The United Gateway Card is not one of our top-rated airline credit cards. You can review our list of the best airline credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of United Gateway Card
3 miles per dollar on some grocery purchases
MileagePlus miles have a relatively high value per mile
No annual fee
Valuable one-time bonus
No elite status or priority boarding with card membership
No free checked bags
Permanent bonus mile categories are of limited value
- 3 Miles Per Dollar on Some Grocery Purchases: This card offers 3 miles per dollar spent on up to $1,500 of grocery purchases per month through Sept. 30, 2021. Purchases above $1,500 per month only earn 1 mile per dollar. The 3 miles earning rate is equivalent to 6.57 cents per dollar spent, based on our valuation of 2.19 cents per mile.
- MileagePlus Miles Have a Relatively High Value Per Mile: United’s MileagePlus miles earned with this card are worth 2.19 cents per mile, according to our valuations. This is one of the highest mile valuations we’ve seen for hotel and airline loyalty programs. When you combine that with multiple miles per dollar spent in certain categories, it adds even more value.
- No Annual Fee: Many airline cards charge annual fees, but this one does not. While this card doesn’t come with premium benefits, the earning rates are decent considering the MileagePlus miles’ value.
- Valuable One-Time Bonus: You can earn 20,000 bonus miles, worth $438, when you make $1,000 in purchases on this card within the first three months from account opening. This bonus is relatively robust for a no-annual-fee credit card that requires only $1,000 in spending to earn it.
- No Elite Status or Priority Boarding With Card Membership: The only airline-specific benefit you get with this card is a 25% discount on certain in-flight purchases. It won’t help you earn elite status or other benefits, such as priority boarding. These features are typically reserved for cards with annual fees which this card does not have.
- No Free Checked Bags: This card doesn’t offer a free checked bag, either. Again, this benefit is more common on credit cards with annual fees.
- Permanent Bonus Mile Categories Are of Limited Value: While grocery store purchases are a great bonus miles category, that category is set to expire at the end of September 2021. The ongoing bonus mile categories, including select United purchases, gas, local transit, and commuting, won’t add up to a lot of spending for many people.
This Card is Best For
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Who This Card Is For
The United Gateway Card is one of several United credit card offerings. United fliers who want to earn miles for award flights but don’t travel frequently or don’t care about United perks might find this card attractive, especially because it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Its 20,000 miles one-time bonus is relatively generous, and it should be possible to earn an award flight in a fairly short period.
United Gateway Card One-Time Bonus
You can earn 20,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 or more in purchases within the first three months from opening your account. According to our valuations of 2.19 cents per mile when redeemed for airline awards, this one-time bonus is worth up to $438. Compared with other no-annual-fee cards, that's a relatively good bonus with a reasonable spending requirement.
To earn the bonus, you can’t currently have this credit card or have had it and received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. The bonus miles may take six to eight weeks to post to your account.
For the bonus miles to post, your account must be open and not in default. To keep the bonus, your account must remain open for at least six months. Otherwise, Chase and United reserve the right to deduct the miles from your MileagePlus Program account.
Rewards Earning Details
The United Gateway Card offers several spending categories that earn more than the base 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Until Sept. 30, 2021, you earn 3 miles per dollar on up to $1,500 per month in grocery store purchases. Purchases above that limit earn 1 mile per dollar.
You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on airline tickets, seat upgrades, EconomyPlus seating, inflight food and beverages, inflight Wi-Fi, baggage service charges, and other United fees when purchased through United. The card also offers 2 miles per dollar spent on United Card Events from Chase, gas, local transit, and commuting. That includes rideshare services, taxicabs, tolls, train tickets, and other mass transit.
Chase automatically transfers miles earned to United at the end of each billing cycle. You can lose any miles that haven’t yet been transferred if your card account status changes or your card is closed due to fraud, program misuse, failure to pay, bankruptcy, or certain other reasons.
Currently, United MileagePlus miles do not expire. United says there are no blackout dates or other award restrictions, but seats must be available for sale on a flight to book an award flight. That said, awards on partner-operated flights may have limitations and restrictions.
Rewards Redemption Details
United allows you to redeem your MileagePlus miles in many ways, including:
- Air awards
- Upgrade awards
- Hotel awards
- Cruise awards
- Car awards
- Merchandise awards
- Apple products
- Gift cards
- United Club membership
- United Wi-Fi
- TSA PreCheck
- Donation of miles to partner charities
Overall, you’ll get the best value by redeeming your miles for air awards that provide the highest value per mile. We found redeeming miles in this way results in a typical value of 2.19 cents per mile. You can redeem your MileagePlus miles for flights on more than 35 airlines worldwide in addition to United.
Non-flight redemption options normally result in a lower value per mile. Even so, redeeming your miles in that way may make sense if you don’t plan to fly United in the near future and you want to unlock the value of your miles.
The MileagePlus program allows members of MileagePlus Premier or higher status levels to transfer up to 50,000 MileagePlus miles per calendar year to the Marriott Bonvoy program on a 1 mile to 1 point basis. We value Marriott Bonvoy points at 1.43 cents per mile, so this transfer generally isn’t a good value unless you’re topping off your Marriott Bonvoy points or don’t plan to fly anytime soon.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
At 2.19 cents per mile, United’s MileagePlus miles are one of the more valuable reward currencies. Even if you’re just getting 1 mile per dollar spent, this card outearns a simple 2% cash back credit card—as long as you use your miles to book air award tickets that provide that much value or more per mile.
When you earn 2 or 3 miles per dollar spent, the value increases that much more. For these reasons, it would make sense to put all of your purchases on this card unless you have a premium rewards credit card that offers an even higher value per dollar spent.
When redeeming your rewards, you can generally get the most value by booking premium award tickets, such as business class awards. These tickets typically cost much more when paying with cash, resulting in a better value per mile in many cases.
For example, a round-trip flight from Indianapolis, Ind., to Panama City, Fla., in economy class would cost 25,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes and fees, or $197.20 in cash, a value of 0.744 cents per mile. However, a round-trip flight from Indianapolis to Paris, France, in business class would cost 120,000 miles plus $160.85 in taxes and fees, or $6,312.35 in cash, a value of 5.126 cents per mile.
United Gateway Card’s Outstanding Benefits
Auto rental collision damage waiver: When you charge the entire rental cost to this card and decline the rental company’s collision insurance, the card will provide primary coverage.
Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance: You can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or shortened by covered situations, such as sickness or injury.
- 24/7 Visa concierge
- 25% back as a statement credit on food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases on United-operated flights when paying with your card
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase protection
Chase, which issues the United Gateway Card, scored 809 out of 1,000 points in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The national issuer average was 810.
Chase offers a mobile app that you can use to manage your credit card account. You can also call 800-537-7783 to reach the dedicated customer service representatives for this card.
This credit card offers a secure, contactless payment option. It also provides the ability to lock and unlock your card within the Chase mobile app in case you misplace the card. Otherwise, the security features on this card are standard for the industry.
Fees to Watch Out For
If you plan to transfer a balance or use the cash advance feature, watch out for the related fees. Cash advances cost $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater. Balance transfers cost $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
The United Gateway Card won’t appeal to frequent United fliers who are looking for a card with a lot of benefits. However, infrequent United fliers who want to earn miles toward award flights can find value in the one-time bonus and MileagePlus’ fairly high value per mile. Since this card doesn’t charge an annual fee and MileagePlus miles don’t expire, you can build your miles over time until you have enough for the flights you want.