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What are the best United Airlines credit cards? With so many different destinations, you’re bound to fly United as they are one of the “Big Three” airlines within the United States. To maximize these United flights, you should look into one of the Chase United Airlines credit cards. You will not only earn a nice sign-up bonus, but you can receive some nifty elite benefits as well on the best United credit cards.
There are 3 different United airlines credit cards, so there’s a card for every traveler.
Here’s our list of the best United airlines credit cards:
- Best United Credit Card for Casual Traveler: United TravelBank
- Best United airlines card for checking bag: United MileagePlus Explorer
- Best Premium United airlines credit card: United Club Credit Card
- Best non-airline branded United card: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Best United Airlines Credit Card for Budget Travelers: United TravelBank
The newest addition to the United credit card lineup is cash rewards United TravelBank Card. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. This hybrid United rewards card is United’s attempt to attract casual customers that use a cash back credit card for their daily spending that want to earn rewards and never have to worry about an annual fee.
All TravelBank purchases will earn cash rewards that can be redeemed for United.com purchases as detailed below:
- 2% cash back on all United purchases
- 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases
- 25% statement credit for in-flight United purchases
Rewards can be redeemed in $1 increments on your next ticket purchase on United.com. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of earning enough rewards miles to fly for free and don’t want to pay an annual fee to have additional perks like priority boarding or free checked bags (maybe you strictly carry-on), this is a great option.
All new cardholders will also have the opportunity to earn $150 bonus cash after spending $1,000 in your first three months.
Best United Airlines Credit Card for Checking a Bag and Earning Miles: United MileagePlus Explorer
The United MileagePlus Explorer is the mid-tier United option and has a $95 annual feeUnited’s mid-tier offering is the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer. You will want this card if you want to earn points that can be redeemed for United award flights and also want to check a bag for free. As a MileagePlus Explorer cardholder, you will enjoy the following card amenities:
- First checked bag free for you and travel companion ($100 savings per roundtrip)
- Two United Club passes (one-time entry) each card anniversary
- Priority Boarding for everybody in your travel party
- Earn 10,000 bonus points every year after $25,000 in card purchases
The free checked bag benefit alone pays for $95 annual fee during your first round-trip when you and one travel companion each check one bag. You might decide to pick up this card only for this benefits.
In addition to the above amenities, you will also earn 2 United miles on all United purchases and 1 mile for every non-United purchase. These miles will not expire as long you own a United credit card or keep your MileagePlus account active.
Reward flights start at 10,000 miles each way for United flights. It’s important to note that United is replacing their fixed-rate Standard Award tickets with a floating-value Everyday Awards system for all flights booked after November 1, 2017.
First-time United Explorer cardholders and returning cardholders that haven’t owned the Explorer card with the most recent 24 months can earn 45,000 bonus United miles by spending $2,000 in purchases within the next three months (40,000 bonus miles) and by adding an authorized user (5,000 bonus miles).
Best United Airlines Credit Card For Travelers Who Love Perks: United MileagePlus Club Card
If you LOVE premium travel rewards and are a loyal United flyer, look no further than the United MileagePlus Club Card. This is the flagship card of the Chase United catalog. The United Club Card will let you enjoy everything United has to offer!
Let’s begin with the unlimited United amenities that you will enjoy:
- Complimentary United Club membership ($550 value) for you and eligible travel companions
- Access to other Star Alliance airport lounges
- First and second bags fly free for you and one travel companion ($240 savings roundtrip)
- United Premier Access (Priority security screening, baggage handling, boarding, and complimentary seat upgrades)
- Earn 2 miles per $1 on all United purchases (1.5 miles per $1 for everything else)
- No close-in award booking fees for any United award flight
In addition to the United amenities, you will also enjoy a few other travel perks including a Global Entry application fee reimbursement credit, elevated World of Hyatt Discoverist status, Luxury Hotel and Resort credits, Hertz President’s Circle Elite Status, and primary auto rental collision damage waiver coverage.
All of these benefits arrive with an annual fee of $450. This is in-line with the other premium travel credit cards and is actually cheaper than the American Express Platinum that offers similar travel benefits and grants you access to several airport lounge networks when a United or Star Alliance is nowhere to be found.
While this might be the first time you have heard of the United Club Card, it has been around for some time. New cardholders and returning cardholders will have the opportunity to earn 50,000 bonus miles by spending $3,000 in the first three months of ownership. This is the highest sign-up bonus ever for this card.
Best Non-United Airlines Card for Earning United Miles: Chase Sapphire Preferred
How can a non-United airlines credit card make the list for being the best United credit card? There is a touch of irony in this question, yet the answer is really simple. Own a flexible travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Sapphire Preferred has the exact same earning power as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card with the two miles per dollar on United purchases, but the Sapphire Preferred earns two miles on every travel and dining purchase.
Unless you want the free checked bags, priority boarding, or two annual one-time United Club passes that come with the MileagePlus Explorer, the Sapphire Preferred can be the better option for two reasons:
- You fly the cheapest carrier
- The Chase 5/24 rule only lets you apply for one credit card
Since you can only carry so many credit cards in your wallet, you might consider the Sapphire Preferred over the other cards on this list because you earn two miles for every air travel purchase, regardless of the carrier. You won’t enjoy any of the complimentary United amenities like free checked bags or United Club membership, but, you can earn bonus rewards points much faster that can be redeemed for United flights even when you earn them through non-United air travel.
How is this possible?
United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partner. By owning the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer your credit card points to United on a 1:1 basis, free of charge. If your primary focus is rapidly earning rewards miles that can be redeemed for any United flight, this is your best option.
New Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders will receive 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points worth $625 in award travel by spending $4,000 in the first three months. By adding an authorized user, you will automatically be credited with another 5,000 points. And, the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year of ownership.
Summary on the Best United Credit Card
Owning a United credit card is the easiest and most cost-effective way to earn award miles that can be redeemed for free award flights. There is a United Airlines credit card for every budget that will enhance your United travel experience. If you want to make every purchase count, none of these cards will steer you in the wrong direction.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.