The best credit cards for United Airlines flyers

Even with all of United’s changes to its MileagePlus program, United credit cards remain a valuable tool thanks to several key benefits for both frequent and less-frequent United flyers. The lineup of cards also went through some major changes over the last few years, providing members more value and options than before. Today we’re considering all the best credit cards for United flyers from our partners, including the just-launched New United Quest Card. Some of these cards unlock benefits that are useful when flying on United and using United miles. Others earn valuable transferable points that can be used to book United flights via other reward programs.

Best for occasional United flyers

United℠ Explorer Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 2X miles
more info

Intro Bonus

Up to 65,000 Bonus Miles
details

Annual Fee

$0 Intro for First Year, then $95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

Between a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit, two annual lounge visits and a free checked bag, the United Explorer card is packed with perks that will enhance your trips for even occasional United flyers.

Pros

  • First checked bag free for you and a companion on United flights
  • Two, one-time United Club passes each year of card membership
  • Up to $100 credit every four years for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Elite status shortcut
  • Trip cancellation, trip delay and baggage insurance

Cons

  • Miles redemption limited to United and Star Alliance partners
  • Only provides lounge access two times
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services
Best for occasional United flyers

United℠ Explorer Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5

Rewards Rate

  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases
  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • 1X 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

Up to 65,000 Bonus Miles

Annual Fee

$0 Intro for First Year, then $95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Good, Excellent
Why we chose it

Between a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit, two annual lounge visits and a free checked bag, the United Explorer card is packed with perks that will enhance your trips for even occasional United flyers.

Pros

  • First checked bag free for you and a companion on United flights
  • Two, one-time United Club passes each year of card membership
  • Up to $100 credit every four years for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Elite status shortcut
  • Trip cancellation, trip delay and baggage insurance

Cons

  • Miles redemption limited to United and Star Alliance partners
  • Only provides lounge access two times
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services
Best for United Club access

United Club℠ Infinite Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 4X points
more info

Intro Bonus

Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
details

Annual Fee

$525

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

Only the United Club Infinite Card grants you complimentary United Club lounge membership, worth up to $650 per year. Although this card comes with a steep $525 annual fee, the lounge benefit alone can more than cover this annual cost. Not to mention the other ongoing perks of this card, from two free checked bags and up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. For frequent United flyers, this card can provide tons of value each year.

Pros

  • Earn 4x miles on United purchases; 2x miles on travel and dining; 1x on everything else
  • United Club℠ membership for you and your eligible travel companions at all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance lounges worldwide
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck application every four years
  • Free first and second checked bags for you and one travel companion on the same reservation
  • 25% inflight purchase statement credit

Cons

  • High $525 annual fee
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flight when you pay with your Club Card
Best for United Club access

United Club℠ Infinite Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3/5

Rewards Rate

  • 4X Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges
  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • 1X Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles

Annual Fee

$525

Recommended Credit
tooltip

740-850
Excellent
Why we chose it

Only the United Club Infinite Card grants you complimentary United Club lounge membership, worth up to $650 per year. Although this card comes with a steep $525 annual fee, the lounge benefit alone can more than cover this annual cost. Not to mention the other ongoing perks of this card, from two free checked bags and up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. For frequent United flyers, this card can provide tons of value each year.

Pros

  • Earn 4x miles on United purchases; 2x miles on travel and dining; 1x on everything else
  • United Club℠ membership for you and your eligible travel companions at all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance lounges worldwide
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck application every four years
  • Free first and second checked bags for you and one travel companion on the same reservation
  • 25% inflight purchase statement credit

Cons

  • High $525 annual fee
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flight when you pay with your Club Card
Best for flexible travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 2X points
more info

Intro Bonus

80,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Sporting an all-time-high sign-up bonus and offering an excellent 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 13 valuable airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining including eligible delivery services and takeout
  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,600
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Best for flexible travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 2X 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
  • 1X 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

80,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Sporting an all-time-high sign-up bonus and offering an excellent 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 13 valuable airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining including eligible delivery services and takeout
  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,600
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Best for frequent travelers

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 3X points
more info

Intro Bonus

60,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, generous 3x points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card.

Pros

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel directly through Chase Ultimate Reward

Cons

  • Steep initial $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best for frequent travelers

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 3X 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit.
  • 3X 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 1X 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

60,000 points

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit
tooltip

740-850
Excellent
Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our top premium travel cards. With a $300 travel credit, generous 3x points on dining and travel purchases and other benefits, you can get excellent value that far exceeds the annual fee on the card.

Pros

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel directly through Chase Ultimate Reward

Cons

  • Steep initial $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best for high-spending businesses

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 3X points
more info

Intro Bonus

100,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees.

Pros

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for points redemption
  • Reasonable $95 annual fee
  • Bonus categories that are most relevant to business owners
  • Primary car insurance
  • Perks including cellphone and purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement

Cons

  • High spending needed to get 100,000-point sign-up bonus
  • No travel perks
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • $95 Annual Fee
Best for high-spending businesses

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn

Intro Bonus
tooltip

100,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Good, Excellent
Why we chose it

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees.

Pros

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for points redemption
  • Reasonable $95 annual fee
  • Bonus categories that are most relevant to business owners
  • Primary car insurance
  • Perks including cellphone and purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement

Cons

  • High spending needed to get 100,000-point sign-up bonus
  • No travel perks
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • $95 Annual Fee
Best for lounge access around the world

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4.5/5
Apply now
at American Express's secure site
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Rewards

5 - 10X points
more info

Intro Bonus

75,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway

Cons

  • The $550 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories
  • The annual airline fee credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for lounge access around the world

The Platinum Card® from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

75,000 points

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee.

Pros

  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the temporary 10x bonus categories
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway

Cons

  • The $550 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories
  • The annual airline fee credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for booking United flights directly

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
Apply now
at American Express's secure site
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Rewards

1.5 - 5X points
more info

Intro Bonus

125,000 points
details

Annual Fee

$595

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more.

Pros

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • $200 annual credit for U.S. Dell purchases
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program
  • Enrollment required for select benefits.

Cons

  • Steep $595 annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 125,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for booking United flights directly

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

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4/5

Rewards Rate

  • 5X Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • 1.5X Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.

Intro Bonus
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125,000 points

Annual Fee

$595

Recommended Credit
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670-850
Good, Excellent
Why we chose it

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more.

Pros

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • $200 annual credit for U.S. Dell purchases
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program
  • Enrollment required for select benefits.

Cons

  • Steep $595 annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 125,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
United℠ Explorer Card Best for occasional United flyers Up to 65,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
United Club℠ Infinite Card Best for United Club access Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
$525
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Best for flexible travel rewards 80,000 points
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
$95
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Best for frequent travelers 60,000 points
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit.
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$550
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Best for high-spending businesses 100,000 points
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
$95
The Platinum Card® from American Express Best for lounge access around the world 75,000 points
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$550
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Best for booking United flights directly 125,000 points
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
$595

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

United Gateway Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: The United Gateway Card offers 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Bonus valuation: $260

Annual fee: $0

Reasons to get it: The United Gateway is United’s only no-annual-fee card currently available. It earns 3x miles on grocery purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases per month) until Sept. 30, 2021, 2x miles per dollar spent at gas stations, local transit, commuting and United purchases and 1x miles per dollar spent on everything else. Those are some solid bonus categories for a cobranded airline card with no annual fee.

The card also offers some valuable perks that can help you save cash when traveling. As a cardholder, you’ll get a 25% discount on inflight United purchases — including Wi-Fi, food and beverages — and pay no foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside the U.S. Additionally, this card offers up to $6,000 in trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $1,500 per person) if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered reasons like sickness or injury.

APPLY HERE: United Gateway Card

United Explorer Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: The personal United Explorer Card offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.

Bonus valuation: $845

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Reasons to get it: Like the business version (below), this credit card has some outstanding features not found with other airline cards at its annual fee price point. The United personal card earns 2x miles per dollar spent on restaurants, hotels and United purchases and offers 1x miles per dollar spent on everything else.

Other perks include a free checked bag for you and one companion on the same reservation, as long as you purchase your ticket (or pay taxes and fees on an award ticket) from United using the Explorer Card. You’ll also get priority boarding, two one-time United Club passes each year, a 25% discount on inflight United purchases — including Wi-Fi, food and beverages — and access to additional award space and less expensive award flights.

The United Explorer Card allows you to earn up to 1,000 elite Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) with $24,000 in annual spending on the card. United has already extended 2020 elite status levels an extra year into early 2022 and adjusted requirements for earning it in 2021. But if you find yourself pushing for a higher elite status level or are chasing status for this first time, your card spending can help you more than normal, especially since elite thresholds have been reduced by around 25%.

Having a United co-branded credit card, such as the United Explorer, also makes you eligible for space-available elite upgrades when flying on United miles.

See TPG‘s full United Explorer Card review for more details.

APPLY HERE: United Explorer Card

United Business Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: The United Business Card is offering a bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $975

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year

Reasons to get it: This card offers you 2x miles on United purchases, on local transit and commuting, and at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores, and 1x miles per dollar spent on everything else. You’ll also get a free checked bag for you and one companion on the same reservation, priority boarding, two one-time United Club passes each year and additional award space on United-operated flights.

Even better, if you hold both the business card and a personal United card, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary. Finally, you have the ability to earn an annual $100 United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more and you’ll get a rebate of 25% back of United inflight purchases (includes Wi-Fi, food and beverages).

The United Business Card allows you to earn 1,000 PQPs with $24,000 in total credit card spending. Having this card also makes United elites eligible for space-available upgrades when flying on United.

See TPG‘s full United Business Card review for more details.

New United Quest Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: The all-new United Quest Card is offering a bonus of up to 100,000 bonus miles after a total of $10,000 in purchases in the first six months from account opening — earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months from account opening, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 in the first six months from account opening.

Bonus valuation: $1,300

Annual fee: $250

Reasons to get it: This card was just launched in April 2021. With a $250 annual fee, it’s the perfect hybrid between the mid-tier United Explorer Card and the premium United Club Infinite Card. It offers you 3x on United purchases (immediately after earning your $125 annual United purchase credit), 2x on all other travel (including Star Alliance purchases), select streaming services and restaurants and 1x miles per dollar spent on everything else.

Key benefits of the card include a $125 annual United purchase credit, as well as up to 10,000 miles back each year — you’ll automatically get 5,000 miles back into your account after the first two United award flights you take per anniversary year. You’ll also get a free first and second checked bag, an up to $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit every four years, priority boarding, trip protectionexpanded award availability and lower average award prices.

The Quest card allows you to earn 3,000 PQPs towards elite status with $72,000 in total credit card spending. The card also makes United elites eligible for space-available upgrades when flying on United.

United Club Infinite Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Bonus valuation: $975

Annual fee: $525

Reasons to get it: As its name implies, United Club Infinite cardholders enjoy United Club membership, including access for two guests or one adult and dependent children under the age of 21 (here are a few of our favorite United Clubs to be sure you don’t miss).

While it previously offered no welcome bonus in exchange for $0 annual fee the first year, that has changed. The card now offers 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. TPG values United miles at 1.3 cents each, so the 75,000 bonus miles are well worth the $525 annual fee, especially when factoring in the lounge access.

It also offers the first and second checked bag free for the primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation on United-operated flights when they are purchased with the card. Other perks include an up to $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit every four years, Premier Access travel services, expanded award availability and lower average award prices.

The United Club Infinite Card earns 4x miles on United purchases, 2x miles on all other travel and dining purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases. Although you will likely get more value by using another card for everyday spending, the United Club Infinite Card is a great way to rack up additional United miles when you fly with the airline. On top of the 4x miles, the United Infinite is a great card for your United ticket purchases because of the solid built-in travel trip delay and trip cancellation benefits that will have your back in the event of a covered problem along the way.

Last but not least, those who care about elite status can be well-served with the United Club Infinite Card. The card has the same earning potential for United PQPs as the new Quest Card — up to 3,000 per year in 500 point increments for each $12,000 put on the card.

As with the other United credit cards, having this card makes United elites eligible for space-available upgrades when flying on United miles if you have United elite status.

See TPG‘s full United Club Infinite Card review for more details.

APPLY HERE: United Club Infinite Card

United Club Business Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: The United Club Business Card offers a bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months after account opening.

Bonus valuation: $650

Annual fee: $450

Reasons to get it: This card is more closely aligned with the older, discontinued version of the personal United Club Card than the United Club Infinite Card. It awards 2x miles on United purchases and 1.5x miles per dollar spent on everything else. You’ll also get up to two free checked bags for you and one companion on the same reservation, priority boarding, United Club membership and access to additional award space on United-operated flights.

The United Club Business Card’s elite perks mirror those of the United Club Infinite Card. Cardholders can earn up to 3,000 PQPs with $72,000 in total card spending. Having this card also makes United elite travelers eligible for space-available upgrades when flying on United miles.

See TPG‘s full United Business Club Card review for more details.

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

Our picks for buying United Airlines tickets

For most paid tickets, you’ll earn redeemable miles and Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) toward elite status, calculated mostly on the base price of your ticket, minus taxes and fees. The number of redeemable miles you earn also varies based on your United elite status level. And while it can make a lot of sense to have and use a United Airlines cobranded credit card for your United ticket purchases, especially if you fly United more than once a year, there are also situations where other credit cards may be solid choices.

For example, if you want to earn more flexible transferable points on the purchase, you could pay for your United Airlines ticket with a general travel card that earns American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards Points. Consider the following cards for your United Airlines tickets, some of which carry generous built-in travel protections.

CREDIT CARD WELCOME BONUS ANNUAL FEE EARNING CAPABILITIES
Chase Sapphire Reserve 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. $550 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining; 1x elsewhere (10x on Lyft until 2022)
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening. $95 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining; 1x elsewhere
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months. $95 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in certain categories like travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites each account anniversary year; 1x elsewhere
The Platinum Card® from American Express 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Terms apply.
$550 (see rates & fees) 5x points on airfare booked through Amex or directly with the airlines (up to $500,000 on these purchases each calendar year, as of Jan. 1, 2021); 5x on prepaid hotels booked directly with Amex; 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.1x elsewhere. Terms apply.
Citi Prestige® Card  50,000 Citi ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. $495 5x Citi ThankYou points on air travel and restaurants; 3x points per dollar spent on hotels and cruise lines; 1x elsewhere
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express 85,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. $595 (see rates & fees) 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1.5x on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to an additional 1 million points per calendar year); 1x elsewhere. Terms apply.

The information for the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: The current sign-up bonus is 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $1,650

Annual fee: $95

Reasons to get it: This card offers 2x points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases (not just United tickets), which is lower than its more-premium sibling (the Chase Sapphire Reserve). However, it does carry a much lower annual fee.

You can then transfer your Chase points to United and have a dozen other airline and hotel programs from which to choose. You can also book flights and other travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but you’ll only get a value of 1.25 cents each for your points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also features primary rental car insurance and some solid purchase-protection benefits.

See TPG‘s full Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more details.

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Sign-up offer: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening

Bonus valuation: $1,200

Annual fee: $550

Reasons to get it: Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United at a 1:1 ratio, this card can be a great choice if you’re eyeing future award travel with United. Or, if you prefer the simplicity of cash fares, you can redeem your points for 1.5 cents each when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals or cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. The United flights you book through the Chase portal should count for getting you closer to United elite status and also earn redeemable miles.

The Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points on all travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. If you spend a lot in these two categories, you could be ready to book a flight in no time. The card has a high $550 annual fee, but that’s offset by a $300 annual travel credit that will automatically be applied to any eligible purchases — from airfare to hotel stays to sightseeing tours. You’ll get lounge access through Priority Pass Select membership, and the card’s excellent travel protections will cover you when you put the airfare — or the taxes and fees on award flights — on your card.

See TPG‘s full review of Chase Sapphire Reserve for more details.

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.)

Sign-up offer: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Bonus valuation: $2,000

Annual fee: $95

Reasons to get it: This business card is extremely popular among award travel enthusiasts, as it offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in certain categories like travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites, and 1x points on everything else. There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

You can book flights and other travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but you’ll only get a value of 1.25 cents each for your points. So, you may get better value by transferring your points to United or Star Alliance partner Singapore KrisFlyer if you want to use your Ultimate Rewards points to book a United-operated flight.

See TPG‘s full review of the Ink Business Preferred Card for more details.

APPLY HERE: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.)

Welcome offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership, although you may be targeted for a 125,000-point bonus offer through CardMatch (offers subject to change at any time).

Bonus valuation: $1,500 (more with targeted offers)

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Reasons to get it: Although you can’t transfer the Membership Rewards points earned with this card to United MileagePlus, you can transfer them to Star Alliance partners Air Canada AeroplanSingapore KrisFlyer and Avianca LifeMiles. You can then use these miles to book award tickets on United-operated flights.

The Platinum Card earns 5x Membership Rewards points on all flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, as well as prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Other cardholder benefits include a $200 annual statement credit toward incidental airline fees (although not actual airfare), monthly Uber credits (on U.S. services),  biannual Saks Fifth Avenue credits, Marriott elite status, Hilton elite status, Centurion Lounge access and Priority Pass Select membership. Enrollment required for select benefits.

See TPG‘s full Amex Platinum review for more details.

APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Citi Prestige® Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $850

Annual fee: $495

Reasons to get it: This card earns 5x Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel and dining, 3x points on hotels and cruise lines and 1 point on everything else. You’ll get a fourth night free on paid hotel stays, although you’ll be capped to two bookings per year and bookings will need to be made through ThankYou.com instead of through the concierge.

Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to Star Alliance partners like Avianca LifeMiles and Singapore KrisFlyer for booking United-operated flights. Best of all might be the opportunity to transfer your Citi points to Turkish Airlines, which has some tremendous award chart sweet spots for United-operated flights. (Hint: This includes a 7,500-mile award to Hawaii.) You’ll also have lounge access through the Priority Pass Select membership that is a cardmember benefit. However, the big downside is that the excellent travel protections that came with the Citi Prestige were discontinued in 2019.

See TPG‘s full Citi Prestige review for more details.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: The Points Guy Exclusive offer: Earn 125,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $2,500

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Reasons to get it: This might not seem like a great fit for United flyers, but hear us out. This card offers you 5x Membership Rewards points on all flights with United booked via Amex Travel, as well any airline or prepaid hotel booked with American Express Travel. You can then transfer these points to Star Alliance partners Singapore or Avianca to book award flights. In particular, Avianca LifeMiles is the only other Star Alliance program besides United that doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on awards.

Better yet, you can designate United as your carrier of choice to receive an up to $200 annual credit for air travel fees. When you do that, you’ll be able to use the Pay with Points redemption option to use your Membership Rewards points for any United flights and receive a 35% rebate (up to 500,000 additional points back per calendar year). This allows you to realize just over 1.5 cents per point, which isn’t too bad, considering you don’t have to worry about finding available award space. When making large purchases of $5,000 or more, this card awards 1.5 points per dollar.

You’ll also receive the 35% points rebate when you book a flight on any airline in business or first class using American Express Travel. Because these are revenue flights, you’ll earn miles and credit toward MileagePlus Premier status and have the opportunity to receive upgrades not afforded by award flights.

See TPG‘s full Amex Business Platinum review for more details.

APPLY HERE: The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Who should get a United Airlines credit card?

If you are only going to have one reward credit card in your wallet, the United card is probably not it. If you are only going to have one, I’d recommend a more flexible card. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns points that can be used for United without locking you into one program.

But, if you fly United at least once or twice per year, then having a United card in your wallet likely makes sense. It can save you money on bag fees and inflight purchases, as well as open up access to less expensive awards. In fact, we think that having a United card in your family is a really good strategy.

If you don’t have elite status with United but fly the airline occasionally, the United Explorer Card and the United Business Card are great choices with valuable perks like a free checked bag, priority boarding and a couple of one-time United Club passes each year. The access to increased Saver award space is another tangible perk.

If you have any elite status level with United, some of the features outlined above are redundant. If you are really choosy about what’s in your wallet, you’d probably be better off with a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has the same $95 annual fee but offers 2x points per dollar on United tickets and all travel and dining purchases.

If you can use the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 annual travel credit, the Sapphire Reserve will likely be a better choice because it offers 3x points on travel and dining and better travel protections. The Ink Business Preferred could also be a no-brainer for any small-business owner who wants to earn a lot of points on common business purchases and then transfer those earnings to United at a 1:1 ratio.

Those who want regular United Club access will be well-served by the United Club Infinite Card, which also offers 4x miles per dollar spent with United and premium travel perks.

Related: How to transfer Ultimate Rewards points between accounts

How much are United miles worth?

TPG values United miles at 1.3 cents each. That’s about an average valuation for a major U.S. airline mileage currency. When United switched to more dynamic award prices, some awards got more expensive while others during less popular periods got less expensive. Overall, this made the miles a bit less valuable, especially for those who like to use miles during peak travel periods or to fly in the fancy seats up front.

However, there are still tremendous award values to be had with United miles. For example, we recently locked in awards from Houston (IAH) to Orange County (SNA) for 7,000 miles each way and lie-flat seats to Hawaii for 60,000 miles each. Even in the good seats, partner award flights are still priced at relatively fixed amounts, so you can fly to Europe, Asia, Australia, and beyond in first or business class on partners for pretty static numbers of United miles.

For inspiration, here are some of the best ways to use United miles.

Lufthansa First Class. (photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Which card is best for United elite flyers?

While you might want one for the welcome bonus or the everyday earning capabilities, the truth is that the entry-level United cards, such as the United Gateway and the United Explorer Card, don’t offer a ton of unique benefits that United elite flyers won’t already have due to their elite status. Early boarding, free checked bags, expanded saver award access, etc., are all pretty useless card perks for those with United elite status.

However, there are a few reasons for elites to consider the entry-level United cards. For example, having even the United Explorer card makes you eligible for complimentary upgrades when flying on United miles. Both the Gateway and the Explorer cards can also save you money on onboard purchases such as Wi-Fi and snack boxes. Elites are also pretty likely to be able to put the United Explorer’s two annual one-time United Club passes to easy use. The United Business Card is also pretty unique in that it provides a $100 United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more per account anniversary year.

The ability to charge your way to 1,000 PQPs on several of the United cards is also a tangible perk for United elites.

Truly frequent United flyers could arguably be better served with a more premium United card, such as the United Club Infinite Card. Having that card, or the small business equivalent, gets you into the network of United Clubs as you crisscross the globe when you are flying United. It also awards the most miles per dollar (4x) on United ticket purchases of all United cards, which presumably helps United elites the most.

Alternatively, if you’d rather pay a lower annual fee and don’t need lounge access, the new United Quest Card could make sense as well, with a 3x return on United purchases, $125 credit and up to 10,000-mile annual rebate.

United Boeing 787-10 Polaris EWR LAX Zach Griff - 35
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Can you have more than one United Airlines credit card?

Not only can you have more when one United Airlines credit card, but you’re actually incentivized to have a United consumer card and the small business United Business Card to get 5,000 bonus United miles each year.

Each United credit card has its own terms and conditions, but typically having one United card doesn’t automatically exclude you from having another. For example, the United Explorer Card terms exclude current cardholders and previous cardholders who received a new bonus in the last 24 months. However, it doesn’t mention the business cards or the Club-level cards.

That said, if you’re considering more than one United credit card, factor in the Chase 5/24 restrictions, which can play a role in how many total cards you can open within two years.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

By examining your travel needs, elite status goals, spending habits and preferences, United flyers can choose the credit card (or cards) that offers the best combination of rewards and benefits. You have lots of options when it comes to choosing the best card as a United flyer.

For most occasional United Airlines flyers, the United Explorer Card will be the way to go to save miles on United awards, save on bag fees, ensure some early boarding and give a nice boost to your MileagePlus account balance with its sign-up bonus of up to 65,000 miles. That said, for effectively $30 more (after factoring in the $125 credit), it could also make sense to get the new United Quest Card, which offers a second free checked bag, up to 10,000-mile rebate, more bonus categories and a much bigger 100,000-mile welcome bonus. Meanwhile, if you’re just starting out or want a no-annual-fee card with a few perks, then consider the United Gateway card.

If you have a small business, the answer for which is best will be different.

Then there’s also option B: Get a more flexible travel credit card. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express awards 5x Membership Reward points per dollar on United Airlines ticket purchases (made directly with the airline) and includes Priority Pass access. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is another great choice for travelers who want some built-in travel protections and bonus points that can be transferred to United Airlines, without being locked into one airline.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, please click here.  

Featured photo by Zach Honig/ The Points Guy

Benji Stawski
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