The United Airlines MileagePlus Amex credit cards (issued by MBNA) have the unique distinction of offering NO sign-up bonus for much of the year.
Then, once or twice a year, they run a promotion. This is one of those times. 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 £1800 within 90 days to trigger the bonus. This can be achieved across either or both cards.
The offer runs until 30th November.
The representative APR is 18.9% variable.
The card was revamped and relaunched exactly a year ago. 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
United is a Star Alliance member so you can redeem across all 20+ Star airlines – from the UK, this will often involve Lufthansa or Swiss via a connection
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 in the UK to earn United miles on credit card spend.
United is not an American Express Membership Rewards partner so you cannot top up your balance that way.
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.
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.
These numbers are not completely out of line compared to Avios requirements, of course, but they are noticeably higher. Please also 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 would not recommend jumping in if you do not already have a MileagePlus account.
(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.)