The fifth in a line of Chase and United co-branded cards, the United TravelBank Card pays rewards in the form of TravelBank cash, which can be redeemed toward flight purchases or airline incidentals. It’s also the first no-fee United credit card.
The card pays a respectable 2% in TravelBank cash when you purchase United tickets and 1.5% TravelBank cash for all other purchases. It also offers a 25% rebate as a statement credit on your card when you use it to buy food or beverages on board a United-operated flight.
Chase and United also are offering a new cardholder bonus of $150 in TravelBack cash after you make $1,000 in purchases during your first three months.
For someone who flies a few times a year and prefers to do so on United, this card could be an OK way to save money on travel expenses.
To earn enough TravelBank cash for a free round-trip flight (the average cost of a domestic round-trip flight is $351.85, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation), you’d have to spend about $18,000 on United flights or $24,000 on non-United purchases. You may ultimately find more value using a different credit card.
In exchange for not paying an annual fee, you’re also giving up the perks that come with other United co-branded airline cards, like a free checked bag on each trip, United Club passes, priority boarding and bigger sign-up bonuses. Ultimately, the lack of perks is what cost this card points in our eyes.
The card does come with Visa Signature benefits, which include discounts and upgrades at hotels in the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
If you fly regularly on United, you’ll likely be better off with the United Explorer Card, which has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year). This includes a free first checked bag for you and a companion on your reservation, which could save up to $140 per round trip, plus priority boarding. You’ll also receive two United Club passes on your card anniversary. The earnings rate is similar to the TravelBank Card, so if you fly at least once a year with a companion and checked luggage on a round-trip United flight, the United Explorer is the better choice.