There’s been a lot of buzz about a new United Airlines co-branded credit card. It’s expensive but has some great features. I haven’t chosen to carry it myself, but for frequent United flyers it may be just the right card.
First, the fee is $140 per year. That’s more than the regular Signature Visa at $60 and more than the Gold Class Visa Signature which is priced at $85 (and which comes with 2500 anniversary miles, double miles on United purchases, and up to 10,000 miles a year for balance transfers).
It’s also more expensive than the $30 Starwood American Express, to my mind the gold standard in mileage earning credit cards.
However, there are some interesting benefits to the new United card.
In addition to the 15,000 bonus miles with first purchase, 1000 mile upgrade certificate, and free companion ticket (all fairly standard offers), you get:
- double miles for United and Star Alliance ticket purchases
- double miles for ‘everyday purchases’ of groceries, dining, gas at the pump, and items from home improvement stores — a bonus which matches the Delta and Hilton American Express products.
- No mileage earning limit, something that the other United cards offer to United alite members.
But perhaps most intriguingly,
- 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after your first purchase
- 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles when you spend $35,000 each year with your card
- One elite mile per dollar spent on ticket purchases at united.com, up to 5,000 total elite qualifying miles a year.
So if you’re a heavy spender who flies United and buys tickets online, you can rack up 15,000 miles towards elite status in the first year and 10,000 miles towards elite status in subsequent years. Some flyers will find this exceedingly valuable in the quest for status.
By the way, you’ve got to love the constant escalation in naming of Visa products. Once upon a time a Gold card was prestigious. Then Platinum came along. Then Signature. The United product offered a Visa Signature Gold Class. And now there’s Visa Signature Platinum Class. I don’t think Visa Signature Signature Class sounds particularly good, so I wonder what’s next in the naming arms race? After all, Visa Infinite really hasn’t caught on here (the ‘white card’ which was intended to compete with the Amex ‘black card’).