Airlines love to offer co-branded credit cards. Most major carriers now have several at different price points.
With the Quest card, United and Chase are betting that there’s a market for a card somewhere between their top-end Club Card and their entry-level Explorer Card. Call it their “Goldilocks” credit card.
If you frequently fly United but can’t justify the Club card’s hefty annual fee, Quest could be the best choice for you. But take a few moments to see how it works — and where it falls short — before you apply.
What Is the United Quest Card?
United offers numerous credit cards through its partner Chase, and the United Quest Card sits just below the premium Club Card. It features a laundry list of travel benefits and rewards.
This card has a rather large $250 annual fee, but it must be looked at in the context of all of its benefits, some of which offer direct value.
You start off on the right foot with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus miles plus 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) when you use your card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. PQP are the points that you need to earn elite status in United’s loyalty program, starting with 4,000 points and 12 qualifying flights for Silver status. And it gets better from there.
The Quest Card offers you a $125 annual credit that reimburses you for any United purchases. You also get two 5,000 mile anniversary award flight credits. This means that if you book two award tickets a year, you get 10,000 bonus miles.
You also get a statement credit of up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application — programs that help you to speed through security and immigration. And at a time when many credit card issuers no longer offer any cardholder benefits, the Quest Card still comes with several travel insurance and purchase protection policies.
The Quest Card also showers you with perks when you fly United. As is true with many frequent flyer credit cards, you get free checked bags. But the Quest card offers you two free bags for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation. Other perks include priority boarding, 25% back on United in-flight and Club premium drink purchases, and the ability to get Premier upgrades on award tickets.
And just like any airline credit card, you get miles for your Quest Card purchases. This includes 3x miles for United purchases and 2x miles for all other travel, dining purchases, and select streaming services. You get one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
What Sets the United Quest Card Apart?
The United Quest Card is different from its competitors in a few key ways, including purchase and mileage credits, free checked baggage allowance and travel insurance.
- $125 United purchase credit. This is worth half the card’s annual fee, and goes a long way toward justifying it.
- Two 5,000 mile flight credits each year. That’s another 10,000 miles, just for redeeming your miles.
- Two free checked bags. Hello cross-country ski trip, college move-in, or camping vacation.
- Lots of travel insurance. Stuck overnight due to a canceled flight? Snag a hotel and go out for a nice meal! This card reimburses you up to $500 per person during overnight delays or any delay lasting 12 hours or longer.
Key Features of the United Quest Card
This mid-tier airline rewards card offers a generous sign-up bonus, plenty of perks when flying United, and additional rewards for certain purchases.
Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
The PQP component of this bonus can be vital to earning the next level of elite status in United’s MileagePlus program.
This card offers plenty of opportunities to earn bonus miles:
- 3x miles for United purchases
- 2x miles for all other travel and dining purchases
- 2x miles for select streaming services
- 1x mile on all other eligible purchases
“Other travel” covers a huge range of purchases, including:
- Non-United airfare
- Train fares
- Local transit, taxi, and rideshare fares
- Cruise fares
- Hotel and resort bookings
- Car rentals
- Road tolls
You can redeem your accumulated miles for award flights operated by United and its partners.
Exactly how much value you get from them is another question. United no longer publishes an award chart and has been known to change how much it charges for particular flights without notifying anyone. But in general, you’ll need 80,000 to 100,000 miles for a one-way, business class ticket to Europe, and about half that if you travel in economy.
$125 Annual United Purchase Credit
You receive up to $125 in statement credits each account anniversary year as reimbursement for United purchases charged to your United Quest Card.
Anniversary Award Flight Credits
You can also earn two 5,000 mile anniversary award flight credits each year when you take a United or United Express-operated award flight booked with your miles.
Valuable Travel Perks
No discussion of the United Quest Card is complete without taking a look at its travel perks:
- Your first and second bags checked free for you and a companion
- Priority boarding
- 25% back on United in-flight purchases
- Eligibility for Premier upgrades when traveling on award flights
These perks come on top of numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies. This includes $1,500 per person in trip cancellation/interruption insurance, $500 per person in trip delay reimbursement, and an additional $3,000 in lost luggage coverage.
There’s a $250 annual fee for this card. However, there’s no foreign transaction fee imposed on charges processed outside of the United States.
This card requires good or better credit to qualify. If your FICO score is much below 700, then you’ll likely have trouble being approved. However, this is pretty standard for a premium travel credit card.
This card offers a lot of advantages, especially for frequent United travelers.
- Sign-up bonus. Earning 60,000 miles after spending $4,000 on new purchases is a competitive bonus, but adding the 500 Premier Qualifying MIles allows this card to rise above most of its competitors.
- Generous travel perks. The $125 annual travel credit goes a long way toward defraying the costs of this card’s annual fee. The two 5,000 mile annual flight credits are also very valuable. And it’s always nice to enjoy priority boarding, and two free checked bags.
- Strong bonus categories. Many airline credit cards only offer 2x miles for ticket purchases, but this card features 3x. Plus, you get 2x for all other travel, dining and select streaming services.
- MileagePlus partners and policies. You can redeem your United miles for flights on its numerous Star Alliance and non-alliance partners. United also eliminated change and cancellation fees on awards, so you’re free to book a ticket when you find a good deal and cancel it later if it doesn’t work out.
The United Quest Card isn’t perfect. Its biggest downsides include recently devalued award travel (with more devaluation possible in the future) and a high annual fee.
- United devalues its miles. United eliminated its award charts several years ago, which means that it can always charge more miles for awards whenever it feels like it. For example, United recently started charging up to 50% more miles for many of its award flights to Europe, without any prior notice. So don’t count on the price you see now being available when it comes time to redeem your miles.
- $250 annual fee. This will be a big turn-off to many people, and for good reason. But if you can use the $125 annual flight credit, then the net cost is much closer to what an entry-level airline card costs. And if the free bags save you money, then it’s easier to get over the sticker shock of a $250 card.
How the United Quest Card Stacks Up
One of the closest competitors to the United Quest card is the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. It also offers bonus miles and credit toward elite status. It even features an annual companion certificate, but it has a smaller sign-up bonus.
|United Quest Card||Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card|
|Sign-Up Bonus||60,000 miles plus 500 PQDs||50,000 miles|
|Rewards Rate||Up to 3x miles||Up to 3x miles|
|0% Intro APR||None||None|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||None|
|Credit Needed||Good or better||Good or better|
The United Quest Card is a mid-tier product, positioned between the entry-level Explorer Card and the premium Club Card. It offers you a wide variety of perks and benefits when you fly United, including mileage credits, ticket purchase credits and credits toward elite status. It also offers some additional miles and fee credits to help cardholders justify its considerable annual fee. And don’t forget the valuable sign-up bonus.
What you’re left with is a pricey card that’s well worth it if you can utilize its fee credits and other perks, such as two free checked bags. Those who buy tickets on United will easily earn the $125 annual credit toward United purchases. So while you might balk at the $250 annual fee, savvy cardholders consider the value of the United Quest Card’s benefits and find it to be a worthwhile expense.