Chase is considering a new premium United MileagePlus card. It may be mid-market, something with a $250 annual fee, rather than an ultra-premium card that includes club lounge membership.
This is all part of trying to figure out what to do with the United portfolio which is underperforming and United isn’t happy with the revenue they’re earning.
Potential to Gut the Spend Waiver for Elite Status
Currently $25,000 spend in a year on a United credit card waives the airline’s minimum spending requirement for elite status up to the Platinum level (there is no waiver for US-based customers earning 100,000 mile status).
What’s described here is 500 qualifying dollars per $12,000 spend up to a maximum of 2500 qualifying dollars after $60,000 spend on the card. That’s shockingly bad since the lowest Silver status requires 3000 qualifying dollars. The only redeeming feature would be that presumably these dollars would count towards 1K.
It’s almost like they watched American gut the ability to earn qualifying dollars through spend, requiring $50,000 spend in a year for 3000 qualifying dollars and Andrew Nocella said “hold my beer.”
We’ll Restore Award Chart Pricing If You Pay Us a $250 Annual Fee
The notion of a 20% redemption discount for United Airlines travel is intriguing until you get to their example of a domestic 30,000 mile trip being reduced to 20,000 miles. It’s also like United said “we’re eliminating award charts and raising prices but will give you an actual saver award if you take our $250 card.”
Yet this is probably the best feature of the product if the discount isn’t capped (since you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, transfer them to United and get a perpetual transfer bonus as long as you restrict redemptions to United travel).
Many of the Benefits Would Be the Same
Free checked bag, early boarding, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit (which is cheap to offer because most people don’t claim it and it’s offered no more than once every four years), and United club passes.
United Explorer today comes with 2 annual club passes but many clubs do not take them because they’re too busy and prioritize those with memberships. Apparently while the graphic says 4 passes, survey questions mentioned 2 passes.
Potential Additional New Benefits
Five drink chits a year are fairly pedestrian when over at American the Aviator Silver card gives a $25 inflight purchase credit every day.
A waived fee for same day flight change is nice but you aren’t getting outsized value out of it unless you’re flying enough to earn a status that waives the fee anyway.
Is This Card (Enough of) an Improvement?
Faster mileage-earning is good but the earning rate isn’t enough to make the card compelling for spend. After all you can earn this many miles in a flexible points currency that lets you choose where to put those points later, including through Chase Ultimate Rewards which gives you United miles or another airline’s miles and you get to pick later.
The 20% redemption discount is interesting, American just dropped their 10% (capped) discount from their cards.
It could be well worth upgrading from a base United Explorer to this card — but wouldn’t be worth spending money on this card over more compelling alternative transferable points products.
Nonetheless it will be interesting to see what they ultimately come up with. I expect a new British Airways card proposition from Chase soon-ish as well by the way.