Best Chase United Credit Cards: Comparing the Benefits and Perks

United Polaris Lie-Flat Seat

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Chase offers 4 co-branded cards with United Airlines: 2 personal cards and 2 business cards.

When we talk about Chase cards, we often focus on how to earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points. However, there are several benefits that come with the Chase United cards that should not be ignored. Let’s dig into each of these United cards and see what you get.

Chase United Credit Cards

Whether looking for a card for your personal use or one for your business, there are several premium or high-end cards in the United portfolio.

UnitedSM Explorer Card (Learn More)
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

The following reviews will help you decided which card is right for you.

United Explorer℠ Card

Probably the most popular United card is the United Explorer℠ Card. This card comes with a sign-up bonus to get you started with a nice stash of United miles, and there are several other useful benefits.

When you use this card to purchase a ticket on United, you will receive your first checked bag for free. Additionally, 1 traveling companion on your itinerary will also receive a free checked bag. This could save you up to $100 in checked bag fees charged by United.

Cardholders also receive priority boarding access that can be very useful when you want to ensure that you find overhead space for your carry-on bag. While it’s free to gate check a bag, this can be very inconvenient if you have a tight connection.

You also get 25% back on United in-flight wi-fi, food and drinks.

When you are approved for the card, you will receive 2 single-use passes to the United Club. These are great when you want to make a fun trip just that little bit better. You will continue to receive these for each cardmember anniversary.

When it comes to earning more United miles, you will earn 2X miles on all purchases with United, hotels, and dining, and 1X miles on all other purchases. Your miles will not expire as long as your card is open.

Every 4 years you can receive a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100).

The annual fee for this card is $95.

United MileagePlus® Club Card

United Club Hong Kong
Enjoy access to United Clubs with either of United’s co-branded Club cards. Image courtesy of United.

The United MileagePlus® Club Card is a high-end card with perks and benefits to match. The annual fee is $450, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

As a cardholder, you receive a full membership to the United Club. This allows you and 2 guests to access United Clubs anytime you’re traveling…even if you aren’t flying with United on that particular day. As a comparison, United Club memberships are sold by United for $550 per year.

This card also earns 50% more on everyday purchases than the United Explorer℠ Card, which means you can earn 1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases (except United ticket purchases, which earn 2X miles per dollar).

You (and a companion) will also receive 2 free checked bags as well as Premier Access at the airport where available. Premier Access provides 4 main benefits: dedicated check-in lines, priority security lanes, priority boarding, and priority baggage handling so you can get your checked bags quickly.

If you often redeem United miles for award flights less than 21 days prior to departure, holding this card automatically waives the $75 close-in booking fee.

The travel perks don’t stop with United, though. You will also receive Discoverist status with World of Hyatt and Hertz President’s Circle Elite Status.

This card also provides access to The Luxury Hotel & Resorts Collection. When you book stays with this card, you can receive benefits such as breakfast for 2, a dining or spa credit, complimentary Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available, and early check-in and late checkout when available.

Bottom Line: The United MileagePlus® Club Card could be the card for you if you’re looking for perks when traveling.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card is very similar to the personal version of the card. You’ll receive 2 one-time passes to the United Club, priority boarding privileges, and 1 free checked bag for you and a companion.

Additionally, when you spend $25,000 on this card in a calendar year, you will receive a bonus of 10,000 United miles. If you provide authorized user cards to employees for business purchases, their spending will also count toward the $25,000 threshold.

This perk is also available to those who have the United Explorer℠ Card, but it is often much easier to attain for business owners.

Where the business version of the card really distinguishes itself is in bonus categories that can help you earn United miles faster. While the personal card only earns 2X miles per dollar on purchases with United, this card also earns 2X miles per dollar on purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores.

The annual fee is $95.

United MileagePlus® Club Business Card

The United MileagePlus® Club Business Card does not differ from the personal version of the card. You will still earn 2X miles per dollar on all United purchases, and 1.5X miles per dollar on all other purchases.

Status with World of Hyatt and Hertz also comes with this card.

An important point to consider regarding the United Club membership that comes with these cards is that it will not allow you access to United’s Polaris Lounges. United recently rolled out its first Polaris Lounge in Chicago in December 2016, and this program is expanding to several more cities through 2018.

To gain access to a Polaris Lounge, you must be traveling on a United flight in Polaris first class or Polaris business—this is different than United first or United business—or in first or business class on an international Star Alliance flight.

The annual fee on this card is also $450.

Extra Award Space on United Flights

United Airlines Business Class
While standard awards are not a great deal, if you need one in a pinch then guaranteed space is nice to have. Image courtesy of United.

One of the best perks provided by all 4 of these United cards? Guaranteed access to extra award availability on United flights.

With these cards, you’ll receive access to award space in the fare class XN, which is only available to cardholders and those who have earned status on United. The XN fare class is a saver level economy fare class.

While we often talk about booking United business class and first class, this extra economy award space can be extremely useful when you need to book a flight but ticket prices are sky high.

Additionally, cardholders are guaranteed the ability to book a standard level award in first class, business class, or economy on United if there is a seat for sale. While we don’t recommend booking standard level awards, they can be useful if you’re in a tough spot.

Bottom Line: Access to extra award space on United might be the best perk offered by a co-branded airline card.

What Can You Do With United Miles?

Lufthansa First Class
Enjoy the luxurious Lufthansa first class lie-flat seat and a glass of champagne or 2.

United miles can be used to book awards on United or any of their Star Alliance partners. You can reach just about anywhere in the world thanks to the large Star Alliance network.

In fact, some of the best redemption options are on United’s partners. With United miles, you can book Lufthansa first class, which is considered one of the best flying experiences in the world.

You could also book an award flight on Eva Air to Southeast Asia in one of the nicest business class cabins out there.

Hot Tip: For some inspiration, check out the best ways to redeem United miles and see all the amazing trips you could take.

Elite Status Qualifying Dollars Waiver

If you fly with United regularly and will reach the Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) or the Premier Qualifying Segments (PQS) but won’t reach the Premier Qualifying Dollar (PQD) requirement, one of these co-branded United cards can help.

First, let’s look at the requirements of each elite status level with United:

Elite Status LevelPQD RequirementPQM/PQS RequirementWaiver Eligible?
Premier Silver$3,00025,000 PQM or 30 PQSYes
Premier Gold$6,00050,000 PQM or 60 PQSYes
Premier Platinum$9,00075,000 PQM or 90 PQSYes
Premier 1K$12,000 in 2018, $15,000 in 2019100,000 PQM or 120 PQSNo

If you spend a combined $25,000 across your co-branded United cards in a calendar year, the PQD requirement will be waived for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum elite status levels.

Unfortunately, the PQD waiver does not apply to Premier 1K elite status.

This won’t be for everyone as it requires a lot of spending and means you won’t be earning other transferable points. But for those who regularly book paid United flights, it can give you a big boost.

Which United Card Should You Get?

If you’re looking for an easy way to earn United miles and want access to award space, the United Explorer℠ Card is a great choice. With only a $95 annual fee, it isn’t quite the big investment required by the United MileagePlus® Club Card.

However, if you know you will be flying out of airports with United Clubs regularly and would prefer to earn 1.5X miles per dollar on your everyday purchases, the United MileagePlus® Club Card might be right for you.

For business cards, the United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card is great thanks to 3 bonus categories that earn 2X miles per dollar. If your spending lines up with those categories, it can easily outweigh the 1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases with the United MileagePlus® Club Card. In this case, you have to decide if the other perks from a higher-end card are worth it.

singapore airlines suites class
With the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards, you could transfer to Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer program to fly Suites class. Image courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

We can’t forget to mention that earning United miles with these cards locks you into booking with United miles. If you aren’t concerned about extra award space, United Club access, or other perks, you might want to consider earning Chase Ultimate Rewards, which can be transferred to United almost instantly.

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards often come with more bonus categories that can help you earn points even faster. Since you won’t be locked in with a single airline program, you’ll have many more options to redeem Ultimate Rewards.

If you want to use United miles but flexibility is important to you, consider earning Chase Ultimate Rewards with these cards.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Final Thoughts

Whether you are looking for a card for personal use or business expenses, Chase has plenty of options to choose from. If you prefer to stick to redeeming United miles, one of the co-branded United cards might be just what you need.

In search of extra perks such as United Club access, World of Hyatt Discoverist status, or Hertz President’s Circle Elite status? One of the United Club cards can provide that.

Finally, if you want the ability to earn tons of points but don’t want to be locked into the United award chart (just in case there’s a better option for some of your travel), you can look to Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.

Whatever you choose, you’re going to get some great value out of these cards. Whether it’s free checked bags and priority boarding or flexible points that can be transferred to United, you’re on the way to enjoying a better travel experience!


Do miles earned with the United cards count toward elite status?

No, the miles you earn with the United cards are redeemable miles, not elite qualifying miles (EQM). However, you can get a waiver for the elite qualifying dollars (EQD) required to earn elite status. This waiver does not apply to the top level of elite status, Premier 1K.

Can you transfer United miles to other airlines?

No, but you can book flights on United’s partners using United miles. As a member of Star Alliance, there are plenty of other airlines that you can fly with United miles.

Can you have more than 1 United co-branded credit card?

Yes, you could technically get all of them—but that wouldn’t necessarily be the best decision. In all likelihood, you can choose just the one card that best fits your needs.


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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