Why You Shouldn’t Cut Up Your United Credit Card

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On the heels of the terrible United passenger removal incident, I recently shared things you can do with your United miles other than actually flying United…without just letting the miles expire or redeeming them for something uninspiring like a microwave . Either because of being wary of the in-flight experience, or to be a part of a wallet driven protest, there are those who are stating they don’t want to fly United ever again. As part of that protest, some are also cutting up their co-branded United credit cards since they are done with the airline and its frequent flyer program.

 

I actually think this event may be a tipping point for passenger treatment on United and other airlines, so while I am beyond horrified at what happened on United flight 3411, I’m not cutting up anything at this point. However, even if you are truly done with using your United credit card, I actually advise against just “cutting it up” (or canceling it) right this second for a few reasons.

  1. If you cancel the card you lose the flight protection benefits for future flights. If you used your United card to book upcoming travel on United or elsewhere you likely have built-in protections in the event you get sick and have to cancel your travels, your flight is significantly delayed or cancelled, or your bags are lost or damaged. It is probably worth it to hold onto the card until those trips that were paid for with the card are in the rearview mirror.
  2. You will lose your United priority boarding and checked bag benefits without the United card. The United Explorer Card awards the primary cardmember and one companion traveling on the same reservation a first free checked bag, as well as priority Zone 2 boarding. If you are in need of the checked bag benefit it can otherwise cost you $25 for a first checked bag of up to 50 lbs for each direction of travel without the car. If you are traveling on a United Basic Economy fare these perks can be even more important since even a full sized carry-on will cost extra on those fares!
  3. The United MileagePlus Explorer Card provides primary rental auto coverage for damage due to collision or theft. This primary coverage is still relatively rare in the credit card world, so if you ever rent cars, make sure you have another credit card that provides that coverage before dumping your United card.
  4. Don’t lose extended warranty and purchase protections. Similarly to how the United card has some built-in protections for trips you charged to the card, it does the same for many of your everyday purchases. The Purchase Protection benefit covers eligible purchased items against theft, damage or loss for 120 days up to $10,000. This can be very handy if you damage or loss a new electronic like a phone! Additionally, the card provides an year of an extended warranty on many items and price purchase protection for 90 days on many items. I have used almost all of these benefits at some point to save my family real money and stress.

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Whenever I decide I want to cancel a credit card for whatever reason I try to stop using it for a while before I actually cancel so that I don’t lose travel and purchase protections I otherwise would have had. If you have been actively using your United credit card or have any upcoming United trips you may want to hold off canceling until you are sure you don’t need any of the built-in protections.

If you do decide you want to close your account and be done with it, remember to actually call Chase to cancel the card and/or request the account be closed via secure message online so you don’t get hit with another annual fee when your anniversary date comes around.

I’m curious if the events surrounding United 3411 caused you to re-evaluate any of your future dealings with United?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. I have not cut up my card, but I have removed it from my wallet and will not use it on a regular basis.
    I will not fly United if I have any other reasonable options.
    I will be taking my credit card business and air travel business to their competitors as frequently as possible.

  2. I’m not planning to change any of my dealings with United. With the MPX app, it is so easy to rack up large amounts of miles with every day spend. But your post did get me thinking. Is it better to book flights on United with the Explorer card, or just hold the Explorer card to get priority boarding and a free bag, and book with higher end travel card?

    • Welcome to United … read the fine print. The UA card requires you to use the card to receive the free checked bag. “[R]eceive their first standard checked bag free ($25 value for the first checked bag, each way, per person) on United-operated flights when purchasing tickets with their United MileagePlus Explorer Card”

      This was loosely enforce before. However, on my past three flights I used my CSR card thinking I could still get free checked bag from having the UA card. No dice. Literally, I had to pay out of pocket. I wasn’t happy. This is unlike the Citi AA card which only requires you to have the card and not use it on flights.

    • You need to use the card, at least for the baggage benefit I know. I can’t sweat to priority boarding. Since I have low level status it is hard for me to tell for sure what comes from what in real life, but I’m 99.99% that these days you need to actually use the card for your booking to use the baggage perk.

  3. My $95 fee came due on the same day as the fall out/fiasco. As the baggage fee is only waived while using the card – called, cancelled and cut up the card. Husband is silver and opted for a Delta challenge – now silver on Delta and avoiding United.

  4. I’ve flown UA exclusively for a good 3 years now and employees are always cheerful and helpful. Flights have been uneventful. The incident with the doctor was horrific and an anomaly but not a deal breaker for me. AA is my hometown airline but won’t fly them – too undependable. And I hate Delta with every fiber of my being! Love me my United!

  5. I will not be renewing the United card when the AF becomes due in 2 months. I don’t trust United and will be flying on AA from now on.

  6. @Mommy Points – I feel bad for you. You have a great blog but you seem tied to United Airlines. Not necessarily because they support you (maybe they don’t) but you seem to live in Houston so you have no other airline choice except Southwest. I enjoy and appreciate your blog and hope to see more great family travel advice in the future.

    • You are mostly correct…United is the most convenient airline for us on many flights. I didn’t think they were perfect before this, and certainly don’t now, but I do have hope they will learn from this incident and improve some policies in short order. Thanks for reading!

      • I agree. Even though no longer a hub in Cleveland (and still steamed about that) there isn’t any other hub, so I’ve continued with United, even though their staff aren’t the nicest. Although where are they? And don’t kid yourselves. The other airlines aren’t angels either.

  7. US Based carriers are usually inferior to many of their partners. I earn points with the united credit card, and generally redeem them on partner flights. I’m not tearing up my card, but I’m far less loyal than I used to be. United is certainly not paying extra for these days.

  8. Glad to see airline competition still lives. Delta and United are now heavily competing to see who can create the largest public relations disaster. I think United is winning the competition now if only ahead by a (bloody and broken) nose.

  9. I got the card originally to take a trip to Europe, which didn’t work out. I used the 60k in points to pay for a minivan rental on a recent trip to Puerto Rico. The ticket to Europe would probably have been worth more with the points, but this saved us about 600-700 dollars. Cancelled card after that trip. Not sad about using them for the rental.

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