United Gateway Card Review: Earn United Miles With No Annual Fee [2021]

The United Gateway Card joins the ranks of Chase’s other United credit card offerings as its newest member. But does the new card on the block provide enough value for everyone?
Last updated Feb 25, 2021 | By Ben Walker

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The new United Gateway Card replaces the United TravelBank Card as the entry-level choice for United Airlines credit cards. This Chase-issued credit card can be an ideal stepping stone for newcomers to travel cards that want to experience more about how they work and what their benefits are.

When you compare credit cards, not many beginner travel cards offer many non-travel ways to earn rewards on spending. But with the United Gateway Card, you have multiple options to earn United miles without having to purchase United airfare. This expands your earning potential and makes it easier to quickly build your rewards.

In this United Gateway Card review, we’ll cover the benefits and drawbacks of this card so you can decide whether it would be the right fit for you.

A No Annual Fee Card for United Fans

Benefits

  • 20,000 bonus miles plus 3X miles on grocery store purchases
  • 2X miles on United purchases, gas stations, and transit
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Limited travel perks

In this United Gateway Card review

Who should get the United Gateway Card?

If you occasionally fly United Airlines, the United Gateway Card might make sense for you. With a generous sign-up bonus and multiple ways to earn United MileagePlus miles, you could be flying United with points in no time. Add in the $0 annual fee and the value of this card continues to rise.

Of course, the United Gateway Card won’t likely make any list of the best airline credit cards because it can’t compete with the higher earning rates and additional benefits of cards that have annual fees. This makes it more of a beginner travel card for people who don’t necessarily need a lot of benefits. If you aren't a frequent flyer, you wouldn’t be able to utilize travel benefits very often anyway, so they’d end up being wasted along with the money you spent on the annual fee. So if you don’t travel often, this card could be a good fit.

Even though this isn’t a premium travel card, you’d still likely need a good or excellent credit score to be approved. United cards often require a good or excellent credit score for qualification and this one is no different.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer Chase
Credit card network Visa
Annual fee $0
Intro bonus Earn 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months
Reward rate 3X miles on grocery store purchases (up to $1,500 per month through Sep. 30, 2021); 2X miles on United purchases, at gas stations, and on transit and commuting; plus 1X on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Good, Excellent
Foreign transaction fee None

United Gateway Card benefits and perks

  • Generous sign-up offer: Earn 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months after account opening.
  • Earning potential: Earn 3X miles on grocery store purchases (up to $1,500 per month through Sep. 30, 2021); 2X miles on United purchases, at gas stations, and on transit and commuting; plus 1X on all other purchases. These bonus categories make it simple for a United traveler to earn rewards, especially if United Airlines purchases are regularly in your spending.
  • Low fees: With a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, you don’t have to stress about an annual cost or fees on purchases while traveling abroad.
  • United benefits: All purchases made with this card earn United miles and you also get 25% back in statement credits on in-flight purchases made with this card.
  • Chase benefits: With this card, you’ll receive complimentary protections and insurance, like an auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty benefits.

Drawbacks to this card

  • No free checked bag: Other United credit cards can help you avoid checked bag fees with United Airlines, but the United Gateway Card doesn’t come with this benefit.
  • No premium benefits: The United Gateway Card is a travel card, but it doesn’t offer premium travel benefits like Priority Pass lounge access, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement, or annual travel credits.
  • Chase 5/24 status: As a Chase credit card, the United Gateway Card falls under the Chase 5/24 rule. This means you can’t get this card if you’ve already signed up for five new credit card products in the past 24 months.

Earning and redeeming United MileagePlus miles

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look how your United miles can add up with the United Gateway Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1 cent per mile, though you may be able to redeem your miles for a higher value due to United’s dynamic award structure.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $793

Year two earnings: $593

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which looks at points earned via spending, the sign-up bonus, and the annual fee. This value assumes you are taking advantage of the bonus earnings on groceries available through September 2021, but that not all your travel spending is with United. Obviously, the more you travel with United, the more this card could be worth to you.

Best ways to earn

The best way to earn United miles with the United Gateway Card is by using it to make purchases that earn bonus rewards. For example, you can earn 3X miles on grocery store purchases (up to $1,500 per month through Sep. 30, 2021), 2X miles on United purchases, gas stations, and transit and commuting, and 1X miles on all other purchases.

It’s easy to start racking up miles if you use this card on some of your everyday expenses, as well as any United purchases you make.

Categories Rewards rate
Grocery store purchases (up to $1,500 per month through Sep. 30, 2021) 3X
United purchases, gas stations, and transit and commuting 2X
All other purchases 1X

Maximizing your redemptions

United miles can be redeemed in multiple ways, including award flights, hotel stays, car rentals, online shopping, gift cards, and more. However, the best value for your miles will typically be for award flight redemptions.

United has a dynamic pricing structure for award flights, so there’s no set value when you redeem miles for flights. But you can always tell how much United miles are worth when you’re about to redeem them. You simply divide the cash price of a flight by the number of miles needed for an award redemption on the same flight to get your redemption value.

For example, if a one-way flight from Las Vegas to Orlando costs $168 or 12,500 miles, your redemption value would be about 1.3 cents per mile (168 / 12,500 = .01344). This is an average redemption value for United, but you can use this method to compare different flights and maximize your redemptions. If you take into account that United also has transfer partners, you’re able to open up your opportunities to find higher redemption values.

United transfer partners

United MileagePlus members can transfer their miles to other loyalty programs that United partners with. As a member of the Star Alliance, United’s miles can be transferred to any other Star Alliance member.

Star Alliance members include these airlines:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa Airlines
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • Thai Airways
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

United also partners with hotels and car rental companies to provide MileagePlus members with additional benefits. These loyalty program partners allow you to earn United miles through their programs:

The availability of transfer partners allows for greater flexibility and earning potential when it comes to using your United miles. Remember to take advantage of these transfer partners so you can maximize your redemptions and get the most out of your rewards.

United Gateway Card FAQs

Is the United Gateway Card worth it?

The United Gateway Card is worth it for anyone who wants to earn United miles on every purchase for the purpose of redeeming those miles for award flights. This card doesn’t have any premium benefits, but the $0 annual fee and generous sign-up bonus bring it a lot of value.

What does 20,000 United miles get you?

United’s dynamic award pricing doesn’t let you put a set value on 20,000 United miles, but you can quickly check different award flights on the United website to see how far 20,000 miles goes. For example, a round-trip flight between Los Angeles, California, and Houston, Texas could cost as low as 12,000 miles. Or, you could get a one-way flight from Houston to Lima, Peru for 20,000 miles. As you search around, you’ll find there are a lot of uses for 20,000 United miles.

What is the best United card?

The best United card for you is the one that most aligns with your lifestyle, spending, and travel habits. If you travel infrequently, you may find the United Gateway Card to be the most beneficial because it has a $0 annual fee. If you travel with United all the time, then a premium travel card like the United Club Infinite Card might make more sense. This card has useful travel benefits and perks that a frequent traveler can easily take advantage of, including free checked bags on United flights.


Other cards to consider

The United Gateway Card is a great choice for United travelers who fly occasionally and want a$0 annual fee credit card that earns travel rewards. It’s a low-maintenance rewards credit card with helpful earning rates and benefits. However, other Chase credit card offers like the United Explorer Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred may be a better fit for you.

The United Explorer Card improves on the United Gateway Card in a variety of ways. It has a $95 (waived first year) annual fee, but you can earn 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. This card has somewhat different spending categories. You get 2X miles at restaurants and eligible delivery services, hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel, and eligible United purchases; and 1X miles on everything else. In addition, your first checked bag is free on United flights and you get $100 statement credit toward a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get a more flexible travel rewards card. This card is always on our list of the best credit cards. The Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for travel, cash back, gift cards, or as a transfer to any Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. And because your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel on this card, it makes it a lot easier to get loads of value from your travel redemptions. New Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

A No Annual Fee Card for United Fans

Special Offer

Earn 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months

See how these cards compare:

United Explorer Card
United Explorer Card
  • Up to 65,000 mile sign-up bonus
  • 2X miles on United purchases, restaurants, and delivery services
  • Free first checked bag
  • 2 United Club Passes annually
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Up to $50 statement credit for grocery store purchases
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits