ATA Visa Platinum Credit Card Review - US Bank and Barclays Bank Versions

Picture of Item Reviewed

Editor's Rating:
Intro Purchase APR Regular APR Annual Fee Credit Needed
N.A. $49 Good
Feature Summary
  • Low priced companion ticket perks
Executive Summary - A card that was launched in 2004 with US Bank and then again in 2006 with Juniper Barclays Bank before ATA filed for chapter 11 in 2008 when they lost a huge military charter contract and faced rising fuel prices. This was one of the lower annual fee airline cards when it was around.

Launch of Card - In 2004, ATA Airlines, Inc., announced it is partnering with U.S. Bank to launch the ATA Platinum and Business Visa cards1. Back then, ATA was the nations 10th largest carrier. But the partnership soon ceased and in 2006, ATA Airlines relaunched their credit card through Juniper Bank, Barclays2.

Miles Formula With US Bank - The ATA Platinum Visa from US Bank was a typical airline travel credit card. The ATA reward program is based on points (not miles). For the credit card, you earn 1 point for every $3 you spend on purchases. Though at first glance this made look like a lousy formula, it is actually not. It is a slightly better than the typical 1 mile for every dollar spent on purchases formula for other airline travel credit cards because of ATA's point system, but not as good as earning double miles. You need 6000 points to earn a roundtrip coach ticket in continental USA, which requires spending $18,000 on your credit card. For most other airline credit cards, you need to spend $25,000 to earn 25,000 points (which is the standard number of points required for a coach roundtrip ticket within continental US). The signing bonus of 3300 points is generous as it is enough to get you a companion roundtrip coach ticket within continental USA. You could also earn unlimited points with this credit card.

Rewards With Barclays Bank - When ATA relaunched their credit card with Barclays bank in 2006, the reward formula as the same as the US Bank version. But they included the following additional benefits.

Card holders enjoyed priority boarding at all ATA gates from New York to Honolulu (why only this route? I do not have the answer). They also received an annual companion certificate that entitled them to a deeply discounted fare. Here is an example they gave in their press release. For example, Visa Signature card holders who choose to redeem for travel between Chicago Midway and Washington Reagan, New York LaGuardia, or Dallas-Ft. Worth can take a companion with them for $50* round-trip. Here is another example. The companion fare for travel from Midway to Guadalajara or Cancun and Houston to LaGuardia is $100* round-trip, and from the West Coast to Hawaii is $150* round-trip.

It had a low Annual Fee - The annual fee of $55.00 (US Bank version) was one the lower ones among other frequent flier credit cards. The apr of prime rate plus 9.99% was also typical of airline cards. When ATA switched issuers to Barclays in 2007, the annual was lowered even further to $49.

Recommendations - ATA's focus cities were Honolulu and Oakland. They also had hubs in Chicago Midway and Indianapolis International Airport. Folks who flew these airlines and live around this area would have been advised to consider their credit cards. The Barclays version was better than the US Bank version. But unfortunately, that cards was just as short lived as the carrier filed for chapter 11 in 2008.

Brief History3 - Founded in 1973, ATA Airlines was based in Indianapolis. They not only flew commercial flights, but also military and charter flights globally. It was the largest charter plane for the United States Military.

ATA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, and then announced it was ceasing all services, effective 4:00 AM EDT, Thursday April 3, 2008, because of unexpected loss of a major contract for its military charter business, as well as increases in fuel prices.

Ironically, Southwest Airlines paid $7.5 million for all of ATA's operating certificate and all assets held by ATA Airlines including trademarks, logos while they were in bankruptcy.

References
1. ATA Partners With US Bank To Launch ATA Credit Card
2. ATA Launches Credit Card With Barclays
3. Wikipedia Page on ATA Airlines