BEST CREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDSBEST UNITED AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS OF JUNE 2024
BEST OF

Best United Airlines Credit Cards of June 2024

Updated: May 24, 2024

Take a look at our top picks, then let us walk you through making the decision.

Craig Joseph
Written by
Lead Writer
Erin Hurd
Reviewed by
Assigning Editor
Paul Soucy
Edited by
Fact Checked
Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
Craig Joseph
Written by
Lead Writer
Erin Hurd
Reviewed by
Assigning Editor
Paul Soucy
Edited by
Fact Checked
Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
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NerdWallet's Best United Airlines Credit Cards of June 2024

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Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Our pick for

Most United flyers

Our pick for

VIP lounge access

Our pick for

Elevated benefits

Our pick for

No annual fee

Our pick for

Point transfers and flexibility

Our pick for

Business travelers

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR UNITED AIRLINES

Confirm details on issuer's website before applying.

United℠ Explorer Card

Our pick for: Most United flyers

The United℠ Explorer Card earns bonus rewards not only on spending with United Airlines but also at restaurants and on eligible hotel stays. And the perks are outstanding for a basic airline card — a free checked bag, priority boarding, lounge passes and more. Read our review.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases from United.

  • 2 miles per dollar on restaurant purchases.

  • 2 miles per dollar on hotel accommodations purchased directly with the hotel.

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • First checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • Two United Club one-time use passes per year.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck statement credit every four years.

  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.

  • Primary rental car insurance.

  • 25% back on in-flight purchases.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

. . .

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Our pick for: VIP lounge access

The signature benefit on the United Club℠ Infinite Card is membership in United Airlines' lounge network, but you also get two free checked bags apiece for you and a companion, plus other benefits to make travel more enjoyable. Read our review.

  • 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases.

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining.

  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • United Club membership.

  • First and second checked bags free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • Premier access. Not just priority boarding, this also includes priority check-in, baggage handling and security screening (where available).

  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck statement credit every four years.

  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.

  • Primary rental car insurance.

  • 25% back on in-flight purchases.

  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

. . .

United Quest℠ Card

Our pick for: Elevated benefits

The United Quest℠ Card occupies a solid middle ground between United's entry-level cards and the airline's pricey lounge card. You earn more miles and get some nicer perks than with the more basic cards, but you'll pay a higher fee too. That fee can be significantly offset with an annual United credit. Read our review.

  • 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases.

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel, dining and select streaming services.

  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • First and second checked bags free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • Priority boarding.

  • $125 in annual statement credit for United Airlines purchases.

  • Global Entry, TSA Precheck or NEXUS statement credit every four years.

  • Up to two 5,000-mile credits each anniversary year after booking a flight with miles.

  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.

  • Primary rental car insurance.

  • 25% back on in-flight purchases.

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

. . .

United Gateway℠ Card

Our pick for: No annual fee

This entry-level card gives occasional leisure flyers who prefer United Airlines a way to try out an airline credit card for free. Unlike a lot of cards in its class, it won't cost anything to carry, even if you seldom use it. But it lacks valuable airline-card perks, such as free checked bags and early boarding. Read our review. 

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases from United.

  • 2 miles per dollar at gas stations.

  • 2 miles per dollar on transit and commuting.

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • 25% back on in-flight purchases.

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

. . .

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our pick for: Point transfers and flexibility

For a reasonable annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns bonus rewards (up to 5X) on travel, dining, select streaming services, and select online grocery purchases. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them to about a dozen airline and hotel partners. The sign-up bonus is stellar, too. Read our review. 

  • 5 points per dollar spent on travel booked through Chase.

  • 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025).

  • 3 points per dollar on dining.

  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.

  • 3 points per dollar on online grocery orders (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

  • 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through Chase.

  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

  • Redeem points for travel booked through Chase at a value of 1.25 cents apiece.

  • Transfer points to United or a dozen other airline or hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio.

  • $50 in statement credit every anniversary year for hotel stays booked through Chase. (Note: You won't receive rewards points for the $50 in spending that gets reimbursed via this credit.)

  • 10% annual points bonus: Each anniversary, earn points equal to 10% of your spending in the past year. Spend $10,000, for example, get 1,000 bonus points.

  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.

  • Primary rental car insurance.

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

🤓Nerdy Tip

How to earn 5X United miles with other airlines: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 5 points per dollar when you purchase travel through Chase. That includes flights, hotel stays, car rentals and more. So you could use the card to book a flight on any airline through Chase, earn the 5X points, then swap those points for United miles.

. . .

United℠ Business Card

Our pick for: Business travelers

The United℠ Business Card is a stand-out option for frequent business flyers, particularly those loyal to United. Cardholders earn rewards on everyday spending, like dining, gas stations and transit. A sign-up bonus, plus no annual fee for the first year, sweeten the pot. Learn more and apply.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent with United.

  • 2 miles per dollar on dining.

  • 2 miles per dollar at gas stations and on local transit and commuting.

  • 2 miles per dollar at office supply stores.

  • 1 miles per dollar on other spending.

  • First checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • Two United Club one-time use passes per year.

  • Priority boarding.

  • $100 United travel credit after booking seven flights of at least $100 in an anniversary year.

  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.

  • Primary rental car insurance.

  • 25% back on in-flight purchases.

  • 5,000-point bonus each year if you have both this card and a personal United card.

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

• • •

OTHER RESOURCES

How to choose the right United Airlines card for you

The four United Airlines consumer credit cards from Chase include a basic card with no annual fee, a premium card with a high-end price tag and two in-between cards with varying in-between fees. All four cards earn MileagePlus miles on spending, which you can redeem for free flights, seat upgrades, lounge passes and more.

The higher the annual fee, the more you'll get. Consider how often you fly and how much you'll use the perks. Here's a quick summary of how they stack up:

United Gateway℠ Card

United℠ Explorer Card

United Quest℠ Card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

ANNUAL FEE

$0.

$0 intro for the first year, then $95.

$250.

$525.

BONUS OFFER FOR NEW CARDHOLDERS

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

Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

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

FREE CHECKED BAGS

None.

First checked bag free for you and one companion on your reservation.

First and second checked bags free for you and one companion on your reservation.

First and second checked bags free for you and one companion on your reservation.

REWARDS ON SPENDING WITH UNITED AIRLINES

2 miles per $1.

2 miles per $1.

3 miles per $1.

4 miles per $1.

REWARDS ON OTHER SPENDING

• 2 miles per $1 at gas stations.

• 2 miles per $1 on local transit and commuting.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 at restaurants.

• 2 miles per $1 on hotels (when booked directly with the hotel).

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel (including other airlines, hotels, car rentals and more).

• 2 miles per $1 on dining (including takeout and delivery).

• 2 miles per $1 on select streaming services.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on all other travel.

• 2 miles per $1 on dining.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

None.

2 United Club one-time passes each year.

None.

Annual membership to all United Club locations, plus select Star Alliance lounges.

CREDIT FOR TSA PRECHECK, GLOBAL ENTRY OR NEXUS

None.

Up to $100 every four years.

Up to $100 every four years.

Up to $100 every four years.

Key points of difference

Annual fee

Don't count a card out just because it has an annual fee — even a high one. The more you pay, the more you'll usually get in terms of the miles you earn and the perks you'll enjoy.

For example, regular travelers can save enough on checked bag fees to more than make up for the annual fee on the United℠ Explorer Card. (More on this below.) If you’re a heavy traveler who eats several meals a month at the airport, you could eat for free in the airport lounges that the United Club℠ Infinite Card gives you access to and come out on top despite the high annual fee.

The United Quest℠ Card offers more United-specific perks that can effectively reduce the $250 annual fee. When you use the card to make eligible United charges, you'll get up to $125 back in statement credits each year. Plus, when you redeem United miles, you’ll get 5,000 miles back on eligible United flights — up to two times every anniversary year.

NerdWallet values United miles at 1.2 cents each. That means those 5,000 miles you could get as a rebate for holding the card are worth roughly $50, with the potential to earn back about $100 in United travel.

That said, you’ll have to weigh how much you’ll use the extras to see if it makes sense for you.

Rewards

The United Club℠ Infinite Card earns 4 miles per dollar spent on United purchases, which is twice as much as you get with the United℠ Explorer Card or the United Gateway℠ Card. If you spent $5,000 in a year on United airfare, you would earn 20,000 miles with the United Club℠ Infinite Card, compared with 10,000 miles on the other cards.

None of the cards offer standout earnings in other categories — 2 miles per dollar is the best you'll do.

If you spend a good chunk of change eating out, the United℠ Explorer Card and the United Club℠ Infinite Card cards will earn 2X on dining. But if you drive a lot, the 2X on gas from the United Gateway℠ Card can help fill up your MileagePlus account. And only the United Quest℠ Card offers 2X on streaming services.

Free checked bags

Bag fees can add up, but three of the four United cards can save regular travelers a tidy sum. Put it this way: If you have the United℠ Explorer Card, a round-trip flight with a companion will completely cover the cost of the annual fee.

The potential savings go even higher with the United Club℠ Infinite Card and United Quest℠ Card: These cards cover the fees for the first and second checked bags for you and one travel companion.

The United Gateway℠ Card doesn't offer free checked bags.

VIP treatment

If you like having time to settle into your seat and get dibs on the overhead compartments, this perk will appeal to you. Holders of the United℠ Explorer Card and United Quest℠ Card (and any companions traveling with them) are eligible for priority boarding on United flights.

The United Club℠ Infinite Card kicks the red carpet treatment up a notch. Not only will cardholders get priority boarding on United flights, but they’ll also get priority check-in, security screening and baggage handling.

The United℠ Explorer Card, United Quest℠ Card and the United Club℠ Infinite Card also give a credit of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA Precheck — services designed to make your travel experience smoother and faster at security checkpoints.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Want to build up MileagePlus miles for your small business? United offers more than just personal credit cards. Check out the United℠ Business Card for United-loyal entrepreneurs.

Airport lounge access

For regular travelers, use of United's airport lounges could be the deciding factor when choosing a card. United Club lounges are a quiet place to relax before a flight with snacks, light meals, beverages and sometimes even showers. The United Club℠ Infinite Card comes with an annual membership, and it allows you to bring one adult and dependent children under 21, or up to two guests, into any United Club location.

If you fly through an airport with a United Club lounge often, you and your traveling companions could enjoy substantial value from this premium perk. But if your home airport doesn’t have a United Club lounge, or you fly only a few times a year, it may not make sense.

Occasional travelers can get a taste of the good life with the United℠ Explorer Card, which comes with two one-time lounge passes each year.

Though the United Quest℠ Card has a $250 annual fee, it lacks any lounge access perks at all. You could, however, use your card to pay for access to a United Club and be reimbursed up to $125 with the card's annual statement credit.

What these cards have in common

25% back on United in-flight purchases

If you hold any of the United credit cards, you’ll get a 25% rebate when purchasing an in-flight snack, drink or Wi-Fi connection. Use your United card to pay on board, and you’ll receive a statement credit for 25% of the total.

Clear program discount

Travelers can save time at some airports (not to mention select arenas, stadiums and Hertz rental car locations) by using Clear, a biometric ID system. Memberships to Clear usually run $189 a year, but United credit card holders can get a discounted rate of $109 by adding their United MileagePlus number to the Clear subscription. If you already have a Clear account that was created or renewed within the past 60 days, you’ll receive a refund for the difference.

Foreign transaction fees

The United Gateway℠ Card, United℠ Explorer Card, United Quest℠ Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card are all good traveling companions when you’re going abroad. You won’t pay foreign transaction fees on any of the cards.

Trip cancellation and interruption protection

You’ll get some trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance coverage from all four of these United credit cards, though the amounts vary by card:

  • United Gateway℠ Card, United Quest℠ Card and United℠ Explorer Card: Eligible for up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable fares.

  • United Club℠ Infinite Card: Eligible for up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable fares.

The United℠ Explorer Card, United Quest℠ Card and the United Club℠ Infinite Card also have some extra travel protections, like auto rental collision damage waivers and lost luggage reimbursement, that the United Gateway℠ Card doesn't offer.

Which United credit card should you choose?

If you’re only a casual United flyer, you probably won’t get enough value from the United Club℠ Infinite Card to make it worth the high fee.

If you're a loyal United flyer but don't value all the bells and whistles that come with the United Club℠ Infinite Card, the United Quest℠ Card is a strong contender. And if you'll use the $125 United statement credit and two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits, the $250 annual fee can be effectively reduced to just $25.

For most people, though, the choice comes down to the United Gateway℠ Card and the United℠ Explorer Card. If you check bags on your United flights a couple times a year, your baggage savings will likely outweigh the annual fee. And the United℠ Explorer Card gives a better sign-up bonus to help your MileagePlus balance take flight.

If you don’t check bags, aren’t excited about the two United Club passes and just want a no-cost way to earn miles, the United Gateway℠ Card could be a better choice.

It's also worth considering whether a more flexible travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card works better for your travel style. When you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can transfer them to United or use them for hotel stays, rental cars, vacation packages and more.

• • •

NerdWallet's Erin Hurd contributed to this article.

Last updated on May 24, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best credit cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen as among the "best" in multiple categories. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

Frequently asked questions

The United Gateway℠ Card has an annual fee of $0. However, the benefits you get with this card are fairly thin compared with those on other United cards. Most notably, you don't get any free checked bags — a perk that can easily make up for the fee on the airline's standard card, the United℠ Explorer Card. Still, if you're dead-set against paying an annual fee and you're just looking to earn miles between occasional trips, it's a decent option.

The United Club℠ Infinite Card gives you and your eligible guests access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance-affiliated lounges worldwide. That VIP perk comes at a VIP price, though: an annual fee of $525.

For an occasional taste of the lounge life, consider the United℠ Explorer Card. Cardholders get two one-time passes to the United Club each year.

Most United credit cards offer a checked-bag benefit. The exception is the $0-annual-fee United Gateway℠ Card.

CONSUMER CARDS

  • United Gateway℠ Card (annual fee $0): No free checked bags.

  • United℠ Explorer Card (annual fee $0 intro for the first year, then $95): First checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • United Quest℠ Card (annual fee $250): First and second checked bags free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • United Club℠ Infinite Card (annual fee $525): First and second checked bags free for you and a companion on your reservation.

BUSINESS CARDS

  • United℠ Business Card (annual fee $0 intro for the first year, then $99): First checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation.

  • United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee $450): First and second checked bags free for you and a companion on your reservation.

You'll need good to excellent credit to qualify for a United Airlines credit card. That's generally defined as a credit score of 690 or better. It's important to understand, though, that credit scores aren't the only factor that credit card issuers take into account when evaluating applications. They'll also look at things like your income and your other debts. Chase, the bank that issues United Airlines cards, also looks at how many other cards you've opened recently under a policy referred to as 5/24.

Each United Airlines credit card comes with a bonus offer: Spend a certain amount in the first few months with the card, and you'll get a pile of miles deposited into your account with United's frequent-flyer program, MileagePlus. Current bonus offers for United credit cards:

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

  • United℠ Explorer Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • United Quest℠ Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • United Club℠ Infinite Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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Craig Joseph

Craig Joseph is a NerdWallet authority on credit cards. His work has been featured by the Associated Press, Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. Read more
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