Is a United Credit Card Worth It?

Depending on your travel habits and how much flexibility you want from your points, a card might be worth it.
Mar 28, 2022

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United Airlines is one of the largest airline companies in the United States, so it’s likely you have flown on or at least heard of it. Being such a major player in the travel game, United has hubs all across the country. You can find them in San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, D.C., Guam and Newark, New Jersey.

If you live near a United hub or fly to one often, you may be wondering, “Is a United credit card worth it?”

Below, we discuss what United credit cards are available and whether signing up for one is a smart money move.

Available United credit cards

United Airlines and Chase have partnered to offer a number of credit cards, both for personal and business use. Below is a list of the current credit cards available:

Personal United credit cards

  • United Gateway℠ Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • United℠ Explorer Card (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95): 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.

  • United Quest℠ Card (annual fee: $250): Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • United Club℠ Infinite Card (annual fee: $525): Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Business United credit cards

  • United℠ Business Card (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Before applying for a United credit card, be sure to look into each card’s unique perks and consider the annual fee and bonus miles.

How United credit cards work

United credit cards are linked to your United MileagePlus account. This means that any miles earned from your United credit card (including from monthly spend and bonus miles) will be deposited directly into your MileagePlus account and, so long as you add your MileagePlus account number to your United reservation, you’ll receive any flight and lounge benefits that come with your United credit card when you fly United.

According to NerdWallet’s most recent valuations, United MileagePlus miles are worth 1 cent per mile if you’re booking a seat in the main cabin. The value per mile increases to 2.4 cents each if you’re booking a seat in business class.

In addition to being able to redeem United MileagePlus miles on United flights, you can also redeem your miles for flights on 37 other airlines (25 through the Star Alliance, 12 through independent partnerships). United's partner airlines include Swiss Airlines, Air New Zealand, EVA Airways, Avianca Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines.

This means the miles you earn with United cards can help take you to destinations around the globe.

The specific benefits you get and the amount of miles you earn with your United credit card, from bonus miles to the miles you’ll get for spending in certain categories (like restaurants, hotels and on United flights), vary depending on the card you have.

How to determine if a United credit card is worth it

To help decide if a United credit card is worth it, there are a number of factors to consider based on your personal travel habits and budget.

Do you regularly fly on United or United-partner airlines?

Since a lot of value from United credit cards come from flights benefits, bonus miles and United miles that you earn from everyday spending, a United credit card will likely only be worth it if you regularly fly on United or on United-partner airlines (since you can redeem your miles for partner flights).

If you don’t regularly fly United now but live near a hub or fly to one often, a United credit card may be worth it if you’re willing to start flying United and its partners more.

Do you value the benefits offered by United credit cards?

Before signing up for a United credit card, it’s important to look into the benefits offered by each card and to pick one that offers features that you value.

For instance, do you care about free checked luggage, priority boarding or lounge access? If so, then a United credit card may be right for you.

Are you trying to earn elite status with United Airlines?

If you’re already a frequent flier of United and are trying to earn or maintain United Premier elite status, some United credit cards offer a helpful path to earning status.

For instance, you earn up to 3,000 Premier Qualifying Points towards United elite status each year with the United Quest℠ Card. Status seekers should keep this benefit in mind when deciding whether to get a United credit card.

Who should skip a United credit card?

A United credit card isn’t for everyone, and you should consider skipping a United credit card if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You rarely fly United or its partner airlines. Since many of the benefits you get from United cards are related to United flights or redeeming United miles, a United credit card isn’t the best fit if you don’t fly or have no plans to fly United or any of its partner airlines in the near future.

  • You prefer to have more options with the points you earn from credit card spending. Instead of earning United miles with your credit card spend, you may prefer a credit card that gives you points that offer a wider range of redemption options. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns points that not only can be transferred to United MileagePlus miles but can also be transferred to other airlines — or be used to help pay off your credit card balance.

  • You prefer to optimize flight selection for cost, not benefits. If you prefer to book the cheapest flight to your destination regardless of carrier, then a more general travel credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card mentioned above, will likely better serve your travel style.

If you're considering a United credit card

United offers a number of personal and business credit cards that can be valuable depending on your budget and travel needs. Before signing up for a United credit card, you should look into the unique benefits offered by each card, your current travel habits, your anticipated spend and your budget to determine what, if any, United card is right for you.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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