United Airlines Credit Cards
$95, waived first year
50,000 miles: 40,000 miles with $2,000 initial spend, 10,000 additional miles with $5,000 in total purchases in first six months. ($635 net value, 13/$) Offer Link. An extra $100 may be available through this link (thanks US Credit Card Guide)Business card: 50,000 miles, with $5,000 initial spend, plus an additional 50,000 points with a total of $25,000 of spending in the first six months. First-year annual fee is not waived.
40,000 United miles
$2,000 initial spend
($450 net value, .23/$)Signup Bonus Chart
2x United Purchases
2x Hotels (booked directly)
1x Everywhere Else
No Foreign Transaction Fee
If you frequently fly on United Airlines, you should get one of the United Airlines cards. They provide a free checked bag benefit, priority boarding privileges, and increased access to United award space. Just don't use it for your everyday spending.
If you are going to collect signup bonuses, it can be worth getting one of the United cards while you are still under 5/24. Even if you aren't sure you want to make it part of your core credit collection, you can collect the signup bonus, downgrade to the no-annual-fee version at the end of the first year and retain access to extra award space, and upgrade to the Explorer card if you decide you need the checked bag benefit.
United Credit Card Options
Six United Airlines cards are currently available.
Explorer. The standard version of the card is the main focus of the guide and is typically the first choice of anyone who wants the card for its ongoing benefits and/or signup bonus. Chase Webpage. United Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Explorer Business. A downside of the business version is that it can't be downgraded to United's no-annual-fee card to preserve the "slot" and retain access to extra award availability, while avoiding an annual fee. It does provide a $100 credit if you make 7 or more airfare purchases during the year, but many people don't purchase that many tickets. And you can earn 2x miles on transit and taxis, restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores (rather than at restaurants and hotels). $99 annual fee. Chase Webpage. United Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Quest. The $250 version of the United Card provides a number of extra benefits. A $125 annual credit (for United purchases) lowers the effective annual fee to only $125, only $30 more than the Explorer Card. If your confident you will spend at least $125 every year with United, this is the better "keeper" version (unless you don't have the 5/24 slot and want to stick with the business card). It should also typically be better option from strictly a signup bonus perspective. Chase Webpage. United Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Club. The $450 version of the United Card includes a membership in the United Club. It is only interesting to people who would otherwise have considered purchasing a United membership. Chase Webpage. United Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Gateway Card. If you no longer need the baggage allowance, the no-annual-fee card is a great option downgrade option. It still provides access to the extra award space available to United cardholders and the 25% discount on inflight purchases. And you'll be able to upgrade back, if you need to, even if you are over the 5/24 limit. Chase Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
In addition, there are a number of older United airlines versions that are still active.
Collecting the Signup Bonus
- It is worth signing up for these cards just to collect the signup bonus. A typical signup bonus for the Explorer and Business card is 40,000 United miles. At the launch of the United Quest Card in April, its bonus was 100,000 United miles, the bonus for the Explorer card was 65,000 miles, and the bonus for Club card was 75,000 miles.
- Since your Chase slots are limited you may only want to get one of the personal cards. If so, the Quest version should be your best option. It has the highest first year value and you can convert to either the other personal cards at the end of the first year. But if good bonuses are available, you can choose to earn bonuses from two or more of the personal cards, you just can't earn a bonus for the same card more than once every two years.
- The business card doesn't use up one of your 5/24 slots. You can earn its bonus instead of, or in addition to, one or more bonuses from the personal cards.
- You don't usually want to sign up for the United Club card, unless you really want the Club access. You would wind up paying a very high annual fee, in order to earn the same or worse signup offer as the regular version of the card. And all of these cards are still affected by the Chase 5/24 rule.
- It is difficult to collect a signup bonus a 2nd time, because of the Chase 5/24 rule. Normally, you are eligible for a Chase signup bonus, if you haven't already earned the bonus from the same card during the last two years. However, due to the Chase 5/24 rule, if you've been signing up for other cards, you won't be able to get approved when you reapply. You'll need get under the 5/24 limit before you can earn one of the bonuses again. Dealing with the Chase 5/24 Rule.
You almost certainly don't want to use up a Chase 5/24 slot to collect the signup bonus for the Gateway Card. Get one of the other cards and downgrade later.
- Free checked bags. The first checked bag is free for the primary cardholder and up to one companion. Get Free Checked Bags with Airline Credit Cards.
- Expanded award availability. Increased availability for "saver" level award space. You can also book any available seats as an award ticket, if you are willing to pay enough miles.
- 25% inflight discount. Good for the purchase of Wi-Fi, food, and drinks.
- Free roadside assistance. The roadside assistance benefit that comes with most credit cards simply connects you a to nearby service provider. But this card actual pays for your roadside assistance services, including towing, lockout assistance, spare tire installation, jump starts, or emergency fuel. Up to $50 per incident. Get Free or Discounted Roadside Assistance with these Credit Cards.
- "Primary" rental car insurance. If you use this card to pay for your rental car, you'll get primary rental car insurance. Unlike the "secondary" insurance you get from most other cards, if you damage your rental car, you don't need to involve your personal auto insurance company. Credit Cards That Provide “Primary” Rental Car Coverage.
- $100 TSA fee credit. Every 4 years, you can receive an automatic reimbursement of your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100).
- Access to Chase's Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection. Along with other Chase cards, you'll get access to Chase's luxury hotel program. When you use the program to book one of the participating hotels, you'll receive a set of valuable benefits, including free breakfast, late check-out, and a hotel-specific amenity (which is typically a $100 hotel, restaurant, or spa credit). Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks.
- Two United Club passes per year. Each one can be used one time (to admit a single person).
- Priority boarding.
- Access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. As with all Visa Signature cards, you'll get access to Visa's luxury hotel program. Whenever you book one of the 900+ participating hotels, you'll receive a set of valuable benefits, including free breakfast, late check-out, and a $25 food and beverage credit. The Visa program has slightly weaker benefits than the other luxury hotel programs, but includes a larger number of more affordable hotel options and a best price guarantee. Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks.
- Access to Visa Signature Offers. Your card entitles you to a set of special offers available from Visa.
- If you make more than 7 United flight purchases of at least $100 each during a cardholder year, you'll receive a $100 bill credit (Business Card only).
In addition, it has different bonus categories, and if you have both cards, you'll receive 5,000 bonus points on your business card's anniversary.
Extra Benefits from the United Quest Card
The $250 annual fee United Quest Card comes with several additional benefits that make it a better option for most people who want to add a United card to their core credit card collection.
- $125 annual credit, good for United purchases each anniversary year. This can be used on any ticket and should be easy to use for anyone who regularly flies United.
- Two 5,000-mile award flight credits every year. You'll get 5,000 miles back for your first 2 award tickets each year. Since you can book each way as a separate ticket, you only need one round-trip award ticket per year to maximize this benefit. You don't get these the first year you have the card.
- 2 free bags instead of 1. Like the regular card works for up to one companion, but each person can bring two bags.
- No United Club passes. The regular version of the card comes with 2 one-time passes every year, the more expensive version doesn't.
- Earn up to 3,000 Premier Qualifying Points each year. You'll earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 you spend.
- Higher reward rates. You earn 3 miles instead of 2 on United Purchases, 2 miles on all travel rather than just on hotels, and 2 miles on select streaming services.
Extra Benefits from the United Club Card
The $450 annual fee United Club Card comes with several additional benefits.
- United Club membership. You can bring in your family or up to two other adults. The full cost of purchasing a membership starts at $550. However, United elites get a discount on membership fees, so the real value of the membership is usually somewhat lower.
- "Premier Access". Cardholders and their companions get access to priority check-in, security, boarding, and baggage handling. However, most people who would be considering paying $450 per year for this card are likely to fly United enough to already have these benefits through their United elite status.
- Second bag free. The cardholder, and up to one guest, get two free checked bags instead of just one.
- Waived close-in booking fees.
- Automatic Hertz President's Circle status.
- If you have the United Club Card, you should probably use it for your United purchases. As you are likely a frequent United flyer, you might get more value out of 4x United Miles than you would from 5x Membership Rewards points, 5x ThankYou points, or 3x Ultimate Rewards points. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- You are better off making your United Airlines purchases with a card that earns a higher reward rate for airfare spending. 2-3x United miles is okay but not as good as what you'd earn from one of the better cards.Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- There are better options for your travel and restaurant purchases. 2x United miles from the personal card are more valuable than what you would get from a good general-purpose reward card, but you can earn even more valuable rewards with other cards. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending. Best Credit Cards for Restaurant Spending.
- There are better options for your restaurant, office supply, and gas purchases. 2x United miles from the business card are more valuable than what you would get from a good general-purpose reward card, but you can earn even more valuable rewards with other cards.. Best Credit Cards for Restaurant Spending. Best Credit Cards for Gas Spending.
- The Business card's bonus on transit and taxi services may be useful. You'll earn 2x United Miles. If you don't have a card that includes these expenses as part of its travel category (such as the Sapphire Reserve), the United Business Explorer might be your best option.
- You don't want to use these cards for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
Getting Rid of the Card
- You can cancel without worrying about losing your United miles. Once you earn them, they are treated like any other miles in your United account..
- We recommend downgrading your United Card rather than cancelling it. You can product change between the Explorer, Quest, Gateway, and Club cards, or between the Business Explorer and Business Club cards. United Chase's 5/24 rule can make it difficult to get a new Chase card when you want to. Downgrading your card preserves the option of upgrading back in the future. You'll also retain the ability to access extra award space and a few other benefits, such as the 25% inflight purchase discount. Unfortunately, there is no no-annual-fee option for the Business Explorer card.
- You can wait to cancel your card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of the statement closing date, Chase will refund the fee. After 30 days, you can receive a pro-rated refund by downgrading to a cheaper version (there is no cheaper option available for the Business Explorer version).
- Chase doesn't make retention offers. Unless something has changed, you don't need to bother checking.
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