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A comparison of the United Airlines credit cards

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A comparison of the United Airlines credit cards

Joseph HostetlerA comparison of the United Airlines credit cardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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If you’re a United Airlines flyer, you may be searching for the credit card that best serves your needs. There are plenty to choose from, after all.

United offers some of the best credit cards for travel. It’s important to know which perks you’ll get with each version — for example, only some United cards save you money on baggage fees or get you into United Club airport lounges.

All of the Chase United Airlines cards are affected by the Chase 5/24 rule. If you’re looking to earn United miles, it’s important to know your options. Here’s a rundown of what you’ll get with each card.

Best United Airlines credit cards

  • United℠ Explorer Card: Best all-around United Airlines credit card
  • United℠ Business Card: Best welcome bonus with a United Airlines credit card
  • United Club℠ Card: Best premium personal card United Airlines credit card
  • United Club Business Card: Best premium United Airlines business credit card
  • United℠ TravelBank Card: Best no annual fee United Airlines credit card

The information for the United Club, United Club Business 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.

Card NameSign-Up BonusAnnual Fee
United℠ Explorer Card60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening$95 (waived for the first year)
United℠ Business Card100,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening$95
United Club℠ Card75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening$450
United Club℠ Business Card100,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening$450
United℠ TravelBank Card$150 in TravelBank cash after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from opening your accountNone
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.
Our United Airlines credit card comparison will help you choose the perfect one to fulfill your travel dreams to places like Iceland. (Photo by Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock)

How we choose the best United Airlines credit cards

Welcome bonus: The fastest way to a free vacation is by earning large welcome bonuses. Earning a single bonus could net you a round-trip coach flight to Asia, a lie-flat business class seat to Europe, or many other things.

Rewards for everyday purchases: If you fly United Airlines with frequency, you’ll want a card that gives you a large return on United purchases — and United miles for everyday spending. If you choose one that earns rewards to match your daily spending patterns, it’s an especially great way to steadily accumulate points for your next trip.

Perks and benefits: This is the true meat of a credit card. Ongoing perks like free checked bags, lounge access, priority boarding, etc. can save you hundreds and hundreds each year, not to mention enhance your travel experience.

Chase United Explorer

Card bonus

With the United Explorer Card, you’ll earn 60,000 United Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. We estimate United miles value to be at least 1.3 cents each. That means you should easily receive $780 in United flights from this bonus.

Ongoing earnings

The United Explorer card also comes with:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar you spend on purchases from United Airlines
  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent at restaurants and hotels when you book directly
  • 1 United Airlines mile per dollar you spend on everything else

Benefits and perks

The Chase United Explorer card comes with priority boarding and two one-time United Club lounge passes per cardmember year. Plus, you’ll get a $100 credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, which is a huge time saver at U.S. airport security checkpoints. Everyone on the MMS team has either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (you can read about TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry here).

Cardholders will also get priority boarding, free checked bags, access to more United Airlines award seats and more. Read our full post on Chase United Explorer credit card benefits.

Annual fee

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

Our take

This is my favorite airline credit card. It enhances every step of your travel experience with perks like waived checked bag fees and more award seat availability. The access to more award seats has come in handy more times than I can count. Being a United Explorer cardholder has not only made it easier to earn United miles but to use them too. I think this is an absolute must for United Airlines flyers. Read our Chase United Explorer review.

United℠ Business Card

Card bonus

Small-business owners can do business well with the United Business Card. You’ll earn 100,000 United Airlines miles after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Ongoing earnings

With the United Business Card you’ll also get:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar on purchases from United
  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar on local transit and commuting
  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar at gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants
  • 1 United Airlines mile per dollar you spend on everything else

Benefits and perks

Like the personal version of the United Explorer card, United Business cardholders get benefits like free checked bags for them and a traveling companion when they use the card to pay for their reservation, priority boarding, two one-time United Club lounge passes and more. And they get my favorite perk, access to more United Airlines award seats.

You’ll also receive a $100 United travel credit annually, after seven flight purchases of $100 or more. The card even comes with an annual bonus of 5,000 miles when you also hold a personal Chase United credit card

Annual fee

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

Our take

You won’t find a United card welcome bonus larger than this one. You can fly just about anywhere in the world with 100,000 miles. Although United recently moved to “dynamic pricing” for awards, you should have enough miles for three or four coach flights within the U.S., a one-way business-class ticket to Europe or even two round-trip coach flights to Hawaii.

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 qualify. You’ll also need to be under Chase’s 5/24 limit to apply for the card, but Chase doesn’t report small-business cards to your personal credit report so the United Business credit card won’t add to your 5/24 count.

Read our full Chase United Business Card review.

Chase United Club Card

Card bonus

You’ll earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s generally enough for two round-trip flights within the U.S., and more than enough for a round-trip flight to fun destinations like Peru or Hawaii.

United Airlines miles can help you cross off your biggest bucket list items. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Ongoing earnings

With this card, you get:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent on United Airlines flights
  • 1.5 United Airlines miles per dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits and perks

This card comes with a United Club membership (worth up to $550). If you enjoy United Airlines lounges and their free food and drinks when you fly, this is a great card to have. With the membership, you can access United Clubs and Star Alliance lounges. Plus, you can bring two guests for free (or one adult and dependent children under 21 years of age) to a United Club or one guest to a Star Alliance lounge.

Note that United Airlines lounge access restrictions state that you need to be flying United Airlines or one of its partners the same day to gain entry to United Clubs.

You’ll also get perks like first and second bags checked free when you pay for your ticket with the card (save up to $280 per round-trip flight), priority check-in and boarding and, of course, more access to available award seats.

Annual fee

This card has a $450 annual fee, which is not waived the first year. However, the savings from the checked baggage benefit and United Club membership can more than offset the annual fee 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 other goodies but they’re not useful to everyone. A United Club membership costs significantly more than you’ll pay for this card’s annual fee, so opening this card is a way to get United Club access at a discount.

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 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s worth $1,300 in United Airlines flights based on our United miles value estimation.

Ongoing earnings

Just like with the personal version of this card, United Club Business cardholders will earn:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent on United Airlines flights
  • 1.5 United Airlines miles per dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits and perks

The rest of the perks are the same as the personal version mentioned above.

Opening this card is cheaper than paying for United Club lounge membership. (Photo by Daniel Ross)

Annual fee

This card’s annual fee is $450.

Our take

Again, the main reason to get this card would be for the United Club access because membership costs more than you’ll pay for this card’s annual fee.

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).

Ongoing earnings

With this card, you’ll get:

  • 2% back in TravelBank cash per dollar with United Airlines
  • 1.5% back in TravelBank cash per dollar for all other purchases

Benefits and perks

  • 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 Card is the only no-annual-fee United Airlines card available to new applicants.

Our take

Read our Chase United TravelBank Card review and you’ll see why we don’t recommend this card — even if you frequently fly with United Airlines. You’d be far better off picking up one of the best cashback credit cards 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:

These cards often have a better earning rate than United Airlines credit cards. Plus, 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

Anyone looking for a United Airlines card has five options to choose from. Right now, your best option is the increased bonus on the United Explorer Business Card. You’ll earn up to 100,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

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.

United℠ Business Card

United℠ Business Card

  • The All-New United Business Card with limited-time offer: 100,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases
  • New benefit: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on local transit and commuting- including train tickets, taxi cabs, mass transit, tolls and ride share services
  • New benefit: $100 annual United travel credit after 7 flight purchases of $100 or more
  • New benefit: annual "better together" bonus - 5,000 miles when you have United℠ Business Card and a personal Chase United credit card
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United, at gas stations, restaurants and office supply stores. Plus, earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. No foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Free checked bag (terms apply), 2 United ClubS℠ one-time passes and 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights
  • 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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If my wife opens a United Card, can we put my MileagePlus account number as the account associated with the card for the sign on bonus as well as the recurring award points?

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.