15,000 United MileagePlus miles bonus with their free UK credit card

For the last few months, the United Airlines MileagePlus Amex credit cards (issued by MBNA) has had the unique distinction of offering NO sign-up bonus!

Things are improving, though. Via this link, you can now earn 15,000 bonus United miles when you take out their cards.

The cards are free and you only need to spend £1500 within 90 days to trigger the bonus.

The offer runs until 15th July.

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

United credit card

The card was revamped and relaunched in October 2013. 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.

Here are the core facts:

Generous (for a free credit card) sign-up bonus of 15,000 United MileagePlus miles

No annual fee

Very good earning rate (for a free card) of 1.25 miles per £1 on the American Express and 0.625 miles on the Visa

It is worth noting that United is the only airline to enforce a particularly poor exchange rate with Starwood Preferred Guest.  It does this 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 MBNA cards are the only realistic way to earn decent levels of United miles on credit card spend.

However, United announced an incredibly bad devaluation of MileagePlus in 2013. This particularly impacts people outside the USA, since the hardest hit awards were Business Class and First Class redemptions on Star Alliance partners.

Here is a PDF of their award chart with Star Alliance awards on page 3.

A one-way business class award to the Middle East is 45,000 miles (up from 27,500 miles) so the credit card bonus would leave you well short. If you’re heading to the US, a one-way Saver-level award in business to New York would be 57,500 miles.  However if Saver seats are not there you are looking at a crazy 150,000 miles for a one-way ticket

Please note United’s nasty fees for changes or cancellation, or indeed booking less than 21 days before departure.

In the main, because you now can’t get very far on United unless you have a very large miles balance, the main beneficiaries of this deal will be people who already have some MileagePlus miles they want to build up.

I will be running a fully updated review of the United cards in the next couple of weeks as our ‘Credit Card Reviews’ series cycles towards the end of the alphabet!

(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.)

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  1. Hi raffles, i know you usually redeem in business and write down the required miles for business, i usually redeem economy, (not sure what most of your readers redeem on). So not sure if you can implement this

    • The thing to be aware of when redeeming in economy with BA (apart from some situations such as within Europe with Reward Flight Saver or within the US) is that the amount of taxes you end up still paying on the ticket can really reduce the value you’re gaining from your points vs paying outright cash. US airline programmes can be a bit better in that their taxes aren’t nearly as high, however it’s still a much closer run thing that a business class redemption.

      • Yes i usually redeem economy ba in Europe, or other airlines beyond Europe to avoid that

  2. If you don’t mind flying economy a smaller number of United miles can get you places with low taxes. New York – LA is 12,500 miles plus $2.50 in taxes, New York – London is 30,000 miles plus $2.50 in taxes.

    One idea for boosting your United miles in addition to the credit card is the via the just launched http://www.marriottrewardspluspoints.com, you can get 2,000 Marriot points a month until Nov 8th for liking various Marriot properties on Facebook or following them on Twitter so potentially 12,000 Marriot points is available. You get a 20% discount when you convert Marriott Rewards points to United MileagePlus compared to other airlines, 8,000 points gets you 2,000 miles, 16,000 = 5,000 miles and 24,000 = 10,000 miles. If you had the 10,000 points from the Marriott credit card combined with the 12,000 points from this promo you’d be well on your way to 10,000 United miles.

    Another option is Rocket Miles (hope it’s ok to post these links Rob)

    There is a 3,000 mile bonus available if you book your first hotel on Rocket Miles via http://www.rocketmiles.com/bonus-3k . The promo runs until June 4th although Rocket Miles have a habit of changing the end dates on their promos either ending them early or extending them.

    The promo states if can’t be combined with any other bonuses but other promos have stated this and people have managed to get another 1,000 mile bonus by signing up to Rocket Miles using a refer a friend link such as mine http://www.rocketmiles.com/refer/SIWOOD before making their booking via the bonus-3k link.

    I’ve booked 1 night in Oslo and 5 nights in Barcelona via Rocket Miles and should get 17,000 United Miles as a result. If you do make a booking on Rocket Miles then I’d recommend firstly clicking on Raffles Rocket Miles affiliate link http://www.pjatr.com/t/SENHR01LR0pDR0dJS0tIQ0dGTUdGSw which should earn him a few $ then simply change the URL in your browser to the ones I’ve listed above.