Last week's story about the competition between U.S. Bank and American Express for the business of Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Visa credit cardholders brought e-mailed questions from readers.
The WorldPerks Visa program ends in August because Delta, which acquired Northwest, has its own American Express SkyMiles rewards program. U.S. Bank, which has run the WorldPerks Visa program, wants to keep those customers and is offering them a FlexPerks card, a travel rewards card unaffiliated with any one airline.
Delta sued in federal court to stop U.S. Bank from moving WorldPerks customers to FlexPerks, noting customers couldn't earn WorldPerks miles through August, when the program is to expire. The parties came to an agreement, though they were mum on details. But the answer to the first question below sheds some light.
Q I was informed by U.S. Bank that all new activity after May 12 was FlexPerks award points. I'd love to hang in there until August.
MARK GALLAGHER, CHICAGO
A WorldPerks cardholders will get their FlexPerks cards in May and June and be given a date when they can start using the new card, U.S. Bank says. For about 30 days after that, you can earn both WorldPerks miles and FlexPerks points, regardless of whether you use the old WorldPerks or new FlexPerks card. After those 30 days, you can no longer use the WorldPerks Visa card, and the new FlexPerks card will not earn WorldPerks miles. U.S. Bank expects to have all cardholders past the 30-day window by early July.
Q I went through the application process for Amex SkyMiles card, and it showed up in the mailbox all shiny and new with its $2,000 credit limit. I was told that all new cardholders are given a $2,000 maximum unless they are existing customers. Is this true?
MARK GALLAGHER, CHICAGO
A No, it does not have a preset credit limit for new cardholders. American Express says it evaluates applications for new cards on a case-by-case basis and looks at several factors, including credit scores, income, overall debt and any American Express payment history.
Q We have an existing Amex card. We don't want to reapply, we want to know if we can convert our existing card and still enjoy our rewards points and earn frequent-flier miles.
TERRY AND MAUREEN YOUNG, WAYZATA
A No. You'll need to apply for a new card.
Q Will Delta/Northwest cardholders receive preference for frequent-flier seats? Will U.S. Bank cardholders receive the message "no seats available" for the same flight?
JERRY KIRAL, BLOOMINGTON
A No, FlexPerks cardholders will not be penalized when booking flights or seats, according to American Express. But they will not be entitled to the privileges extended through the SkyMiles program.
Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707