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Review: Chase United Personal Cards

 Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

 

Chase offers 4 co-branded United Airlines personal credit cards. Each card has different benefits and earning structures. What they have in common is that they should all generally appeal to United frequent fliers. Below, we compare and review each of the United Gateway, United Explorer, United Quest, and United Club cards. If you're a frequent United flyer, you should consider at least one of these cards for your wallet.

Current Offers

The United Gateway card currently offers 30,000 bonus UA miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The Gateway card does not have an annual fee. Quite frankly, the Gateway card's sign-up bonus is pretty weak and not worthy of taking up a 5/24 slot.

The United Explorer card currently offers 60,000 bonus UA miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening, plus another 10,000 bonus UA miles after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months. The Explorer card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

The United Quest card currently offers 80,000 bonus UA miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The Quest card has a $250 annual fee. The Quest's annual fee is not waived for the first year.

The United Club card currently offers 100,000 bonus UA miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The Club card has a $525 annual fee. This card's annual fee is not waived for the first year.

Like other Chase cards, each of the United co-branded cards is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule. This means Chase will not approve you for any of these cards if you have opened 5 or more personal credit cards with any bank during the last 24 months.

Also, you cannot open a United personal card if you already have that card open or have received a sign-up bonus for that card in the past 24 months. This means, for example, that you cannot open a United Quest card if you already have a Quest card or received a sign-up bonus for the Quest card in the last 24 months.

Earn Rates

Each of the personal United cards earn bonus miles per dollar on different categories. The cards also all earn 1x miles per dollar on all remaining purchases not listed below.

The United Gateway card earns bonus miles per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 2x on purchases from United
  • 2x on gas stations
  • 2x on local transit and commuting, including ride share services, taxicabs, train tickets, tolls, and mass transit

The United Explorer card earns bonus miles per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 2x on purchases from United
  • 2x on dining, including eligible delivery services
  • 2x on hotel stays when booked directly with the hotel

The United Quest card earns bonus miles per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 3x on purchases from United
  • 2x on all other travel, including airfare, trains, local transit, cruise lines, hotels, car rentals, taxicabs, resorts, ride share services and tolls
  • 2x dining, including eligible delivery services
  • 2x on select streaming services

The United Club card earns bonus miles per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 4x on purchases from United
  • 2x on all other travel, including airfare, trains, local transit, cruise lines, hotels, car rentals, taxicabs, resorts, ride share services and tolls
  • 2x dining, including eligible delivery services

Despite the multiple bonus categories across these cards, cardholders are typically better off spending on other cards instead of on the United cards, as we discuss below.

Benefits

Benefits and perks vary among each of the 4 United cards. As expected, benefits differ depending on each card's annual fee. The Gateway card offers very few perks, but has no annual fee. At the opposite end, the United Club card offers a slew of benefits.

United Gateway Benefits

The United Gateway card is pretty barebones, even for a no-annual fee card. Coupled with a small sign-up bonus, this card is not worth taking up one of your 5/24 slots. The card offers the following benefits:

  • 25% back as a statement credit for United in-flight purchases
  • One year of complimentary DashPass
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • No foreign transaction fees

United Explorer Benefits

The United Explorer card's benefits include:

  • 2 United Club one-time passes per year
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation
  • Earn 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases, up to 1,000 PQP in a calendar year
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 4 years
  • Expanded award availability, similar to what is available to United MileagePlus elites
  • Priority boarding (prior to general boarding) for the primary cardholders and companions on the same reservation
  • Access to Chase's Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Baggage delay reimbursement for essential purchases
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • One year of complimentary DashPass
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • 25% back as a statement credit for United in-flight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

United Quest Benefits

The United Quest card's benefits include:

  • Up to $125 in statement credits each account anniversary year as reimbursement for United purchases
  • Free first and second checked bag for primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation
  • Earn 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases, up to 3,000 PQP in a calendar year
  • Two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits, starting with your first anniversary, after you take a United award flight booked with your UA miles – up to 2 times every anniversary year
  • Expanded award availability, similar to what is available to United MileagePlus elites
  • Complimentary upgrades on award tickets for Premier members: the primary cardholder who is also a MileagePlus Premier member traveling on a domestic MileagePlus award ticket will be eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on eligible United-operated flights (when available)
  • 25% back as a statement credit for United in-flight purchases
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 4 years
  • Priority boarding (prior to general boarding) for the primary cardholders and companions on the same reservation
  • Access to Chase's Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay reimbursement for essential purchases
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • One year of complimentary DashPass
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • No foreign transaction fees

United Club Benefits

The United Club card's benefits include:

  • United Club membership
  • Earn 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases, up to 4,000 PQP in a calendar year
  • Premier access travel services, including priority check-in, security lanes (where available), boarding and baggage handling
  • Expanded award availability, similar to what is available to United MileagePlus elites
  • IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status (registration required)
  • Avis President's Club membership
  • Statement credit of up to $75 per year for purchases at IHG properties between January 1 and December 31, 2022
  • $70 discount on CLEAR membership. (Plus earn 10,000 bonus miles if you sign up for CLEAR membership by June 30, 2022)
  • Save 10% on United Economy Saver Awards on United flights when traveling within the continental U.S. or between the continental U.S. and Canada
  • Complimentary first and second checked bag for primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation
  • Complimentary upgrades on award tickets for Premier members: the primary cardholder who is also a MileagePlus Premier member traveling on a domestic MileagePlus award ticket will be eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on eligible United-operated flights (when available)
  • 25% back as a statement credit for United in-flight purchases
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 4 years
  • Access to Chase's Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay reimbursement for essential purchases
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • One year of complimentary DashPass
  • Return protection
  • No foreign transaction fees

Our Analysis

With the exception of the no-annual fee Gateway card, each of the United personal cards more than make up for their annual fees. Generally, the cards' benefits will likely appeal more to frequent United flyers. These benefits include complimentary checked bag, priority boarding, and complimentary upgrades. It's interesting to see the Club card offer some benefits that don't relate to United, such as complimentary status with IHG and Avis. In fact, the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier card is the only other credit card that offers this status for free.

Since the perks vary among the 4 cards, travelers can actually benefit from holding more than one United card. Of course, we would not recommend using up multiple 5/24 slots on these cards if you have not already opened all of the UR-earning cards that you can. Here are some examples of why you may want to hold these cards:

  • Gateway card: since the card has no annual fee, you can product change from one of the other UA cards to this one if you want to save on annual fees.
  • Explorer card: you can give your 2 United Club one-time passes per year to family or friends. These two passes alone more than cover the card's $95 annual fee.
  • Quest card: the $125 statement credit for UA purchases slashes the card's annual fee in half. And you still earn two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits after you take a United award flight.
  • Club card: take your pick. Complimentary United Club membership. The ability to earn up to 4,000 PQP per year through spend. Premier access travel services. Saving 10% on United Economy Saver Awards on United flights. $70 discount on CLEAR membership.

Another consistent benefit across the cards is travel protection. The Gateway card offers only trip cancellation/interruption, which is already impressive for a no-annual fee card. But the remaining three cards offer robust travel protection. Some travel protection benefits are even comparable to that of the Chase Sapphire Preferred (review). The trip delay reimbursement kicks in after 12 hours and covers up to $500 per ticket, just like the CSP. So if you don't have a CSP or a Chase Sapphire Reserve (review), the Explorer, Quest, or Club cards could help you with travel protection.

For spending, cardholders will generally do better by using a different credit card instead of the United cards. Chase's UR-earning cards offer equal or better earning rates than each of the United cards, with the exception of the Club card. The Club card does earn 4x on United purchases, but we would still prefer earning 3x URs on United purchases with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or another card that earns transferrable currencies. Since United is a Chase transfer partner, you are better off putting your spend on the CSP or another UR-earning credit card than on the United Explorer card.

Final Thoughts

Chase's United personal cards offer solid benefits for United flyers that offset their annual fees. The extent of each card's perks is consistent with their annual fees. Frequent United flyers could even benefit from holding more than one these cards long-term. But as always, make sure to consider your own needs every time the annual fee hits.

What do you think of Chase's co-branded United personal cards? Come share your thoughts in our Facebook group!

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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