The best credit cards for United Airlines flyers

Oct 2, 2020

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new card offers and information. 


United’s MileagePlus program made a major and largely negative shift in late 2019 when the carrier removed its published award charts for travel on United-operated flights in favor of a dynamic pricing model for these awards. At the same time, it changed how its frequent flyers earn elite status by essentially removing “miles” from the equation at all.

Combine those recent changes with some further 2020 program adjustments and promotions due to the coronavirus, and it all may leave you wondering what credit cards are best for flying United today.

A United Airlines jet parked at Newark Liberty International Airport. (Photo by Shutterstock)
A United Airlines 737-700 parked at Newark Liberty International Airport. (Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

Even with all of United’s recent changes to its MileagePlus program, United credit cards remain a good option thanks to a number of key benefits for both frequent and less-frequent United flyers.

For example, the cobranded United credit cards unlock better award availability, open access to less expensive award prices, convey free checked bags, priority boarding, discounts on Wi-Fi and onboard purchases, give you a way to spend your way to higher elite status levels and open up the network of United Clubs.

Today we’re considering all the best credit cards for United flyers. Some of these cards unlock benefits that are useful when flying on United and using United miles, while others earn valuable transferable points that can be used to book United flights via other reward programs.

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Best United Airlines credit cards of 2020

In This Post

Best United cobranded credit cards

When it comes to choosing the best United cobranded credit card for your wallet, you’ve got four main options that come with annual fees ranging from $95 to $525 per year. There’s also a new no-annual-fee version, which I’ll dig into below.

Most travelers who fly on United at least a couple of times per year will be well-suited to have at least one of these cobranded United cards in their wallets:

cREDIT Card Welcome bonus Annual fee Earning capabilities
United Gateway Card Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. $0 3x miles on grocery purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases per month) until Sept. 30, 2021; 2x miles at gas stations, on local transit, commuting and United purchases; 1x miles per dollar elsewhere
United Explorer Card Up to 70,000 bonus miles: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first six months. $95, waived the first year 2x miles on restaurant, hotel and United purchases; 1x miles per dollar elsewhere
United Business Card Earn 60,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. $99, waived the first year 2x miles on United purchases, local transit and commuting, and at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores; 1x elsewhere
United Club Infinite Card $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $525 $525, waived the first year 4x miles on United purchases; 2x miles on all other travel and dining purchases; 1x miles elsewhere
United Club Business Card

 

50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months after account opening. $450 2x miles on United purchases; 1.5x miles per dollar elsewhere

Note: Bonus valuations below are based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer. 

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 new United Gateway Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. 

Bonus valuation: $130

Annual fee: $0

Reasons to get it: The new 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, on 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 is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first six months.

Bonus valuation: $910

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.

In normal times, the United Explorer Card allows you to earn up to 1,000 elite Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) on the card with $24,000 in annual spending on the card (500 points for each of the first $12,000 in annual spending). But for 2020, there is a promo that doubles the number of PQPs you can earn with the Explorer Card to 2,000 PQPs. United has already announced that current elite status levels will be extended an extra year, into early 2022, but if you find yourself pushing for a higher elite status level this year, your card spending can help you more than normal, especially since elite thresholds have been reduced by 50%.

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 60,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $780

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 elite perks mirror that of the United Explorer Card in that the normal 1,000 PQPs you can earn on the earn card with $24,000 in total spending are increased to up to 2,000 in 2020. Having this card also makes United elites eligible for space-available upgrades when flying on United miles.

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

United Club Infinite Card

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

Sign-up offer: Rather than offering a traditional sign-up bonus, this card is offering a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year.

Bonus valuation: N/A

Annual fee: $525

Reasons to get it: The new United Club Infinite Card is a step above the now-discontinued United Club Card in a few ways. As the card’s name implies, 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). 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 the flights are purchased with the card. Other perks include a $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. Normally, the card has the same earning potential for United PQPs as the Explorer Cards — up to 1,000 per year in 500 point increments for each $12,000 put on the card. But, from May 1 – Dec. 31, 2020, you can earn up to 4x PQPs with your spending on this card for a total of up to 4,000 PQPs in 2020. Earning the full 4,000 PQPs will take at least $72,000 in 2020 spending on the card, but those PQPs would get you two-thirds of the way to the 2020 PQP requirements for United Platinum elite status.

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

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 is offering 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 new 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 elite perks mirror those of the United Club Infinite Card in that the normal 1,000 PQPs you can earn on the card with $24,000 in total spending are increased to up to 4,000 PQPs in 2020. 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.

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 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months $550 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining; 1x elsewhere (10x on Lyft until 2022)
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months $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 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening. $595 (see rates & fees) 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com; 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 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $1,200

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), but comes with 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: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Bonus valuation: $1,000

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 100,000-point bonus offer through CardMatch (offers subject to change at anytime).

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

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Reasons to get it: Although the Membership Rewards points earned by this card can’t be transferred to United MileagePlus, they can be transferred to Star Alliance partners Air Canada AeroplanSingapore KrisFlyer and Avianca LifeMiles. You can then use points in any of these programs 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 through amextravel.com. Other cardholder benefits include a $200 annual statement credit toward incidental airline fees (although not actual airfare), monthly Uber credits, biannual Saks Fifth Avenue credits, Marriott elite status, Hilton elite status, Centurion Lounge access and Priority Pass Select membership.

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 1x 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: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Bonus valuation: $1,500

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 from United or any other airline booked via amextravel.com and on all prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. 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 amextravel.com. 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 rewards credit card in the whole wide world, it’s unlikely that the one and only card you have should be a United card. If you are only going to have one, I’d recommend a more flexible card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, that 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, as 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 Explorer Business Card are great choices with valuable perks like a free checked bag, priority boarding and a couple of United Club passes each year. The access to increased Saver award space is another tangible perk.

If you have any level of elite status with United, some of the features outlined above are redundant, and if you are really being 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 not only on United tickets, but also on all travel and dining purchases. Or, if you’re able to 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, down a bit from 1.4 cents about a year ago. 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. On the whole, 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 upfront.

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. Partner award flights, even in the good seats, 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.

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

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

Which card is best for United elite flyers?

While you might want one for the welcome bonus or the everyday earning capabilities, the honest truth is that the entry-level United cards, such as the new 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 the United Explorer and United Business Card in a normal year — and 2,000 in 2020 — is also a tangible perk for United elites. Just keep in mind that those PQPs only help you up to the Platinum elite level. If you want 1K status, you’re going to have to earn that without the help of this United card.

Truly frequent United flyers could arguably be better served with a 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. This year, you can also earn up to 4,000 PQPs with the premium Club cards based on your card spending, which could put a higher elite status tier within reach. As with the $95-per-year cards, these PQPs only help up to the Platinum elite level and do not get you closer to top-tier 1K status.

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, but 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 for you 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 up to 70,000-mile sign-up bonus. 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.

Madison Blancaflor contributed to this post.

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 courtesy of United Airlines.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 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 orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.