United has a no-annual-fee card that earns miles

Dec 1, 2020

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Earlier this fall, United and Chase launched a brand-new credit card for those looking to dip into the United MileagePlus program with a no-annual-fee credit card: the United Gateway Card.

This new product offers an entry point for beginners or casual travelers looking to boost their United miles without an annual card fee. The card comes with a solid array of bonus categories that extends beyond just United flights, which could help beginners rack up miles — even if they aren’t constantly in the air.

Let’s take a look at the card details of this new credit card.

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United Gateway Card

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Rewards rate: 

  • 2x on United purchases
  • 2x at gas stations
  • 2x on local transit and commuting
  • 1x on everything else

Other benefits: This is a no-annual-fee credit card, which means you won’t get any fancy statement credits or lounge access with this card. However, you will get 25% back on inflight purchases and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Is this card worth it?

The United Gateway Card does have some solid benefits to consider — especially if you are a beginner traveler who lives near a United hub. The fact that you’ll earn 3x at grocery stores (on up to $1,500 per month) through Sept. 30, 2021, is a nice benefit for anyone who is staying home more frequently this year but won’t necessarily utilize a grocery store bonus category in the future. Plus, you are getting 2x on United purchases, gas, and local transit/commuting.

The one thing to keep in mind with this rewards structure is that you’re earning United miles. TPG values United miles at 1.3 cents each, giving you a 3.9% return on the 3x grocery spending and 2.6% return on the 2x categories. Certainly not the worst return, particularly with a no-annual-fee credit card, but also nothing to write home about.

The sign-up bonus is worth $130 and it should be easy to hit for just $1,000 in spending over your first three months.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Something else to keep in mind is that this is a Chase-issued credit card. That means that the card adheres to the 5/24 rule. If you’ve added five or more credit cards to your wallet in the past two years, you almost certainly won’t be approved for the United Gateway Card. Additionally, this card will count toward your 5/24 slots. If you’re planning on applying for other Chase credit cards soon, make sure this card is worth taking up one of those slots — especially considering the rest of Chase’s rockstar credit card lineup that includes both entry-level favorites such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited and luxury travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Some cardholders will be automatically switched to the United Gateway Card

United and Chase are transitioning a small subset of existing United cardmembers from older legacy products to the United Gateway Card. Those who have a TravelBank card or a specific legacy United MileagePlus card product will be among those affected. Legacy United MileagePlus cardholders transitioned on Sept. 13, 2020, while TravelBank cardholders transitioned starting Sept. 21, 2020, and should have a new card sent to them by now.

Those receiving new cards will have a new expiration date and security code, but all other account details — account numbers, credit lines, interest rates and due dates — will remain the same through the transition. According to Chase, all cardholders who are affected have been notified directly via letter.

TravelBank cardholders have historically earned TravelBank Cash rather than United miles. Even though those cardholders will now have a United Gateway Card, all TravelBank Cash earned will still be redeemable through their TravelBank account with the same terms, conditions, and expiration date. However, all purchases made as of Sept. 21, 2020, will earn miles instead of TravelBank Cash.

Bottom line

This is just the latest change Chase has made to its lineup. Between the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex, updates to the existing Chase Freedom Unlimited, there are a lot of positive changes for beginner travelers looking to add low-annual-fee credit cards to their wallet.

If you’ve been considering diversifying your miles portfolio with a United credit card, this new product might be a great way to dip your toes into the water. As we all start looking ahead to planning 2021 trips, this new card is certainly worth considering if you are a travel beginner who wants to earn United miles on everyday purchases.

Additional reporting by Chris Dong.

Featured image courtesy of United

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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