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Earn United Miles to Book Awards Now: Here’s a Comparison of the United Airlines Credit Cards

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Earn United Miles to Book Awards Now: Here’s a Comparison of the United Airlines Credit Cards

Jasmin BaronEarn United Miles to Book Awards Now: Here’s a Comparison of the United Airlines Credit CardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Even if you don’t fly United Airlines, earning their miles is a good strategy, because you can redeem United Airlines miles to book award flights on partner airlines. This includes Star Alliance partners like Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, and many others.

Best United Airlines Miles Credit Cards 2019

  • United℠ Explorer Card: Best All-Around United Airlines Credit Card
  • United℠ Explorer Business Card: Best United Airlines Welcome Bonus
  • United Club℠ Card: Best Premium United Airlines Credit Card
  • United Club Business Card: Best Premium United Airlines Business Card
  • United℠ TravelBank Card: Best United Airlines Credit Card With No Annual Fee

With the announcement that United is eliminating their award chart for travel after November 15, 2019, lots of folks are rushing to lock-in award bookings before prices potentially go up.  So now’s a good time to consider earning miles directly from United Airlines credit cards, like the United℠ Explorer Business Card. It currently has an increased bonus of up to 100,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

That’s not the only United Airlines card available, though. Here’s a comparison of the United Airlines credit cards to help you decide which is best for you.

Our United Airlines credit card comparison will help you choose the perfect card to fulfill your travel dreams to places like Iceland. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Comparison of the United Airlines Credit Cards

There are multiple United Airlines cards to choose from that are available to new applicants:

Card Name Sign-Up BonusAnnual Fee
United Explorer Card
United Explorer Card
40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.
$95 (waived for the first year)
United Explorer Business Card

Up to 100,000 United Airlines miles:

- 50,000 bonus United Airlines miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within first three months of account opening
- 50,000 more United Airlines miles after spending $25,000 total on purchases within first six months of account opening
$95
United Club Card50,000 United Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening$450
United Club Business Card50,000 United Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening$450
United TravelBank CardUnited TravelBank Card$150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account openingNone
The information for the United Club Card, United Club Business Card, and the United TravelBank Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The right card for your wallet will depend on your travel goals and preferences, so it’s important to know which perks you’ll get with each version. For example, only some of these cards will save you money on baggage fees or get you United Club airport lounge access.

All of the Chase United Airlines cards are affected by the Chase 5/24 rule. So if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll get with each card.

Chase United Explorer Business Card

Read our review of the Chase United Business Card

Card Bonus: Small business owners can do very well with the United Explorer Business Card.  You’ll earn up to 100,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements:

  • 50,000 bonus United Airlines miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within first three months of account opening
  • 50,000 more bonus United Airlines miles after spending $25,000 total on purchases within first six months of account opening

Using the current award chart, that’s enough for things like:

  • Two round-trip coach award flights to Hawaii
  • Four round-trip coach award flights within the US

You must have a small business to be eligible for this card, but lots of folks qualify for a small business card without realizing it.  If you earn income for performing a service (like driving for Uber), or selling goods on eBay, you could have a small business.

Do you have a side gig like dog walking, tutoring, or reselling items on eBay? You’ll likely qualify for a small business card. (Photo by SpeedKingz/Shutterstock)

Card Benefits: With the United Explorer Business Card, you’ll also get:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on United Airlines and at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores
  • 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • First checked bag free for you and a traveling companion when you use your card to pay for your reservation
  • Priority boarding
  • 2 one-time United Club lounge passes per card membership year
  • Access to more United Airlines award seats
  • Primary rental car insurance when you rent for business purposes
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: You’ll pay $95 per year to hold this card.

Our Take

This is by far the biggest United Airlines card bonus currently. You can literally fly just about anywhere in the world with that amount of miles. Even if you can’t meet the full spending requirement to earn 100,000 miles, a 50,000 mile bonus is still solid.

Chase United Explorer

Apply Here:   United Explorer Card

Read our review of the Chase United Explorer Card

Card Bonus: With the United Explorer Card, you’ll earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Keep in mind there have been larger public welcome bonuses in the past – as much as 65,000 miles. This offer comes pretty darn close.

Card Benefits: The United Explorer card also comes with:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on purchases from United Airlines
  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 spent at restaurants and hotels when you book directly
  • 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • 2 one-time United Club passes per year
  • First checked bag free for you and a traveling companion when you use your card to pay for your reservation
  • Priority boarding
  • Access to more United Airlines award seats
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: There’s a $95 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year.

Our Take

This is my personal favorite airline credit card, period. It enhances every step of your travel experience. With the above benefits, this card will:

  • Make booking award flights easier
  • Dramatically improve your airport experience
  • Greatly discount your rental car price
  • Waive your checked bag fees
  • Give you money if your flight is delayed a certain amount of time

I think this is an absolute must for United Airlines flyers.

Chase United Club Card

Card Bonus: You’ll earn 50,000 United Airlines miles when you sign-up for the United Club Card and spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. That’s enough for two round-trip flights within the US, and more than enough for a round-trip flight to an exciting destination like Peru and Hawaii!

Card Benefits: This card also comes with a United Club membership (worth up to $550). So if you like relaxing in United Airlines lounges and enjoying free food and drinks, this can be a great card to have.

With the membership, you can access United Clubs AND Star Alliance lounges. Plus, you can bring 2 guests for free (or 1 adult and dependent children under 21 years of age) – to a United Club.  Or 1 guest to a Star Alliance lounge.

Note: Starting November 1, 2019, you’ll need to fly United Airlines, or one of its partners, the same day to gain entry to United Clubs.

With this card, you also get:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 spent on United Airlines flights
  • 1.5 United Airlines miles per $1 spent on other purchases
  • First and second bags checked free when you pay for your ticket with the card (save up to $280 per round-trip flight)
  • Hertz President’s Circle elite status when you register (upgrades, bonus points)
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Access to more United Airlines award seats
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase United Club cardholders also don’t pay close-in booking fees on United Airlines award tickets, but that won’t matter after November when United eliminates close-in booking fees.

Annual Fee: This card has a $450 annual fee, which is not waived the first year. But the savings from the checked baggage benefit and United Club membership can more than offset the annual fee expense if you fly United often.

Our Take

The only glaring advantage this card has over the United Explorer Card is the United Club lounge access. There are some other goodies, but they’re not as useful to everyone.

A United Club membership costs significantly more than you’ll pay for this card’s annual fee. Opening this card is a way to “buy” United Club access at a discount!

It’s cheaper to sign-up for the Chase United Club Card than paying outright for United Club airport lounge membership. (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

The information for the United Club Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets.  The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase United Club Business Card

Card Bonus: There’s also a small business version of the Chase United Club card, with an identical welcome bonus. You’ll earn 50,000 United Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Card Benefits: The rest of the perks are the same as the personal version mentioned above, except the primary rental car insurance applies when you rent for business purposes only.

Annual Fee: This card’s annual fee is $450.

The information for the United Club Business Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets.  The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase United TravelBank Card

Read our review of the Chase United TravelBank Card

Card Bonus: When you open this card, you’ll earn $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The rewards you earn with this card can ONLY be used for flights on United Airlines, so this sign-up bonus will save you $150 off the cost of a United Airlines flight (not any partner airline flights).

Card Benefits: With this card, you’ll get:

  • 2% back in TravelBank cash per $1 with United Airlines
  • 1.5% back in TravelBank cash per $1 for all other purchases
  • 25% off United Airlines onboard food and beverage purchases
  • Rental car insurance (secondary coverage)
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • NO annual fee

Annual Fee: TheUnited TravelBank Cardis the only no-annual-fee United Airlines card available to new applicants.

Our Take

I don’t recommend this card, even if you frequently fly with United Airlines. You’d be far better off picking up a great cash back credit card and using those rewards for anything (not just United Airlines flights).

However, if you have other Chase United cards that charge an annual fee and aren’t sure if you want to keep them for another year, you might be able to downgrade to this card instead of cancelling your card.  That way you’ll save your credit line and history with Chase.

Other Ways to Earn United Airlines Miles

Don’t forget United Airlines is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. This means you can transfer these flexible points directly to the airline if you have these popular credit cards:

If you have any of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards mentioned above, you can combine points from these no-annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards cards and move them to United Airlines as well:

Bottom Line

Folks looking for a United Airlines card have 5 options to choose from.  Right now, your best option is the limited-time increased bonus on the United Explorer Business Card.Until October 10, 2019, you’ll earn up to 100,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

Other United Airlines cards include:

Let us know your favorite among the bunch! And subscribe to our newsletter for United Airlines travel tips and tricks to getting the most from your miles.

For more about United Airlines miles, check out:

United℠ Explorer Business Card

United℠ Explorer Business Card

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Plus, 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases. And 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Free checked bag - save up to $120 per roundtrip (terms apply)
  • Two one-time United Club℠ passes each year — Over $100 in value per year
  • Employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account. Plus, you can set individual spending limits for each card.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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For the priority boarding, do you have to book your flight with the United credit card? My employer requires that I book my flight on the company credit card so I can’t use this United card to book the flight for my business trips. Wonder if that means I won’t get priority boarding.

Hi John!

I did a quick search online, and from what I can tell, as long as your United card is tied to your MileagePlus account, you should qualify for priority boarding.