Courtesy of United Airlines
The United Quest card’s bonus miles could be your way into the airline’s much-lauded Polaris business class on your next trip.
Enjoy statement credits toward flights and Global Entry, plus bonus miles on everyday purchases like dining and streaming services.
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It’s not every day that an entirely new airline credit card appears, let alone one offering up to 100,000 bonus miles. But if you’re a United Airlines frequent flier, today might just be your lucky day. The airline has teamed up with Chase to debut the United℠ Quest Card, an all-new offering that bridges the benefits gap between the popular United℠ Explorer Card and the more premium United Club℠ Infinite Card. Here’s everything you need to know about the new United Quest card and how it stacks up against United’s other mileage cards.
Great earning potential and value-added benefits set this new card apart.
For a limited time, earn up to 100,000 bonus miles—80,000 after spending $5,000 in the first three months, and an additional 20,000 miles after spending a total of $10,000 in the first six months.
That’s 35,000 more miles than the United Explorer is currently offering for the same amount of spending. It’s also 25,000 more miles than the United Club Infinite is currently offering after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
The United Quest’s annual fee is $250, which is substantial. However, the card offers plenty of benefits that could help offset it, so read on.
For context, the United Explorer’s annual fee is $95 (waived the first year, at the moment), and the United Club Infinite charges $525 per year. So the United Quest sits right in the middle.
Aside from the introductory bonus, the United Quest is replete with opportunities to rack up extra miles on everyday spending. The card’s earning rates are as follows:
This card is a mileage powerhouse with bonus categories that include a broad swath of travel purchases, but also dining and streaming, which you can maximize even if you’re not taking to the skies anytime soon.
Earning aside, the United Quest’s main selling points are two statement credits it confers that can help make up for much of its annual fee.
The first is up to $125 in United purchase credits per year. You can apply them toward airfare or other expenses like United Club lounge passes or membership dues, preferred seating selections, or other fees.
The second is up to $100 toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application once every four years. This can come in handy if you don’t already have another card that offers this perk, or if you want to pay for someone else’s application.
The Quest is geared toward United loyalists who fly and spend with the airline regularly. But even more casual travelers can get a lot of value from its advantages.
Those include two free checked bags for the cardholder and a companion traveling on the same reservation on United flights, which can add up to $160 per round trip. Folks can also count on priority boarding and 25 percent back on United in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and Wi-Fi paid for with their card.
Starting with their first anniversary, United Quest cardholders receive 5,000 miles back in their MileagePlus account after taking a United- or United Express–operated award flight booked with their miles—up to two times every anniversary year.
Folks interested in achieving elite status can spend their way to up to 3,000 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) per calendar year. You normally earn one PQP per dollar spent on airfare, surcharges, seating purchases, and paid upgrades, among other possibilities.
In 2021, the first rung of status, Premier Silver, requires earning 3,000 PQPs plus taking eight Premier Qualifying Flights, or just earning 3,500 PQPs overall. So this spending-based boost gets you most of the way there. You could also leverage it for a bump up to higher echelons of the Premier hierarchy if you already qualify for status otherwise.
The United Quest is offering the highest number of miles any United credit card has ever boasted, so it might be worth signing up for the prospect of earning 100,000 miles alone. While that number of miles won’t get you as far as it used to, it can still go a long way.
United has slowly been shifting its MileagePlus program to a more revenue-based formula where fliers earn a set number of miles per dollar spent on airfare, and then those miles are worth a (somewhat) fixed amount toward tickets. We’re not quite there yet, but expect your United miles to be worth around one cent apiece when redeemed for flights. So the 100,000-mile bonus should get you around $1,000 worth of value.
However, there are still some better prospects available if you can be a bit flexible. For instance, the airline recently offered award tickets starting at a mere 3,000 miles each way on short hops such as from Boston to Washington, D.C., Houston to New Orleans, or Los Angeles to San Francisco. So the miles you’d earn with your sign-up bonus and spending would be redeemable for about three dozen of those types of flights.
If you’re looking farther afield, 100,000 United miles will be more than enough for a round-trip ticket in economy nearly anywhere in the world United or its many airline partners fly, including Africa, Asia, and Australia. It should also be more than enough for a one-way ticket in business class on United or other airlines like All Nippon Airways, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Swiss, or Turkish to most regions.
With its launch, the United Quest becomes the fourth personal United Airlines credit card. While its bonus and benefits far outstrip those of the United Gateway℠ Credit Card (which has no annual fee), here’s how it stacks up against the other two main contenders in United’s stable.
The United Explorer has long been the airline’s mainstay with easy-to-understand perks and earning opportunities, all wrapped up in a card whose annual fee is an affordable $95 (waived the first year).
Right now, the Explorer is offering up to 65,000 bonus miles—40,000 after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, and 25,000 more miles after you spend a total of $10,000 in the first six months.
The card earns:
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Cardholders receive a free checked bag for themselves and a companion on the same reservation on United flights purchased with the Explorer, plus priority boarding and 25 percent back on in-flight purchases. They also get up to $100 back for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application once every four years.
The Explorer’s annual fee is less than half that of the United Quest, but the latter offers a lot more bonus earning opportunities, with an introductory offer that is 35,000 miles better and more types of travel purchases as well as streaming.
If you fly United enough to leverage its $125 annual airline statement credits and 5,000-mile redemption rebates, as well as the checked-bag benefits, the United Quest is probably a better fit.
If you already have the United Explorer card, the United Quest presents an excellent opportunity to rack up 100,000 more bonus miles plus extra perks and then decide which card is worth keeping.
The United Club Infinite is the airline’s top-shelf cobranded card. Its annual fee is $525 because its main benefit is United Club membership so that cardholders can access the airline’s lounges when traveling. Though high, it still represents a discount on purchased membership, which can cost up to $650.
The United Club Infinite is currently offering new applicants 75,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.
It accumulates miles at the following rates:
The United Club Infinite comes with the same Global Entry benefit as the United Quest and the United Explorer, as well as a first and second checked bag for the cardholder and a companion on United flights, the 25 percent in-flight purchase rebate, plus Premier Access for priority check-in, security screening, boarding, and baggage handling services at the airport.
The main points of difference between the United Club Infinite and the United Quest are that the former includes lounge access and a slightly better airport experience. It also earns one more mile per dollar on United purchases.
If you don’t use United lounges and you spend more regularly on streaming services than United tickets, you will probably be better off with the United Quest. You also want to apply for the United Quest first thanks to this incredible launch bonus. Then if you end up flying United a lot more than you expected, apply for the United Club Infinite later to earn another welcome bonus and enjoy lounge access.
There are also some differences in terms of travel protections like trip interruption and cancellation coverage, but all three of these cards offer fairly comprehensive coverage, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
The United Quest is one of the most exciting new airline credit cards to come around in years. In addition to up to 100,000 bonus miles as part of its introductory offer, it extends numerous day-of-travel perks, valuable statement credits, and the chance to gain bonus miles on a wide variety of everyday purchases. If United is your main airline, this card is definitely one to consider. And if you already have another United credit card, it’s worth sizing up the United Quest’s benefits against the ones your card comes with and considering whether now might be the time to switch to the new card.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.
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