United Launches Their First Credit Card In Israel, Here’s How It Compares To The US Version

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After El Al, United operates the most nonstop flights between North America and Israel with 28 weekly flights.

The airline has now launched its first co-brand card in Israel, issued by Leumi. Here how that offering compares to the Chase United Explorer Card.

  • Signup bonus:
    • US card: 60,000 miles for spending $3,000 in 3 months.
    • Israel card: If you’re among the first 2,500 to signup, you’ll earn an intro bonus of 15,000 miles and $100 off a United flight originating and terminating in Tel Aviv for spending 10,000 shekels (about US $2,670) in 3 months. (I should note that back in 2007 I used a $100 Continental voucher to upgrade a round-trip flight to Israel to business class, though I imagine that’s been fixed over the past 16 years. šŸ˜€ ). After the first 2,500 signups, the bonus will drop to 5,000 miles.

Winner: US card.


  • Annual fee:
    • US card: $0 intro annual fee, then $95.
    • Israel card: 382.80 shekels (About US $102).

Winner: US card.


  • Miles earned:
    • US card: 1 mile per dollar spent on everyday purchases or 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, hotels, and dining.
    • Israel card: 1 mile per 6 shekels (about US $1.60) spent in Israel or 1 mile per 4 shekels (about US $1.07) spent abroad.

Winner: US card.


  • Foreign transaction fee:
    • US card: 0%
    • Israel card: 1.5%

Winner: US card.


  • Club passes:
    • US card: 2 passes annually starting with the 1st year.
    • Israel card: 2 passes starting with the 2nd year, only if you spent 100,000 shekels (about $26,704) in the previous year.

Winner: US card.


  • Expanded award space:
    • US card: Cardholders have access to discounted awards via expanded award availability.
    • Israel card: Details are unclear, but the marketing language implies that cardholders will also receive the US cardholder benefit.

Winner: Likely a tie.


  • Premier access check-in:
    • US card: No. (Club card required).
    • Israel card: Yes.

Winner: Israeli card.


  • Priority boarding:
    • US card: Group 2 priority boarding.
    • Israel card: Group 2 priority boarding.

Winner: Tie.


The US card also comes with the following benefits that the Israel card doesn’t mention:

  • Cardholders getĀ Global Entry/PreCheck/NEXUS for free.
  • A free checked bagĀ worldwideĀ for the cardholder and a companion, even on basic economy fares.
  • A free carry-on bagĀ for the cardholder and companions, even on basic economy fares.
  • Priority boardingĀ for the cardholder and companions, even on basic economy fares.
  • The ability to use online checkin and get a boarding pass in advance on basic economy fares.Ā United does not allow online checkin on basic economy fares unless you have elite status or a United card with free bags.
  • Primary rental car CDW insurance in every country.
  • Cardholders withĀ United elite statusĀ get free upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routesĀ for the cardholder with status and a companion!
  • If you spend $12K/year on the cardĀ it will give you 500 PQPs and if you spend $24K/year youā€™ll get 1,000 PQPs.Ā PQPs from multiple cards can stack together up to 15,000 PQPs, enough for Platinum status.
  • 1 year free DoorDash membership.
  • $10 monthly GoPuff creditĀ through 12/31/23.
  • AĀ 25% rebate on inflight WiFi, food, and drinkĀ purchases.
  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Purchase Protection

Unsurprisingly, the US card is a lot more generous. In general, US credit cards are far more generous than cards issued abroad, due to higher interchange fees in the US. If you can get a US card to use in Israel, you’ll come out ahead, but if you don’t qualify, it’s always nice to have more competition in the marketplace!

HT: moe8555, via DDF

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50 Comments On "United Launches Their First Credit Card In Israel, Here’s How It Compares To The US Version"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions arenā€™t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


I already have (numerous) American United cards. Would there be any issue connecting an Israeli united card to the same united account?


Winner: US card.
Winner: US card.
Winner: US card.
Winner: US card.


I’m still waiting for EL Al to finally come out with a competitive US card.

My understanding is that they are still locked into the old contract?


Foreign transaction fee for the Israeli card means fees for spending in the US I assume?
I am blacklisted from Chase so this may be the only way for me to get a United card. May be worth it even though I’m a US citizen residing in the US and spending in the US. Every swipe in the US will be subject to a foreign exchange fee?


Such an embarrassment to Israel how clearly pathetic their offers/banking/services are…


It’s only the USA that has such crazy signups.
Europe doesn’t have such offers either


Nor Canada. Market is so huge in US with so much demand, that the cards and banks need to be super competitive.


Israeli cards are kind of terrible compared to US cards. however, at the moment at least the credit score system doesn’t seem to take into account utiliization and all that stuff, meaning you can basically get every single Israeli card if you want to.


The main reason for the difference is that in Israel you canā€™t build up debt so companies donā€™t need to incentivize you to fall into it.


very true. You can’t revolve a balance here, you either need to pay it off monthly or ask the credit card company for what is essentially a loan.


what do you mean pay it off monthly that seems like here in the us?


the difference is when you sign up you have to give them a bank account for monthly debit. It’s not like in the US where every month the decision whether to pay or revolve a balance is up to you.

Chad Bidoro

So how do they make money


Swipe fees, FX fees, and annual fees on the cards. Also, interest from the rarer cases when people choose to split the charge into fixed monthly payments with interest (the equivalent of Citi FlexPay/My Chase Plan). Some cards actually do let you revolve, but not all and it’s something that has to be activated manually.


I thought most Israelis are in cc debt in Israel!


not really. People here use overdraft on their bank accounts the way americans use credit card debt.


This is comparing apples and oranges. The credit card system in Israel is vastly different than the United States, for better and for worse. Annual fees are a given on almost any card (these can be negotiated if you have a high income or high spend) and perks are almost non-existent. The typical Israeli who already pays for a credit card and gets no perks will see this as a great option considering the alternatives available. Israelis don’t have the ability to sign up for the bonus filled credit cards that Americans do. I would be more interested in seeing a comparison against ElAl cards in Israel or the like.

Reb yid

I think the point was, would it pay for an American to finagle getting an Israeli United card, and the answer is no.
Another issue is, remember, Israel cards don’t go for the “it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so reverse the charges” kind of thing.


Would it be correct to assume the stinginess is all coming from Bank Leumi, and not United?


Another point that needs to be made, this Israeli version is locked into Bank Leumi, which means in order to get the card you need a bank account with them first. Very different then the US Cards


This was my question. I’m not a Leumi customer, how can I get this?


You can’t.


that is not true. I have leumi cards and I don’t have a bank account with them.


You have Max cards, formerly “Leumi Card.” An actual Bank Leumi card (like this new United card) requires an account with Bank Leumi.


You’re right, I t stand corrected. Not sure why they’re doing this unless they think this is such a niche product that they’d rather use it to drive what are presumably high-value banking customers than for any actual revenues they make from the cards.


Maybe the credit card competition in Israel is not major and this is a solid card there


i can assure you it is not.


Leumi (and all Israeli banks) are awful and a pain to deal with.
Customer service is really not a thing in Israel.
The less you have to deal with the banks the better.


In what respect? I lot issues has to do with US laws especially if you are transferring/wiring to Israel from US.


In every respect.

The banks in Israel close at 1:30 4 days a week.
They are very busy and not interested in helping their customers.
Their banking apps and websites are slow, and full of bugs and glitches.
They make it nearly impossible for even a visa carrying foreigner to open an account.

The list goes on and on…


EVRETHING is a hassle in Israeli banks


Even assuming you get the 15K miles, that’s basically $180 or so (value of miles, $100 voucher, minus the $100 fee) for 10,000 shekel of spend. Shufersal’s card will get you about $105 for 3,000 shekel (1000 X 3 months) and much better cashback at shufersal, if you shop there, with no AF for the first year (and you can usually get it waived after that). So not great.

Torah Question

Is there a ribis issue?


I don’t think so. Here the lender is the one paying the borrower. But you can ask your LOR.


you should always request a heter iska when opening any account with an israeli bank. they all do it without an issue. and the heter iska at bank leumi is very very good, better than the other israeli banks


It looks like the old ElAl management designed the features of this card!


Yeah, but I give them credit for opening up the possibility of getting 2 United Club passes. El Al should match this benefit, which would give the uninitiated a taste of what they’re missing out on and probably result in more business.

ben ish chai

Why did you compare the new United Israeli card against the US version & showing that the US card is the winner; of course the US market offers more because of the competition.
You should compare the United Israeli new card against the Elal Israeli credit card, the market the are competing with is basically the Israeli residents. (Yes, you have a bunch of readers that have double citizenship like me, but the main market is the Israeli citizens.)




It’s important to note a few things:
1. The card is more generous in mile earnings than any other card on the Israeli market.
2. You have to be a Bank Leumi banking customer to get this card. This will limit adoption as many people will balk at switching banks just for a credit card.
3. In terms of annual fee, the price is discounted by 50% for the second cardholder (i.e. your spouse) so it might actually come out ahead on that compared to the US card.
4. This card is likely the result of the spinoff of the credit card companies in Israel from the banks, forcing Bank Leumi at least to come up with this offering which is unique among Israeli credit cards.

I switched my banking to Leumi yesterday to get this card. The clerks did not yet know about it.
Will see how it goes


lesson learned from the israeli vs the us cc,
the israelies are takers and the americans are givers

One who knows

You are missing a crucial difference between the cc market of the two countries: Clearing fees for Israeli business are around the 1 percent as compated to 3 percent in the US. Only strong competition and a low rate of cc frauds create any holder’s benefits in the Israeli cc market