Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Loves to explore places and experience new things
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you’ve been wanting to dip your toes in the travel rewards game, but don’t want to pay the steep annual fees or mess with complicated rewards programs, this card is one to consider. However, you’ll need to be a United Airlines fan because you can’t use the rewards you earn on the card anywhere else. In fact, we recommend this card for people who live near one of United’s hubs, since this will give you the most opportunities to use it.
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fee
Low sign-up bonus
Limited rewards program
- No annual fee: The card doesn’t offer great value compared to some other travel rewards cards, but you won't have to make up for an annual fee, either.
- No foreign transaction fee: On your next international trip, you can swipe away without worry of foreign transaction fees.
- Low sign-up bonus: You can find better opening offers from other travel cards that also don't have annual fees.
- Limited rewards program: We hope you like flying on United and United alone, since that’s the only airline you can use for these rewards.
United TravelBank Card’s Sign-Up Bonus
If you spend at least $1,000 within the first three months of getting this card, you’ll get $150 in TravelBank cash. TravelBank is a separate rewards program administered by United, and once you reach the spending requirements, it’ll take a further six to eight weeks for the rewards to post to your account.
Any bonus is nice when you’re not paying an annual fee, but other travel cards without an annual fee have bonuses worth as much as $300.
If you fly United Airlines frequently, it might be better to sign up for one of the more premium United credit cards. Although they have annual fees, the rewards and perks can make up for the fees.
Earning Points & Rewards
You’ll earn 2% TravelBank cash for every $1 you spend on United flights, and 1.5% TravelBank cash for all other purchases.
Your TravelBank cash rewards transfer to your TravelBank account at the end of each statement period. Once they’re in your TravelBank, your rewards won’t expire as long as you have some activity on your account at least once every 18 months.
There are cards with no annual fee that offer 2% cash back on all purchases, which may be a better value. With a card like that, not only will you earn more rewards on non-United purchases, but you can spend your rewards on anything you want (including United tickets).
The TravelBank rewards program is a lot simpler than United’s MileagePlus rewards program. There are no options for redeeming your rewards for anything other than United and United Express airfare, and the value of your points won’t vary based on which flight you redeem your points for (as they would if you had MileagePlus rewards).
You’ll be able to use any TravelBank cash rewards saved up to purchase part or all of your flight. Simply, $1 in TravelBank cash = $1 worth of travel on United or United Express flights.
For example, if you want to purchase a $400 flight, it will cost you $400 in TravelBank cash. Or you could pay, say, $233 in TravelBank cash and $167 in regular cash if you only had $233 worth of TravelBank cash in your account.
While we like the simple nature of this program, your rewards will on average be worth more with a credit card that earns MileagePlus miles. Because that program lets you redeem for some flights that are more expensive in dollars than they are in points, we value them at 2.16 cents each. TravelBank points are worth 1 cent each.
How to Get the Most Out Of This Card
There are two ways to use this card effectively. First, as with any sign-up bonus offer, make sure you’re able to spend $1,000 within the first three months in order to earn the $150 TravelBank cash sign-up bonus.
Second, use your card every time you purchase a flight from United, since this is how you’ll earn the highest rewards rate. You’ll have to spend $25,000 on United airfare or $33,334 on other purchases to earn enough TravelBank cash for a $500 plane ticket.
United TravelBank Card’s Excellent Perks
The card offers a few benefits that editors at The Balance have deemed as superior to the standard perks offered on most travel cards.
When you’re approved for the card, it will be issued by Chase and connected to the Visa network. But the type of Visa card you’ll get will depend on your credit history. You may be issued either a Visa Platinum or a Visa Signature card. Card benefits differ, with the Signature card offerings being a little better.
- Travel accident insurance: If you or a family member are permanently disabled or die while on a trip you paid for with your card, this travel insurance policy may pay you or your beneficiaries up to $500,000 (for the Visa Signature card) or $250,000 (for the Visa Platinum card).
- Coverage for lost or delayed luggage: Regardless of which card you have, you’ll get insurance for up to $3,000 if your luggage is damaged or lost on a trip you paid for with your card. You’ll also have a separate plan that will reimburse you for up to $100 per day if your baggage is delayed more than six hours.
- Coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, and delay: If you get the Visa Signature card, you’ll be covered for expenses you incur if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip due to circumstances beyond your control. You’ll also be reimbursed for up to $500 worth of purchases if your trip is delayed by more than 12 hours.
United TravelBank Card’s Other Features
- 25% savings on United in-flight purchases:
- Insurance for rental cars (secondary to your own policy)
- Insurance for lost or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
- Travel and emergency assistance hotline
You can expect an average customer service experience with Chase, the issuer of the United TravelBank credit card. In a 2019 J.D. Power study, the company was ranked fourth out of 12 major credit card issuers, scoring 807 out of a possible 1,000. The industry average score was 806.
One customer service offering that Chase has that stands out is a credit score and monitoring service, called Chase Credit Journey. This service is free for anyone regardless of whether they have a Chase account or not, although if you have the card, you’ll get a convenient score update when you log into your account.
Most of Chase’s security features are standard for the industry. One notable addition is the credit monitoring you get through the Chase Credit Journey tool. If you get an alert that your credit report has changed but you haven’t opened any accounts yourself, it can help you identify potential fraud.
United TravelBank Card’s Fees
None of the United TravelBank’s fees are out of the ordinary, especially for a travel rewards credit card. For example, there is no foreign transaction fee, but as with other travel cards, this is not one you’d want to use for balance transfers because those transactions are more expensive than they would be with some other cards.