Best United Airlines Credit Cards of January 2022

Best United Airlines Credit Cards of January 2022

We think the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the best option for collecting United miles. It offers vaulabe 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.

Top United Airlines credit cards of 2022

Best for free checked bags:

United℠ Explorer Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Best 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.

Best for United airline miles:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

New to United Airlines credit cards?

United's extensive co-branded credit card portfolio includes a "gateway" option with no annual fee to a credit card with full United Club lounge membership as one of its many benefits. It's worth comparing United's co-branded cards to Chase's portfolio of Ultimate Rewards credit cards, as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer to United, to find your best United airlines credit card.

Compare the best United Airlines credit cards of 2022

Welcome offer
Earning rate
Annual fee
Free checked bags: United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
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On Chase's Secure Website
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Best United Airlines credit card for free checked bags

United℠ Explorer Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

16.49% to 23.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 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

Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

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Our thoughts

The United℠ Explorer Card is United's core credit card for consumers, offering a range of benefits that can more than offset the card's annual fee for United flyers. For example, United charges $30 ($35 at the airport) for a first checked bag, so you'll more than make up the annual fee ($0 Intro for the First Year, then $95) after just two round-trips with a checked bag — or one round-trip with a travel companion.

Additional benefits are just icing on the cake. You'll get priority boarding and 25% off in-flight purchases on United, as well as two United Club one-time passes each year — which can come in handy during a long layover or for a special trip. Plus, get a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement every four years.

Cardholders also earn a fair number of miles on restaurants and hotels: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Airline benefits: Free checked bag, priority boarding, 25% back on in-flight purchases, two United Club passes

  • $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
  • 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 16.49% to 23.49% Variable if you carry a balance

Best credit card for United Club access

United Club℠ Infinite Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$525

16.49% - 23.49% 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.

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

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Our thoughts

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.

In addition to a United Club membership, you'll get up to two free checked bags on United, 25% back on in-flight purchases and Premier upgrades on award tickets. Plus, you'll get United Premier Access benefits like priority check-in and priority boarding. It also includes a host of non-United benefits, like Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle elite status, access to Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection and up to a $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.

Finally, cardholders earn 4X miles on United purchases: Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Airline benefits: United Club membership, up to two free checked bags, priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage handling, upgrades on award tickets for Premier elite members, 25% back on United in-flight purchases

  • 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
  • A hefty $525 annual fee puts this card out of reach for many travelers
  • High APR of 16.49% - 23.49% Variable if you roll over a balance
  • Most travel benefits don't apply when traveling on other airlines

Best United Airlines credit card for elite status

United Quest℠ Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$250

16.49% to 23.49% 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.

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

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Our thoughts

If you're chasing elite status with United Airlines, 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 the annual fee is on the high side, the card offers a $125 statement credit for United purchases that applies toward airfare. By using the card to purchase United tickets, you could easily wipe out half the annual fee. Not to mention, it comes with other plush perks for frequent United flyers, including up to two free checked bags on each flight and complimentary Premier Upgrades when available.

Airline benefits: Up to $125 United statement credit, two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits, up to two free checked bags, priority boarding, complimentary Premier Upgrades, 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in net purchases (3,000 maximum), 25% on in-flight purchases

  • 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
  • Earn up to 3,000 PQPs each year
  • 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
  • $250 annual fee
  • Most benefits don't apply to other airlines

Best United Airlines credit card with no annual fee

United Gateway℠ Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$0

16.49% - 23.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 20,000 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

Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

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Our thoughts

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 a fee. However, you won't get perks like free checked bags or priority boarding with this card.

Still, the United Gateway℠ Card does offer some appealing spending category bonuses: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. While you will find more rewarding annual-fee cards, it's not a bad way to go if you're opposed to paying one.

Airline benefits: 25% back on United in-flight purchases

  • $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
  • Lack of travel benefits — on United or any airline
  • Some travelers may be better served by another travel card

Best United Airlines business credit card

United℠ Business Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$99

16.49% - 23.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn up to 150,000 bonus miles
  • Earn 75,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Earn an additional 75,000 miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first 6 months.
  • Receive a 5,000-mile "better together" bonus each anniversary when you have both the UnitedSM 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 ClubSM one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for one year with DashPass, DoorDash's membership service. Activate by 3/20/22.
  • $100 United travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year.

Earn up to 150,000 bonus miles. Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first 6 months your account is open.

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Our thoughts

The United℠ Business Card comes packed with benefits for small businesses. When flying United, the primary cardholder gets a first checked bag free, priority boarding and two United Club one-time passes each cardholder anniversary. There's no fee for employee cards, and all cards on the account earn 25% back on in-flight purchases.

Your business doesn't have to pay a sizable annual fee for these perks. The annual fee is $99. That annual fee can effectively be negated by making seven United flight purchases of $100 or more in a card anniversary year to earn a $100 United travel credit.

It also features a pretty good earning rate: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining, at gas stations, office supply stores and local transit and commuting. Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, there's a great sign-up bonus: Earn up to 150,000 bonus miles. Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first 6 months your account is open.

Airline benefits: Free first checked bag, priority boarding, two United Club one-time passes, 25% back on in-flight purchases, $100 United travel credit after eligible purchases

  • Solid United travel benefits for an affordable annual fee
  • Excellent sign-up bonus
  • Diverse spending bonus categories
  • Lack of travel benefits when you don't fly United
  • Infrequent travelers may not be able to justify the annual fee

Best credit card for United Airlines miles

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website

$550

16.99%-23.99% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 50,000 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®
  • $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, 50,000 points are worth $750 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 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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Our thoughts

Some may be surprised to see a non-United-branded card as our best credit card for United Airlines miles. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a solid point earning rate and 1:1 point transfers to United. Add in a $300 travel credit, access to over 1,300 lounges through Priority Pass™ Select and excellent travel protections, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a strong contender as a general travel card for United flyers.

The card's earning rate is much stronger than any of the United co-branded cards: Earn 5x points on flights and 10x points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can transfer those points to United and redeem them as United miles, and you can use them for travel on any other airline. You also get a 50% bonus on those points when you redeem them for travel through the Chase travel portal, making them worth at least 1.5 cents each.

Airline benefits: $300 travel credit, Priority Pass™ Select lounge membership

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 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 12 other travel partners, or use through the Chase Travel Portal with a 50% bonus
  • Wide range of travel protections and coverage
  • Lacks United-specific benefits like free checked bags or priority boarding
  • Sizeable annual fee of $550

Runner-up card for United Airlines miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$95

15.99% - 22.99% 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.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 03/31/22.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.

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®.

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Our thoughts

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 12 other airline and hotel partners), or used with a 25% bonus when buying travel through the Chase travel portal.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers great travel protections no matter which airline you fly. For some cardholders, it's worth paying the card's $95 annual fee just for these travel protections (note, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® also offers these protections):

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance — up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • Baggage delay reimbursement — up to $100 per day (maximum of five) on delays over 6 hours
  • Trip delay reimbursement — up to $500 per ticket on delays of more than 12 hours
  • Travel and emergency assistance services

Though not as rewarding as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card still offers a good earning rate on dining and travel, not to mention more flexible points: Earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases.

  • Solid travel protections and coverage
  • Chase points transfer to United or 12 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
  • Lack of travel benefits like lounge access
  • No United-specific travel benefits
  • High APR of 15.99% - 22.99% Variable if you maintain a balance

Best non-United Airlines credit card for lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • 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.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, 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.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now 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 select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

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

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Our thoughts

The Platinum Card® from American Express may be the ultimate travel card. There’s a hefty annual fee, but you will get a ton of perks, including access to over 1,300 airport lounges across 140 countries through Amex's Global Lounge Collection, including Amex Centurion lounges.

The Platinum Card® from American Express also helps you save. Use the International Airline Program to save on flights on over two dozen airlines. Get up to $200 per year in Uber Cash ($15 per month, plus an additional $20 in December) — which can be used for U.S. Uber rides and U.S. Uber Eats deliveries when you add the card to the Uber app. Plus, thanks to an application fee reimbursement, you can get TSA Precheck or Global Entry for no out-of-pocket cost.

On the other hand, bonus points are limited to directly-booked flights and travel booked through Amex Travel. Still, keep in mind that Amex points, like Chase points, are very valuable and flexible — you can transfer them to 20-plus travel loyalty programs.

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

  • Lounge access to 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)
  • $695 annual fee puts the card out of reach for many travelers
  • Lack of earning bonuses outside qualifying airfare and hotel purchases

How to choose the right United Airlines credit card

As you can see, there are a lot of great credit card options for United travelers. 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.

Elite status

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 earns up to 1,000 PQP per calendar year. Meanwhile, cardholders of the United Quest℠ Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card can earn up to 3,000 PQP per calendar year.

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Lounge access

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, 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 over 1,300 lounges through Priority Pass.

Free checked bags

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.

Priority boarding privileges

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.

Travel credits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers an easy-to-use $300 travel credit each year. Meanwhile, the 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.

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Travel insurance

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

Redemption options

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®.

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Both Chase Sapphire cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. These points can be transferred to United MileagePlus or 12 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.

Other card benefits

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 inflight purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi. If you make a lot of onboard purchases on United, these savings can really add up.

How to compare credit cards for United Airlines

Let's break down two of the best credit card options to compare the value proposition for the first year of card membership.

First-year value comparison

United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earning rateEarn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases5x 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)22,00022,000
Sign-up bonusEarn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 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 year82,00082,000
Target redemption optionUnited award flights (worth 1.2 cents/mile)Travel purchases through Chase Travel Portal (worth 1.25 cents/point)
Value of rewards$984$984
Annual fee$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95$95
First-year value$984$889
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
  • Free DashPass subscription for one year
  • 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
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On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

How much are United miles worth?

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, 45,000 miles each way in premium economy or 60,000 miles in United Polaris business class:

How many United miles do you need to fly

United Airlines partners

United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, a partnership between 26 airlines from around the globe. As part of the Star Alliance agreement, frequent flyer members can redeem miles for awards on any of the 26 airlines. That means you can use United MileagePlus miles not just for United flights, but for flights with any of these other 25 airlines:

  • 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

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

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

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

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.

United Airlines credit card FAQs

Still have questions about United Airlines credit cards? No worries. Here are answers to some 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 seven to 10 business 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 post a few days after your statement closes. However, bonus miles may take six to eight weeks after qualifying to post to your mileage account.

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

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

Recap of the best United Airlines credit cards for January 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 additional value you can earn with the cards — including the rewards value, cost of ownership and value of benefits, such as free checked bags and airport lounge access. Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers.

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).