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Fly United? Here Are the Best Credit Cards for You

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United Airlines

With 339 destinations, 4,527 daily departures and 140 million passengers in 2015, United is one of the world’s most popular airlines. So it’s not surprising the carrier partnered with Chase, one of the biggest banks in the U.S., for its four branded credit cards. With so many flights and destinations, one of these United credit cards could be just the thing for earning travel rewards.

Which credit card is best for you will vary, depending on your spending habits and whether the card’s being used for business. With that in mind, here’s how to choose a card that fits your needs.

How to Pick a United Credit Card

Anyone who’s considering a new credit card, regardless of the type, should first do some research to compare different cards. It’s also a good idea to check your credit score so you know if you’re able to qualify. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) If your credit is bad, you may want to consider a secured credit card, which requires a cash deposit that serves as your credit line. If your credit is decent, you may qualify for a rewards card like those from United.

United’s four different MileagePlus cards, which are geared toward regular consumers and business travelers alike, offer airline rewards as well as other perks such as the ability to score free hotel stays and free checked bags.

If you fly United often and use your card for personal purchases, United offers two different cards that may suit your needs: the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and the United MileagePlus Club Card. The former comes with no annual fee and offers airline rewards, like free checked bags, while the latter carries a high $450 annual fee but offers more benefits. Business travelers can choose from two business versions of the consumer cards.

If you’re not a United flier but spend a lot on everyday purchases like gas, restaurants and drug stores, a cash back credit card may be a more practical choice for you. (Just remember to swipe smartly so you don’t lose your rewards to interest or debt.) If saving money on everyday purchases isn’t as big of a priority as saving on travel, then an old-fashioned travel rewards card may be worth looking into. Do note that both of these cards tend to come with high APRs, so it’s a good idea to pay off your balance in full.

Now that you have an idea of the type of credit cards United offers, read on for our reviews, which list perks and overall terms. (Note: For full details on each card, please see the cardmember agreements.)

Our Reviews of Credit Cards for United Fliers

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Highlights: With this card, you and a friend traveling on the same flight will each receive a free checked bag (worth $25). You’ll also get priority boarding, no foreign transaction fees and two passes to the United Club, where you can relax pre-flight.

Rewards Details: Cardmembers earn two miles for every dollar spent on airline tickets from United, which can be used at any time. Each year, you’re eligible for a 10,000-mile bonus after spending $25,000 on the card. MileagePlus miles can be put toward Star Alliance airlines and select hotel stays worldwide.

Annual Fee: None the first year, $95 thereafter

APR: Variable 16.24 to 23.24%

United MileagePlus Club Card

Highlights: A statement credit of $100 after your first charge, plus United Club membership, free checked bags and additional miles on every purchase.

Rewards Details: Cardmembers earn two miles for every dollar on United ticket purchases, and 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on everything else. Miles never expire in an open account, and there is no limit to how much you can earn.

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 16.24 to 23.24%

United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

Highlights: A huge signup bonus and even bigger rewards on all purchases.  

Rewards Details: Cardmembers earn two miles for every dollar spent on dining, office supplies and gas. They’ll also earn one mile for every dollar spent on everything else, and are eligible to receive a 10,000-mile bonus after charging $25,000 to the card. Miles never expire in an open account.

Annual Fee: None the first year, $95 thereafter

APR: Variable 16.24%

United MileagePlus Club Business Card

Highlights: Two free checked bags, no foreign transaction fees and priority check-in. Cardholders also receive United Club membership and an invitation to Hertz President’s Circle, which offers car rental upgrades.

Rewards Details: Cardmembers earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent, and an additional 0.5 miles for every dollar spent on tickets from United. Again, miles never expire, and there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 16.24%

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.


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