Updated Sep 09, 2021 | Published Aug 12, 2021 • 9 min read
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The United Gateway Card provides a pretty good value for a no annual fee travel card. If United is your go-to airline and you only travel a few times per year, this could be the card for you. But because there isn’t an annual fee, the card benefits aren’t anything to write home about.
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Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
We give the United Gateway℠ Card 4 out of 5 Stars. It offers sporadic United travelers the opportunity to earn decent rewards and gain some travel-related benefits.
Why We Like It
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fee
25% back for in-flight United purchases
2X miles per dollar at United, gas stations, and local transit and commuting
15,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months; an additional 15,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
Why It Could Be Better
No time-saving airport perks like preferred boarding
The United Gateway Card offers a few travel-enhancing perks for the occasional United Airlines flyer, but isn’t as beneficial as other United credit cards if you travel frequently.
However, for no annual fee, you could certainly do worse. It’s pretty rewarding (as far as airline cards go), and while the benefits don’t pave the way to your plane seat like other cards might, the travel protections could prove useful and so could the in-flight discount. You won’t have to worry about paying extra for foreign transactions, either.
If you’re more than just a sporadic United flyer, consider the United℠ Explorer Card (Review). It has an annual fee but also offers a free checked bag, priority boarding, United Club lounge access, and more.
How Does the Gateway Compare To Other United Cards?
Platinum status in the Hyatt Gold Passport program
25% in-flight discount
First and second checked bag free
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
Fly United: Not only will you earn 2X miles for your United ticket purchase, but you’ll earn an additional 5X miles, at least, from your United MileagePlus membership, for a total of 7X miles per dollar spent on United airfare.
Order off the menu: You’ll get a 25% discount on United in-flight purchases. This will show up in the form of a statement credit in your next billing cycle.
Live luxuriously: With the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, your hotel stays can be even more comfortable. Get room upgrades when they’re available, check in early and check out late, enjoy daily complimentary breakfast for two, and more at over 1,000 hotels around the world.
Have the food brought to you: Thanks to your year-long complimentary DoorDash membership, you won’t be responsible for delivery fees on orders of $12 or more.
Don’t scramble for entertainment tickets or dinner reservations: You’ll have 24/7 access to Visa’s concierge service. Use it to make dinner reservations, locate concert tickets, find gift ideas, and more.
If your United miles are worth 1–1.5 cents each for award flights, then you’d earn a cash back equivalent of 7%–10.5% for United purchases, and 2%–3% for the other 2X categories.
2X United miles per dollar for:
Local transit and commuting
1X United mile per dollar on all other purchases
15,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months; an additional 15,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
While 2X miles per dollar for an airline card with no annual fee is pretty good, the card is actually much better thanks to the basic MileagePlus membership.
From the basic membership alone, you’re boosted to 7X MileagePlus miles per dollar for United tickets. And it isn’t capped there. You could earn 7–11X bonus miles from the MileagePlus program if you were to increase your Premier status levels. However, if you fly enough to move up in the ranks, a better United card would probably be the better choice.
What's the best United card for you?United Airlines Credit Cards: Here’s Our Top Pick
Here’s what you can redeem your miles for:
United award flights (best value)
Hotel stays, rental cars, or cruises
United Club membership or in-flight WiFi
Merchandise or gift cards
Experiences and events
You can also buy, transfer, or donate your miles, but you’ll find the best value by redeeming miles for United award flights. Redeeming for award flights could net you 1–1.5 cents per mile. There are no blackout dates to worry about for award flights.
How do I redeem miles for United award flights?
Simple: Head over to United’s website and search for the desired flight in the box at the top of the page. Check the box indicating you’d rather use miles instead of money and you’re all set.
We’ve run through some examples of one-way flights below so you can get an idea of what your miles might be worth.
JFK to DEN
32,500 + $5.60
SEA to IAH
12,500 + $5.60
MIA to PIT
15,000 + $5.60
LAX to CVG
16,700 + $5.60
ROC to IND
15,000 + $5.60
Keep in mind your per-mile value will vary due to the volatility of airfare pricing, and when and where you may be traveling to.
At the high end, assuming you earned 7X miles per dollar, for your flight from New York City to Denver you’d be seeing a cash back equivalent of 9.81%. For the flight from Rochester to Indianapolis, the low end, you’d see a cash back equivalent of 6.33%, which isn’t a significant drop. And neither of those figures are poor for a card that doesn’t require an annual fee.
The United Gateway Card comes with an average set of benefits for a travel credit card with no annual fee. While it may lack the common free checked bags perk, you could still find plenty of use for the 25% in-flight discount and travel insurance.
25% back for in-flight purchases: You’ll receive a statement credit for 25% of what you spend on in-flight food, beverage, and WiFi purchases with United.
The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Get room upgrades when available, complimentary daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late check-out, and more at over 1,000 hotels around the globe.
DoorDash membership: Enjoy a year-long DoorDash membership, giving you no delivery fees and reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more. Activate by December 31, 2021.
Visa Concierge: Call 1-800-953-7392 for assistance with non-emergency tasks like making dinner reservations and locating concert tickets.
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the rental car provider’s insurance offer and charge the full amount to your card to benefit from secondary coverage against damage and theft.
Purchase Protection: New purchases are covered for 120 days against damage and theft. $500 per claim, up to $50,000 per account.
Extended Warranty Protection: If a purchase has a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less, it can be extended for an additional year.
Contactless: No need to insert or swipe your card whenever you see the contactless symbol, just tap to pay.
The Terms & Fees
Balance Transfer APR
Cash Advance APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Cash Advance Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
Returned Payment Fee
Up to 29.99%
The Bottom Line
If you don’t fly very often, and prefer to fly United when you do, the United Gateway℠ Card could be a beneficial choice.
What it offers is pretty good, all things considered. The 25% in-flight discount, DoorDash membership, and Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection all provide a good deal of value for a card that doesn’t ask for an annual fee. But if you travel more than a handful of times per year, you’d probably get more out of the United℠ Explorer Card (Review).
If you do only travel occasionally, you could also consider other travel rewards credit cards that aren’t tied to a specific airline. Airline credit cards are great for airline-specific benefits and to earn valuable miles for award flights. But the United Gateway Card only features one United perk, and while it provides a pretty decent per-mile value, you might be able to find more value (and more flexibility) with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review).
How Do I Apply for the United Gateway Card?
Just follow the link below to apply now with the credit card issuer, Chase. You should hear back instantly regarding whether or not you’ve been approved.
What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the United Gateway Card?
To qualify for the United Gateway Card, you’ll typically need good credit.
For your credit scores to be considered in the good range, either your FICO scores need to be at least 670, or your VantageScores need to be at least 700.
However, keep in mind issuers take more than just credit scores into account. Income, monthly rent and mortgage payments, and other details also factor into the decision. The additional information could lead to your approval despite having lower scores. Or, you could be denied even if your scores are higher than what’s recommended.
The United Gateway Card still offers quite a bit for not requiring an annual fee. You’ll get free DoorDash membership for a year, access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, and 25% back on in-flight United purchases.
It comes with an annual fee, but for people who travel more than just occasionally, it provides considerably more value than the United Gateway Card. The reward rate is the same with a few different bonus categories, but the benefits are much more impressive.
You’ll get a free checked bag, priority boarding, two annual United Club passes, and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit. If you travel frequently enough, the checked bag perk alone should make the annual fee worth it.
MileagePlus member status: MileagePlus members can reach a higher membership level by spending and flying with United each year. Higher tiers provide more miles per dollar and better airline perks.
Free first checked bag: You and one traveling companion on the same reservation will get your first checked bag free on United flights.
25% discount on United in-flight purchases: Get 25% back in the form of a statement credit on food, drink, and WiFi purchases made during a United flight.
Two United Club passes: Get two yearly one-time passes to the United Club airport lounge.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Get a statement credit for the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSAPre✓ ($85). This credit is available once every four years, and you must charge the application fee to your card to get it.
Priority Boarding: The primary cardmember and any traveling companions on the same reservation will get priority boarding, prior to the general boarding call. To get this benefit, include your MileagePlus number in your reservation, and refer to your United boarding pass for your boarding group number.
It earns pretty decent rewards, and similar to the United Gateway Card, it covers more than travel expenses. However, we found that the Citi / AAdvantage card earns about 7%–14% cash back for AA flights, compared to the United card’s 7%–10.5% for United flights, so the cash back equivalent could end up being slightly higher.
As for the benefits, there aren’t any travel protections like the United Gateway Card features, but there are free checked bag and priority boarding perks. These two cards are on a fairly even playing field, so the choice really comes down to if you prefer American Airlines or United (see other American Airlines credit cards here).
25% in-flight food and beverage discount: Save some money on in-flight snacks and drinks, making your flight just a little better.
Preferred boarding for AA flights: With preferred boarding, you and four companions will be able to board with Group 5 when it comes time to enter the plane.
First checked bag free: You and up to four travel companions will have the fee for your first checked bags waived on eligible domestic flights.
Reduced mileage award: You’ll get a discount when redeeming miles for flights. For flights of 500 or more miles, you’ll get a 7,500-mile discount. For flights under 500 miles, you’ll get a 2,000-mile discount.
$125 American Airlines flight discount: Spend $20,000 in a cardmember year and renew your card to earn $125 off an American Airlines flight.
10% AA vacation discount: You’ll get a 10% discount when booking a combination of two or more travel methods through American Airlines. These include hotel stays, car rentals, and flights.
Shopping protections: Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty
Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card.*Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
Certainly a step up, this card asks for a somewhat hefty annual fee in exchange for some relatively impressive benefits. As such, it should only be considered by people who travel frequently enough to get the most value out of them.
The cash back equivalent is only a little higher than the United card, offering around 10% for Delta flights compared to 7%–10.5% from the United card, so the travel benefits are the true draw. They include discounted airport lounge access, priority boarding, first checked bags free, and an annual companion ticket (after one year with the card).
If you travel pretty often, you’d get more value from this card’s benefits than the United Gateway Card.
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
If you don’t have loyalty to any one airline, this Chase credit card would be a good choice. It’s more flexible than the United card, earning 2X miles per dollar on all travel, rather than with just one airline. It also provides a 1:1 transfer rate to Chase’s travel partners (one of which is United) and a 25% redemption bonus for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The 1:1 transfer rate is good, and you may be able to find a per-point value even higher than 1 cent given the right deal.
However, there aren’t any airline-specific benefits like in-flight discounts. But the United card doesn’t offer much in that respect either, so you wouldn’t be missing out on much by choosing the Sapphire Preferred over the United card.
10% annual point bonus: Get a 10% bonus on all points earned in the past year; awarded on your account anniversary.
25% redemption point bonus: Get 25% more value when redeeming for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards; that means each point is worth 1.25 cents. Chase may give a 25% bonus for other redemption types as well.
Point transfer: Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs, like Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus.
DoorDash membership: Get a free membership (DashPass) for at least a year, which provides free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.
$60 Peloton credit: Enroll to get up to $60 back for an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership (through 2021). No fitness equipment is required.
Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn more points by shopping at participating retailers with the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers shopping portals.
Visa Signature Concierge: Call to speak with your Visa Signature Concierge any time, day or night.
Primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Get primary coverage on eligible rental vehicles so you don’t have to pay for rental insurance and your premiums won’t go up after an accident.
Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.
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