What is the best United Airlines Credit Card?

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To many people, United Airlines is the only way to fly, and with so many juicy travel rewards credit cards, I tend to agree. There aren’t too many top quality airlines that offer this much variety when it comes to earning rewards and spending them, as well.

But a lot of options can get confusing, especially if you’re trying to make the most out of your credit card spending. So, here's an easy breakdown of the United Airlines credit cards and what benefits come along for the ride. This way, you can see which card will earn you the most rewards and send you off to your dream destination faster.

United TravelBank Card

  • No annual fee
  • 2% TravelBank on United purchases
  • 1.5% TravelBank on everything else
  • 25% discount on in-flight food purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Travel and shopping benefits

Great for…

  • Anyone who can’t stomach paying an annual fee for a credit card
  • United Airlines loyalists

The United TravelBank card is a good option if you’re the type who despises those incipient annual fees (why pay for something that you can get for free?!) Get a lot of perks and pay nothing with this card. That’s enough for a lot of people to sign on the dotted line, but the United TravelBank card has even more to offer.

The airline rewards program is also pretty solid for an entry level card. With the United TravelBank card, you’ll earn 2x TravelBank points for every dollar spent on United Airlines. Also, earn 1.5x back on every other purchase. That’s a great rewards program, especially if you hate all of those categories that some credit cards hold you to. By the way, I’m specifically saying TravelBank points and not United miles because they’re not the same thing. Points and miles can be used interchangeably to purchase United Airlines tickets, so at the end of the day, it’s really six of one, half a dozen of the other. TravelBank points can be used to pay for United Airlines tickets directly on the United website and can be used alone or with other payment methods.

Additionally, the United TravelBank card comes with nice perks like:

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance up to $1,500/trip
  • New purchase protection up to 120 days up to $500 per claim
  • Price protection within 90 days up to $500 per item

Finally, the in-flight refreshments discount. It’s not a huge deal, but when you are hungry or thirsty on a flight, I know I’d pay an arm and a leg for some refreshments, so offering a discount is really a good gesture on United's part. You'll get a 25% discount on all in-flight food or beverage purchases with the United TravelBank card.

United Explorer Mileage Plus Card

  • 40,000 bonus points
  • $100 statement credit
  • 5,000 miles for first additional user
  • 2x miles on restaurants and hotels and United purchases
  • 1x mile on everything else
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment fee reimbursement
  • 25% discount on in-flight food, beverages, and WiFi
  • Free baggage check
  • United One Club one-time passes
  • No foreign transaction fee

Great for…

  • People who love to earn rewards points
  • United Airlines frequent flyers

Moving up the food chain, the United Explorer Mileage Plus card gives you even more fun in the sun. To begin with, you’ll get a sizeable 40,000 bonus points signup bonus when you spend $2,000 in the first three months of opening the account. Yay! United doesn’t stop there, either. You’ll also earn 5,000 more points when you add your first additional authorized user (and they make their first purchase) and a $100 statement credit after you make your first purchase. Now, that’s generous!

The United Explorer Mileage Plus card rewards program is also a great deal. In addition to earning 2x miles for all United purchases like you’ll get with all United Airlines cards, the United Explorer Mileage Plus card lets you earn 2x miles on dining out and hotel purchases as well. That is not an offer you’ll see too often combined with a travel rewards credit card. Of course, you’ll also get 1x miles for every other purchase you make, making the United Explorer Mileage Plus card one of the most well-rounded rewards programs on the market.

I really liked all of the free points you earn so quickly and the constant high earn rates, but the United Explorer Mileage Plus card comes with other benefits too. Things like no foreign transaction fees and Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement waiver really save you a lot at the end of the day. Plus, you and your companion passenger will enjoy free baggage checking on your first bag both ways. That’s a $50 savings for each of you. Those are some impressive stats all in all.

United MileagePlus Club Card

  • 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
  • United Club membership – $550 value per year
  • 2x miles per dollar spent on United Airlines tickets unlimited
  • 1.5x miles on all other purchases
  • Two free baggage checks – $240 value

Great for…

  • Frequent travelers
  • People who want to travel in comfort

Last up, we have the cream of the crop. All United Airlines cards are good, and if you are a serious traveler, then the United MileagePlus Club card will be a great friend to you. For one thing, the signup bonus is huge. I’m talking 50,000 bonus miles huge! You earn that automatically when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. The MileagePlus Club card comes with other terrific premium perks too like United Club membership, so you can relax whenever you fly, two free bags checked, and unlimited 2x bonus miles per dollar spent on UA. Earn 1.5x miles on everything else, all the time.

There’s no question, if you fly a lot, the MileagePlus Club card will save you loads, help you rack up major points, and pamper you all at the same time.

So Happy Together…

Ready for the best trick you can pull with credit card earnings? When you’ve got multiple great offers like these, double up and collect them all! For example, let’s say you want to get all the goodies that come with the United Airlines cards but don’t want to pay the hefty annual fees, here’s what to do:

  • Sign up for the TravelBank card (no annual fee)
  • Sign up for the Explorer Mileage Plus card (first year free)
  • Get all of the benefits, and don’t pay a thing
  • Use the Explorer Mileage Plus card for restaurants to earn 2x miles every time
  • Use the TravelBank card for everything else to earn 1.5x miles every time

That’s maximizing your bonus opportunities! After the first year, you can cancel the Explorer Mileage Plus if you want to (you’ve already collected the 40,000 bonus points!), or you can keep it around for all of the additional benefits. After all, it’s less than $100 a year for all of the perks you’re getting. Either way, you’ve got the TravelBank card in your pocket for free, and you can double up on the rewards. And if you travel a lot, then the MileagePlus Club card will get you the most bang for your buck with two free bags checked, United Club membership, and colossal signup bonus.

FREE, FREE, FREE Flights With Miles

Before you go, I just want to show you how lucrative these United Miles are. You can earn free flights faster than you would imagine using your United cards. Check it out:

  • Get an economy class ticket from US to Europe for 60,000 round trip!
  • Get a business class trip to Europe for 120,000!
  • A trip to the Caribbeans for less than the signup bonus with the Explorer Mileage Plus card!

Get the idea? It’s free flights for everyone when you use your miles smartly.

No matter what you do, you can’t go wrong with amazing cards like these. So, fly United Airlines the smart way, and get a vacation on the house!

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