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 a United Airlines loyalist who flies at least a couple of times per year and wants to earn free flights and other perks, then the United Quest card from Chase may be a great addition to your travel wallet. It’s got a nice selection of extra benefits that go beyond what United’s lower-level cards offer, but the annual fee is more palatable than the very pricey Club Infinite card.
Those who travel enough with United to take advantage of the card’s key benefits can easily justify the $250 annual fee. Just note that you’ll need a strong credit score to qualify.
Up to two flight credits each card anniversary via United award flight bookings
Yearly statement credit makes up for half of annual fee
Free second checked bag for you and a companion
Earn status qualifying points
No lounge access
Companion certificates not offered
- Up to two flight credits each card anniversary: After you’ve had the card a year, you'll get 5,000 miles credited back to your MileagePlus account if you booked a United award flight with your miles—and if you booked two of them, you’ll get double the miles credit for a total of 10,000. You must use these award flight credits within 12 months of issue date, however.
- Yearly statement credit makes up for half of annual fee: The first $125 you spend on United purchases each year will be given back as a statement credit. You won’t earn any miles for this spend, but after the credit is earned, the 3-miles-per-$1 rate kicks in.
- Free second checked bag for you and a companion: Many airline cards offer a free checked bag, but getting a second checked bag free is unusual—and a godsend for those who pack a lot. Granted, it’s only applicable to you and one travel companion, but if you’re traveling with a larger family, you can essentially get four bags checked free.
- Earn qualifying points: Status-chasers will appreciate earning 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for every $12,000 they spend with the card; they can earn up to 3,000 PQP per calendar year. (For reference, you need eight Premier Qualifying Flights and 3,000 PQP or 3,500 PQP to get to Premier Silver status with United).
- No lounge access: It’s not too surprising that this was left out, given that a United Club membership costs $650, but a single-use pass (or two) might have been nice, considering that the lower-tier United Explorer card offers two United Club passes each year.
- Companion certificates not offered: In what might be another missed opportunity for a card of this level, United Quest cardholders do not get a free flight for a traveling companion, something that at least one comparable airline card offers.
United Quest Bonus for New Cardholders
This card’s welcome offer for new cardholders is very tough to beat right now. It starts out with 80,000 bonus miles if you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Then, if you reach $10,000 in spending by the end of Month 6, United tacks on an additional 20,000 bonus miles.
Based on The Balance’s valuation of United’s MileagePlus program, the full 100,000-mile bonus is worth about $1,980, which is an amazing value.
Earning Points & Rewards
United Quest cardholders earn the highest rate on United purchases (as to be expected), but there are bonus rates for other travel purchases, restaurants, and streaming services, too. Here’s how it breaks down:
- 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases (but remember, that doesn’t kick in until after you spend $125 to earn your annual United Airlines purchase credit)
- 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel (including other transportation, cruise bookings, hotels, car rentals, resort costs, taxis and rideshare services, and tolls)
- 2 miles per $1 at restaurants
- 2 miles per $1 on streaming subscriptions
- 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else
Overall, the bonus categories—especially the 2 miles per $1 on all other travel and dining—make the United Quest card a competitive option even among general travel and cash-back cards.
Cardholders will get the best value by redeeming points toward flights, as you might expect with a co-branded airline card. The good news is that The Balance values United MileagePlus points at 1.98 cents each, which is higher than all other airline programs except American Airlines’ AAdvantage, which has a slight edge.
To maximize your value, expect to spend some time flight-shopping because United no longer publishes an award chart. You can also book flights with members of the Star Alliance network, which currently comprises 26 airlines, including United.
MileagePlus miles never expire, and there are no blackout dates for booking.
United MileagePlus points may also be redeemed for several other options, but these will provide lower value than airline bookings. Redemption options include:
- Hotel, car, and cruise reservations
- Apple products
- Merchandise such as household items and jewelry
- Gift cards
- Event tickets
- Charitable donations
- Statement credit toward your card’s annual fee
You always should crunch the numbers if you plan to redeem for something other than flights so that you fully understand how much value you may be leaving on the table.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
First, you’ll want to spend enough to earn the full new-cardholder bonus, worth almost $2,000—that’s a no-brainer. But the key to maximizing the United Quest card in the long run is to spend at least $125 with United each year to earn your anniversary statement credit, and to redeem at least two award flights annually so you can earn back 10,000 miles.
When you add the statement credit to the estimated $198 in value from the maximum anniversary miles you can get back, those benefits alone more than offset the $250 annual fee.
Squeeze even more value from the card by taking advantage of the two free checked bags for you and your travel companion, as well as the priority boarding. Being a cardholder also qualifies you for free upgrades if available, too, but only if you have MileagePlus Premier status. Finally, don’t forget to use the card to pay for Global Entry or TSA Precheck because those amounts will be credited back.
If you like ordering in, sign up for the 12 free months of DashPass, which is normally $9.99 per month (for you and any authorized card users). This subscription covers the delivery fees for both the DoorDash and Caviar apps. You have until Dec. 31, 2021, to activate this promotion.
It’s always a good idea to pair a co-branded card like this with a general rewards or cash-back card that focuses on different bonus categories. That way, if you spend a lot on groceries or gas, for instance, you can earn more than the 1 point per $1 you’d get here.
Another strategy to consider: If you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards on another card, United is a 1:1 travel partner on that platform, so you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to give your MileagePlus account a boost.
United Quest Card’s Excellent Perks
The United Quest has six benefits that The Balance’s editors deem worthy of special mention. These are:
- Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement: Get a statement credit every four years to cover either the Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck program ($85) application fee.
- Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay: If your trip is canceled or cut short for a covered reason, you may be eligible for up to $1,500 per person, or a total of $6,000 per trip. For trip delays of more than 12 hours, you may be entitled to up to $500 per ticket to cover meals and lodging.
- Insurance coverage for lost or delayed luggage: Get reimbursed for essential items you must buy if your baggage is delayed more than six hours, up to $100 a day for three days. Coverage for lost or damaged luggage is up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Primary rental car collision insurance: While many cards offer secondary rental car coverage, this coverage is primary, meaning you’ll get reimbursed up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft or collision without having to tap into your personal insurance.
- Free checked bag: The cardholder and one travel companion on the same reservation have no fees for two checked bags each. United calculates the value of this perk to be up to $320 roundtrip. (Note that authorized users do not get this benefit.)
- Priority boarding: Everyone on the cardholder’s reservation gets to board early. Just be sure that your MileagePlus number appears on the reservation.
United Quest Card’s Other Features
- Discounts on in-flight purchases
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
Chase came in fourth among 11 credit card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2020 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Its score of 809 is 1 point below the industry average. Customer service is available 24/7, as it is with cards from major issuers, and there’s a mobile app to manage the account. There doesn't seem to be an option to open a live chat with customer service, however.
The United Quest card offers the typical security features provided by most credit cards, including zero liability, fraud alerts, and the ability to put a freeze on the card.
United Quest Card’s Fees
The United Quest card has no foreign transaction fees, which is always nice in a travel card. Other fees are standard, but it’s worth noting that there is a high 29.99% penalty APR, so you’ll want to avoid missing payments.