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.
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.)