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The United Business Credit Card: Is It Best for Frequent Flyers?

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood
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The smartest way to spend as a small business owner and a frequent traveler is to use a business travel credit card. And if you’re loyal to United Airlines in particular, then signing up for the United MileagePlus Explorer Business card from Chase seems like a no-brainer.

There’s a lot to love about the United Business Credit Card. You’ll get a solid signup bonus, lounge access, and free checked bags—just to name a few perks. But how does this card stack up against other top business travel cards? It’s important to make sure that this is the business credit card you want to be loyal to, especially if you’re going to depend on it to really work for you.

We’ll break down the pros and cons of the United Business Credit Card so you can see exactly what you’ll get if you go for this card. We’ll also compare the United Business Credit Card to leaders in its category so you’re fully equipped to choose the best travel card for your business.

The United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card: An Overview

The United Airlines Business Credit Card comes with with bonuses, benefits, and rewards that’ll make traveling with the airline a lot easier, and, ultimately, more cost effective. And that’s probably what you’re looking for. There’s a lot to learn about this card, so let’s get right into it:

The United Business Credit Card Signup Bonus

A good signup bonus on a credit card can earn you tons of additional perks and rewards right off the bat, but you have to be sure you can hit the spending limit to earn those rewards.

Relative to other business travel credit cards, you’ll find an accessible spending threshold for the United Business Credit Card’s signup bonus. You’ll earn 50,000 United miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of card membership. Plus, Chase waives the $95 annual fee for the first year.

Ongoing Rewards and Benefits of the United Business Credit Card

After your signup bonus, you’ll have the opportunity to earn lots of miles with the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Credit Card. When you use this card, you’ll get:

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on United Airlines tickets
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from restaurants, gas stations, and office-supply stores
  • 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else—not just on purchases for travel
  • An extra 10,000 miles every year that your spending tops $25,000

Aside from the rewards rate, the United Business Credit Card offers United-specific travel benefits, which is great if you’re a loyal United Airline traveler, and you fly often. These include:

  • A free checked bag for you and a companion
  • Two United Club passes every year (a $100 value)
  • Priority boarding for you and your companions traveling under the same reservation
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No added charge for additional employee cards
  • Room upgrades on hotel rooms booked through Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection program
  • Travel protections like reimbursement of up to $10,000 on trip cancellations; reimbursement of up to $3,000 on lost or damaged luggage; coverage on unreimbursed expenses for trips delayed by 12 or more hours; and more

Plus, as long as your account is active, your miles won’t expire.

The United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card: Is it Right For You?

The United Business Credit Card is a great option if you’re a United Airlines loyalist, and you want perks that’ll make traveling easier—like lounge passes, free bag checks, and priority boarding. 

But if you don’t usually fly United, a general travel credit card will get you better value if you need flexibility. Although the United card has solid travel advantages, if you want really nice travel perks, the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN offers best-in-class benefits. And if you want easy-to-earn, easy-to-redeem travel rewards, you might be better off with the Chase Ink Business Preferred, which has an excellent rewards rate.

→Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR): The United Business Credit Card is a solid business credit card if you’re a frequent United flyer. But if you aren’t loyal to this airline, it might not be the best option.

How Does the United MileagePlus Compare to Other Travel Cards?

United MileagePlus vs. the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN is the gold standard for business travel credit cards. You have to be willing to spend a lot on this card—but if you do, you’ll have access to some of the best travel perks available.

Let’s start with the signup bonus: Within your first three months of membership with the Business Platinum Card, you’ll earn 50,000 points when you spend $10,000. Plus, you’ll get an extra 25,000 points when you spend an additional $10,000 on all qualifying purchases. Overall, you have the potential to earn 75,000 bonus points after signup. It’s a lot of points—for a lot of money.

With a $450 annual fee, the American Express Business Platinum Card is definitely pricey. And it’s a charge card, so you’ll have to pay off your balance every month. But if you’re a frequent flyer, these additional perks might outweigh the price tag—and end up paying for themselves:

  • A yearly $200 airline fee credit, which can be used for baggage fees, in-flight food and drink, and other non-ticket airline expenses
  • A credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
  • Complimentary, unlimited WiFi to keep you connected while traveling
  • Unlimited access to the American Express network of over 1,000 lounges, including Centurion, International American Express, Priority Pass Select, and Delta Sky Club lounges.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Room upgrades and benefits on hotel rooms booked through Fine Hotels & Resorts

The Membership Rewards points program makes this offer even better. You’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on travel booked through Amex travel, and 1.5 points per $1 on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more (that offer is good for up to 1 million points).

TL;DR: The Amex Business Platinum Card wins out for frequent travelers for its perks and flexibility. It’s more expensive than the United Business Card, so you’ll want to make sure you’ll spend enough to earn Amex’s signup rewards or make up for its annual cost.

United MileagePlus vs. the Chase Ink Business Preferred

The United MileagePlus and Amex Platinum stand out for their perks. But to get the most out of the United Business card, you really have to be tied to that airline. And to take advantage of the Amex Platinum card, you have to be willing to spend a good amount of money. The Chase Ink Business Preferred presents a reasonable third option for those who want flexibility but don’t travel quite as much. It offers fewer benefits than the previous two cards, but better rewards. 

To start with, you’ll earn 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months. That’s a much lower spending threshold than the Amex Platinum, for a lot of valuable points. Those points are redeemable for travel, cash back, gift cards, and more, but they’re worth 25% more when you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card offers 1 point per dollar on most purchases, with no limit on spending amount. It also offers 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on:

  • Travel, including hotel stays, plane tickets, and transportation
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

This card does come with a $95 annual fee. But it has no foreign transaction fee, so if you travel abroad often, you could be saving a good amount of money in the long run. Plus, your points won’t expire as long as your account is active.

TL;DR: The Chase Ink Preferred’s rewards are both easier to earn and easier to redeem. But if you want specific travel perks like waived bag fees and lounge access on United, those are better with the MileagePlus.

Should You Sign Up for the United MileagePlus Card? Here’s the Bottom Line

The United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card is a great option for business owners who almost always travel with United Airlines. With this card, you’ll get a reasonable signup bonus, the opportunity to rack up miles, and access to perks that’ll make traveling much less stressful (and even enjoyable). But to make the most of this card, you have to be loyal to United Airlines. If you travel more with other airlines, all those benefits might go to waste.

In that case, you might be better off with a more flexible business travel credit card. With its unbeatable perks (and hefty annual fee), the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN is among the best options for luxury travelers. But if you’re not willing to spend that much for your card, the Chase Ink Business Preferred card is a great alternative for its excellent signup bonus and easily redeemable rewards.

Whether or not you’re a frequent flyer, it’s a good idea to compare all your business credit card options before you make your choice.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

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