The American Airlines and US Airways merger will heat up the competition between the two large issuing banks behind the airlines' rewards credit card programs, Citigroup Inc. and Barclays plc.

Citi works with American Airlines on the frequent-flier rewards program, Citi AAdvantage. Barclays is the U.S. Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard program issuer. As the companies integrate, it gets increasingly likely that they will combine the card programs under just one bank.

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