United Business Card review: Benefits for small-business travelers who fly United

Oct 6, 2020

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United Business Card Overview

The United Business Card provides a lot of perks for a sub-$100 annual fee. From the first checked bag free on United Airlines flights to two United Club one-time passes a year to solid travel protections, the United Business Card can provide value to small-business owners who travel on United even just a few times each year. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

If you have a small business and travel with United even just a few times each year, you should consider signing up for the United Business Card. This card has a $99 annual fee, but its many benefits can be valuable enough to offset the fee.

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

The United Business Card earns United MileagePlus miles and provides perks that are specific to United Airlines. In this review, we dive into the United Business Card benefits, its earning capacity and other details so you can decide if it’s right for you.

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In This Post

Who is this card for?

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
The United Business Card provides significant savings to some travelers. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

The United Business Card is best if you have a small business and can get value from the card’s benefits when flying United. For example, if you incur four checked baggage fees each year — at $30 each for a total of $120 — when flying United, you’ll come out ahead if you have the United Business Card and use it to pay for your United flights. Other benefits, include two United Club one-time passes, which you receive after account opening and on each card anniversary, and 25% back on inflight purchases on United. These can provide value even if you don’t usually check a bag.

And, if your business frequently purchases items with a manufacturer’s warranty, you may benefit from the card’s extended warranty protection. There are also United Business Card purchase protections and travel protections that can come in handy.

Related: The best credit cards for United Airlines flyers

Sign-up bonus: up to $1,950 in value

The United Business Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of up to 150,000 bonus miles: 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first six months from account opening.. Based on TPG’s valuation of United miles at 1.3 cents each, this bonus with worth about $1,950

You aren’t eligible for the sign-up bonus if you currently have the United Business Card or previously had the United Business Card and received a new cardmember bonus for the United Business Card within the last 24 months. However, the United Business Card is considered by Chase to be a distinct product from the no-longer-available United Explorer Business Card and the United Club Business Card. So, if you have or previously had either of these cards, you’re still eligible for the sign-up bonus from the United Business Card.

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.

The United Business Card probably falls under Chase’s unpublished 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months, you are unlikely to be approved for any new cards issued by Chase.

Related: Best business credit cards

Main benefits and perks

This card will provide the most value if you fly United but don’t have status. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

The United Business Card is best suited for small-business owners who are looking for United Airlines benefits and don’t have United or Star Alliance elite status. The card will provide the following benefits when flying United:

Free first checked bag and priority boarding

The primary cardmember and one companion traveling on the same reservation will each receive their first standard checked bag free on United-operated flights. To receive this benefit, the primary cardmember must provide their United MileagePlus number on the reservation and purchase the tickets from United using their United Business Card.

United’s checked baggage fees start at $30 each way. So this benefit can provide enough savings to justify the card’s $99 annual fee after checking just four bags each year.

Plus, the primary cardmember and companions on the same reservation will be invited to board United-operated flights before general boarding when the primary cardmember includes their United MileagePlus number. Between priority boarding and your first checked bag free, this card enables you to avoid the worst parts of a United basic economy ticket.

Related reading: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines

United Club passes

You may not fly United frequently or you may have other cards that provide lounge access. Perhaps you don’t find lounge access that useful.

However, there may be times when United Club access is useful. For example, it can be a great place to wait out a flight delay or get faster help rebooking a trip when your flight is changed or canceled. At times like this, you may find the two United Club one-time passes (that you get after account opening and on each anniversary) useful.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access

Other benefits and perks

  • Annual United travel credit: Enjoy a $100 United travel credit after seven eligible United purchases of $100 or more with the United Business Card within an account anniversary year.
  • Statement credit on United inflight purchases: You get 25% back as a statement credit on food, beverages and Wi-Fi aboard United-operated flights when you pay with your United Business Card.
  • Better together bonus: Receive 5,000 bonus miles each year on your United Business Card anniversary when you have both the United Business Card and a personal Chase United credit card.
  • Employee cards: Get employee cards at no additional cost and set individual spending limits on each employee card.
  • Expanded award availability: The primary cardholder may see expanded award availability when using miles to book any United-operated flight.
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets: The primary cardmember can take advantage of complimentary premier upgrades on United flights (when available) when traveling on an award ticket.
  • Earn PQPs: Get 500 Premier Qualifying Points for every $12,000 in card spending, up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year, that can be applied up to Platinum status.
  • Access to The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Make a Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection reservation with your card and unlock elite-like benefits during stays at select properties.
  • Travel protections: Trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside assistance and travel accident insurance
  • Shopping protections: Purchase protection and extended warranty protection
  • No foreign transaction fees

Related: How to unlock additional award availability with United credit cards

How to earn miles

You’ll earn 2x miles on United purchases, including tickets and seat upgrades. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The United Business Card earns 2x United miles per dollar spent on purchases from United, including tickets, seat upgrades, Economy Plus, inflight food, inflight beverages, inflight Wi-Fi, baggage service charges and other United charges. Plus, you’ll earn 2x miles per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including taxicabs, mass transit, tolls and rideshare services. And you’ll earn 2x miles per dollar spent at gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants, as well as on Inside Access from Chase purchases.

This means you’ll earn 2x miles per dollar spent on many types of purchases. Based on TPG’s valuation of United miles, this equates to a 2.6% return on these purchases. You’ll also earn 1x mile per dollar spent on all other purchases, which is a 1.3% return.

Related: How United credit cards fit into the MileagePlus program

How to redeem miles

(Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
You’ll usually get the most value from your miles when you redeem them for flights. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

You can use United miles to book award travel on United, other Star Alliance airlines and other partner airlines. Last fall, United removed its award chart for United-operated flights in favor of dynamic award pricing. Although this makes it more difficult to determine the price of an award until you’re ready to book, dynamic pricing can lead to inexpensive award flights in some situations. Award charts still exist for using United miles on partner airlines — and there are some sweet spots to be found on these charts.

You’ll generally get the most value from your United miles when you use them to book flights. You can also use United miles to secure an upgrade, purchase inflight Wi-Fi, book hotel stays and pay for car rentals or use United miles for merchandise, gift cards and once-in-a-lifetime events.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with United MileagePlus

How does the United Business Card compare?

If you’re in the market for a cobranded United card, the United Business Card has two main competitors: the United Explorer Card and the United Club Business Card. Let’s take a closer look at these cards in the table below:

United Business Card United Explorer Card United Club Business Card
Sign-up bonus Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first six months from account opening.

TPG value: up to $1,950

Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 total in the first six months.

TPG value: up to $910

50,000 United miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

TPG value: $650

Annual fee $99 $95 (waived the first year) $450
Bonus earning rates (return based on TPG’s valuations) 2x on United purchases, local transit and commuting, gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants (2.6%)

1x on everything else (1.3%)

2x on United purchases, restaurants and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel (2.6%)

1x on everything else (1.3%)

2x on United purchases (2.6%)

1.5x on everything else (1.95%)

Standout benefits First standard checked bag free for the primary cardholder and one traveling companion

Priority boarding for the primary cardmember and companions on the same reservation

Two one-time United Club passes after account opening and on each anniversary

25% back on United inflight purchases

First standard checked bag free for the primary cardholder and one traveling companion

Priority boarding for the primary cardmember and companions on the same reservation

Two one-time United Club passes after account opening and on each anniversary

Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit every 4 years

25% back on United inflight purchases

United Club membership for the primary cardholder

First and second standard checked bags free for the primary cardholder and one traveling companion

Premier Access travel services

The primary cardholder can enroll in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program’s exclusive President’s Circle tier

25% back on United inflight purchases

Shopping protections Extended warranty protection and purchase protection Extended warranty protection and purchase protection Extended warranty protection, return protection, price protection and purchase protection
Travel protections Trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waiver Trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waiver Trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waiver

TPG value based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer. 

When compared to the United Business Card, the personal United Explorer Card offers a lower sign-up bonus, a slightly lower annual fee that’s waived the first year, a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees every four years and slightly different 2x bonus earning categories. Because many small-business owners use personal cards for business expenses, you’ll likely want to consider these differences unless you have a specific need for a business card rather than a personal card.

Compared to the United Business Card, the United Club Business Card has a significantly higher annual fee, but features higher everyday earnings rates as well as some additional benefits. For example, the United Club Business Card offers a United Club membership for the primary cardholder, an additional free checked bag on United, price protection and return protection.

However, none of the cobranded United credit cards offer impressive earnings, even on United purchases. So, many cardholders will keep a cobranded United card for the benefits — such as free checked bags, United Club membership, travel protections and shopping protections — instead of using it for most of their business spending. Even if you get a cobranded United card, you may want a better-earning card for most of your business expenses.

Related: 4 reasons someone in your family needs a United credit card

Bottom line

The United Business Card offers various United Airlines perks to small-business owners, freelancers and side hustlers that can easily justify the card’s $99 annual fee. You’ll need to use the card to purchase your United flights if you hope to take advantage of the first checked bag free for you and up to one travel companion. Although this means you’ll only get a 2.6% return on these purchases, according to TPG’s valuations, the United Business Card provides solid travel protections. And if you make at least seven purchases of $100 or more with United each year on your card, you’ll get a $100 statement credit.

Other perks such as priority boarding and 25% back on inflight purchases can add up over time. If you can get at least $99 of value each year from all of the card’s perks, you should consider signing up for the United Business Card while it’s offering an elevated bonus.

Apply here for the United Business Card with a up to 150,000-mile bonus

Benji Stawski contributed to this post.

Featured image by John Gribben/The Points Guy.

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.

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