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

Latest posts by Meredith Wood (see all)

Advertiser Disclosure

Editor’s Note: American Express is a partner of Fundera.

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Business card from Chase has a lot to offer frequent United flyers.

Between a solid signup bonus, lounge access, and free checked bags, United loyalists will find a lot to love with this United business credit card.

But how does it stack up against other top business travel cards?

We’ll break down the pros and cons of the United business credit card and compare it 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 business credit card starts off with a great signup bonus—40,000 United miles when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. And, you’ll also get an additional bonus of 5,000 miles after you make a purchase and add an authorized user within the first three months of owning this card

As for ongoing rewards, you’re looking at 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased through United and on select bonus categories—including restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores. Plus, you’ll get 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere—not just on purchases for travel.

You’ll also get an extra 10,000 miles every year that your spending tops $25,000.

United miles’ value varies by how you redeem. If you turn a high-dollar-cost flight into an award flight, you can get 5 cents or more out of every mile—that’s pretty good!

However, this requires redeeming strategically and likely compromising on which flight you take. This isn’t the best for travellers who don’t work around a flexible flying schedule, and for those who don’t want to play the mind game of maximizing their travel rewards smartly. .

According to BoardingArea, United miles are worth about 1.4 cents each, so your signup bonus can be valued at around $560, and your ongoing rewards at 2.8% in bonus categories and 1.4% elsewhere. Depending on how strategically you redeem, though, your mileage—pardon the pun—will vary.

Aside from the rewards rate, the United business credit card offers more United perks—like a free checked bag for you and a companion, two United Club passes every year, and priority boarding.

There’s no foreign transaction fee or charge for additional employee cards, but there is a $95 annual fee (waived the first year).

Overall, it’s a solid business credit card if you’re a frequent United flyer.

But if you prefer flexibility or aren’t tied to this airline, it may not be the best option.

Get the United business credit card if:

  • You place at least a $50 value on United Lounge passes
  • You have enough flexibility that you can strategically redeem United miles
  • You check a bag on United flights at least twice a year
  • You’re a United loyalist

Skip the card if:

  • You don’t usually fly United (a general travel credit card will get you better value if you need flexibility)
  • You want really nice travel perks (the Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN offers best-in-class benefits)
  • You want easy-to-earn, easy-to-redeem travel rewards (the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM has an excellent rewards rate)

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 in business credit cards when it comes to travel perks. If you want to travel in style—and you’re ready to put a lot of money on this business credit card—then it’s the card for you.

For a $450 annual fee, you get 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 Pre-check or Global Entry, Gogo and Boingo internet to keep you connected while traveling, and unlimited access to the American Express network of over 1,000 lounges (which includes Centurion, International American Express, Priority Pass Select, and Delta Sky Club lounges).

It’s a pricey card, but the new Membership Rewards points offer makes it better—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 (up to 1 million points). Membership Rewards points are worth about 1.7 cents each, per BoardingArea.

Its Welcome Offer, though, has the United MileagePlus card beat: the Business Platinum earns 50,000 points when you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points when you spend an additional $10,000 on all qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Our verdict: The Business Platinum wins out if you strongly value perks like airport lounge access or free in-flight Wi-Fi.

However, if you’re a frequent United flyer—especially if you check bags on United flights—your loyalty is better rewarded with the MileagePlus.

Or, if you don’t think you’ll put enough charges on this card to earn the sign-up bonus or make up for the $450 annual fee, then the United travel credit card or another, less expensive travel card might be a better option.

United MileagePlus vs. the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM

While the United MileagePlus and Amex Platinum stand out for their perks, the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM offers fewer benefits but better rewards.

To start off with, it has a signup bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months—a much lower spending threshold than the Amex Platinum for a lot of valuable points.

BoardingArea values Ultimate Rewards Points at 1.7 cents apiece, but again, you can dramatically increase their value by redeeming strategically. If you transfer your points to one of Chase’s airline and hotel partners (which include United), you can get a value upwards of 5 cents apiece. Using the 1.7 cents per point figure, though, you’re looking at a signup bonus worth $1,360.

The card also offers 1 point per dollar on most purchases and 3 points per $1 spent on:

  • Travel (including hotel stays, plane tickets, and transportation like rental cars, trains, and taxis)
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

It does come with a $95 annual fee, but like the Amex Platinum and MileagePlus, it has no employee card or foreign transaction fee.

Our verdict: If you like flexibility in redeeming awards, or aren’t particularly wedded to United as an airline, the Chase Ink offers a better rewards rate. Keep in mind that you’ll still be able to redeem your points towards United flights when you transfer them to Chase’s online airline portal.

Compared to the MileagePlus, the Chase Ink’s rewards are both easier to earn and easier to redeem. However, if you want solid perks like waived bag fees or lounge access, the United MileagePlus is the way to go.


Is the United loyalist in you telling you to get the United business credit card?

Or do you need to look more at the numbers to find the best travel business credit card for you? Compare all your options fully before you make your choice!

[cta text=”Apply for these business credit cards” url=” 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

Latest posts by Meredith Wood (see all)

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