United Quest℠ Card review: Credits abound United loyalists
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United Quest Card Overview
For those who prefer flying United over other airlines, the Chase United Quest Card is a favorite for it’s premium card benefits and enhanced miles earnings with a reduced annual fee.
The Chase Quest Card allows flyers to earn more United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles for their spend in two common spending categories: restaurants and streaming services. At the airport, the card helps unlock savings on trusted travel programs and purchases, offering passengers 25 percent cash back on in-flight purchases. The card also comes with a unique offer for cardholders after the first year of holding the card, qualifying them for two anniversary award flight credits that give them back up to 10,000 miles on award trips.
If you’re planning to apply for the Chase United Quest Card, you’ll need excellent credit to get approved. While the card offers strong returns in United MileagePlus miles, you may want to pair it with a card earning Ultimate Rewards in other categories to maximize your points earning potential.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- The $250 annual fee may be difficult to justify if you don’t spend a lot on travel or fly United Airlines with checked bags often.
- The 2 miles per $1 spent on select streaming services is limited to a short list of programs.
- The free first and second checked bags are limited to the primary cardholder and one companion on the same itinerary.
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn 3 United MileagePlus miles per $1 spent on United purchases immediately after earning your $125 annual United purchase credit; 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel, including airfare, trains, local transit, cruise lines, hotels, car rentals, taxicabs, resorts, rideshare services and tolls; 2 miles per $1 on dining, including eligible delivery services; 2 miles per $1 spent on select streaming services; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Annual fee: $250
- Purchase intro APR: none
- Balance transfer intro APR: none
- Regular APR: 18.74 to 25.74 percent variable
Current welcome offer
The Chase United Quest card currently offers a welcome offer of 70,000 United MileagePlus miles after spending $4,000 within the first three months your account is open. Considering the average price of domestic economy round-trip awards in United’s busiest markets was around 12,833 miles, the bonus could be worth as much as six flights. The actual value you get may vary based on your home airport, the class of service you are booking in and whether you are booking at peak or off-peak seasons.
Compared to similar airline credit cards, the Chase United Quest Card offers an impressive welcome offer, making this a great card to consider if you anticipate spending $4,000 within three months of opening your card. Several other cards only offer 50,000 miles for a minimum spend between $2,000 and $2,500. Granted, you’ll need to spend a bit more to earn the United Quest card bonus, but if you’re already anticipating a high level of spending then the increased earning potential on the United Quest Card’s welcome bonus is ideal.
However, before you apply, make sure you have a plan to use the MileagePlus miles towards free flights after you earn them. If you don’t live near an airport served by United or have to use more miles for a flight, you may want to carefully consider how to choose the best travel rewards card for your future plans.
While earning extra miles for spending with the airline is common on cards for that specific airline, the United Quest Card stands out for three bonus categories: all travel not with United, dining and eligible delivery services and select streaming services. The categories make this card completely unique, potentially making it the best United Airlines credit card for the most loyal customers.
How you earn
The Chase United Quest Card is the only card offering cardholders 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases after spending $125 on airfare. Anytime you use the card to purchase United airfare, seat upgrades, in-flight food, beverages or Wi-Fi and other United fees, you could earn one base mile plus two bonus miles per $1.
On the ground, there are three ways to earn bonus miles for everyday spending. Most travel purchases—including airfare on other airlines—restaurants and select streaming services qualify to earn 2 miles per $1 spent.
If you are spending only in the bonus categories, this card could potentially offer you more miles than similar travel rewards cards. However, it may not be the best for everyday spending, because other purchases earn only 1 mile per $1 spent. You may want to consider splitting your spend between cards with different bonus categories, giving you the best return for your dollar. This is certainly the case if other cards you have are in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portfolio, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. These cards will let you transfer points you earn to MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio, putting all of your rewards earned in one place.
How to redeem
Travel rewards work by using miles to buy flights (excluding taxes and fees) or upgrades to business or first class on flights purchased with cash. The best way to use United MileagePlus miles is for travel rewards aboard United Airlines and its Star Alliance partners. You could also use the miles for other rewards like merchandise and gift cards but your return is often much smaller than on travel rewards.
How much are the rewards worth?
While United MileagePlus miles can help you see the world at a low overall price, the value of your miles is based on several different factors. For instance, it may vary based on the availability of reward flights, the price of flights in miles, the cash price or if you are booking international travel on one of United’s Star Alliance partners. “Saver” awards are the cheapest award flights available but come with the most restrictions, while “Everyday” award flights cost more but are commonly available.
According to The Points Guy, United MileagePlus miles are valued at roughly 1.13 cents each when used for flights. Because United doesn’t use a fixed award chart for flights, the actual value can fluctuate, depending on how far ahead you book your flight.
You could also trade in your miles for a variety of non-travel rewards, including magazine subscriptions, gift certificates, tickets to theater performances or flowers and gift baskets from FTD. However, these redemptions are the least valued rewards at anywhere between 0.5 and 0.8 cents per mile each.
Other cardholder perks
What truly makes the Chase United Quest Card a “must-have” for United customers are the many perks exclusive to this card. While the power to earn miles is good, the true value comes from the anniversary flight credits, free checked bags and trusted traveler program fee credit.
$125 annual United purchase credit
Starting on the first day you open the card, you qualify for a $125 statement credit each year on purchases directly from United. The credit counts on most purchases, including airline tickets, seat upgrades, in-flight purchases and United Card Events from Chase. However, United purchases from discount travel websites, as part of a third-party travel package and United Cruises bookings won’t count.
Two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits
After the first year, cardholders booking award travel qualify to get a mileage credit when booking award travel. After taking a trip aboard flights operated by United or United Express using miles, cardholders will get 5,000 miles back in their MileagePlus accounts. This offer is good for two awards per anniversary year, offering up to 10,000 miles.
Using the projected value of United Miles based on evaluations from The Points Guy, this annual 10,000 miles bonus is worth roughly $113. Combined with the $125 annual United purchase credit, cardholders—before any rewards calculations for spending—reap the benefits of at least $238 in cardholder perks from these two offers. This is just short of the card’s $250 annual fee.
First and second checked bags free
While most credit cards offer only one free checked bag for the cardholder and companion, the United Quest card doubles the value for frequent flyers. The primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation can each receive their first and second checked bag for free when flying on United-operated flights. If both flyers take advantage of the offer, they would save up to $80 each way—or a total value of $320 per flight.
25 percent rebate back inflight
As is customary with airline credit cards, the United Quest Card offers flyers a 25 percent rebate back on in-flight purchases. Food, beverage and in-flight Wi-Fi all qualify for 25 percent back in the form of a statement credit.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
Once every four years, the primary cardholder can get a fee credit for enrolling in either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry trusted traveler programs. To qualify, the cardholder must use their United Quest card to pay for the enrollment fee, which will be returned as a statement credit.
Travel insurance benefits
What would a travel credit card be without travel insurance? When using your Chase United Quest card to pay for your airfare, travelers can qualify for certain protection benefits, including baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation or interruption insurance and travel accident insurance.
Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash
The United Quest card includes a complimentary DashPass membership from DoorDash. Cardholders and authorized users can get 12 months of DashPass when they activate their subscription with a United Quest card by March 31, 2022.
Rates and fees
One of the best perks of the United Quest Card is how it can help you avoid fees. Although it comes with a relatively high annual fee, this card can help you get out of other charges as you travel.
- Annual fee: The United Quest card comes with a $250 annual fee, which is in line with other mid-tier airline credit cards. But the card also comes with an annual $125 United statement credit, saving you money on your first airline purchase. If you fly with United on a regular basis, your yearly savings could add up well beyond $250.
- APR: Because it is a rewards card, the United Quest Card does not offer an introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers. Everyone will have a purchase APR between 18.74 and 25.74 percent, based on their creditworthiness.
- Foreign transaction fee: The United Quest Card has zero foreign transaction fees when using the card abroad. You can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted around the world without worrying about extra charges added to your purchase.
- Balance transfer fee: Although there is no introductory balance transfer APR, you may still transfer a balance to the United Quest Card. The fee is either $5 or 5 percent of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater), and will share the same APR for purchases.
- Cash advance fee: If you choose to get a cash advance from your card, you will pay the greater of $10 or 5 percent of the amount of each transaction. Cash advances are subject to an APR of 27.24 percent.
- Penalty fees: If you submit your payment late or have a payment returned, you could face charges of up to $40 per incident. You could also face the penalty APR of up to 29.99 percent indefinitely.
How the United Quest Card compares to other airline cards
Each of the three major airlines offer miles-earning credit cards, but with different benefits and different annual fees. Your best overall value depends on which airline you fly the most, the overall benefits and the introductory offer.
United Quest Card vs. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Both the United Quest Card and The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card offer a similar value to cardholders who use each the respective card on airline purchases and bonus categories for the same annual fee. The key differences are the number of companions that get free checked bags, earning elite qualifying miles and lounge access.
While the United Quest Card offers two free checked bags for the cardholder and one companion, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card offers one free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight additional companions. While the checked bag benefits are nearly equal for a family of four, a large party traveling together could benefit more from the Delta card.
In addition, the Delta card is better for those who value elite-level benefits without flying thousands of miles annually. The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card offers discounted Delta Sky Club lounge access to cardholders for $39 per person, while the United Quest card doesn’t offer a discount or annual lounge passes. Moreover, Delta SkyMiles cardholders can spend their way to earn an additional 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 up to 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.
To get the most value from this card, you would have to be a regular Delta Air Lines flyer with a plan to spend at least $50,000 each year to earn both reward miles and elite qualifying miles. If Delta isn’t your favorite airline, or if your goal is to gain reward miles only, the United Quest card could be a better option.
United Quest Card vs. the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Unless you live in or near a city primarily served by American Airlines, the United Quest card may offer you more value over time. While the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard only offers bonus miles in two categories (restaurants and gas stations), the United Quest card offers bonus miles in wider spending categories and more miles for purchases with the airline.
However, the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard has a $95 annual fee waived in the first year, which is substantially lower than the United Quest Card’s annual fee. Cardholders will also have their first checked bag free and for up to four travel companions on the same reservation. Although the annual fee is lower, rewards on the card are in fact lower and it includes fewer benefits for cardholders.
Best cards to pair with this card
While many different rewards cards would work well with the United Quest card, the optimal pairings depend on how you want to earn rewards with travel credit cards and your overall goals.
If your goal is to earn as many United MileagePlus miles for your spending as possible, your best bet is to pair this card with either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred. Both cards earn transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which convert to United MileagePlus miles at a 1:1 ratio. With quick delivery, either of the Sapphire cards offer points in different bonus categories than those offered on the United Quest card, letting you maximize your discounted air travel.
If you already have a Chase Sapphire card or would rather pair your air travel with free hotel nights, it could be smart to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card*. In addition to earning up to 17X total points for every $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, you will earn 2X points on all other purchases, and receive 15 elite night credits per calendar year each account anniversary. Plus, if you earn Titanium or Ambassador status with Marriott Bonvoy, you can sign up for the RewardsPlus program for a status match to United MileagePlus Premier Silver.
For those who would rather keep their travel plans flexible, pairing with a cash back credit card gives you more flexibility than earning points. The top cash back credit cards let you earn between 2 and 5 percent on your spending in a variety of categories and locations, giving you plenty of choices on where you want to earn cash back once you arrive at your destination.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the United Quest Card worth it?
With a variety of credits available to cardholders—including the two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits—it’s rather easy to get value in excess of the annual fee from the United Quest Card. Between the immediate $125 annual United purchase credit when buying airfare direct from the airline, the two free checked bags for you and one other person and the generous bonus categories, it’s easy to see why the card is one of the best for regular United flyers.
However, the card only offers value if United is your primary airline for U.S. travel. If you fly United regularly and book at least two award trips every year, this card may offer strong returns well into the future. If you want more flexibility in your trips and aren’t necessarily loyal to one airline, then it may be wise to consider a general travel rewards card or cash back credit card.
*The information about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, please click here.