United launches a new no-frills rewards card. Who is it for?


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Chase and United Airlines have released yet another airline credit card, the United TravelBank Card, the fifth in a line of co-branded cards between the two companies, and the only one without an annual fee.

Aimed at thrifty travelers who also pledge allegiance to United, the stripped-down card pays rewards in the form of TravelBank cash, which can be redeemed toward flight purchases or airline incidentals.


  • Receive $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 within the first three months your account is open.
  • Earn 2% in TravelBank cash for each $1 spent on tickets purchased from United Airlines.
  • Earn 1.5% in TravelBank cash for each $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% back as a statement credit on your in-flight purchases of food and beverages.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees.

It’s worth noting that TravelBank cash cannot be used as a statement credit and only toward United purchases.  There is no minimum amount required to redeem TravelBank cash towards a United purchase and you can pay for a flight with a combination of TravelBank cash and traditional payment methods like a 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.

Is this a good card?

It depends. For someone who flies a few times a year and prefers to do so on United, this card could be a good way to save money on travel expenses. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average cost of a domestic round-trip flight in the U.S. is $351.85.

To earn enough TravelBank cash for a free round-trip flight at the average price, you’d have to spend about $24,000 annually on non-United purchases. You may ultimately find more value using a different credit card.

For those whose annual spending on credit cards falls below the amount needed to earn a free flight, this card might be a good fit if you want occasional discounts or you have a pricey ticket you want to save for and you want the rewards held in one place for you to build up a stash.

Keep in mind, that if you carry a balance, the amount you’ll pay in interest fees will usually outweigh the value of any rewards earned.

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