Be Careful with the Barclays US Air Card

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Million Mile Secrets reader Ben posted his experience on trying to get the Barclays US Bank credit card for a second time.  A couple of other readers have emailed me with the same experience, so I thought I’d share it on the blog.  I realize that 3 reports does not a representative sample make!

I had written earlier that Emily was able to get a second US Air credit card, but that I wasn’t able to.

It turns out that Ben and 2 other readers applied for a second Barclay’s US Air card and were denied.  So they called the reconsideration line to negotiate approval.  And here’s the concerning part – the credit analyst noticed that there were recent inquiries and new cards opened and closed the readers existing US Air card!

If the US Air card isn’t your oldest and the credit line isn’t a significant portion of your overall credit limit, this shouldn’t have a big impact on your credit score.

Here’s what Ben wrote in the comments:

be caution of Barclay US airway card, today, after I tried to apply for the 2nd card, i not only got declined, they closed down my first card either. this is really a shock to me. they said, even though my credit score and income are not the issue, they concerned about too many inquiries and cards over the last 12 months.
I am ok with their decision and specifically asked whether or not i am banned from Barclay, they said “no, you are more than welcome to apply in a future time”, though I don’t think i will in the next 12 months. JUST FYI.

I don’t want to sound the panic since others have been able to get another (or more) US Air cards, but just wanted to let folks know.  In my experience and observation, Barclays is a very conservative bank.  The credit lines on their cards are much lower than the credit lines on American Express, Citi or Chase, and at one point they were asking for proof of US residency before approving applications.

So closing down accounts because of too many inquires and new accounts is in keeping with their conservative attitude towards lending.  And lets not forget, that banks are under no obligation to extend credit to us and have to run their business prudently.

Bottom Line:  Some folks are still able to get approved for another US Air credit card, but a few also have their existing Barclays accounts closed when they call the reconsideration line.

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40 responses to “Be Careful with the Barclays US Air Card

  1. That’s probably a new policy cause I applied for a second one while having the first one open and they approved it no problem. This was around six months ago more or less.

  2. What happens when they close your account? Do you still keep the miles you previously had?

  3. This has been reported for as long as people have been reporting the card churn-able. I have 25+ inquiries and when I applied for my second card they denied me twice. Neither CSR made any move towards closing my card.

  4. You won’t loose your miles depending on how long your account has been open; however, you will have a bad mark on your credit report.

  5. If they did that to me, I would complain to the appropriate regulatory agency. (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?–haven’t checked to see if that is the right agency).

    Especially if the person had very good credit and paid their bills on time. They closed down an account of mine several years ago but I applied for two cards since then for the bonuses. Also my wife applied twice and got the bonus both times.

    They give horrible (low!) CL’s compared to my other cards. I just do my one small spend to get the bonus and put in the drawer. My only other use of the card is when I am taking advantage of the 5K discount for redeeming on US metal. I have to pay on the card to get the 5K mileage discount.

  6. JapanMiles, having your card closed will not leave a bad mark on your credit. The category will be “closed by credit grantor”, but that does not affect your credit score in any way. And the history of the card will still be on your report for 7-10 years. What might affect your score is if the closure of the card changes your utilization significantly.

  7. Concerning Barclay having low credit lines, I have found the opposite to be true. They opened my account with a 20k limit (much higher than any of my Citi or Chase cards) and within 8 months sent me a letter increasing it to 23k.

  8. Barclay’s Bank very conservative about who they lend money to…

    I found ironic that Barclay’s was so quick to close an account because of too many inquiries… while they had no problem on “churning” the Libor themselves. Hey, do what I say, not what I do! LOL!

  9. Interesting and disappointing, since I had read about the churnability of this card. Question: What’s the policy on closing the existing card and then reapplying sometime in the future?

  10. Talk about inconsistency! I recently got married and couldn’t find an easy FAQ about changing my name. Given that people have had success with two cards, I thought what the heck and applied for a second under my new married name. When I called them they said they could just change my name on my existing account or give me a second card. I didn’t even have to ask for the second one, the rep offered it. That was just a few weeks ago! All I had to do was split my credit limit.

  11. Well that sucks. I was going to try to churn it soon, but the US Air card was my first credit card, which I am counting on to establish a long credit history, and I don’t want to risk losing that or the 10k miles my wife and I each get on the anniversary. Damn.

  12. Barclays is extremely YMMV with this. I was able to get a second card (with many recent new accounts) without even closing the first one, but I have also heard multiple reports of getting closed down. Think it mostly depends on the rep.

  13. I continue to churn this card successfully for myself and three family members. but you need to be smart about this:

    1) clear TU inquiries through “bumpage” as described here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/credit-card-programs/1365717-credit-bureau-freeze-eq-tu-inquiry-bumpage-churning-success.html with much more details on creditboards (smartcredit.com is the only one that works for TU bumpage)
    2) close down old US Air card a couple of months before churn
    3) apply ! if your TU score is high enough you will get instant approval
    4) if you need to call in they will not see the recent inquires as you would have bumped them off your TU report

  14. I just got approved for a 2nd card. no problem at all

  15. I’ve said this many times. I churned this card almost ceaselessly in 2008/2009, all while maintaining the original one opened in 2006. They now will not ever approve me for any additional card, be it personal or small biz, and until this year would always decline immediately without even a Transunion credit check. Now they do the credit check and still decline either card for the same reason: sufficient credit on existing account. Clearly they’re aware I earned in excess of 200K miles (back in the days of 25K sign-up bonuses) and know full well what I was doing.

    • @Maury – It seems to work for some folks and not for others.

      @Mike
      – The miles are yours as long as they are in your US Air account.

      @JapanMiles – Thanks for sharing! 25+ inquiries? Wow. As Lisa points out, having the card closed by the issuer doesn’t impact your credit score.

      @chemist661
      – The 5K discount is a good perk as is the 10K annual mile bonus and spending on the card counts towards a hit on the grand slam.

      @Lisa – Exactly. Having it closed by the grantor doesn’t impact your credit score.

      @Lovaduck – Ha!

      @Michael – I don’t have personal experience, but the readers were told they could reapply later on.

      @Rachel – Hmmm… perhaps Emily should try this!

      @Ryan
      – If you don’t have many recent inquiries or new cards, it could be ok. But I wouldn’t want my oldest card closed.

      @gloreglabert – If only there was a way of knowing what type of rep you’d get.

      @Titan limousine (ground transport IAD DCA BWI)
      – Very interesting.

      @Ryan from MA – Congrats!

      @ArizonaGuy – “Now they do the credit check and still decline either card for the same reason: sufficient credit on existing account.” – They’re getting back at you for the 200K miles. 🙂

      @J.
      – Thanks for that warning.

  16. Another word of caution: recon pulled all 3 of my reports (including a second TU pull, so 4 total for this one app) and denied me for a second us card (and I have a very good credit profile with high ficos).

  17. I asked the question of my 40k US Airway miles and the CSR told me I am safe, they won’t take it back. I don’t blame on them as it’s really their risk protection department’s decision. however, each person varies. I guess my problem
    1. too many hard pulls on Experian, even though Barclay pulls TU. they do monitor our Experian and EQ credits
    2. too many open accounts >20
    3. short history, my avg history is only a bit over 2 years. even though my TU is 730+.

    if you have long history and very high TU score, i don’t think it really concerns you.

  18. I cancelled my USair Barclays MC earlier in the year and signed up for another in June and still received the 40K bonus miles.

  19. +1 to J’s comment. When I called recon, they also pulled EX and EQ. I did not get 2 hits for TU though. They initially offered me a line of credit, then retracted saying I had too many inquiries as seen on my other 2 reports.

  20. FYI
    When I had credit churn in Feb. I got Amex SPG , AA VISA, AA AMEX, CHASE Marriott. and was declined for the US AIRWAYS card. I applied all of them in the same day or two.

    Later in March, I got Amex Hilton
    In June and July I got Chase Ritz-Carlton and Citi Hilton, without even making a phone call to reconsideration line.

    BUT for the US AIRWAYS, I called but they still DID NOT APPROVE my application.

    Be careful with this bank!!Really SUX!!!

  21. I’ve churned this card about 15 times now since last year and have netted hundreds of thousands of miles. No problems. I always close the original one before churning. Now I just wish they would merge with AA, and these will become Advantage miles.

  22. @Tony

    “15 times now since last year” ???

  23. Thanks for posting this, I’ve been thinking about churning this card for a few weeks now, additional advice always helpful

  24. My wife and I have successfully gotten a second card with them after closing the previous one. But we are fairly conservative with the frequency, cancelling after a year, and then applying again three months after that. Understandably, that would take a long time to get enough miles for a solid international business class ticket…but there’s so many other deals out there (Sapphire, Ink, Citi, SPG), that we don’t mind waiting. 🙂

    If it keeps us in good stead with B-clays for future signups, we’d rather do it this way than risk getting on their radar for declines. Travelhacking is a marathon, not a sprint. 🙂

  25. Same happened to my friend

  26. this whole churn game will not work much longer, it is clear the banks have had enough of this. I earn millions of miles yearly charging my business payments to my cards and by flying, i met the BA 30k$ spend for the bonus and companion ticket 1a week after receiving the card, i really stopped applying for any new cards since see too many apps will finally catch up on me .

  27. @ellen i agree, the sign up and churn miles will be much much harder to get, you are lucky to be able to charge your business bills, the business i am in – a telecom carrier- i can only pay by bank wire.

  28. My wife applied for this card around 4 weeks ago and was instantly approved. This was a part of an app-o-rama along with 4 other cards. She has a credit score in the 740+ range.
    Soon after, the welcome package and associated emails came in including the first statement by email! Everything except for the card itself! When she called in inquiring about the missing card, she was informed that her account had been closed because of multiple credit inquiries on the same day, and that there was nothing that they could do about it.
    Is there any recourse to this at all? Or do we just give up,and try again in a few months?

  29. @MMS – Thought as much 🙁
    It is unfortunate, since this was the very first time that we were applying for the card.

  30. @MMS, @Paul,
    I had the exact same experience…
    I’m planning to call their credit reconsideration line tomorrow; not very hopeful about the outcome I should say, after reading these comments/post.

  31. Update: I called the credit reconsideration line – and they took all the information about me..and finally said “We can’t revert the decision. The account has to continue to stay closed”.

    That’s certainly disappointing.. 🙁

  32. i mentioned this a while back, churning will no longer work for most people, banks are NOT dumb.

  33. Daraius, My brother in law is a CFO at a Forbes 500 co. , his income is over a million $ a year and has perfect credit, guess what? He was declined for Barclays US Airways biz card, for having enough credit with Barclays because he has the personal card?

  34. After 3+ months Barclay closed down my US Airway MC card. I re-applied with my recent app-o-rama and got approved in 24 hours (not instant approval) though.
    It appears that closing out the 1st card should help churning the card. YMMV. FYI.
    it also approved my previous confirmation that even Barclay closed down your account, you are not banned by them, just wait for a while and re-apply. it works!

  35. @Ben- similar experience only when I applied for a second us airways personal they closed my existing personal, business and wyndham card just for good measure… 4 months later got instant approval for personal card again..

  36. Pingback: Churning App-O-Rama | Million Mile Secrets