2017 United TravelBank Card Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: If you’re a loyal United Airlines flyer with excellent credit who likes to splurge on in-flight refreshments, the new United TravelBank Credit Card from Chase could save you a lot of money. The card is most rewarding on United purchases, as you might expect. Airfare, seat upgrades and baggage fees yield the equivalent of 2% cash back, while in-flight drinks and snacks score you a whopping 25% back. But the TravelBank Card’s base earning rate isn’t too shabby, either: 1.5% back on all other purchases.
Plus, there are no annual or foreign-transaction fees to worry about. And spending $1,000+ within three months of account opening will earn you a $150 bonus.Check Your Latest Credit Score – 100% Free
But there are a few potential downsides that you should be aware of before submitting your United TravelBank Card application. For starters, you should only use this card to make purchases that you can pay for in full by the end of the month. There’s no 0% intro rate, and a regular APR that could be as high as 23.99% will gradually eat away at your rewards if you carry a balance. In addition, the United TravelBank Credit Card doesn’t actually offer cash back. You earn rewards in terms of dollars, yes. But you can only redeem those earnings through United. So it’s not really the same thing as cash back.
Finally, the United TravelBank Credit Card has a lot of really strong competition. So despite offering clearly generous, whether it’s worthy of being mentioned alongside the best travel credit cards on the market remains to be seen. Below, you can get the rest of WalletHub’s take on the offer and check out how it compares to other popular rewards cards.
- 2% to 25% Back on United Purchases: High airfare costs won’t hurt as much when you know that 2% of what you spend can be used to help pay for your next flight. Furthermore, whether you need a cocktail to calm your nerves or you actually enjoy airplane food, you’ll certainly appreciate the permanent 25%-off sale that the TravelBank Card provides. Just bear in mind that you won’t benefit if you fly first class, as food and drinks will already be free.
- Above-Average Everyday Rewards: You will earn 1.5% back on all non-United purchases. For context, the average cash rewards card offers 1.03% back across purchases, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report. In other words, even when you’re not earning at the TravelBank Card’s max rate, you’re still getting nearly 50% more than average.
- $150 Initial Bonus: Why not get paid extra for money that you’re going to spend anyway? That’s the idea here, as you only need to shell out $1,000 during the first three months your account is open to nab a $150 bonus. That’s enough for at least a one-way flight in many cases. And it’s about $41 more than you’d get from the average “cash-based” initial bonus.
- No Annual or Foreign Fees: The average credit card charges a $15.82 annual fee and a 1.64% foreign-transaction fee, according to WalletHub research. So the United TravelBank Card is ahead of the game in both respects. With that being said, it is far from the only rewards card with neither type of fee.
Bad for Carrying a Balance: The United TravelBank Credit Card was not built to be a great financing vehicle. And you can’t really hold that against it, as long as you know what you’re getting into. There are no 0% intro rates, either for new purchases or balance transfers. And the card’s regular APR could be anywhere from 16.99% to 23.99%, depending on your overall creditworthiness.
Neither end of that range is very good, considering that the average credit card for excellent credit charges 13.76%, while the average cards for people with good and fair credit charge 18.93% and 22.19%, respectively. So if you need to finance a big-ticket purchase or reduce the cost of existing debt, find a 0% credit card. The United TravelBank Card is not the right choice for such transactions.
- Redemption Limitations: You can redeem as little as $1 in TravelBank cash. That’s the good news. The bad news is it seems like you can’t redeem for anything but United Airlines travel. So if you want rewards flexibility, this isn’t the card for you. Instead, a traditional cash back credit card would be the way to go.
Other Things To Consider
- Couple Types of Travel Insurance: The United Travel Bank Credit Card offers both rental car insurance and trip interruption/cancellation insurance. In short, these policies cover you for damage to a rental vehicle and certain costs associated with missing a trip due to illness or emergency. Chase’s rental car insurance ranks second among major card issuers. And Chase cards dominate the list of the best credit cards with travel insurance.
- Exclusive Experiences: If you have multiple Chase credit cards, you can transfer your rewards points between them at no cost. You’ll want to transfer them to your Sapphire Reserve account, not from it, though. Sapphire Reserve points are worth more than most Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Compared To The Competition
The United TravelBank Credit Card from Chase is one of many attractive rewards credit cards capable of saving you money on air travel. The following comparison should help you determine whether it’s the best one for your needs.
United℠ TravelBank Card
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Credit Card
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
United MileagePlus® Explorer Credit Card
|Annual Fee||$0||None 1st yr, $89 after||$450||$0||$0 Intro for the First Year, $95 after||None 1st yr, $95 after|
|Rewards Bonus||$150||40,000 miles||50,000 points||N/A||50,000 points||40,000 miles|
|Rewards Rate||1.5 - 2% Cash Back||2 miles / $1||1 - 3 points / $1||1% + 1% Cash Back||1 - 2 points / $1||1 - 2 miles / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Not Offered||0% for 18 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Regular APR||16.99% - 23.99% (V)||16.99% - 23.99% (V)||16.99% - 23.99% (V)||14.49% - 24.49% (V)||16.99% - 23.99% (V)||16.99% - 23.99% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.2 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.4 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.5 / 5||N/A|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More|
Rates & Fees
|Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
*Earnings are based on the $28,523 in purchases that the average person can pay for with a credit card each year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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