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United Gateway Card review: No-annual-fee card that earns United miles

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United Gateway Card overview

The United Gateway Card is a no-annual-fee airline credit card, ideal for those looking to dip their toes in the United MileagePlus program. Earning 2 miles per dollar on United, gas station and local transit and commuting purchases, both beginners or casual travelers can boost their stash of United miles with this card. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

The best travel credit card for you doesn’t always have to be the fanciest one on the market or come with an annual fee.

If you fly with United Airlines or its Star Alliance partners, owning this no-annual-fee card can be an easy way to earn and redeem award miles. The United Gateway Card has a solid set of bonus categories beyond just United flights, which could help beginners rack up miles — even if they aren’t constantly in the air.

Let’s take a look at the details of this credit card.

United Gateway Card welcome offer

With the current welcome bonus for the United Gateway card, you’ll earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. Since we value United miles at 1.21 cents each, the sign-up bonus is worth $242.

THE POINTS GUY

Although not the most impressive sign-up bonus we’ve seen offered on a card, it’s on par with other no-annual-fee airline credit cards. Depending on how you use these miles, you could potentially outsize the stated value of the sign-up bonus.

Earning miles on the United Gateway Card

The Gateway Card offers a decent number of earning categories, from United purchases to everyday expenses:

  • 2 miles per dollar on United purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar at gas stations
  • 2 miles per dollar on local transit and commuting, including ride-hailing services, taxis, train tickets, tolls and mass transit
  • 1 mile per dollar on other eligible purchases

Since TPG valuations put United miles at 1.21 cents each, you’re looking at a 2.42% return on the 2-mile-per-dollar categories. For a no-annual-fee credit card, that’s a respectable list of bonus categories.

Related: Best credit cards for booking flights

Redeeming miles on the United Gateway Card

MileagePlus miles don’t expire, so you can rest assured that you can use your rewards soon or even in the distant future if you aren’t traveling soon.

Use the miles earned on the United Gateway Card to book a Polaris business class seat. DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

United is part of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world. You can use your hard-earned MileagePlus miles to book partner airlines through United’s website, such as Air Canada and Lufthansa. There’s no shortage of destinations you can travel to with United miles.

Beyond using your miles for reward flights, you also have the option to use them for gift cards, merchandise, other travel bookings and more. However, we generally don’t recommend these other redemption options as you likely won’t get as much value.

Related: How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program

United Gateway Card benefits

While you’re not going to get United’s top-notch premium perks with the Gateway card, there are still some considerable benefits for a no-annual-fee travel card.

ANDY RYAN/GETTY IMAGES

You’ll get:

Which cards compete with the United Gateway Card?

If you aren’t sure the United Gateway Card is for you, you may find a better fit in the other United cobranded cards, or other no-annual-fee travel cards.

  • If you want more United benefits: The United Explorer Card comes with a larger welcome bonus as well as up to a $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application and a free checked bag for you and one companion traveling on the same reservation. You’ll also get two one-time United Club passes each year. This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year. For more details, check out our full review of the United Explorer Card.
  • If you want to earn Delta miles:  The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is competing airline card with no annual fee (see rates and fees). It earns 2 miles per dollar on Delta and dining purchases at restaurants and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. For more details, check out our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex.
  • If you want more versatile travel rewards: The no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers a simple, practical rewards rate: 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases. You can then transfer your miles to Capital One’s airline and hotel transfer partners or redeem your miles at 1 cent each for any travel purchases on your statement. For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One VentureOne.

For additional options, check out our full list of best cards for United Airlines flyers and best no-annual-fee airline cards.

Related: Best airline credit cards with annual fees under $100

Is the United Gateway Card worth it?

Since the United Gateway Card doesn’t carry an annual fee, you’ll receive a positive with the welcome bonus value, perks and ongoing earnings you’ll get with this card. However, keep in mind that this card will take up one of your Chase 5/24 slots, so think about how this card fits into your long-term strategy before jumping on it.

United Boeing 737 Max 10
DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

Related: The best ways to use your Chase 5/24 slots

Bottom line

If you’re considering diversifying your miles portfolio with a United credit card, the Gateway might be a great way to start with the MileagePlus program. As you plan your upcoming trips, this card is certainly worth considering if you are a travel beginner who wants to earn United miles on everyday purchases.

Official application link: United Gateway Card with 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Additional reporting by Emily Thompson and Stella Shon.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Blue Card, please click here