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United Gateway℠ Card Review [2024]: Earn United Miles With No Annual Fee

The United Gateway Card joins the ranks of Chase’s other United credit card offerings. But does it provide enough value for everyone?

Updated May 15, 2024
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United Gateway℠ Card

United Gateway℠ Card
3.7

OUR VIEW

The United Gateway℠ Card makes sense as a beginner travel card if United is one of your preferred airlines. With a $0 annual fee, you have time to figure out how travel cards work without worrying about a card membership cost. I also like that you can earn an enhanced rate on your United purchases and some everyday expenses.


However, I don’t think this is one of the best travel cards or even one of the best United Airlines co-branded cards. It doesn’t have many great benefits, including not getting a free checked bag, which is something I always look for on airline credit cards.


But as the name suggests, the United Gateway could be your entry point into travel cards and, more specifically, airline cards.

Pros

Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
2 miles per dollar on United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting
Intro APR on purchases
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fees

Cons

Limited travel perks
How we evaluate products

Key takeaways

  • I don’t recommend the United Gateway Card for everyone, but I think it makes sense for United enthusiasts who are new to travel credit cards. It has a forgiving $0 annual fee and a few travel benefits, like no foreign transaction fees and 25% back on United in-flight purchases.
  • I like that you can earn elevated United miles on both United purchases and common expenses. That includes 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting.
  • If you travel on United often enough (even a few times per year), I personally think the United℠ Explorer Card is a much better option. With its free checked bag benefit alone, you could save up to $140 roundtrip for you and a friend or family member.

Who should get the United Gateway Card?

It makes the most sense if you’re new to travel credit cards and like flying United. I think the $0 annual fee makes it an easy introduction to earning and using airline miles, while the few travel benefits the United Gateway Card offers can give you a taste of different card perks.

If you don’t typically fly United, this isn’t the card for you. If you have a different preferred airline, I recommend looking into other airline credit cards.

If you’ve heard of travel credit cards (but want to learn more) and want an easy-to-understand card that you can use on everyday purchases to earn travel rewards, this is a decent starter card. I think there are much better cards available in terms of travel benefits, including perks for flying United, but you have to start somewhere and with something that’s comfortable for you.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer Chase
Credit card network Visa
Annual fee $0
Intro bonus Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
Reward rate 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting; plus 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Good, Excellent
Intro APR 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months then 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Foreign transaction fee None

United Gateway Card benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earning potential: Earn 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting; plus 1 mile per dollar 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.
  • 0% introductory APR offer: If you are planning a large purchase, you can save on interest with this card as it offers a 0% introductory APR for 12 months on new purchases (then 21.99% - 28.99% Variable). 
  • 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.
  • DoorDash benefit: Take advantage of the one-year complimentary DashPass subscription for cardholders. (Requires activation by 12/31/2024.) With DashPass, you'll pay no delivery fees and benefit from reduced service fees on eligible orders. After the first year, your DashPass subscription will renew at the regular monthly rate. 

Drawbacks to this card

  • No free checked bag: Other United credit cards, including the United Explorer Card and United Quest℠ Card, 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. If you’re interested in elevated travel benefits, check out our list of the best travel credit cards

  • 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 at 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: $897

Year two earnings: $552

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which looks at points earned via spending, the welcome offer, and the annual fee. This value assumes you are taking advantage of the bonus earnings, but 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 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting, and 1 mile per dollar 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
United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting 2 miles per dollar
All other purchases 1 mile per dollar

Maximizing your redemptions

In general, I think the best way to use United miles is by redeeming them for award flights. This will typically give you the most bang for your buck compared to other redemption options, such as online shopping and gift cards.

Some of my tips for maximizing your United MileagePlus redemptions include:

  • Being flexible with travel dates: United uses a dynamic pricing model, so the cost of a flight can vary depending on your dates and other factors.
  • Using the Excursionist Perk: If you have a multi-city itinerary, the United Excursionist Perk is a fun way to get a free flight that’s sandwiched between other flights during your trip. I was able to book a free flight from Lisbon to Berlin during a trip where I was already planning to fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong and then Glasgow to Las Vegas.
  • Booking partner flights: United is a Star Alliance member, which means you can use United miles to fly with different United partners. In my experience using the Excursionist Perk, I flew on United, TAP Air Portugal, LOT Polish Airlines, and Air Canada – all booked with United miles.
  • Avoiding fuel surcharges: I appreciate any airline that doesn’t add fuel surcharges to its award flights. United is one of those airlines where you won’t be surprised by a huge fuel surcharge cost on your award booking. That means more money for you to use on other travel expenses, like hotel stays and activities.
  • Taking advantage of award sales: United has a dedicated flight award deals page and will sometimes release featured deals. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these deals because you never know when one might align with your travel plans. An especially good deal I remember (from late 2023) is being able to book one-way flights to New Zealand and Australia from the U.S. for only 35,000 miles.

United transfer partners

United MileagePlus members can use their miles to book flights with many partner airlines. As a member of the Star Alliance, United’s miles can be used with other Star Alliance members, and several other partner airlines as well.

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:

Star Alliance Other airline partners Hotel and transportation partner rewards programs
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Avianca
  • 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
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Airlink
  • Azul
  • Boutique Air
  • Cape Air
  • Discover Airlines
  • Edelweiss
  • Emirates
  • Eurowings
  • Flydubai
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JSX
  • Olympic Air
  • Silver Airways
  • Virgin Australia
  • Vistara

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

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 the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. This card has somewhat different spending categories. You'll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. In addition, your first checked bag is free on United flights, and you get up to $100 statement credit toward a TSA PreCheck, NEXUS, 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 Travel℠ transfer partners. And because your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Travel℠ portal on this card, it makes it a lot easier to get loads of value from your travel redemptions. New Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

A No Annual Fee Card for United Fans

3.7

United Gateway℠ Card

Why We Like It

Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

See how these cards compare:

United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases
  • Free first checked bag
  • 2 United Club Passes annually
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Chase Travel℠
  • Premium travel protection benefits

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 welcome offer bring it a lot of value.

What does 20,000 United miles get you?

A sum of 20,000 United miles is worth about $230, according to FinanceBuzz data. That could more than cover a domestic round-trip flight depending on your dates. For example, a round-trip flight between Los Angeles, California, and Houston, Texas, could cost as low as 12,000 miles. 

What is the best United card?

The United Explorer Card is easily one of the best cards for most United travelers because it has a low $95 (waived first year) annual fee and provides a free first checked bag for you and a companion on United flights. For premium travel benefits, such as complimentary United Club membership, the United Club℠ Infinite Card is the best option.

United Gateway Card: bottom line

I like the United Gateway Card as a beginner travel card because it has decent benefits and earning potential for a $0-annual-fee card, but it can’t really compare to other cards with low annual fees and better benefits.

If you’re still deciding, consider other travel cards that might make more sense. Check out our list of the best travel credit cards for better options.

A No Annual Fee Card for United Fans

3.7

United Gateway℠ Card

Current Offer

Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

2 miles per dollar on United purchases, at gas stations, and on local transit and commuting; plus 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.