*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Feb 05, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you’re new to earning United miles with credit cards, you can build up your United MileagePlus® account balance quickly with bonus mile offers.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is special because it earns points you can transfer into your United account at any time (see how it works).
So getting both lets you almost double up on intro bonus miles for your MileagePlus® account and gives you flexibility to take advantage of the unique benefits of each card, like point transfer from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and a free first checked bag and priority boarding from the United℠ Explorer Card.
Some people might be targeted for a better deal of 70k miles or more on the United℠ Explorer Card by logging into MileagePlus®. An alternate option is the United Club℠ Card.
But first, here’s some background…
It’s OK to apply for multiple credit cards to take advantage of the unique benefits of different cards, since some are better for some types of spending than others. Just note you can only get one bonus offer per individual card with Chase, the exclusive provider of credit cards that earn United miles (i.e. only one United℠ Explorer Card bonus).
You may sometimes be asked to reduce the credit line on one card to support a new one, and opening more than a few new cards might raise a flag, so go easy and only pick up cards you think you’ll use often. No need to do it all at once.
At CompareCards.com we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the best credit cards for spending to earn United miles since it offers 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide — something no United credit card currently being marketed offers.
And the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns points you can transfer 1:1 into not just United miles, but also Southwest Rapid Rewards and over 10 other airline and hotel programs. No other personal card that earns United miles has more flexibility, so keep this at the front of your wallet.
You’ll also enjoy priority boarding and free first checked bag benefits from the United℠ Explorer Card.
If you are a United frequent flyer, you may get even more value out of the United Club℠ Card. Although you will not get the 10,000 point bonus after spending $25,000 in a calendar year, this card comes with United Club membership, two free checked bags and Premium Access lane privileges – a value of over $550.
Then use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for special category bonuses like dining and travel – and any spending where you want to earn points with the flexibility to transfer to other airline and hotel programs.
Here’s our strategy for racking up United miles quickly…..
60,000 bonus points
2X points on travel and dining
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
In addition to being able to transfer 1:1 into your United account with no fees for the transfer, earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
Note: If you’re a really big spender on dining and travel, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which earns 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can also transfer points to United MileagePlus®.
Before applying, make sure you’ll be able to handle the minimum spending required to earn the bonus. Plus there’s a $0 introductory annual fee the first year ($95 after), so you can earn the miles well before an annual fee comes due.
2. Apply for the United℠ Explorer Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
When you transfer Ultimate Rewards into your MileagePlus® account, you could earn 90,000 or more United miles over a few months if you are approved and meet the minimum spending requirements for each card.
OR: Apply for the United MileagePlus® Club Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. This card comes with a $450 annual fee, charged immediately after opening the card, but also comes with full United Club membership.
Combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you could earn over 100,000 United miles if you are approved and meet the minimum spending requirements for each card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be the better one all around for earning via spending — the 2x bonus on dining/travel is strong and the points can be used on airlines besides United.
But if you’re not an elite flyer, you’ll probably want to keep the United℠ Explorer Card for the free checked bag and priority boarding it offers. 2 flights a year with a checked bag more than pay for the annual fee.
To double your rewards, consider having your spouse apply for the credit cards as well if he/she does a fair amount of independent spending.
Once you’ve done that, if you’re okay with a $550 annual fee, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You can transfer to United miles anytime. There’s also a $300 travel credit each account anniversary year that you can use to offset travel purchases you make on the card, including airfare, so if you fly a lot it’s not hard to take advantage of it.
For bonus mile seekers who have small businesses, you can also earn more United credit card miles with these offers…
Earn 80,000 bonus points
Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories
Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
- Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
- No foreign transaction fees
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- $95 Annual Fee
See additional details for Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
This is a credit card designed for small business owners and like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can transfer to United. You don’t need a long running business to qualify for the card and some businesses even get one before having the business up and running to put start up expenses in one place. Your personal credit history is what is used to determine eligibility for the card, so this is an option to earn more miles after finishing the above.
2. United℠ Explorer Business Card:
The rule on ‘one bonus per credit card’ doesn’t apply to having a bonus from both the consumer and business version of the cards. So, if you are a business owner you can apply for the business version of the United Explorer even if you have the consumer card.
So, you have the potential to earn 150,000+ United miles over the course of a year if you decide to hold all of the credit cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, United℠ Explorer Card, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, and the United℠ Explorer Business Card.
And you’ll end up with cards you’ll want to keep. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card should be ‘go to’ for a lot of spending, and the United Explorer’s bag fee savings are likely to add up, while the business versions of the cards let you separate business from personal spending.
What about your credit score?
Your credit score generally drops about 5 points or so with a new card application, but often recovers that and more within a year as you’re showing you are responsibly handling additional credit.
You should feel comfortable applying unless you plan to take out a mortgage or large loan shortly, and even then small credit inquiries are one of the lesser things lenders consider. The best United credit card might not say United on the card at all.
*The information related to the United MileagePlus® Club Card has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.