United launches a new and improved MileagePlus UK credit card

Apologies for the slight delay in writing about this, but Head for Points was a bit overrun with credit card news last week!  I therefore held this one back.

The United Airlines credit card, issued by MBNA, has historically been fundamentally ignored.  There was no sign-up bonus (once a year they offered a whopping 5,000 miles!) and it wasn’t even mentioned on the MBNA website.

The card has now been revamped and relaunched.  As is now the model with MBNA cards (Lufthansa, American, Etihad, Emirates etc) it comes as a double-pack with an American Express and a Visa.

Full details can be found here.

United credit card

Here are the core facts:

Generous (by United standards) sign-up bonus of 12,000 United MileagePlus miles

No annual fee

Acceptable earning rate of 1.25 miles per £1 on the American Express and 0.625 miles on the Visa

To qualify for the sign-up bonus, you must apply by December 4th and spend £1,000 within 90 days.

It is worth noting that United is the only airline to enforce a particularly poor exchange rate with Starwood Preferred Guest in order to protect its own credit card.  Whilst almost all other airlines transfer at 1:1 from Starwood, United transfers at an amazingly poor 2:1.  This means that these cards are the only realistic way to earn decent levels of United miles on credit card spend.

However, United recently announced an incredibly bad devaluation of MileagePlus.  This particularly impacts people outside the USA, since the hardest hit awards were Business Class and First Class redemptions on Star Alliance partners.  There are over 40 articles on the devaluation listed here if you need to know more.

It is very unlikely, therefore, that you would use this credit card as a good excuse to start building up United MileagePlus miles, especially as most people are trying to spend them as quickly as possible before the devaluation kicks in.  However, if you want to top-up an existing balance then this is an easy way to earn 12,000 MileagePlus miles quickly and cheaply.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Another unexciting visit to The Luxury Travel Fair
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  1. Might also be worth noting that MBNA might not give the bonus if we were a previous MP card holder. I may be tempted to give it a try though as miles still usefull for intra north american flights on united or short hops in Asia with partners.

    • The Terms and Conditions for the 12,000 mile bonus does say previous and existing Cardmembers are not eligible,

      • Yes but MBNA T&Cs always said that. Despite this you could churn cards such as BMI card in the past and get multiple bonuses. It is only in the past 18-24 months in my experience that they have started refusing me multiple bonuses. What I am unsure of is whether they have become more diligent in general or whether they are redflagging some customers on basis of their previous behaviour.

  2. Still trying to get exactly 5000 UA miles, which is hard as I don’t travel to the US and crediting to A3 / TK is better value for me. 10000 SPG is not worth it, so I probably have to use e-rewards…

    • Until 19th there is 1500 MP signup bonus at Gilt if there is anything useful for you to buy there. Aome of online shopping potals also had Gilt as partner but I cannot recall which.

    • You can earn a bonus 3k of MP with Rocket Miles on your first booking at the moment.

  3. Unless you’re after the bonus, I think a more efficient way of collecting Star Alliance points is by accumulating SPG and transfering those to Air Canada Aeroplan at 1:1+25% bonus. Redemptions can be on United so it works out cheaper.

    • Depends who are redeeming with, though. I think (although not certain) that United does not charge fuel surcharges on some airlines where Aeroplan does.

      • Ah I thought United was ditching that policy with the latest devaluation. I could be wrong though.

        • No I don’t think they are, they did significantly raise premium cabin prices on partner airlines though.

  4. Do people think it is worth signing up to the to transfer to SPG to top up a balance. Iam currently not entitled to any Amex amex bonus. With the signup bonus that still would be 6000 SPG points + points for the actual spend. Would that also likely exclude me from future sign up bonuses on other MBNA cards?

  5. MBNA have now updated the closing date for this offer, it runs for applications up to December 31st