Which United Airlines credit card is right for you? Our guide will help you decide.
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 a 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
Guide to United Airlines credit cards
|Card||Rewards||Sign-up bonus||Annual fee|
|United Gateway℠ Card||Up to 30,000 bonus miles||$0|
|United Club℠ Infinite Card||$525|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Up to 70,000 bonus miles||$95, $0 first year|
|New United Quest℠ Card||Up to 100,000 miles:||$250|
|United℠ Business Card*||Up to 150,000 bonus miles||$99|
|United Club Business Card*||$450|
Best for no annual fee: United Gateway℠ Card
If you’re looking for a travel credit card with no annual fee, the United Gateway℠ Card is the best (and only) option from United to consider. This card starts you off with up to 30,000 bonus miles (15,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus an additional 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first six months). You also earn:
- 2 miles per dollar on United flights, purchases made at gas stations and on transit and commuting
- 1 miles per dollar on all other purchases
As an added bonus, you’ll even rack up 3 miles per mile 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 for occasional flyers: United℠ Explorer Card
If United is your preferred airline and you’re ready to invest in a card with an annual fee to get more benefits, you would be better off with the United℠ Explorer Card. First off, you can earn up to 70,000 bonus miles – 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months. In terms of daily spending, you can rack up:
- 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, dining including delivery and takeout and hotels booked directly
- 1 mile per dollar 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 for frequent United flyers: New United Quest℠ Card
The latest addition to Chase’s United card lineup can be a good option for you if you’re more of a frequent traveler. Despite the $250 annual fee, the New United Quest℠ Card‘s benefits can offer a lot of value and help you save money on travel.
The card offers up to $125 in statement credits toward United purchases, such as plane tickets and incidentals, and a 5,000-mile credit twice a year after completing an eligible award flight on United, starting on your first card anniversary. Additionally, you can get a free first and second checked bag for yourself and your companion if you buy the airfare with the card, as well as up to $100 credit every four years toward the Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee.
As for the rewards, you’ll earn:
- 3 miles per mile on United purchases
- 2 miles per mile at restaurants, on select streaming services and all other travel
- 1 mile per mile on all other purchases
Perhaps one of the best features of the United Quest Card is its incredibly generous sign-up bonus offer. You can earn up to 100,000 miles: 80,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional 20,000 miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
Best 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 dollar spent with United Airlines
- 2 miles per dollar spent on dining (including takeout and delivery) and travel
- 1 mile per dollar 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 card for small business owners: United℠ Business Card
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 up to 150,000 bonus miles (75,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, plus an additional 75,000 miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first 6 months). You’ll also earn:
- 2 miles per dollar spent on United purchases, dining including takeout and delivery, gas stations, office supply stores, local transit and commuting
- 1 mile per dollar 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.
Best United card for frequent business travelers: United Club Business Card
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 dollar 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 United Business Card and the United Club Business Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. These offers are no longer available on our site.