Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty See more cards
If you’re finding it hard to justify an airline card with an annual fee these days (and we wouldn’t blame you), but you still want to gather frequent flier points for later, the United Gateway Card might be a good choice for you. It comes with no annual fee and many ways to earn UnitedMileage points, which are among the most valuable you can find.
Another nice touch is that it offers a way for you to transform some of your grocery spending over the course of the next year into United MileagePlus points. That’s especially handy if you’re stuck at home with higher-than-normal grocery bills, like many of us are these days. United is also one of the largest airline carriers in the U.S. and is a member of the Star Alliance (with 25 airline partners), so you’ll have plenty of options to use your points later.
Good bonus for new cardholders
Lots of ways to earn rewards
25% rebate on in-flight purchases
No blackout dates on rewards redemptions
Restaurant purchases don’t earn extra rewards
- Good bonus for new cardholders: The bonus for new cardholders is worth more than twice as much as what you can expect from similar cards from other airlines.
- Lots of ways to earn rewards: You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations, on local transit (like Uber or mass transit), and on any purchases made with United (including baggage fees and the ticket itself). You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on your first $1,500 worth of groceries until the end of Sept. 2021.
- 25% rebate on inflight purchases: You’ll get a statement credit for 25% back when you buy food, Wi-Fi, or beverages while on board a United Airlines flight.
- No blackout dates on rewards redemptions: Award flight redemptions for the primary cardholder are unlimited. As long as there’s still a seat being sold on a flight, you’ll be able to use your points to pay for it.
- Restaurant purchases don’t earn extra rewards: Many of this card’s competitors offer extra points for purchases made at restaurants. With the United Gateway card you’ll earn extra points on grocery spending for a limited time, and for a limited amount of spending, but not on dining out.
United Gateway Card Bonus for New Cardholders
One of the best things about the United Gateway Card is its sign-up bonus. If you spend at least $1,000 within the first three months after opening the card, you’ll earn a bonus of 20,000 MileagePlus points.
How far that’ll take you varies, but for a rough estimate, we judge that this is worth about $438 toward airfare. That’s more than twice as much as competing no-annual-fee airline credit cards are offering right now.
Earning Points & Rewards
Compared to similar cards, the United Gateway Card offers more opportunities to earn extra points on your purchases. Typically, most other cards in this area only offer one or two bonus categories, usually on purchases you make with the airline itself and on food of some sort, whether you cook it at home or dine out.
With the United Gateway Card, however, you can earn points by spending on the following:
- 3 points per dollar spent on your first $1,500 worth of groceries each month, through 9/30/21
- 2 points per dollar spent on United purchases
- 2 points per dollar spent on local transit
- 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
These rewards can be well worth it, especially for a card with no annual fee. To put it into context, the average household spends $2,100 on gasoline and $4,600 on groceries per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you matched that, you’d earn 11,800 points, which may be enough for a domestic round-trip ticket. This, of course, doesn’t include any spending in the other bonus categories, so your earnings may be even better.
Like many airline mileage programs, the United MileagePlus program offers a lot more ways to redeem your points than just for airfare. You can also redeem your points for:
- Gift cards
- Hotel stays
- Rental cars
- In-flight Wi-Fi
- Ticket upgrades
- Cruise bookings
- Charitable donations
- TSA Precheck application
- United Club lounge membership
- Tickets to sports events, theater shows, concerts, and other entertainment
As a general rule, redeeming your frequent flier points for their original purpose—airfare—is the best way to stretch your value.
Like many other airlines these days, United Airlines uses a dynamic pricing model where the cost of flights in points varies on the itinerary and your timing. Thus, we can’t give you a straight points value in all cases.
But you can expect to redeem your points for about 2.19 cents each, on average, when using them to book airfare on United flights or Star Alliance member flights. And with 25 partner airlines to choose from worldwide, you have a lot of options for where to go.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
You’ll earn a lot of points with this card alone if you make extra sure that you use it to pay for purchases in the bonus categories: groceries, local transit, gas stations, and United purchases.
But you can maximize your rewards even further by pairing it with a cash-back card with no annual fee to earn more rewards in other categories, such as dining out. You’ll earn cash in this way, which you can use for whatever you want—including United flights.
United Gateway Card’s Excellent Perks
The United Gateway Card has some surprisingly good perks for a no-annual-fee card.
- Primary rental car insurance: If you decline the rental company’s insurance, you can be covered for up to the entire rental car cost if it’s stolen or damaged.
- Insurance coverage for trip cancellation or interruption: If your trip goes awry, you can file for reimbursement for up to $1,500 worth of expenses.
United Gateway Card’s Other Features
- Extended warranties
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
- Sports, music, and event ticket presales, plus VIP access at some events
Chase Bank ranks just a tad below average compared to other major card issuers according to a 2020 J.D Power survey of credit card issuer satisfaction. It offers all the customer support options you’d expect like telephone customer service and a secure messaging inbox in your online account. It also has a free tool called Credit Journey, which offers a free credit score, credit monitoring, and educational resources.
You don’t have to have a Chase credit card to use Credit Journey.
Chase Bank’s security features for its cards are also relatively standard for a big, national issuer. You can lock your card with the Chase Bank app or in your online account in case you misplace it or if someone steals it, which is handy. The United Gateway Card also can be used with contactless readers.
United Gateway Card’s Fees
You won’t find anything alarming about the fees this card charges, and as you might expect with an airline card, there’s no fee for foreign transactions.