United Business Card: Rewards, Perks Make Up for Fee

Cardholders get a checked-bag benefit and limited airport lounge access, plus bonus spending categories that are useful to small-business owners.

Gregory KarpSeptember 17, 2020

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This page includes information about one or more products not currently available on NerdWallet:

  • Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

  • Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated offers.

Our Take

4.1

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Business owners who fly United frequently can save money with this card. And unlike many airline cards, it’s useful for everyday spending. But it ties you to a single airline.

Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer Business Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Regular APR

16.49% - 23.49% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Alternate Pick: Greater flexibility

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Transfer points to United, or use elsewhere

Earn 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 a year in combined spending on travel; shipping; Internet, cable and telephone service; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. You can transfer points to several airline and hotel loyalty programs, including United. But you won't get airline-specific perks. Annual fee: $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

16.49% - 23.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

For business owners who fly United Airlines, the United℠ Business Card can be a practical, helpful travel companion with benefits that easily outstrip the cost of its annual fee.

The card can help ease common business-travel headaches while flying United. That, perhaps, is most important when it comes to your luggage, whether you check it or take it aboard. And compared with other airline credit cards, its bonus-rewards categories are highly useful, not only for business travel but for everyday use. That makes it practical for entrepreneurial types with side hustles.

Still, its flexibility for redeeming rewards is limited compared with a general travel card that’s untethered to a single airline.

United℠ Business Card: Basics and benefits

Card type: Airline and small business.

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Rewards:

  • 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on purchases from United (including airfare, bag fees, seat upgrades, and in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi).

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including taxis, mass transit, tolls and rideshare services.

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

NerdWallet values United miles at 0.8 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.8 cent or more in value from your United miles.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 16.49% - 23.49% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits: 

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

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

  • 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary when you have a personal United credit card as well as the United℠ Business Card.

  • $100 annual United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more.

  • 25% back on United inflight purchases, including Wi-Fi, food and beverages.

Where the United℠ Business Card shines

Bonus rewards

Unlike some other airline credit cards, the United℠ Business Card earns double miles on more than just purchases with the airline. You'll also earn 2 miles per dollar spent on other spending categories relevant to business owners:

  • Restaurant purchases.

  • Gas stations.

  • Office supply stores.

  • Transit and commuting.

That can make the card more valuable for everyday spending. It just might be the most useful compilation of bonus categories you’ll find on a business credit card for a major airline.

Free checked bags

The United℠ Business Card offers a first checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation. That can save as much as $140 on a round-trip flight for you and a traveling partner ($35 per person each way when you don’t prepay bag fees.) That's more than enough to cover the cost of the card's annual fee.

Note: You get this perk only if you paid for the airfare with the United℠ Business Card.

Priority boarding

The United℠ Business Card can get you on the plane earlier thanks to its priority boarding benefit. So even if you don't have bags to check, you can get on the plane sooner while there’s still space in the overhead bin for your carry-on.

Rich sign-up bonus

Sign-up bonuses can change but typically give you at least enough miles for a free domestic flight in economy class.

The current bonus: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Other perks

The United℠ Business Card comes with a few other notable perks:

  • Airport lounge passes: You get two free United Club passes annually. Typically, you'd pay $59 for just one day pass, so the value of this perk alone surpasses the card's annual fee.

  • Primary car rental insurance: You'll have to pay for the rental with your United℠ Business Card and decline the rental company's coverage. But the coverage is primary, so it kicks in before your own auto insurance, a relatively rare benefit.

  • Money back for United loyalists. The card has a $100 annual United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more. It’s yet another benefit that alone pays for the annual fee. The card also gives 25% back on United in-flight purchases, including Wi-Fi, food and beverages.

United℠ Business Card: Drawbacks and alternatives

Annual fee

It's hard to find a co-branded airline credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee, although some do exist. With the United℠ Business Card, the annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

An option with an annual fee of $0 is the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card. It gets you 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases and 3 points per dollar on travel purchases booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. Points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed to cover travel purchases made on the card. And if you're enrolled in the issuer's Preferred Rewards for Business program — which you can qualify for if you keep enough money with the bank — you can earn up to 2.62 points per dollar spent.

For United specifically, your choice is the United℠ TravelBank Card with an annual fee of $0. But it’s a card aimed at travel beginners and lacks important benefits, including free checked bags. It also earns its own rewards currency, not MileagePlus airline miles.

Checked-bag allowance

While you'll get free checked bags with the United℠ Business Card, it's stingier than business credit cards from other large airlines; you'll get only two bag-fee waivers. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, for comparison, offers the first bag free for you and up to eight other passengers on your reservation.

Reward redemptions

General travel business credit cards — the kind that don’t have an airline name on them — let you redeem rewards for a variety of different travel expenses. With the United℠ Business Card, your best redemption options are award flights and seat upgrades on United and its Star Alliance partners.

If you don't fly exclusively with United, a general travel card could work better. A good choice for small businesses is the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. And if you want a luxury card option, a great general travel card for business is the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, with an annual fee of $595.

Consider United’s personal card

If you don’t necessarily need a business credit card, you might consider the similar personal version of the mainstream United Airlines card, the United℠ Explorer Card. It also earns double points on United purchases but has slightly different additional double-points categories — restaurants and hotel stays. It has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

It also has a few more perks than checked bags and early boarding. For example, it offers a credit of up to $100 for applying to airport security programs Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years. The business version does not include those perks, and more generally, personal cards offer more consumer protections than business credit cards. On the other hand, while sign-up bonuses can change often, they tend to be higher on the business version of the card, along with a higher amount of required spending. That could be a reason to hold both a personal and business card. Another reason: 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary when you have a personal United credit card as well as the United℠ Business Card.

Is the United℠ Business Card right for you?

The United℠ Business Card offers useful rewards and perks for United business flyers who can quickly make up for the annual fee.

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