Is The United Quest Card Worth It?
After holding the United MileagePlus Explorer Card for a couple years, I ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth the annual fee. There was only one benefit that I found super useful on a continuing basis: access to additional saver-level award space. I found that I could still enjoy this benefit after downgrading my card to the no-fee version. I didn’t expect to pick up a new United card for a while. But when Chase launched a new co-branded United Quest Card, it was quickly clear that it would be a winner, even with a $250 annual fee. Here’s why I find keeping the United Quest card worth it as my card anniversary date approaches.
Annual Mile Rebate and Travel Credits
The travel credits are the primary benefits of the United Quest Card that make it worth the annual fee. Every cardmember year you can enjoy a $125 United credit when purchasing a United flight. This means you get half of the fee back. If you don’t pay cash for United fights, this will obviously be useless to you. I end up flying at least once per year for work, and even if that is the only United flight I book with my card, it will at least let me pocket the credit.
The second benefit doesn’t kick in until after your first card anniversary, which has yet to arrive for me. But I am anticipating it. After year one, and after each card anniversary thereafter, you will be able to enjoy two 5,000-mile rebates when booking United award flights. There hasn’t been a year over the past several where I haven’t booked at least two United awards, so this is an easy benefit for me to use. Conservatively valuing United miles at 1.5 cents apiece, this is an easy $150 in value.
Together, these credits represent a benefit of $275 for me. This covers the annual fee and a bit more. But I typically like to get more value than this when keeping a card year after year.
Excellent United Travel Benefits
Most airline cards offer one free checked bag. The United Quest Card offers two free checked bags for you and one companion. Prepaid checked bags start at $30 for the first and $40 for the second, so a single round-trip for two people would be a savings of $280. This, also, is more than the annual fee.
There are other ways to get free bags with United, including airline elite status and using your American Express Platinum incidental free credit, if United is your airline of choice. But this is an ongoing excellent benefit.
The United Quest card also offers the ability to earn $3,000 Premier Qualifying Points using your card. Granted, you need to spend a lot. But this is an excellent benefit if you’re reaching for the upper tiers of United elite status. Using it to earn silver would be nearly pointless, given the benefits the card itself provides.
Other card benefits include 25% back on United inflight purchases, priority boarding, no foreign transaction fees, and up to $100 credit for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
One thing that surprises me is that the United Quest card does not offer lounge passes like the United Explorer. I find this odd. Providing an annual benefit of, say, four complimentary lounge visits would be an excellent addition, and keeping with the tier of the card, between the Explorer and the Club Infinite card.
Extra United Award Space
One thing that all United co-branded credit cards offer is access to extra Saver-level award space. This benefit is not unique to the United Quest Card, but it’s worth emphasizing. This benefit has saved me thousands of miles over the years, as the bulk of economy tickets that I book with United miles fall into this category (in the case of tickets where standard award space exists, I use partner miles).
When you search for United awards, you will be able to tell whether an award uses this extra inventory by a label that says: ***Exclusively available to you as a MileagePlus Cardmember. For you award flight geeks out there, this award inventory is a special “XN” fare bucket.
Bonus: It’s a Really Cool Purple Color
Purple is in. Whether it is Delta flight attendant apparel, the old SPG American Express Card (RIP), or the United Quest Card, I associate purple with good, at least in terms of travel. Maybe United should rebrand and paint their airplanes a bright purple color. That’d be a bit of a…WOW factor.
All kidding aside, I do appreciate how a card looks. Should it be a reason to keep it? No.
So, Is the United Quest Card Worth It?
Even with its $250 annual fee, I believe the benefits of the United Quest card add up to be more than worth its cost. The annual award rebates, travel credit, and luggage allowance make the card a winner in my book. I will be keeping it year after year. United offers the most flight options out of our local airport, and I end up booking several awards with them each year, augmenting the short-haul tickets I like to book using LifeMiles or Turkish Miles and Smiles.
The United Quest Card is currently offering a welcome offer of 80,000 miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. This isn’t as good as the initial welcome offer when the card was launched (100,000 bonus miles). But it is still excellent. Definitely something worth considering if you’re looking to augment your Chase card lineup.