CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
If you’re a regular United flyer, or even just an occasional one, you might be wondering what are the best United credit cards? United still has one of the stronger US loyalty programs for traveling around the world. You can redeem United MileagePlus miles to go almost anywhere, thanks not only to the airline’s large route network of its own, but also its membership in the Star Alliance with 25 other airlines.
There are now seven different credit cards you can use to rack up United miles — four United cards, and three separate Chase cards which earn points that can be transferred to United. With so many options, there truly is something for everyone, so check out our list of the best United credit cards and find out which one might be right for you.
United℠ Explorer Card: Best for occasional United flyers
United Quest℠ Card: Best for statement credits
United Club℠ Infinite Card: Best for United lounge access
United℠ Business Card: Best for United business flyers
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for earning United miles on travel purchases
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for the everyday United traveler
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best for earning United miles on business purchases
Let’s dive into each of these cards to see how they compare to one another, and look at how a few non-United cards could potentially maximize the number of miles you earn on your everyday purchases.
If you’re looking for a United credit card with a low annual fee but rich benefits, the United Explorer Card is one to consider. As an occasional United flyer, you’ll save money by receiving your first checked bag for free for you and one traveling companion on United flights, priority boarding, two United Club day passes per year and 25% back on in-flight United purchases. Although this card comes with a $95 annual fee (which is waived for the first year), the perks alone can be well worth the cost and ultimately save you money.
With the United Explorer Card, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on all United purchases as well as dining and hotel stays. The card also comes with a statement credit worth up to $100 on the application fee for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Although this is becoming a more common benefit on many credit cards these days, it’s still typically found on cards that come with high annual fees, not one that costs less than $100 per year.
The United Explorer Card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account. Based on the point valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy, United miles are worth 1.21 cents apiece, which makes 50,000 miles worth $605 in travel.
This is also the only United credit card that currently waives its annual fee for the first year, which means you can make sure a United credit card is right for you without paying for it right away.
Learn more and apply for the United Explorer Card.
New credit cards can be exciting, and the United Quest Card is an option that was introduced last year with a strong sign-up bonus. Right now, when you get the card, you can earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening the account. Since The Points Guy values United miles at 1.21 cents apiece, 70,000 miles are worth $847 in United travel.
The United Quest Card does come with a $250 annual fee, putting it between the $95 yearly cost of the United Explorer Card after the first year and the $525 annual fee of the United Club Infinite Card. But there are a number of benefits that can help offset a good chunk of the fee.
The best perk of the United Quest Card is the up to $125 in statement credits you can get for United purchases charged to your credit card. This is a yearly benefit — available every 12 months from the date you first open the card — and if you can use all $125 in credits each year, you’re effectively knocking off half of the $250 annual fee and paying only $125 per year.
Also, starting at your first anniversary as a card holder — meaning one year after you were approved for the card — and each year thereafter, you’ll get 5,000 United miles back when you redeem your miles for a United or United Express-operated flight, regardless of the number of miles redeemed. You can even earn this mileage rebate twice per year.
And for those chasing United elite status, the United Quest Card earns 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for every $12,000 you spend on the card, up to 3,000 PQP per year. While this won’t earn you elite status on its own, if you aren’t flying as much right now as you typically might, it can help push you over the threshold.
Other benefits of the United Quest Card include 3 miles for every dollar you spend on United purchases (after your $125 in annual credits), 2 miles per dollar on travel, dining and select streaming services, up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credits, free first and second checked bags for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding, 25% back on United inflight purchases and no foreign transaction fees.
Learn more and apply for the United Quest Card.
If you’re a frequent United flyer, the United Club Infinite Card offers a better travel experience. One of the best benefits of the card is its included United Club lounge membership. For those who find themselves in airports often, lounge access gives you a place to relax, eat and drink before your flight.
Even better, the United Club Infinite Card currently comes with an impressive 120,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. According to The Points Guy’s valuations, those 120,000 miles are worth as much as $1,452 in travel.
The United Club Infinite Card has a pricey $525 annual fee that isn’t waived for the first year, so you’ll need to make sure the benefits of the card are worth the cost. But the United Club lounge membership is a pretty great perk, and you can bring another adult and dependent children under 21 into the lounge with you, or up to two guests, for no additional fee. That means you can bring your co-workers into the United Club with you during business travel, or your family during personal travel.
Just remember that with this membership, you’ll only be able to enter a United Club if you’re holding a same-day boarding pass on United or a partner airline — you can’t be flying a different airline. If you’d prefer lounge access privileges with more flexibility, then you might find the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express offers better options.
You’ll be able to check both your first and second bag for free with the United Club Infinite Card, unlike the United Explorer card, which is capped at one checked bag. This is extended to both the card holder and another person on the same reservation, although it’s limited to just United-operated flights.
Premier Access travel services also come with the United Club Infinite Card, which give you access to designated airport check-in lines, exclusive security lines (where available), priority boarding and priority baggage handling after your flight deplanes. Best of all, if someone is traveling with you on the same reservation, they’ll also receive complimentary Premier Access.
In addition to the better perks on this card, you’ll also earn more miles on your everyday purchases. You’ll earn a higher 4 miles per dollar on United purchases, plus 2 miles per dollar on all other travel and dining and 1 mile per dollar on everything else you purchase.
Learn more and apply for the United Club Infinite Card.
The United Business Card is an option you won’t want to miss out on if you have a business. For starters, it’s currently offering 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. Based on The Points Guy’s 1.21 cents per mile valuation, this 75,000-mile sign-up offer is worth $908 in travel.
On the earning side, you’ll receive 2 miles per dollar spent on United purchases, on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, at gas stations and at office supply stores. You’ll also earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
Similar to the personal United Explorer Card, with the United Business Card you’ll be able to check your first bag for free for you and a traveling companion on the same reservation, receive priority boarding, receive two one-time United Club passes each year and 25% back on in-flight United purchases.
One unique benefit to this card is that you’ll receive a $100 United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more in a calendar year. If you fly often, this should be an easy $100 credit to obtain, which fully offsets the card’s annual fee.
United is also incentivizing flyers to hold both the United Business Card and the United Explorer Card. If you have both, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary year. Those extra miles are worth $60 toward travel based on The Points Guy’s valuations.
Learn more and apply for the United Business Card.
Although the Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t a United-specific credit card, United flyers might actually find it to be one of the more useful cards to have in their purse or wallet. The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred into United miles at a 1-to-1 ratio, meaning you’ll get 1,000 United miles for every 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points. But they can also be transferred to over a dozen other airline and hotel loyalty programs, making them significantly more flexible.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel, or a total of 10 points on hotels and car rentals and 5 points on air travel when you book them through Ultimate Rewards. That’s significantly more than what you’ll earn on any of the United credit cards. And you’ll earn these multipliers not only on paid United flights, but also for purchases on any other airline, plus hotels, car rentals, taxis and much more.
You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining (or 10 total points if you purchase through Ultimate Rewards), 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3 points per dollar on dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
On the benefits side, you’ll receive up to $300 in statement credits each year on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which can be used for any travel-related purchases, including United flights. Although the card has a steep $550 annual fee, if you’re able to maximize this $300 statement credit on a yearly basis, it will significantly offset the fee and bring it down to a more moderate $250 cost.
You’ll also receive a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. If you travel often but don’t have lounge access through another program, this is a great perk to have. It also doesn’t pigeonhole you to just the United lounges like the United Club credit cards do.
Plus, with a 50,000-point bonus offer after you spend $4,000 on the Chase Sapphire Reserve in the first three months after opening the card, you can very quickly find yourself with another 50,000 United miles in your account.
Learn more and apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also earns highly desirable Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to United. But the annual fee is significantly lower at just $95 a year, which makes it the perfect starter card for those looking to dip their toes into the Ultimate Rewards program.
For the cheaper price, you’ll earn only 2 points for every dollar you spend on all travel (or 5 total points if you book through Ultimate Rewards) and 3 points for dining, select streaming services and select online grocery purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Bu
These are the best credit cards if you fly United Airlines regularly
Go To The SourceRead More