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Whether you fly for business or pleasure, you've likely spent time aboard a United aircraft. With hubs in major cities like Chicago, Denver and San Francisco, United Airlines is one of the top three largest carriers in the country. As such, the airline offers a variety of credit cards that cater to all types of travelers. We've highlighted some of the best options below.
|Best For||Credit Needed||Annual Fee|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Most people||Excellent/Good||$0 Intro for First Year, then $95|
|United℠ Explorer Business Card||Business owners||Good/Excellent||$95|
|United MileagePlus® Club Card||United Club access||Good/Excellent||$450|
|United℠ TravelBank Card||No annual fee||Good/Excellent||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Non-United card for earning miles||Excellent||$95|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Non-United card for lounge access||Excellent/Good||$550|
Continue reading below for the benefits and features of the top United cards — and for our recommendation on the best non-United card for earning MileagePlus miles. You can also check out our comparison tool at the bottom of the page to see how each card performs for your spending habits and budget.
Best United Airlines Credit Card Overall
Best United Card for Small-Business Owners
The United℠ Explorer Business Card is a great choice for small-business owners who travel with United. The card offers 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar on all purchases made with United and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. You'll also benefit from some of the same perks provided by the consumer version of this card, like a free checked bag and two United Club passes.
Hundreds in Annual Value for Frequent Flyers
If you're a frequent flyer on United, the benefits of the United℠ Explorer Business Card will outweigh the $95 annual fee after the first few flights. The card provides one free checked bag per flight for you and a travel companion, which is a $120 value per round trip.
Best Credit Card for United MileagePlus Club Access
If your main priority is getting discounted access to United's network of airport lounges, the United MileagePlus® Club Card is the best choice for you. For a $450 annual fee, you'll get access to the United Club, plus 1.5 MileagePlus miles on all purchases and two free checked bags per flight.
Decent Rewards on Everyday Spending
The United MileagePlus® Club Card doesn't have the highest rewards rate of the United cards on airfare purchases, but it offers a decent return on everyday purchases. While the other cards earn 1 mile per dollar on nonbonus spending, the United MileagePlus® Club Card offers 1.5 miles on all purchases.
Consider Other Cards with Lounge Access
Depending on how often you fly United, you may want to consider other cards with a lounge access benefit, like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Both of these cards come with a Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to hundreds of international and domestic lounges.
The information related to the United MileagePlus® Club Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
Best United Card Without an Annual Fee
The United℠ TravelBank Card is a decent pick for United flyers who are more concerned with earning free flights than getting travel perks. As the card name implies, you'll earn TravelBank cash, which can be applied toward United flights, rather than MileagePlus miles. The card earns 2% back in United TravelBank cash on United flight purchases and 1.5% back on all other purchases.
TravelBank Cash vs. MileagePlus Miles
A potential downside to the United℠ TravelBank Card is that it doesn't earn MileagePlus miles. One of the benefits of opening a co-branded airline card is earning miles to redeem for free flights on your favorite airline. Miles are a valuable currency because you can often find flight redemptions that net a value of 2 to 3 cents per mile (miles are usually worth 1 cent). TravelBank cash is a lot less flexible, given that $1 in TravelBank cash will always be worth $1 toward a United flight.
Not the Highest Rewards Rate
The United℠ TravelBank Card earns 2% back on United flights and 1.5% back on other purchases, neither of which is the highest return on spending for a card with no annual fee. Consider that the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card earns 3 points per dollar% back on a wide variety of purchases, including all flight purchases — regardless of airline — while the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer effectively earns 2% back: 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay your bill.
The information related to the United℠ TravelBank Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
Best Non-United Card for Earning United Miles
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
- 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 & 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 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 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Best Non-United Card for Lounge Access
The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy 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 with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
Compare United Airlines Credit Cards
If you're unsure which of the credit cards we recommended fits your needs, you can use the comparison tool to see how each card performs based on your budget. Simply click on the gear symbol to adjust the spending categories.
FAQs about United credit cards
Below are some common questions people have about the United MileagePlus credit cards.
How do United MileagePlus miles work?
You'll earn United miles by spending with your co-branded credit card and purchasing airline tickets from United. Once you're earned miles, you can use them for airline tickets on United or other travel expenses.
Which United credit card is best?
The best United credit card depends on your spending habits and travel preferences. However, we'd suggest the United℠ Explorer Card for most people. It earns 2 points per dollar on hotel stays, restaurants and United purchases, and it comes with a competitive welcome offer.