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Chase is now offering another credit card option for United Airlines. The new card, called the United TravelBank Card, has no annual fee but it has an earning structure unique from other United credit cards that will make it attractive to some and unattractive to others. Here’s a look at the card:
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- No annual fee
- Earns 2% back on United purchases
- Earns 1.5% back on all other purchases
- All cash back can only be redeemed through the United TravelBank
- 25% back on United in-flight food and drink purchases
- Earns $150 cash back for United TravelBank after spending $1,000 in first 3 months
- No foreign transaction fees
- Redeem TravelBank for as little as $1
The big difference between this card and other United cards is that it earns United TravelBank dollars instead of miles. TravelBank dollars are basically funds that must be used for United purchases so it’s essentially a cash back card that only works for United. Keep in mind that these funds can only be used for flights operated by United and United Express — no partners.
No outsized value
This is not a very attractive option to me for a few reasons. For one, not earning United miles means you lose the ability to receive outsized value on redemptions. This card is apparently meant to be targeted for individuals who don’t want to hassle with redeeming miles and prefer the simpler cash back method of redeeming, so this is a very intentional difference. Cash back credit cards are still more popular than travel credit cards, so Chase is likely trying to play to the market’s preference for cash back with this new travel credit card.
Non-optimized cash back
This card is essentially a 1.5% cash back card. Other cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card offer 2% back on all purchases, so there are better routes to earning cash back, at least when looking at long-term spending.
Cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card don’t offer a sign-up bonus, however. With the United TravelBank Card, you earn $150 worth of United travel by spending $1,000. This is not a bad offer considering that there’s no annual fee but it’s still only $150 worth of travel. Many people don’t like to incur a hard pull unless they’re receiving ~$250+ in value from a sign-up bonus, so this won’t be worth it to many.
No foreign transaction fees
There are not a lot of no-annual fee cards that come with no foreign transaction fees so this is a nice perk to see.
Redeem TravelBank for as little as $1
It’s nice to see that the redeeming end of this card is very flexible and allows you to redeem at only $1 in your TravelBank. Simplicity really seems to be key with this card, which I think many people will find attractive.
There are two big question marks for this card.
The first is will this card act like the other United cards and allow cardmembers to access increased United award space. I doubt that this will be the case but you never know.
Will it be subject to 5/24? It’s hard to tell if this card will be subject to 5/24, so we’ll have to wait and see what the data points reflect.
This card is not a bad option for people who want to earn cash back towards United flights but don’t want to bother with any of the perceived complexities of earning and redeeming miles and points. It starts you off with $150 worth of United travel and gives you a decent earning rate of 1.5% cash back to add to that balance, so this card definitely is not a complete loser.
However, since myself and most of my readers enjoy the outsized value that comes along with earning and burning miles and points and often seek out higher value from sign-up bonuses, this card probably won’t be an attractive option for many of us.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.