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Frequent United Airlines flyers looking for an alternative to the carrier's Chase-issued credit cards might have heard about the First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card. Its selling points include a beefed-up checked-bag benefit for solo travelers and bonus rewards on groceries and gas that the Chase cards can't match.
There's just one problem: Unless you live on an island in the Pacific Ocean, you're not eligible for it.
If you do qualify for this card, it could be an appealing option for earning United MileagePlus miles, especially if groceries and gas make up a large portion of your budget. But most United flyers will be better off with the mass-market United℠ Explorer Card from Chase, which comes with strong perks and incentives at a similar price.
The First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card has an annual fee of $0 intro first year, then $99. Here are five other things to know about the card.
1. You must be a resident of Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands
Here’s the non-starter for most people: Only legal residents of Hawaii, Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands will be considered for the First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card.
2. Don't confuse it with the United℠ Explorer Card
In some ways, the First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card bears a resemblance to the United℠ Explorer Card, which carries an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
The annual fees are similar, the rewards rate on United tickets is the same, and both offer many of the same side perks.
But there are notable differences, too, especially in terms of ongoing rewards. Here’s how the two cards compare on that count:
First Hawaiian Bank United Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
United ticket purchases
Restaurants and delivery
In short, the First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card is better for gas and groceries, while the United℠ Explorer Card is superior for dining and hotel stays.
3. The sign-up bonus is decent ...
The First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card offers the following incentive for new cardholders: Earn 40,000 bonus United miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months after opening a new account.
(NerdWallet values United miles at 1.2 cents each.)
The United℠ Explorer Card, offers a slightly better bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
4. ... But there's an intro APR offer
It's not a 0% offer, but the First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card does feature a low intro APR: 2.99% intro APR for 8 billing cycles on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 18.00% Variable.
To take advantage of that offer, you'll have to transfer the balance within 30 days of opening the new account, and you'll also owe a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Still, most airline cards — including the United℠ Explorer Card — don't offer this kind of balance transfer deal.
5. You'll get United perks
The First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card offers some valuable benefits when you fly United. When you book your ticket on the card, you’ll get the fees for a first and second checked bag waived, which is fairly generous.
The typical cost for one-way checked bags with United is $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second (assuming you don't prepay the fee, in which case it can be lower). If you flew United round trip just one time per year with two checked bags, this would add up to savings of $160 — which already offsets the card's annual fee.
That's slightly different from what you get with the United℠ Explorer Card, which offers only one free checked bag, but for both you and a companion. (The First Hawaiian card's benefit is two bags, yes, but for the primary cardholder only.)
The First Hawaiian Bank United® Credit Card also offers:
Two complimentary one-time United Club passes per year ($118 value).
25% off all in-flight purchases.
Premier upgrades on award tickets (subject to availability).