Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Get a 12,000 United MileagePlus miles bonus with their free UK credit card

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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 the MBNA website, you can now earn 12,000 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. This can be achieved across either or both cards.

United credit card

The offer ends on November 15th.

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.  The cards have no annual fee.

As is 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 12,000 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.

A one-way business class award to the Middle East from the UK is 45,000 miles so the credit card bonus would leave you well short.  This is cheaper than an Avios redemption on a peak date.  If you’re heading to the US, a one-way Saver-level award in business to New York would be 57,500 miles – roughly the same as the Avios requirement on a peak date (60,000 Avios).

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 would not recommend jumping in if you do not already have a MileagePlus account.

You can sign up via the MBNA website.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – December 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (7)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • rich says:

    Could the 12k be used for a eu redemption on a *alliance flight to Swiss or Germany ?

    • Alan says:

      Yes, although remember to RFS to help – I did LHR-FRA-TRN on LH a couple of years ago, cost me 12,500 + $92.50 – was still vastly cheaper than cash would have been for a one-way ticket on that date, but more than BA RFS would have been.

      • Idrive says:

        Not bad but it would not justify the application for a new card for me. I am thinking to go for the etihad actually but i have to run some excel tests to see if and how it can be worth for me!

    • Rob says:

      Yes but tax is high

    • Callum says:

      If I were you I’d save them for a good value flight. You can get cash flights within Europe for less than what you’d be paying in taxes and charges on a Lufthansa redemption!

      The best sweet spot I’ve managed to take advantage of is Central America to the Galapagos islands for 10,000 united miles – a flight that can easily cost several hundred pounds at its cheapest. And if you save enough for a return (which didn’t have to go back to where you started) you can even add in a free stopover.

  • flyforfun says:

    Don’t forget if you hold an other MBNA card they may reject your application. You can appeal and ask them to “split” your total credit limit over the 2 cards which they usually agree to.

  • Philip says:

    Is there other benefits like free bag on US travel & silver status mileage plus or equivalent? United fly to the states from many regional airports, much handier than the Heathrow slog!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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