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United Elite Prepaid Travel Card

Contributed by mm | January 21, 2005 11:49 AM PST

Nowadays, almost every big store you visit has its version of stored value card. Starbucks card witnessed huge success in the last two years and McDonald's is testing its stored-value card in some markets now. This week, CardWeb reports that United Airlines will jump the same bandwagon on February 1 by launching its United Elite Prepaid Travel Card.

The benefit of the United card: by prepaying $5,000 to $20,000, you may entitle yourself to Premier, Premier Executive or 1K level in United MileagePlus's elite status ladder. Plus, you can get 5% discount for your United consumptions paid by the card.

But, do you really need a prepaid card from United? Think about:

- Unlike Starbucks or McDonald's, which you may visit every couple of days, can you predict the next time you will use United?
- If you love hte 5% discount, are you sure United can always provide the cheapest fare for your next trip? What if Northwest or JetBlue can beat United's price by 20%?
- Your prepaid card consumption is not regulated by credit card rules. Do you want to be at the mercy of United if you run into a dispute with United itself?
- United is still trying to dig itself out from the bankruptcy. With another price war undergoing, what if United needs to close the door? (Hint: you probably will get nothing from United if it shuts the door.)

Now, if you are a frequent United flyer, you really like the company, and you believe you can use $5,000 or $20,000 worth of United service in no time, good luck to you. Before you purchase the United prepaid card, get yourself a Citi® Driver's Edge® Platinum Select® Card and use it to purchase the United prepaid card to get another 5% off.

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