|Rewards Rating:||2.8 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||3.0|
|Issuer Customer Experience:||3.7|
In a Nutshell:
Though it falls short of other United credit cards when it comes to perks and ongoing rewards value, the United Gateway Card could be a good fit for occasional travelers looking to avoid an annual fee.
20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Chase Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: 25% in-flight discount, no foreign transaction fee, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, extended warranty, purchase protection
If you’re a United Airlines fan looking forward to traveling more in 2021, the United Gateway Card could be a great place to start or restart your travel rewards journey. A successor to the now-retired United TravelBank Card from Chase, this new airline rewards card offers an impressive sign-up bonus and decent rewards rate on United flights, all while charging no annual fee.
However, the card falls short when it comes to perks, and it’s missing basic benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding. While the United Gateway Card can make a lot of sense as a starter travel card, more frequent flyers will likely be happier with a higher-tier United card or a general travel credit card.
See related: Best United Airlines credit cards
Elevated sign-up bonus
The United Gateway card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in your first three months as a card member – double the card’s previous offer of 10,000 miles after reaching the same spending requirement. We currently value United miles at around 1.52 cents apiece, so this bonus would be worth around $304 in airfare.
This is a great bonus for a no annual fee travel card. Indeed, a number of popular no annual fee cards – including the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card – carry bonuses that fall far short of the United Gateway card’s current offer, given the value of United miles.
That said, though the new United Gateway sign-up bonus is a big improvement, it still pales in comparison to the offer currently available on the popular UnitedSM Explorer Card. That card offers 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months, plus an additional the United Gateway may still be a better fit for savings-minded cardholders.
See related: Current United credit card bonus offers
The United Gateway card’s ongoing rewards should be a good fit if you fly regularly with United or spend a lot of time on the road. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, including tickets, in-flight food and beverages, Wi-Fi, baggage fees and more. You’ll also earn 2 miles per dollar at gas stations and on local transit and commuting, as well as 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Plus, through Sept. 30, 2021, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on grocery store purchases (on up to $1,500 in spending per month). If you maximize this limited-time bonus category, you can earn up to 4,500 United miles per month, worth close to $70. Since many people are still holding off on travel and are cooking at home more frequently, this is a very useful and timely perk.
That said, if your spending habits in the card’s bonus categories match those of the average consumer, the card won’t earn you much in the way of rewards long term. Leaving aside the limited-time bonus rewards rate on grocery store purchases, we estimate that the United Gateway Card carries an average rewards rate of just 1.19 miles per dollar, which, given the card’s lackluster perks, is not especially impressive.
Redeeming United miles
Based on an average rewards rate of 1.19 miles per dollar and a mile value of 1.52 cents per mile, we estimate that the average person will earn around $288 worth of United miles per year via card spend with the United Gateway Card, with no annual fee to cut into your earnings.
While the most obvious use of your United miles will be booking flights with United or one of the airline’s 28 Star Alliance partners, you can also redeem for a United Club membership, TSA Precheck application, gift cards, merchandise, hotel bookings, car rentals, cruises and more. You can even donate your United miles to select charities.
However, non-airfare redemptions will typically require you to sacrifice mile value, so you’re best off using your rewards to book flights.
As should be expected given its $0 annual fee, the United Gateway Card lacks much in the way of cardholder benefits and luxury travel perks. You’ll miss out not only on things like United elite status, free checked bags, expedited security screening and other perks often found on higher-tier airline and travel rewards cards.
But the card offers a handful of useful benefits, including:
- A 25% discount on United in-flight purchases. You’ll get 25% back as a statement credit on in-flight purchases like food, beverage and Wi-Fi on United-operated flights.
- No foreign transaction fees. You won’t be charged a fee when you use the card abroad. Many cards charge a fee of 3% of the purchase price for every foreign transaction.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which gets you up to $1,500 per person or $6,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable passenger fares should your trip be canceled or shortened due to sickness, injury or other covered situations.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver, which provides primary insurance coverage when you charge the entire cost of a car rental to the card and decline the rental company’s insurance.
- Extended warranty coverage, which extends the length of a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty on an item you purchase with the card by an additional year (on eligible warranties of three years or less).
- Purchase protection, which covers you up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account for damage and theft on new purchases for 120 days.
See related: Are credit card annual fees worth it?
As is the case with most travel and airline rewards cards, you’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for the United Gateway Card (a credit score in the 670 to 850 range). Unfortunately, Chase does not offer preapproval for the United Gateway Card, so it’s a good idea to check your credit score and ensure you’re in a good place before you put it at risk with a hard pull.
Also keep in mind Chase’s “5/24” rule, which holds that you’ll likely not be approved for a new Chase card if you’ve opened at least five credit card accounts in the last 24 months (including those from issuers other than Chase).
How does the United Gateway Card compare to other travel rewards cards?
While the United Gateway card offers decent ongoing rewards for United loyalists and charges no annual fee, it falls short on perks and limits flight redemptions to United and its partners. If you want a bit more flexibility in how you can earn and redeem miles, a general travel rewards credit card may be a better fit.
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
1.5 points per dollar on every purchase
1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase
|Sign-up bonus||Sign-up bonus|
25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 in first 90 days
20,000 miles if you spend $500 in first 3 months
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you want a lot more flexibility in how you can earn and redeem rewards, the Freedom Unlimited is a good option. The card offers a great variety of bonus cash back categories, including 5% cash back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel bookings, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, as well as 1.5% cash back on general purchases. You can redeem rewards for travel and, should you get a higher-tier Chase travel card down the line, potentially transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United or redeem points for travel at a higher value through Chase.
Bank of America Travel® Rewards credit card
If you prefer to keep things simple, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card may be a better fit, thanks to its flat rate of 1.5 points on every purchase. You’ll pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fee and can use your points to pay for any dining or travel-related purchase. Plus, if you’re a Bank of America customer, you may be able to take advantage of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program to enjoy a higher rewards earning rate based on the size of your bank balance.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Another flat-rate travel rewards card, the Capital One VentureOne offers 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases. You can secure a 20,000-mile bonus after spending just $500 in the first three months – worth up to $200 in travel purchases – and can enjoy one of the most flexible redemption schemes on a travel card. You can use your miles for bookings made through the Capital One Travel Center and for outside travel purchases. You can also transfer your miles to a number of Capital One airline partners, including JetBlue.
Why get the United Gateway Card?
- You frequently fly with United and don’t mind only being able to use your rewards with United or one of its partners.
- You want to earn rewards with United without paying an annual fee.
- You spend heavily on gas, transit and commuting.
- You don’t mind forgoing luxury perks like airport lounge access.
How to use the United Gateway Card
- Use the card for all flight bookings and other purchases with United, as well as at gas stations.
- Use the card for all grocery store purchases through Sept. 30, 2021, to take advantage of the limited-time bonus rewards rate.
- Spend at least $1,000 in the first three months to secure the sign-up bonus.
- Use the card for all purchases abroad.
Is the United Gateway Card worth it?
It may be – but only if you regularly fly with United, spend a lot of time on the road and don’t mind forgoing travel perks in order to avoid an annual fee. The card carries a solid sign-up bonus and its limited-time bonus rewards rate on grocery store purchases could serve as a terrific stopgap until travel picks up again. That said, the United Explorer Card should be a better value for frequent flyers, even given its annual fee.
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