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Chase has launched a new attempt at a United Airlines -annual-fee credit card, the .
The new offering will replace the , a no-fee card that was grounded not so long after takeoff when Chase closed it to new applications after just three years.
A main difference between the cards is the rewards currency. The new card will earn regular frequent-flyer miles. The earned a new currency called “TravelBank Cash” that could be used to buy United airfare. It was like earning store credit at a retailer.
The new also has a different structure for how cardholders will earn rewards for spending, including a few spending categories below 30,000 feet. For example, spending on gas and commuting earns more than the usual 1 mile per $1 spent.
Chase says current cardholders moved to the new on Sept. 21, 2020, and will have a new card sent to them by Oct. 31. Their card expiration date and security code will change, but account numbers, credit lines, interest rates and payment-due dates will all stay the same.
Customers will still have access to their TravelBank account to redeem TravelBank Cash. TravelBank terms and conditions, including those related to expiring rewards, will still apply. However, all purchases made on the card as of Sept. 21 will earn miles instead of TravelBank Cash.
The old “legacy” United MileagePlus cardmembers transitioned to the on Sept. 13, 2020. Their account numbers, credit lines, interest rates and payment-due dates stayed the same, Chase said.
Overall, yes, the is superior to the outgoing , and here's why:
The switch in rewards currencies from TravelBank dollars to MileagePlus miles is a good one. NerdWallet didn’t see the point of the because it was inferior to many where the rewards currency is the most useful: cash.
Frequent-flyer miles at least give you the opportunity to earn outsized value by finding a pricey airfare or seat upgrade that doesn’t cost too many miles — And United miles can be spent with travel partners, such as hotels and car rental agencies.
Double points on gas stations and on local transit and commuting is a welcome change on the new . (The offered 1.5% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on all purchases except United tickets, which earned 2%.)
Bottom line: The wasn’t a bad card for leisure flyers, but the ticks an important box for an airline card: being aspirational.
Neither the old nor the new no-fee United card includes key perks of higher-tier United cards with annual fees. For example, the has an annual fee of . It offers such perks as:
To be fair, all major U.S. airline credit cards that lack an annual fee also lack free checked bags and priority boarding. ( doesn’t have a no-fee card and offers two free checked bags to all passengers.)
Of course, that hints at a likely business goal for the new : Make it a “gateway” to a higher-end United credit card.