United offers a robust portfolio of co-branded credit cards, tied to its MileagePlus loyalty program. But here in the US, United, like Delta, is solely linked with one issuer — in this case, Chase — while American Airlines seems to be doing well for itself by branching out, through products issued by both Barclaycard and Citi.
Currently, United’s Chase-issued cards include:
- United MileagePlus Club Card
- United Explorer Card
- United Explorer Business Card
- United TravelBank Card
As the airline’s president Scott Kirby discussed during the company’s earnings call this week, “credit card acquisitions grew double digits in the first quarter of 2019” — no doubt in part due to a big push the carrier’s been making through its flight attendants, who are incentivized to sign customers up during a flight.
Credit cards have been known to bring in significant revenue, and it’s no secret that Kirby’s set his sights on more, saying:
“With respect to our MileagePlus program, we know some of us from prior personal experience that this is one of our single biggest margin growth opportunity and therefore one of the company’s and my personal top priorities. There are aspects of the program we’re very proud of. However, it remains true that the co-brand component of our program underperformed relative to our peers, and this disparity only widened after recent announcements. Fortunately, United has hubs in the largest and highest income cities, which gives United and Chase the most opportunity for any co-brand card anywhere in the world.”
It sounds like United is still hoping to build a stronger (more lucrative) partnership with Chase for the moment, though I’m sure American Express, Citi and other issuers wouldn’t mind throwing their hats in the ring, too, assuming their current airline partnerships allow it.
As Kirby said, “We’re negotiating with Chase opportunities for improved economics for our card partnership to ensure that our deals delivers industry competitive value to all of our stakeholders.”
Still, a new co-branded partnership could create an opportunity for United to innovate a bit — hopefully by changing its cards for the better, with new benefits, additional earning opportunities and other perks, such as even more discounted award availability for elites and cardholders. We can dream, at least.
What would you like to see in a new United credit card? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured photo by Sara Wass/The Points Guy.