JPMorgan Chase will assume ownership and begin servicing the AirTran-branded credit card in April, a move that consolidates Southwest Airlines’ two frequent flier cards under the same issuing bank, amid the ongoing combination of the two airlines’ operations.
Customers of the legacy AirTran flier card issued by Barclays Bank will receive new cards and account numbers for Chase’s AirTran A+ Rewards beginning on April 29. Chase launched its card in October 2012 and will add the customer portfolio it’s acquiring from Barclays to its existing base of AirTran card holders.
Serving as the issuer of both the Southwest and AirTran cards further strengthens Chase’s position among airline loyalty card programs, after the bank previously consolidated the Continental and United card programs under the United banner. Meanwhile, Barclays faces another challenge with the US Airways card that it issues, which some predict will be taken over by Citi following the completion of the US Airways/American Airlines merger.
Chase is also the issuer of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards credit card, both of which use the Visa network. The merger between Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Atlanta-based AirTran was announced in September 2010 and closed in May 2011.
New Chase card holders will have the same annual fee and APR as they did with their Barclays-issued card. AirTran credits earned from flights, card purchases and other activities can be redeemed for AirTran flights or transferred to an account in Southwest’s flier loyalty program for redemption on Southwest flights.