United℠ TravelBank Card Review
United℠ TravelBank Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Earn a $150 TravelBank bonus after spending just $1,000 in the first three months.
- TravelBank dollars redeem at a 1:1 ratio when it comes time to purchase your next ticket with United Airlines.
- You'll earn 2 percent in TravelBank cash on United Airlines ticket purchases made with the airline and 1.5 percent in TravelBank cash on your everyday purchases, making this a solid credit card for your trips to the grocery store or your next airline ticket.
- The TravelBank cash you earn is only redeemable for tickets with United. If you want more travel flexibility, consider a more general travel rewards card such as those mentioned in the "Compares" section below.
UnitedSM TravelBank Card Essentials
Hot on the heels of American Express and Delta announcing a no-annual-fee airline card, United Airlines and Chase introduced their own no-annual-fee airline credit card, the United℠ TravelBank Card.
The United℠ TravelBank Card is geared toward casual flyers who like the opportunity to earn free flights in a relatively short amount of time, but aren't necessarily burning up the runways with their frequent travel and don't require a lot of the perks and features that come with airline cards that charge annual fees.
This new card is an easy-to-carry alternative to the United MileagePlus® Explorer and the United MileagePlus® Club cards, both of which offer more bells and whistles, but also come with annual fees – $95 and $450, respectively – that can be real obstacles for many consumers and likely aren't a great value for the every-so-often traveler.
The United℠ TravelBank Cardd is a streamlined card with $0 annual fee and an easy-to-understand rewards program that's a breath of fresh air for anyone who embraces simplicity and bristles at lengthy legalese. You earn 2 percent in TravelBank cash for every $1 spent on United Airlines tickets purchased directly from the airline. You earn 1.5 percent TravelBank cash on all your other purchases. In addition, cardholders receive a $150 bonus credit in their "bank" if they use their card for at least $1,000 of qualified purchases in the first three months.
The credits you accumulate in your "TravelBank" can be used at any time toward ticket purchases on United Airlines. The best part? $1 TravelBank cash equals $1 toward your ticket. It doesn't get simpler than that.
Sweetening the deal a bit, United℠ TravelBank Card cardholders also enjoy a 25 percent statement credit on all in-flight food and beverage purchases made using your card on your United Airlines flight.
If you are a looking for a simple credit card airline rewards program that will earn you discounted, or even free, tickets in a short period of time, consider these points about the United TravelBank Card:
- $0 annual fee.
- You can redeem the TravelBank cash in your "bank" at any time.
- Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
- Receive a 25 percent card statement credit on in-flight food and beverage purchases on United flights.
- Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
- No annual fee.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
What Our Editors Like Most about the UnitedSM TravelBank Card
The travel rewards program for the United℠ TravelBank Card is easy to understand and satisfies the need for immediate gratification. Perhaps the best part, though, is the lucrative rewards-earning opportunities without an annual fee.
You get 2 percent TravelBank cash back on every United Airlines ticket purchased directly with the airline. You get a robust 1.5 percent for all other purchases, which is the rate at which many, if not most, regular flat-rate cash-back credit cards earn. Spend at least $1,000 on qualified purchases – that's a low bar when it comes to signup bonus spending thresholds – in the first three months and receive a $150 bonus credit in your "bank." It's that simple.
Those credits can add up in a hurry and there is no limit on how much you can "bank." There are also no restrictions on when you can redeem your banked credits toward United Airline ticket purchases.
We also love the fact that you get a 25 percent statement credit on your in-flight purchases. It's a good feeling to know you'll be getting a rebate on anything you might spend on food or beverages during a long flight.
And, lastly, feel free to use your TravelBank dollars to jet abroad since you won't pay foreign transaction fees if you use the United℠ TravelBank Card while overseas.
Potential Downsides of the UnitedSM TravelBank Card
The United℠ TravelBank Card should probably not be the only card in your wallet. The rewards offered are simply too narrow. Instead, consider combining this card with another cash-back rewards card that offers bonus rewards in categories in which you often shop. Since there's no annual fee, there's no harm in carrying the United℠ TravelBank Card as a go-to for its 1.5 percent back on your purchases, but racking up bonus rewards with a card that earns more in particular categories would be a nice touch.
Remember, too, that the credits you accumulate in your "bank" for each dollar spent, can only be used on United Airlines ticket purchases and the 25 percent statement credit is only on in-flight purchases made while flying United.
One other thing to keep in mind: this card doesn't offer you free baggage check. Many airline rewards cards offer a free first bag as a perk for their cardholders. That said, most of those cards also charge an annual fee.
You will also want to make sure you make your monthly payment on time, as there is a fee of up to $37 on late payments.
How the UnitedSM TravelBank Card Compares to Other Travel Reward Cards
United℠ TravelBank Card vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Both the United℠ TravelBank Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card tout your ability to rack up rewards in a short period of time and both offer bonuses to get the ball rolling. The key difference is in how much a cardholder anticipates spending on their card and how much flexibility you expect when it comes time to redeem.
With the United℠ TravelBank Card, you can earn a $150 credit to your "bank" after making $1,000 in qualified purchases over the first three months. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, targeting a bigger spender, offers 50,000 miles (equal to $500 in travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months and another 50,000 miles once you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months (totaling 100,000 miles).
While the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card might offer bigger rewards at two times the miles on every purchase, the United℠ TravelBank Card seems better suited for someone on a budget and with visions of taking a flight or two a year perhaps to visit family and when you don't need points for hotel stays or other travel expenses.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card charges an annual fee of $95 per year. That said, you can rack up miles quickly with this card and you can redeem them for a variety of travel needs without having to worry about brand loyalty or black-out dates.
United℠ TravelBank Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
Another good option for those looking for more freedom with how they travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card entices new users with their 80,000 bonus point signup offer, worth $1,000 when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards®. The spending threshold to receive this bonus ($4,000 in the first three months) is much higher than the United℠ TravelBank Card, but because points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel, it might make good sense for even light credit card users to plan according so they can receive this bonus.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns users two points on travel and restaurant purchases, and one point on every other purchase, has no foreign transaction fees, and comes with a number of travel protection benefits such as auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and travel and emergency assistance services. There is a $95 annual fee associated with the card, but the bonus offer alone far outweighs that cost.
Chase points can be redeemed directly for travel or can be transferred to a variety of hotel and airline partners, or they can be redeemed for cash back or gift cards, making the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card a good option if you prefer a card with more flexible redemption options than what you might find with the United℠ TravelBank Card.
The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card.
Who Should Get the UnitedSM TravelBank Card?
This card is designed for folks who are casual travelers, but still appreciate a free flight when they can snag one. The United℠ TravelBank Card gives you the chance to accumulate rewards on everyday purchases at a rate that's comparable to regular flat-rate cash-back cards. Plus, you can earn a bonus without having to spend a huge amount upfront and without having to pay an annual fee. The lack of foreign transaction fees is also nice if you're dreaming of getaway abroad.
The rewards program is perfectly designed for people who like to keep things simple and for anyone who gets excited about the chance to score airline tickets at little or no cost – as long as you're a loyal United Airlines flyer, that is.