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Best United Airlines Credit Cards of June 2022

Best United Airlines Credit Cards of June 2022

We think the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the best option for collecting United miles. It offers valuable points that can be transferred 1:1 to United MileagePlus — or 12 other airline or hotel partners.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Top United Airlines credit cards of 2022

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website

United℠ Explorer Card

On Chase's Secure Website

United Club? Infinite Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Jump to

United's extensive co-branded credit card portfolio includes everything from a "gateway" option with no annual fee to a credit card with full United Club lounge membership as one of its many perks. As you search for the best United credit card for your needs, it's worth comparing United's co-branded cards to Chase's portfolio of Ultimate Rewards credit cards since Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer to United at a 1:1 ratio.

Compare the best United Airlines credit cards of 2022

Card
Welcome Offer
Credit Needed
Annual Fee
Free checked bags
United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card
Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.660 - 850$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
United Club access
United Club? Infinite Card
United Club? Infinite Card
Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.720 - 850$525
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Elite status
United Quest℠ Card
United Quest℠ Card
Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.660 - 850$250
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Compare all cards

Welcome Offer

Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Credit Score Needed

660 - 850
720 - 850

Annual Fee

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
$525
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Best United Airlines credit card for free checked bags

United℠ Explorer Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

660 - 850

 

  • Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit
  • 25% back on United® inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services

Pros

  • $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
  • First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and one companion
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
  • Two United Club one-time passes each cardmember anniversary
  • 25% back on United in-flight food, beverages and Wi-Fi when charged to the card

Cons

  • Ongoing annual fee may be hard to justify for infrequent travelers
  • Benefits limited to United-operated flights
  • Some travelers would be better served by a general travel card
  • High APR of 17.24% - 24.24% Variable if you carry a balance
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% off in-flight purchases on United
  • Two United Club one-time passes each year

The United℠ Explorer Card is ideal for consumers who want to save on checked baggage when flying with the airline. Cardmembers automatically get a free checked bag for themselves and a flight companion on United operated flights when they pay with their United card. Since United charges up to $35 for a first checked bag, this savings can add up to $140 per round-trip flight for two people.


Best United Airlines credit card for United Club access

United Club? Infinite Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

$525

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles.
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights when you pay with your Club Infinite Card.

Pros

  • Generous sign-up bonus
  • Full United Club membership
  • Excellent benefits on United — from free checked bags to upgrades on award tickets
  • Non-United benefits like Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle elite status
  • TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement
  • 25% back on United in-flight purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi

Cons

  • A hefty $525 annual fee puts this card out of reach for many travelers
  • High APR of 17.24% - 24.24% Variable if you roll over a balance
  • Most travel benefits don't apply when traveling on other airlines
  • United Club membership
  • Two free checked bags on United
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets.
  • Premier Access benefits like priority check-in and priority boarding
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle elite status
  • Fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry membership
  • Earn Premier qualifying points (PQP)

The United Club? Infinite Card lets you skip the $650 fee for a United Club membership, offering you full United Club membership — plus additional benefits — for a $525 annual fee. Ultimately, this means you can secure United Club access for less than you would pay for it outright, yet you also get to earn United miles on purchases while enjoying frequent flyer perks.


Best United Airlines credit card for elite status

United Quest℠ Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

$250

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3x miles on United® purchases, 2x miles on dining, select streaming services & all other travel, 1x on all other purchases
  • Earn 3x miles on United® purchases
  • Earn 2x miles on dining and select streaming services
  • Earn 2x miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1x mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5K-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.

Pros

  • Earn up to 3,000 PQPs each year
  • Huge sign-up bonus
  • 3X miles on United airfare
  • $125 annual credit that applies to most United purchases (including airfare), covers half the annual fee
  • Up to two free checked bags on United flights
  • 5,000-mile anniversary bonus for completing an award flight (two per year)
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades

Cons

  • $250 annual fee
  • Most benefits don't apply to other airlines
  • $125 annual United statement credit
  • Two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits
  • Up to two free checked bags
  • Priority boarding
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades
  • Earn 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in net purchases (3,000 maximum)
  • 25% discount on in-flight purchases

If you're chasing elite status with United Airlines and you want all the best perks other than lounge access, the United Quest℠ Card is the card for you. The card offers up to 3,000 PQPs each year (500 PQPs for each $12,000 in purchases on the card) — enough (or nearly enough) to boost you to Silver status, from Silver to Gold or from Gold to Platinum. While other United Airlines cards let users earn PQP for spending, the United Quest℠ Card has one of the highest caps on annual PQPs of all available options.


Best United Airlines credit card with no annual fee

United Gateway℠ Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases, then 17.24% - 24.24% Variable APR. Learn more.

$0

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Solid spending category bonuses for a no annual fee card
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Lack of travel benefits — on United or any airline
  • Some travelers may be better served by another travel card
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases made with United
  • Complimentary benefits at Luxury Hotels & Resort Collection properties

The United Gateway℠ Card is United's $0-annual-fee card, designed for those looking for the ability to earn airline miles without having to pay to keep their card each year. While you won't get perks like free checked bags or priority boarding with this card, it's worth keeping for the long haul if you want the chance to earn United miles off and on without paying for the privilege.


Best United Airlines credit card for business

United℠ Business Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Receive a 5,000-mile "better together" bonus each anniversary when you have both the United℠ Business Card and a personal United® credit card.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account so you can earn rewards faster.
  • Enjoy a free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply), 2 United Club℠ one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges.
  • $100 United® travel credit after 7 United® flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year. 

Pros

  • Solid United travel benefits for an affordable annual fee
  • Excellent sign-up bonus
  • Diverse spending bonus categories

Cons

  • Lack of travel benefits when you don't fly United
  • Infrequent travelers may not be able to justify the annual fee
  • First checked bag free on United-operated flights
  • Priority boarding
  • Two United Club one-time passes each cardholder anniversary
  • Receive 25% back on in-flight purchases
  • Earn a $100 United travel credit after qualifying flight purchases
  • Qualify for 5,000 better-together anniversary bonus miles when you have the United℠ Business Card and a personal United credit card
  • Earn Premier qualifying points (PQP)

The United℠ Business Card comes packed with benefits for small businesses, which can be fruitful for business owners who fly with the airline often. Not only that, but this card lets individuals earn United miles on their business purchases and bills, and it can be paired with a personal United credit card to boot.


Best credit card for United Airlines

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website

New Offer! Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

$550

17.74% - 24.74% Variable

720 - 850

  • New Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit can be applied to almost any type of travel
  • Complimentary access to over 1,300 airport lounges through Priority Pass™ Select
  • Solid 3X earning rates on dining and travel
  • Ability to transfer points to United or 13 other travel partners, or use through the Chase Travel Portal with a 50% bonus
  • Wide range of travel protections and coverage

Cons

  • Lacks United-specific benefits like free checked bags or priority boarding
  • Sizeable annual fee of $550
  • High APR of 17.74% - 24.74% Variable if you carry a balance

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a solid point earning rate and the potential to transfer points to your United account at a 1:1 ratio. This means you can use your miles for United flights if you want to, but you're not tied down to this option if you find a better deal.

Cardholders also get some serious travel benefits and perks, including an annual $300 travel credit and Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge access.


Runner-up for best credit card for United Airlines

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

$95

16.74% - 23.74% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 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.
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Pros

  • Solid travel protections and coverage
  • Chase points transfer to United or 13 other airline and hotel partners
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards

Cons

  • Lack of travel benefits like lounge access
  • No United-specific travel benefits
  • High APR of 16.74% - 23.74% Variable if you maintain a balance
  • Wide range of travel protections like trip cancellation and interruption coverage
  • $50 annual hotel stay credit for hotels booked through Chase
  • 25% more value when you redeem points for travel through Chase

If the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is too high for you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great general travel card alternative worth considering. You'll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that can be transferred to United (or 13 other airline and hotel partners), or used with a 25% bonus when booking travel through the Chase travel portal.


Best credit card for United Airlines lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Earns Amex Membership Rewards®

Pros

  • Earns flexible Amex Membership Rewards points that transfer to airline and hotel partners
  • Lounge access in over 1,300 airport lounges
  • Discounts on airfare through International Airline Program
  • Uber Cash and up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits (enrollment required)
  • Excellent earning rate on qualifying airfare and hotel purchases
  • Hotel savings and benefits through the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program
  • Elite status with Marriott and Hilton (enrollment required)

Cons

  • $695 annual fee puts the card out of reach for many travelers
  • Lack of earning bonuses outside qualifying airfare and hotel purchases
  • Most of its credits come with restrictions that make them difficult to use
  • Receive entry into Amex's Global Lounge Collection
  • Qualify for up to $200 in hotel credits per year on eligible bookings
  • Get up to $200 in airline incidental credits per year (enrollment required)
  • Receive up to $200 in Uber Cash (up to $15 monthly, plus $20 in December) for U.S. Uber rides and eats when you add the card to the Uber app
  • Get a $189 CLEAR credit
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership
  • Receive other valuable credits for services like Equinox (enrollment required)
  • Get automatic Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy (enrollment required)

While The Platinum Card® from American Express doesn't have any United-specific benefits, this card does have the best lounge access of any other premium travel credit card. In fact, cardholders get to enter and enjoy more than 1,300 airport lounges across 130 countries through Amex's Global Lounge Collection, including Amex Centurion lounges.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

Unlike typical credit cards, the The Platinum Card® from American Express allows you to carry a balance for some charges, but not all


Best credit card for United business travel

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

$95

16.74% - 21.74% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account

Pros

  • Huge sign-up bonus if you can meet the minimum spending requirement
  • Points transfer to United and other Chase Ultimate Rewards® partners
  • Reasonable annual fee for a flexible business credit card
  • Great earning rate on business-related purchases like online advertising and shipping

Cons

  • Doesn't come with any United flight benefits
  • High APR of 16.74% - 21.74% Variable if you carry a balance
  • Free employee cards
  • Chase points transfer to United or 13 other airline and hotel partners
  • Get 25% more value for points when you redeem for travel through Chase
  • Comes with travel insurance coverages
  • Receive cell phone protection

The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card® also works well for United since it earns points that can transfer to the airline and other partners at a 1:1 ratio. This business credit card also offers an incredibly generous bonus offer and 3X points in several popular business categories. The best part? The annual fee is only $95.

How much are United miles worth?

As a general rule, United MileagePlus miles are worth around $0.012 per mile (1,000 miles are worth $12).

However, the actual value that you get from United miles depends on how you use them. You may only get a fraction of a penny in value if you redeem for merchandise, or multiple cents per mile for business class awards.

How many United miles do you need to fly?

United eliminated its award charts in 2019 — now the number of United miles required for a flight depends on the demand for a flight and how close you book before departure.

Still, there are plenty of ways to redeem United miles for top value. For example, fly from San Francisco (SFO) to Paris, France (CDG) for just 30,000 miles each way in economy or 45,000 miles each way in premium economy.

How many United miles do you need to fly

How to choose a United Airlines credit card

As you can see, there is more than one United Airlines card to choose from. But, which one is right for you? That all depends on the perks you value the most. Let's take a look at some aspects to consider when choosing the right United card for you.

Determine how often you're likely to fly with United

While the best United Airlines credit cards tend to offer perks like a free checked bag and priority boarding, keep in mind that these benefits only apply on United flights. If you frequently fly with other airlines or you want to keep your options open, you may want to pick a flexible travel credit card that offers a broader range of perks.

Decide which travel benefits you value

Also think about which benefits you value the most, whether your goal is saving money with a benefit like free checked bags or you want airport lounge access so you can rest and relax when you have a long layover.

If you mostly want benefits when you fly with United, one of their co-branded credit cards is probably your best bet.

Consider your current elite status level

Some United cards let you earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) each time you meet specific spending thresholds throughout the year. If you don't have elite status or you want to climb to the next tier of United Premier elite status, a card that offers this benefit can be a solid choice.

Just keep in mind that earning PQPs typically requires you to spend a lot on your United card. For example, the United Quest℠ Card lets you earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 you spend on purchases with your card with a cap of 3,000 PQP per calendar year. To earn the full 3,000 PQP, you would have to spend $72,000 on your United credit card within a single calendar year.

Don't forget to look at United Airlines partners

Also keep in mind that United benefits and rewards are useful on Star Alliance partners. This is worth considering if you frequently fly internationally and want to be able to redeem your miles with as many carriers as possible. United Star Alliance partners include the following:
  • Aegean
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Egyptair
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA AIR
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airlines
  • SWISS
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines

United also partners with around a dozen airlines outside of the Star Alliance:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromar
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Airlink
  • Azul
  • Boutique Air
  • Cape Air
  • Edelweiss
  • Eurowings
  • Eurowings Discover
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Olympic Air
  • Silver Airways
  • Vistara

Combined, that's over three dozen airlines where you can redeem United miles.

Features to consider when choosing a United credit card

Next up, you'll want to consider United Airlines card features and perks as well as rewards rates and how they might apply to your spending. Consider the following factors as you pick the next United credit card for your wallet.

All the United credit cards out there today offer a sign-up bonus of some kind, but the bonuses vary in terms of their value and the minimum spending requirements to earn them. Ideally, you'll pick a United card with the biggest bonus you can reasonably attain.

Just make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirement with regular spending and bills, and that you don't have to buy things you don't need to reach the threshold.

Also look for credit cards that offer more points or miles in categories you spend the most in. If you spend a lot on dining and groceries, for example, picking a card that offers more points in these categories can leave you with more rewards at the end of the year.

No credit cards offer United Premier elite status — though some can help you earn elite status on United. You can earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) on several United credit cards. Generally, you'll earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in spending, but limits depend on the card.

For example, the United℠ Explorer Card lets you earn up to 1,000 PQP per calendar year. Meanwhile, cardholders of the United Quest℠ Card can earn up to 3,000 PQP per calendar year.

Many of the best United credit cards offer some sort of lounge access. However, the right card depends on how often you want to visit airport lounges and how much you travel through an airport with a United Club lounge.

  • Both the United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Business Card offer two one-time United Club passes each cardholder year.
  • To get access to the United Club anytime you fly with the airline, you'll want to opt for the United Club? Infinite Card, which grants the primary cardholder a full United Club membership.
  • For lounge access outside of the United Club network, you'll want to opt for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express, as both offer access to more than 1,300 lounges through Priority Pass.

For free checked bags on United, you'll want to stick to a United co-branded credit card. Both the United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Business Card offer a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and one companion when flying on United. If you often check more than one bag, opt for the United Club? Infinite Card, as it offers up to two free checked bags each time you fly United.

Many Chase United co-branded credit cards offer cardholders priority boarding on United. The United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Business Card both offer priority boarding privileges for the primary cardholder and any companion on the same reservation. Meanwhile, the United Club℠ Infinite Card offers full Premier Access benefits — which include priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage handling.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers an easy-to-use $300 travel credit each year. Meanwhile, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a $200 Airline Fee Credit, but that's only valid on qualifying purchases with your chosen airline, which you have to designate at the beginning of the year.

The only United co-branded credit card that offers a travel credit is the United℠ Business Card : You can earn a $100 United travel credit after making seven or more United flight purchases of $100 or more.

Chase credit cards offer some of the best travel protections of any card issuer, but you need to use the right card to pay for your travel.

You'll get the following travel protections on most cards featured in this roundup (the United Gateway℠ Card is an exception):

  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver

When choosing which card is right for you, there's a key choice to make between earning United miles directly or having the flexibility to use points with other airlines or hotels.

If you don't mind being limited to redeeming for United flights, the co-branded United credit cards offer some solid earning rates and sign-up bonuses. However, if you want flexibility, you'll want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Both Chase Sapphire cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. These points can be transferred to United MileagePlus or 13 other airline and hotel partners — or, you can use points to purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® at a rate of 1.25 cents per point for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders or 1.5 cents per point for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders.

If you're in a bind, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for cash back at 1 cent per point — although there are better cashback cards if that's what you're looking for.

Many of the best credit cards for United Airlines reimburse the application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. So, you may want to choose one of these cards if you don't already have one of these time-saving memberships:

  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • United Club? Infinite Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express

Most United co-branded cards also offer 25% back on in-flight purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi. If you make a lot of onboard purchases on United, these savings can really add up.

Co-branded United Airlines cards vs. flexible travel cards

While a co-branded United credit card may offer valuable perks that make it a good option for frequent United flyers, a flexible travel card may be a better value for those who want to earn free travel. Flexible travel credit cards can give you a lot more options when it comes to redeeming your rewards, and they often offer better earning rates in everyday spending categories.

For example, we compare the United℠ Explorer Card against the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card below. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to transfer points to United MileagePlus, as well as many other airline and hotel loyalty programs, making its points far more valuable. For our sample cardholder, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers nearly double the rewards value of the United℠ Explorer Card.

How to use a United Airlines credit card

  • List your MileagePlus number when applying. Make sure to add your United MileagePlus number when applying for a new United credit card — that way, the miles you earn from the card will be credited to your account and you'll start getting perks the next time you fly United. If you don't list your MileagePlus number, another account may be generated for you.
  • Pay with your United card to pay for travel. In order to get many card perks, you must pay for your flight with your United card. These include perks like free checked bag benefits and travel protections.
  • Add your United credit card to a mobile wallet. Most Chase credit cards can be added to mobile wallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. This is a way that you can still use your card even if you don't have the physical card on you.
  • Make sure to book travel with friends and family members strategically. Some United credit card perks can apply to others on your flight itinerary, so make sure you book together if you can. For example, the United℠ Explorer Card and United Quest℠ Card both offer free checked bag benefits for the cardholder and one traveling companion on the same booking.

First-year value comparison

United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card
Earning rateEarn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchasesEarn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases
Points/miles earned ($2,000 United flights, $2,000 dining, $14,000 other purchases)22,00024,000
Sign-up bonusEarn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Total points earned in the first year72,00084,000
Target redemption optionUnited award flights (worth 1.2 cents/mile)Travel purchases through Chase Travel Portal (worth around 2 cents/point when transferred to Chase travel partners)
Value of rewards$864$1,680
Annual fee$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95$95
First-year value$864$1,585
Other benefits
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
  • 25% back on United in-flight purchases
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding privileges
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Transfer points to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio
  • 25% redemption bonus on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Frequently asked questions

How do United MileagePlus miles work?

You'll earn United miles by spending using your co-branded credit card and by crediting flights on United or partner airlines to MileagePlus. Once you're earned miles, you can use them for award tickets, upgrades, other travel expenses, shopping, gift cards or experiences.

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 general travelers. Among its perks, cardholders get a free first checked bag, priority boarding and two United Club passes each year. Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, the United℠ Explorer Card offers a competitive sign-up bonus.

Does my United credit card have travel insurance?

Many United credit cards offer travel protections like baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver.

Do United credit card miles count toward status?

United miles earned through credit cards don't count toward elite status. However, many United credit cards offer the opportunity to earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for reaching certain spending thresholds. Requirements and limits vary by credit card.

Does my United credit card pay for Global Entry?

There are United co-branded credit cards that reimburse the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Some of our favorite United cards include this perk, such as the United℠ Explorer Card and the United Club? Infinite Card.

How long does it take to get a United credit card?

Plan to spend around 10 minutes filling out a United credit card application. Chase typically approves credit card applications within a minute; however, some applications may be held for further review. Once you're approved, Chase typically mails new credit cards within 10 to 14 days, though you can request expedited mailing if you need to receive your card sooner.

Should I get a United Airlines credit card?

Even infrequent travelers could benefit from getting a United card. The United℠ Explorer Card can pay for its annual fee in as little as one trip per year. The primary cardholder and one travel companion each get a free checked bag — that's up to a $140 value for each round trip. Plus, you'll get two United Club one-time passes each year, which is another $100 in value.

When do United credit card miles post?

United miles post to your MileagePlus account each month. Miles usually show up a few days after your statement closes. However, bonus miles may take six to eight weeks after qualifying to post to your mileage account.

Can you have more than one United credit card?

You can have more than one United credit card, although you'll probably want to stagger your applications over a matter of months or years. This is due to the fact the Chase 5/24 rule prevents you from getting new credit cards if you have had five or more cards from any issuer in the last 24 months. By taking your time to apply for several United cards or Chase Ultimate Rewards® cards over the span of a year or longer, you can increase your approval odds.

Recap of the best United Airlines credit cards for 2022

Methodology

To make choosing the right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin, as well as cards on major issuer sites, to compile a list of the best United credit cards available right now.

Our recommendations are based on the following criteria:

APR

How the card's annual percentage rate (APR) compares to other cards in its category and whether or not there is a low interest intro offer on purchases and/or balance transfers.

Sign-up bonus

Whether or not a card comes with a welcome offer or sign-up bonus, how easy it is to earn the bonus, how valuable is the bonus overall.

Ongoing rewards

Whether or not the card offers rewards, the type of rewards (points, miles, cash back), and the rewards earning rate.

Airline perks

For airline cards, airline perks are a large part of a card's value. These include things like free checked bags, lounge membership, elite status, and airline and hotel perks.

Additional benefits

We also consider the value of additional benefits, like travel and purchase protections and credits for travel purchases.

Annual fee

Whether or not a card charges an annual fee, if the fee is waived for the first year, and if the card benefits offset or outweigh the annual fee.

Flexibility of rewards

We also consider the flexibility of the rewards that you earn, giving preference to cards that allow you to redeem rewards with multiple airlines versus only United Airlines.

Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

These responses 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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).