Two United credit cards are currently offering impressive sign-up bonuses with a relatively low spending requirement. See how far your miles can take you and which is the best fit for your spending and travel habits.
Two of Chase’s co-branded airline rewards cards – the United℠ Explorer Card and the luxury United Club℠ Infinite Card – are currently offering generous sign-up bonuses with a relatively low spending requirement.
The United Explorer card is offering a 60,000-mile bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership, while the United Club Infinite Card gets you a whopping 100,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
In addition to these great sign-up bonuses, both cards offer a chance to earn miles on some of your everyday spending and reward your United loyalty with unique discounts and perks.
We’ve broken down the value of these bonuses along with each card’s features to help you decide if you should apply and which card is the best fit for you.
Comparing United MileagePlus credit cards
The United Explorer and Club Infinite cards both offer bonus rewards on United purchases and on dining, but they vary considerably in other areas, including in their sign-up bonuses, rewards rates, annual fees and lounge access privileges.
See related: Which United Airlines credit card should you choose?
Compared to the Explorer card, the Club Infinite card gets you double the miles on United purchases, offering 4 miles per dollar on United purchases compared to the Explorer card’s 2 miles per dollar. Additionally, the Explorer card lumps non-United travel (excluding hotel stays) into the general purchases category, which earns just 1 mile per dollar, while the Club Infinite card gets you 2 miles per dollar on non-United travel. Both cards earn 2 miles per dollar at restaurants.
United℠ Explorer Card
United Club℠ Infinite Card
|Sign-up bonus||60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months||100,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Annual fee||$0 first year, $95 after that||$525|
|Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)||$1,202||$1,294|
The Club Infinite card’s higher rewards rate on general travel spending helps give it a tiny edge over the Explorer card when it comes to earning United miles. Based on the average person’s spending habits, we estimate that the Explorer card has an average rewards rate of 1.2 miles per dollar, compared to the Club Infinite card’s 1.34 miles per dollar.
That said, the Club Infinite card also charges a much higher annual fee ($525) than the Explorer card ($95, waived for the first year). While the Club Infinite card’s higher fee may scare off budget-conscious cardholders, the annual fee may be worth it depending on how much you spend and whether you’ll take advantage of its perks.
Among other benefits, the Club Infinite card gets you a United Club membership (which would otherwise cost between $550 and $650 per year depending on your elite status) and the Explorer card gets you two United Club one-time passes each cardmember anniversary (lounge day passes are available for purchase at select locations for $59 each).
Additionally, the Club Infinite card offers a free first and second checked bag for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation (up to $320 savings per roundtrip), while the Explorer card only offers a free first checked bag to you and one companion (up to $120 savings per roundtrip).
United MileagePlus card sign-up bonus history
Chase often updates the sign-up bonus for the United Explorer card, which usually teeters between 40,000 and 75,000 miles. The Club Infinite Card, meanwhile, has featured just one sign-up bonus of 100,000 miles with a $5,000 spend in the first three months.
United Explorer card recent changes
While the current 60,000-mile bonus is not the card’s highest ever, it is very generous given the relatively low spending requirement. Previous bonuses have required a spend of $8,000 or more to reach the 60,000-mile mark.
|Change date||Sign-up bonus|
|Aug. 4, 2020||60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months|
|May 4, 2020||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Jan. 23, 2020||60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months|
|Nov. 7, 2019|
|May 17, 2019||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|April 4, 2019|
|Jan. 9, 2019||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Nov. 14, 2018|
|Aug. 16, 2018||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|June 1, 2018|
|March 16, 2018||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Feb. 8, 2018||50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months (until 3/15/18)|
|Aug. 1, 2017||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Feb. 1, 2017||50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months|
(previously 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months)
United Club Infinite card recent changes
The United Club Infinite Card is a relatively new card, so we only have a limited sign-up bonus history to draw upon. Most recently, the card removed its sign-up bonus altogether, offering instead a waived annual fee in the first year. While this certainly helped new cardholders save money, it was a major disappointment for those looking to earn a large welcome bonus.
Luckily, however, the Club Infinite Card has brought back the 100,000-mile sign-up bonus that so impressed us at launch.
|Change date||Sign-up bonus|
|Aug. 4, 2020||100,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months|
|May 4, 2020||None (but $525 annual fee waived first year)|
|Previous||100,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months|
Who is eligible for the sign-up bonus?
The United Explorer and Club Infinite card sign-up bonuses are only available to new cardholders and previous cardholders who have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months. Of course, you must qualify for the cards first, which are designed for cardholders with a credit score in the excellent range (at least 740).
If you’re a current United Club credit card holder, you can call the number on the back of your card to request a product change to the United Club Infinite Card, but you’ll miss out on the sign-up bonus.
Chase has come down hard recently on applicants who open many accounts at once. Though it’s not an official policy, Chase enforces a “5/24” rule on new credit card applications. This means your application will likely be denied if you have opened at least five credit card accounts in the past 24 months with any issuer (not just Chase). The rule seems to apply to any credit card account that shows up on your credit report, including co-branded store cards. (On the plus side, business credit cards that don’t report to your personal credit report do not affect your chances of being approved.)
Best ways to spend 100,000 miles
100,000 miles can take you a long way on United. Not only can you use them to travel all around the world on United flights, but you can use them for flights on one of 28 United’s Star Alliance partners or 11 additional airline partners (39 partners total) for a good value. MileagePlus miles are very valuable – worth 1.52 cents per mile by our estimates – but the value can vary greatly depending on how you use your miles.
United MileagePlus redemption options
|Redemption option||Average mile value (cents)||Value of 60,000-mile sign-up bonus||Value of 100,000-mile sign-up bonus|
|Saver airfare – economy||1.4||$840||$1,400|
|Saver airfare – business/first class||2.7||$1,620||$2,700|
|Everyday airfare – economy||1.0||$600||$1,000|
|Everyday airfare – business/first class||1.4||$840||$1,400|
When it comes to United, it’s all about Saver awards. You can typically get more than 1 cent of value out of your miles with an economy-level Saver fare, and Business class Saver fares offer an exceptional value at around 2.7 cents per mile on average. In fact, the pricing on Business class Saver awards is so reasonable that cardholders who normally couldn’t afford business class could easily rack up enough United miles to fund a round-trip ticket to Europe or Asia in business class.
That said, United has shifted away from its fixed awards chart in favor of a dynamic award pricing model. This means that how far your bonus takes will depend on when you book and your destination and travel dates. With prices constantly changing, it’s much more difficult to plan ahead and save miles for a trip goal. Still, a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles or more is sure to take you a long way.
Should you apply for the United Explorer card or the United Club Infinite Card?
Considering the high bonuses and relatively low spend requirements offered by each of these cards, now is definitely a great time for United loyalists to apply. But which card is the best fit?
If you are a more occasional traveler, you should probably stick with the United Explorer card. You can enjoy a big sign-up bonus, generous rewards rate on dining and hotel purchases, solid perks like United Club day passes and a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Together, these benefits should more than cover the card’s $95 annual fee after the first year.
On the other hand, if you are looking to put most of your spending on one travel card and value luxury perks, the United Club Infinite Card may be worth the inflated fee, thanks to its better travel rewards rate and included United Club membership.