I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.
United Airlines MileagePlus has several things going for it.
- No fuel surcharges on any awards
- Great partner redemptions – Star Alliance means there are more ways to get to Europe and Asia, meaning more chances at the award you want
- While they’ve moved to dynamic pricing for United flights, partner awards – which are usually what you want anyway – are still pricing based on the old award chart (albeit a few thousand miles more for close-in redemptions)
- They’ve abolished expiration of miles
- And there are no more cash ‘close-in’ booking fees
What’s more United miles are easy to get – you can earn them directly or transfer them in from a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which has had the most lucrative personal card offer with modest requirements to earn for quite some time now.
However United has aggressively worked to counter how easy it is to earn their miles via Chase transfers by working with Chase to acquire new cardmembers of their own rapidly. Right now they are doing that with rich limited-time offers on both the personal and small business United Explorer cards.
- UnitedSM Explorer Card has a Limited time offer to earn up to 65,000 Bonus Miles: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
What’s great about this $0 the first year then $95 annual fee card is the travel benefits when flying United. You get first bag for free when you use your card to purchase your ticket. You get priority boarding (avoid having to gate check your carry on, and indeed on a Basic Economy fare you can still bring on a full-sized carry on bag). You’ll get 2 one-time United Club passes each year for your account anniversary as well.
Cardmembers get access to last seat availability on extra miles awards as well as extra saver award availability that general members don’t have. Elites with the card can receive complimentary domestic upgrades on award tickets.
- UnitedSM Explorer Business Card has a potentially even bigger off to earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases. You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open plus 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open. The card’s annual fee is $95.
Benefits are similar to the personal card including 2 United Club passes each year with card renewal, a free checked bag, and priority boarding.
Meeting the spend requirements on both cards, and earning the full bonuses, would generate a minimum of 200,000 United miles.
While Chase’s 5/24 applies to both offers – Chase is unlikely to approve you if you’ve had 5 or more new cards opened in the last 24 months – Chase’s own business cards don’t count towards this total. My approach would be to:
Consider applying for the UnitedSM Explorer Business Card first if you’re at 4/24 (since after approval you should still be at 4/24).