile per $1 spent, and 1 mile per $1 spent at US Airways. You only get a 5,000-mile signup bonus plus the balance transfer deal. If you don’t want to pay an annual fee, we suggest the Chase Ink, which gives 5% back on office supplies, cable and telecom up to $25k a year; 2% on gas and dining up to $15k a year, and an unlimited 1% elsewhere. Its signup bonus is also quite a bit better: $250 cash back, rather than the US Airways’ bonus, which is worth at most $83.