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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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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!

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 Card.  It currently has a limited-time increased welcome bonus until May 16, 2019 – you’ll earn up to 60,000 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.

Want to Earn More United Miles Before the Award Chart Takes Flight? Here’s Our United Airlines Credit Card Comparison

Comparison of the United Airlines Credit Cards

These are the 5 different United Airlines cards to choose from that are available to new applicants:

Card Name Sign-Up BonusAnnual Fee
United Explorer Business Card

50,000 United Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening$95 (waived for the first year)
United Club 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 the rundown on what you’ll get with each card.

1.   Chase United Explorer

Apply Here:   United Explorer Card

Read our review of the Chase United Explorer Card

With the highest current welcome bonus of any United Airlines card, the United Explorer Card is a good pick if you enjoy perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and primary rental insurance.

Until May 16, 2019, you’ll earn up to 60,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements:

  • 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Additional 20,000 bonus miles after spending a total of $8,000 within the first 6 months of account opening

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

With the Current Award Chart, You Could Redeem the 60,000-Mile Welcome Bonus From the United Explorer Card for a Round-Trip Flight to Europe

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 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

2.   Chase United Explorer Business Card

Small business owners can do very well with the United Explorer Business Card.  You’ll earn 50,000 United Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  Using the current award chart, that’s enough for:

  • A round-trip coach award flight to Hawaii
  • 2 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

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

  • 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 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

3.   Chase United Club Card

You’ll earn 50,000 United Airlines miles when you sign-up for the United MileagePlus Club Card and spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

And 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.

It’s Cheaper to Sign-Up for the Chase United Club Card Than Paying Outright for United Club Airport Lounge Membership

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
  • 1st and 2nd 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.  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.

The information for the United MileagePlus 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.

4.   Chase United Club Business Card

There’s also a small business version of the Chase United Club card, but it has a weak welcome bonus compared to the personal version.  With the United MileagePlus Club Business Card, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.  There are no miles included in the bonus.

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.

The information for the United MileagePlus® 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.

5.   Chase United TravelBank Card

Read our review of the Chase United TravelBank Card

The United TravelBank Card is the only no-annual-fee United Airlines card available to new applicants.  When you sign-up for this card, you’ll earn $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 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.

The Rewards You’ll Earn From the United TravelBank Card Are in the Form of United TravelBank Cash, Which You Can ONLY Use Towards United Flights

With this card, you’ll also 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

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 CardUntil May 16, 2019, you’ll earn up to 60,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

Other United Airlines cards include:

Let us know your favorite among the bunch!

For more about United Airlines miles, check out:

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.