American Airlines will merge its two loyalty programs "within 30 days" according to e-mails sent yesterday to all members of the USAir Dividend Miles program, which will be folded into the AAdvantage program. All existing miles will transfer; for some travelers the combination might even push them into elite status.
With the impending change comes a last-minute opportunity. You may be able to still get a USAir-branded credit card from Barclays Bank, complete with 50,000 bonus miles on first purchase and payment of the annual fee ($89). But it may not last long; once the two programs merge, the USAir card will be gone, although Barclays won't. Any miles or bonuses from that card will become AAdvantage miles. Here's the link and it was still live this morning.
I suspect they are anxious to build their brand base, and the offer is worth it to them. They're in a unique situation; usually mergers have meant that only one bank has cards for the merged airline. That's what happened to US Bank when Northwest disappeared into Delta. American has had a many-years close relationship with Citibank for its AAdvantage-branded credit cards.
Perhaps it's because USAir management is in the driver's seat at AA, that isn't happening here. Barclay's is converting its USAir cards to AAdvantage "Aviator" cards, and they are anxious to hold onto a good share of the AAdvantage market. But it's your chance now.
More DETAILS on the merger of the programs...