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United Gateway℠ Card review: A solid no-annual-fee card for frequent United flyers

This may be the card you've been looking for if you frequently fly with United Airlines, but aren't interested in paying an annual credit card fee.
By Jennifer Doss  CardRatings Editor  | Updated

United Gateway℠ Card

United Gateway℠ Card
Our Rating:   
Good, Excellent
on Chase's secure website

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • Cardholders earn on more than just United purchases. Earn two miles per dollar on United purchases, plus at gas stations and on local transit and commuting costs.
  • Considering the fact that this card doesn't charge an annual fee, it offers a nice and easy-to-earn welcome bonus. Earn up to 15,000 bonus miles once spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months plus an additional 15,000 bonus miles once spending $3,000 in the first six months of opening an account.
  • Enjoy 25% back on United in-flight purchases, issued in the form of a statement credit.
  • If United Airlines is truly your go-to airline, you may stand to earn higher rewards with one of United's annual-fee cards. Be sure to evaluate how much you'll use the card and consider whether or not an annual-fee card might be worth it for you.

UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD BENEFITS

If United is your airline of choice, the United Gateway℠ Card can be a valuable addition to your wallet. Offered by Chase, the card features ample opportunities to earn frequent flyer miles with spending on both travel and everyday purchases. Even better, there's no annual fee required.

The United Gateway℠ Card also offers extras that include bonus miles, travel perks and partner benefits. Let's break those down one at a time, starting with bonus miles.

EARNING MILES WITH THE UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD

For new cardholders, there is a welcome offer that awards up to 30,000 bonus miles. Earn up to 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. Plus, an additional 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first six months.

Then, every purchase made with the card earns additional miles. These are awarded based on the type of purchase:

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on United purchases, including tickets, in-flight food and Wi-Fi and baggage service charges
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on local transit and commuting costs, including mass transit, tolls, ride share services and more
  • Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD TRAVEL PERKS

Earning miles for travel is only one benefit of the United Gateway℠ Card. When you use your card, you also get the following perks to make every trip more rewarding:

  • Enjoy 25% back on United in-flight purchases, issued in the form of a statement credit
  • Access to United Card Events from Chase, which are private, curated experiences available for purchase
  • Room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and other amenities at properties in The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver coverage
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Complimentary access to Visa Signature Concierge Service, which is available 24 hours a day

OTHER BENEFITS OF THE UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD

The travel benefits alone make the United Gateway℠ Card an appealing choice. However, they aren't the only perks that come with your account. You'll also benefit from the following:

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • One-year free membership to DoorPass, which includes no delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible DoorDash orders that are more than $12 (must be activate by December 31, 2021)
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection

With benefits ranging from bonus miles to a free DoorPass membership - and all offered with no annual fee - there is little reason not to apply for the United Gateway℠ Card if you are a frequent United flyer. However, to get the most from the card, you'll need to be a MileagePlus member.

Top Features

 Cash Back on Gas
2X miles per $1 spent
 Cash Back on Groceries
1 mile per $1 spent
 Cash Back on Other
1 mile per $1 spent

UNITED GATEWAY℠ MILEAGEPLUS

MileagePlus is the loyalty program for United Airlines. Miles earned with the United Gateway℠ Card will be applied to your MileagePlus account and can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise and more.

One of the best parts of the MileagePlus program is that miles can be redeemed for any United-operated flight with no blackouts or restrictions. Miles can also be redeemed for flights on partner airlines, and you won't ever have to worry about your MileagePlus miles expiring.

In addition to earning miles with your United Gateway℠ Card, you'll also earn miles for every flight you take with United or a partnering airline. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, which has 25 members including Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. United also has a dozen other worldwide partners such as Aer Lingus and Hawaiian Airlines.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES OF THE UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD

The main downside of the United Gateway℠ Card is that those who don't use United Airlines frequently may find its value limited. If you prefer to travel with a variety of carriers, you may be better off with a card that offers a more flexible rewards program, such as American Express Membership Rewards Points or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The other downside is that the card doesn't have a zero percent introductory APR offer. That means that if you carry a balance, you'll be paying interest right off the bat.

HOW THE UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD COMPARES TO OTHER TRAVEL CARDS

United Gateway℠ Card vs. United℠ Explorer Card

Either of these co-branded cards can be a good choice for fans of United Airlines, but if you are a frequent traveler and don't mind paying an annual fee, the United℠ Explorer Card may have a slight edge.

While both cards offer two miles per dollar spent on United purchases, the United℠ Explorer Card also awards two miles per dollar spent on dining and hotels. Of course, if you travel infrequently and rarely eat out, you may find the two miles per dollar spent on gas stations and transit offered by the United Gateway℠ Card to be more rewarding.

For the first year, neither card charges an annual fee. However, after that, you'll pay $95 a year for the United℠ Explorer Card while the United Gateway℠ Card will continue to be free.

As for the welcome offer, the United℠ Explorer Card is more lucrative, with a chance to earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. However, you'll have to spend a lot more to earn those miles. The card rewards 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of an account opening. Then, you'll get an additional 10,000 bonus miles if you spend $6,000 within the first six months of having your card.

A final consideration is the additional perks offered by the United℠ Explorer Card that are not available on the United Gateway℠ Card. These include two United Club one-time passes per year, free checked bag for you and a companion, priority boarding and a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership.

United Gateway℠ Card vs. Citi Premier® Card

While the United Gateway℠ Card is specifically designed for MileagePlus members, the Citi Premier® Card earns ThankYou® points which some people might find more flexible. These points can be used for travel through Citi's Travel Rewards system or redeemed for gift cards, shopping or cash rewards. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

As with the United Gateway℠ Card, there is a new cardholder bonus available with the Citi Premier® Card. However, you'll need to spend significantly more – $4,000 within three months – to earn the Citi Premier® Card bonus of 80,000 points.

Earning potential is also different between the two cards. While the United card offers bonus points for United, gas station and transit purchases, the Citi Premier® Card has bonus earning opportunities on more categories. With the Citi card, you'll earn three points per dollar spent on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, hotels and air travel. All other purchases earn one point per dollar spent.

The Citi Premier® Card charges a $95 annual fee, but it also comes with a $100 hotel savings benefit. That will deduct $100 from a single hotel stay of $500 or more when booked through the ThankYou® program.

United Gateway℠ Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is often mentioned as one of the best travel cards available and for good reason. The card has flexible rewards and ample earning opportunities as well as other perks and benefits.

What's more, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is currently offering its best ever welcome bonus offer. Right now, new cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program or, for a limited time, as statement credits for purchases in rotating categories. Currently, either redemption option offers a 25% boost in point value, meaning that welcome bonus could be worth as much as $1,250.

As for earning, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point on all other purchases. There are also perks such as up to $60 back on elgible Peloton purchases and complimentary DashPass membership for a year.

All this isn't to say that everyone should choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card over the United card. You'll pay $95 a year for the Sapphire card, and you need spend four times as much to earn the welcome offer as compared to the United Gateway℠ Card. Those factors could make the United Gateway℠ Card a better choice for some people.

WHO SHOULD APPLY FOR THE UNITED GATEWAY℠ CARD?

The United Gateway℠ Card is ideal for those who travel regularly with United Airlines or its partners and don't want to pay an annual fee. While its benefits aren't as flashy or lucrative as some other travel cards, it is a solid option with little to no downsides for United fans.

United Gateway℠ Card Compared to Other Cash back Cards

Apply online for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply online for Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Apply online for Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Cash Back on Gas
2X miles per $1 spent 
Cash Back on Gas
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% 
Cash Back on Gas
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% 
Cash Back on Groceries
1 mile per $1 spent 
Cash Back on Groceries
6% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) 
Cash Back on Groceries
Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. 
Cash Back on Groceries
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on Groceries
1.5% 
Cash Back on other
1 mile per $1 spent 
Cash Back on other
1% cash back on other purchases 
Cash Back on other
1.5% 
Cash Back on other
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on other
1.5% 

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