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Which United Airlines credit card should you choose?

Whether you're a frequent or occasional flyer, these are the United card options you should consider

Summary

Whether you’re a frequent or occasional flyer, these are the United Airlines credit card options you should consider

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

If you regularly fly with United Airlines or you live in or near Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark or San Francisco – the airline’s hubs – picking up an United Airlines credit card could make a ton of sense.

Not only can a United credit card help you earn MileagePlus miles faster, but you might also get a few handy perks, including free checked bags.

At the moment, United Airlines offers a handful of co-branded United credit cards for individuals or small business owners. But, how do you know which United Airlines credit cards are best?

Our guide aims to help you compare options so you wind up with the right airline credit card for your needs and your travel goals.

See related: United MileagePlus Dining Guide

Here’s the roundup:

Guide to United Airlines credit cards

Compare fees, rewards, perks and extras:  

United Explorer Card

Annual fee
  • $95, waived the first year
Sign-up bonus
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
In-flight discount
  • 25%
No foreign transaction fees
  • Yes
Extra bonus on certain categories
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on United Airlines, hotel and restaurant purchases, including delivery services like Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub and Seamless
  • 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else
Limit on miles earned
  • No
First checked bag free
  • Yes, for you and a companion on the same reservation
Priority boarding
  • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
Reduced mileage awards
  • No
Redeem miles rebate
  • No
Benefits
  • 2 United Club one-time passes
  • Tickets bought using miles eligible for free upgrades
  • Trip delay, baggage and auto rental insurance
  • Concierge service
  • Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks, including breakfast for 2, free Wi-Fi and meal/spa credits
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
  • Yes, up to $100 every four years
Card network
  • Visa

Chase United Club Infinite Card

Annual fee
  • $525
Sign-up bonus
  • 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
In-flight discount
  • 25%
No foreign transaction fees
  • Yes
Extra bonus on certain categories
  • 4 miles per dollar spent on United purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on dining
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on all other travel (including other airlines)
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
Limit on miles earned
  • No
First checked bag free
  • Yes, 2 bags for you and 2 for a companion on the same reservation
Priority boarding
  • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
Reduced mileage awards
  • No
Redeem miles rebate
  • No
Benefits
  • United Club and Star Alliance lounge membership
  • Priority check-in and screening
  • Waived fees on last-minute tickets bought with miles
  • Miles tickets eligible for free upgrades
  • Trip delay, baggage and auto rental insurance
  • Concierge service
  • Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks, including free breakfast for 2, free Wi-Fi and meal/spa credits
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
  • Yes, up to $100 every four years
Card network
  • Visa

Chase United Business Card

Annual fee
  • $99, waived the first year
Sign-up bonus
  • 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
In-flight discount
  • 25%
No foreign transaction fees
  • Yes
Extra bonus on certain categories
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on United Airlines, restaurant, gas and office supplies purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on transit and commute purchases, including taxis, tolls and rideshares
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else
Limit on miles earned
  • No
First checked bag free
  • Yes, for you and a companion on the same reservation
Priority boarding
  • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
Reduced mileage awards
  • No
Redeem miles rebate
  • No
Benefits
  • 2 United Club one-time passes
  • 5,000 bonus miles on your account anniversary if you have both a United Business Card and personal United card
  • $100 annual United travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more
  • Trip, baggage and car rental insurance
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
  • No
Card network
  • Visa

Chase United Club Business Card

Annual fee
  • $450
Sign-up bonus
  • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
In-flight discount
  • 25%
No foreign transaction fees
  • Yes
Extra bonus on certain categories
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases
  • 1.5 miles per dollar spent on everything else
Limit on miles earned
  • No
First checked bag free
  • Yes, 2 bags for you and 2 for a companion on the same reservation
Priority boarding
  • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
Reduced mileage awards
  • No
Redeem miles rebate
  • No
Benefits
  • United Club and Star Alliance membership
  • Priority check-in and screening
  • Concierge service
  • Trip, baggage and car rental insurance
  • Discoverist status in World of Hyatt loyalty program
  • President’s Circle Elite status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program
  • Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks, including free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, dining/spa credits and upgrades
Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
  • No
Card network
  • Visa

Lifetime Globalist

How to qualify
  • 1,000,000 base points over the course of your membership
Base-point rate
  • 6.5 points/$1
Benefits
  • Receive Globalist benefits indefinitely, with no requirement to qualify for status each year

 

Best United Airlines credit card with no annual fee: United Gateway Card

If you’re looking for a United rewards card with no annual fee, the United Gateway Card is the best (and only) option to consider. This card starts you off with 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. You also earn:

  • 2 miles per $1 on United flights, purchases made at gas stations and on transit and commuting
  • 1 miles per $1 on all other purchases

As an added bonus, you’ll even rack up 3 miles per $1 on up to $1,500 in grocery store spending per month through Sept. 30, 2021. Aside from not charging an annual fee, other United Airlines credit card benefits include 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. That means this card is rather limited in terms of perks, but that’s par for the course when it comes to credit cards with no annual fee.

Best United Airlines credit card for frequent flyers: United Explorer Card

Frequent flyers would be better off with a United credit card with more benefits, which they’ll find with the United Explorer Card. First off, you can earn up to 65,000 bonus miles – 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. In terms of daily spending, you can rack up:

  • 2 miles per $1 on United purchases, dining including delivery and takeout and hotels booked directly
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases

United Airlines credit card benefits you’ll receive include two United Club passes, a first free checked bag, a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, priority boarding, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. Not only are these perks ideal for frequent United flyers who want a convenient travel experience, but they can help cardholders save money, too. This card does charge a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.

Best United Airlines credit card for big United spenders: United Club Infinite Card

If you’re a big United spender and you fly with the airline all the time, you’ll probably want a card that lets you rack up a ton of miles while also affording you a comfortable travel experience. The United Club Infinite Card is perfect in either case. This card replaced an older version of the United Club Card, but it offers even better rewards and perks designed with luxury travelers in mind.

As a cardholder, you’ll earn:

  • 4 miles per $1 spent with United Airlines
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on dining (including takeout and delivery) and travel
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

In terms of perks, you won’t be disappointed. Not only does this card give you membership in the airline’s United Club lounges ($650 value), but if you travel internationally, you will be able to access lounges for any airlines that are part of the Star Alliance, including Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Meanwhile, you also get two free checked bags for yourself and a traveling companion on the same reservation, as well as priority check in, priority boarding, priority securing screening, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also get a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership.

There is one major downside to this card: It comes with a $525 annual fee.

See related: When is a credit card annual fee worth it?

Best United Airlines credit card for small business

If you’re a small business owner, you may also want to apply for one of the two United Airlines credit cards for business. The United Business Card is a good option for small business owners who travel for work or for leisure a few times per month, and this is due to its cardholder benefits and low annual fee.

You’ll start off by earning 75,000 miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. You’ll also earn:

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining including takeout and delivery, gas stations, office supply stores, local transit and commuting
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases

Like all good United Airlines credit card offers, the United Business Card also comes with a handful of perks which include 5,000 miles on your cardholder anniversary each year when you carry a business credit card and a personal credit card from United Airlines. You’ll also receive two one-time United Club passes, a first checked bag free, priority boarding, a $100 United travel credit when you make at least seven purchases of $100 or more with United each year, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. A $99 annual fee applies, but it’s waived the first year.

Best United Airlines credit card for business travelers

Finally, United Airlines offers a business credit card that is perfect for frequent business travelers who want to earn a ton of miles and score lounge access when they fly. The United Club Business Credit Card starts you off with 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. You’ll also rack up:

  • 2 miles per $1 spent United purchases
  • 1.5 miles on everything else

While this card does have a $450 annual fee, you’ll get plenty of value when it comes to the perks you receive. Not only will you get a United Club membership valued at $650, but you’ll get a first and second free checked bag, priority check-in, security screening and baggage handling, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees.

Who should get a United Airlines credit card?

The best United Airlines credit card offers make it easy to rack up miles for each dollar you spend, and most offer a generous bonus when you meet a minimum spending requirement. With that being said, United Airlines credit cards are really best for people who are loyal to the airline, or those who live in a United hub and wind up flying with the airline often by default.

If you aren’t loyal to United Airlines or you want more options when it comes to cashing in your points, you may also want to consider a Chase travel credit card that lets you transfer your points to United at a 1:1 ratio, or redeem for other types of travel.

As an example, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card* let you earn points you can transfer to United, as well as other airline and hotel partners like Southwest, British Airways, Emirates, World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and more. Chase credit cards also let you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which gives you even more flexibility.

See related: How to earn and use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

How much are United miles worth?

Based on our internal comparisons, United miles are worth approximately 1.5 cents each. This means that, generally speaking, 60,000 miles are worth approximately $900. However, keep in mind that you may get more value if you redeem miles for premium flights or international flights.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get significant value out of your United miles, whether you want to travel the world or enjoy a relaxing trip closer to home.

*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, The United Business Card and the United Club Business Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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