United Gateway℠ Card Review: Who Should Apply?

United Gateway℠ Card Review

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The Good

  • No annual fee, solid welcome bonus, easy-to-earn miles, United in-flight discounts, no foreign transaction fees, travel and purchase protections

Bad For

  • No free checked bag nor added travel benefits

United recently added a new credit card to its lineup. As the name suggests, the United Gateway℠ Card is an excellent starter airline card. With useful travel benefits for no annual fee, this card will jump-start your way to the United MileagePlus loyalty program.

The new United Gateway℠ Card is phasing out the United℠ TravelBank Card, United’s previous $0 annual fee card. If you’re interested in earning and redeeming United MileagePlus miles, adding this card to your wallet will fast-track you to your next trip.

United Gateway℠ Card review: Perfect for the occasional United flyer who wants MileagePlus miles

Even if you’re an infrequent United flyer, the United Gateway℠ Card can still benefit you. In fact, the United Gateway℠ Card targets everyday spending to help you earn lots of MileagePlus miles in no time.

Good sign-up bonus — for no annual fee

With the United Gateway℠ Card, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Considering that there’s no annual fee, this is a decent number of United MileagePlus miles. And compared with the other legacy airlines’ no-annual-fee card offerings, this welcome bonus is both lucrative and quite achievable.

There are many ways to maximize this welcome bonus. Many short-haul flights go for about 10,000 miles, or even less if you’ve found a Saver award. If you wanted to work toward an even better redemption, business transcontinental flights can go for as low as 25,000 miles.

Good sign-up bonus — for no annual fee

Bonus miles categories

With the United Gateway℠ Card, you’ll earn 2X miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, 3X miles on grocery store purchases up to $1,500 per month through 9/30/2021.

This chart below illustrates how many MileagePlus miles you could earn by spending $1,000:

Spending categoryDollars spentMileagePlus miles earned
Grocery stores$7502,250 miles
Gas$250500 miles
Total$1,0002,750 miles

With the welcome bonus, don’t forget that 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. In this scenario, you could earn 22,750 MileagePlus miles from spending and the welcome bonus combined.

Other worthwhile perks

There are a few other considerable perks that come with the United Gateway℠ Card. You’ll enjoy 25% back in the form of statement credits on United in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi purchases with the United Gateway℠ Card and no foreign transaction fees. As Chase issues this card, you will also enjoy the following travel and consumer benefits:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburses you up to $1,500 per person or $6,000 per trip.
  • Auto rental insurance protects you from theft and collision damage on most cars.
  • Purchase protection covers damage and theft on new purchases for 120 days, with up to $500 per claim and $5,000 per account.

Who’s eligible for this card?

Keep in mind that Chase’s 5/24 rule applies to the new United Gateway℠ Card. This means that you won’t qualify for this card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months, so you’ll want to make sure that this card is worth applying for.

If you’re a current United℠ TravelBank Card cardholder, Chase automatically transitioned you to the new United Gateway℠ Card on Sept. 13, 2020, and you will receive your new card by Oct. 31, 2020. You will still be able to redeem your TravelBank Cash, but you will start to earn MileagePlus miles starting Sep. 21, 2020.

Alternatives to the United Gateway℠ Card

Based on your spending habits or travel preferences, here are three other cards that may be a better fit for you.

United℠ Explorer Card

United’s middle-tier offering, the United℠ Explorer Card, is one of the best airline rewards cards out there. It has an annual fee of $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 thereafter. One of the most significant differences between the two is that the United℠ Explorer Card has a much higher welcome bonus: 60k bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10k bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months. While you will have to spend triple the amount to lock in this sign-up bonus, you’ll also get triple the number of bonus miles.

There are more ways to earn with the United℠ Explorer Card. Cardmembers Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, cardholders get their first checked bag free of charge, priority boarding and two United Club one-time passes.

Finally, the best perk of the United℠ Explorer Card is that you’ll receive up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years.

Bottom line? The United℠ Explorer Card offers many more travel benefits than the United Gateway℠ Card, but it eventually incurs an annual fee. But if you’re just dipping your toes in the world of MileagePlus, the United Gateway℠ Card is a safer bet for you.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Also for $0 annual fee, the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card is branded as a cashback credit card with high earning potential. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has a nice welcome bonus, where you can Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

If you’re looking for more opportunities for your everyday spending, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has you covered. Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Bonus spending categories change quarterly and will help you maximize these purchases.

While the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is not necessarily a travel rewards card, you can pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for even more value. Instead of cash back, you can turn 1 cent of Chase Freedom Flex℠ points into 1 Ultimate Rewards point. You can then book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or transfer your points to Chase’s 13 partner airline and hotels, including United Airlines.

If you’re looking to maximize your everyday spending, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card will earn you better rewards. However, the United Gateway℠ Card is the clear winner when it comes to no foreign transaction fees and discounts on in-flight purchases.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

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While the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card won’t get you any United-related perks, it’s a comparable airline card with a $0 annual fee. Both the welcome bonus and earnings rate are lower, as you will Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. With the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

Other benefits include no foreign transaction fees and a 20% discount on in-flight purchases. The only perk that edges this card over the United Gateway℠ Card is the “Pay with Miles” feature, which allows you to take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem.

Ultimately, since most airlines offer a no-annual-fee option that all have similar benefits, you’ll want to apply for the one that aligns with your travel habits.

ValuePenguin’s verdict

Airline cards are typically valuable for flyers who are loyal to one carrier. However, the new United Gateway℠ Card offers the potential to earn MileagePlus miles — even for the infrequent United flyer. This is a decent airline card to consider, as there are no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. But if you’re looking for a bigger sign-up bonus or United-specific perks such as a free checked bag, you’ll want to consider other options.

The information related to United℠ TravelBank Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Stella Shon

Stella Shon is a travel credit cards writer with ValuePenguin. After studying abroad in Paris three years ago, she became determined to keep traveling. That’s when she discovered the world of points and miles, which enabled her to travel on a student budget. Since then, she’s flown over 150,000 miles and earned more than 500,000 points and miles with eight different credit cards. While in college, she even co-founded her own travel agency, helping her peers plan and book trips on a budget. As a recent journalism graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, her goal is to write about travel to make it simpler and achievable for everyone. Her work has also appeared on JetBlue, The Points Guy, Travel + Leisure and CNBC.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).