Credit Card Face Off: Why I’d Rather Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Than United Airlines Miles
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INSIDER SECRET: Even if you fly with one specific airline a lot, earning that airlines’ miles may not be the best strategy. Flexible rewards points should be part of your plan!
A limited-time offer that allows you to earn up to 60,000 miles on the Chase UnitedSM Explorer Card (valid through May 16, 2019) after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements gives you a decent haul of United Airlines miles. (In fact, it’s enough for two round-trip coach flights within the continental US.)
But here’s a tip: You can do even better with the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which comes with a bigger 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements and broader bonus categories, too.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points vs United Airlines Miles
With a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, like the Ink Business Preferred, you’ll have lots of options to transfer your flexible travel rewards to a number of different airlines and hotels with the Chase transfer partners, including United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, and more. In contrast, earning United Airlines miles with the United Explorer card means you’ll probably be using your rewards miles to fly United.
2. Easier Minimum Spending Requirements
The minimum spending requirements on the Ink Business Preferred are $3,000 less than those of the United Explorer card, making them easier to meet — and after you meet those requirements, you’ll have 20,000 more rewards points with the Ink Business Preferred than you would with the United Explorer card (80,000 Ultimate Rewards points vs. 60,000 United Airlines miles). Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio.
3. More Extensive Bonus Categories
The bonus categories on the Ink Business Preferred are broader. For example, with the United Explorer, you’ll earn 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on purchases from United Airlines, as well as at restaurants and hotels when you book directly. With the Ink Business Preferred, you’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year). That means you’ll earn 3X Ultimate Rewards on United Airlines purchases and all other travel purchases, plus get the same earning rate on common small business purchases like shipping, internet, and phone services.
More on the Chase United Explorer vs the Chase Ink Business PreferredRead our review of Chase United Explorer card
With the United Explorer card, you can earn a bonus of:
- 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- An additional 20,000 bonus miles after you spend a total of $8,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening
That’s a total of 60,000 United Airlines miles if you meet all of the spending requirements.
The card also comes with:
- 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on purchases from United Airlines and at restaurants and hotels when you book directly
- 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
- Free first checked bag for the cardholder and 1 companion if you use your card to pay for your ticket
- 2 United Club lounge passes per card per membership year
- Access to an increased number of award seats
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100)
- A $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year
With the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, in comparison, you’ll earn:
- 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
You’ll also get:
- 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
- 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases
- Up to $600 in cell phone insurance when you pay your cell phone bill with the card
- A 25% bonus when you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
- A $95 annual fee
The welcome offer alone is worth at least $1,000 in travel benefits if you redeem the points through the Chase Travel Portal, which makes the card’s $95 annual fee very reasonable.One caveat: Chase will not approve you for these cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months.
If you want to learn more about United Airlines miles, check out these guides:
- United Mileage Plus Review: How to Earn, Redeem, & Get the Most From the Program
- What Are United Airlines Miles Worth?
- United Airlines Status Review
- All the Ways How to Earn United Miles in 2019!
- 10 Ways to Keep United Airlines Miles From Expiring
- Our Dedicated United Airlines Promotions Page
And you can read these guides for in-depth information about earning and using Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: Everything You Need to Know
- What Are Chase Points REALLY Worth?
- 5 Best Ways to Use Chase Points for Remarkable Value (and Save Thousands of Dollars!)
- Your Guide to Chase Transfer Partners: Everything to Know
- All the Ways How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points in 2019!
- Quick Guide for How to Setup a Chase Ultimate Rewards Account
- Step-by-Step Video Guide to Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- Do Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Expire? Here’s What You Need to Know
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! :)