Which United Airlines Credit Card To Get?

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Update: The United Explorer Card is no longer offered by us and the Continental Card mentioned in this post is no longer issued by Chase. We will be updating this post shortly

When I wrote this post a while ago, United had four different credit cards. They all had different fees. Some allowed you to double and even triple miles. A couple allowed you to earn EQMs as well. However, just recently, United consolidated these four credit cards into one card called the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card. But the question of which United Airlines credit card is still a relevant question because United and Continental have merged and their miles are transferable. Furthermore, the fact that Chase has a couple of card that allow you to transfer points to Continental makes it this question even more relevant because in today’s situation, a Continental OnePass Card can be considered a United credit card.

Let’s gather some facts before we go into deeper analysis.

Firstly, we know that the Continental OnePass Plus Card will still be issued this next. But according to the Continental United website, in 2012, it will be discontinued though existing holders can still use it. What this means is that if you do not have this card, this is a great opportunity to get it simply for the bonus miles.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is now the only card that allows you to transfer points into Continental OnePass Miles for a one to one ratio (which can then be transferred to United miles).

Let’s Put All Relevant “United Credit Cards” side by side.

Card Image United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Continental Airlines OnePass® Plus Card Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Ink Bold(SM) with Ultimate Rewards
Card Name United MileagePlus&#174 Explorer Continental Airlines OnePass&#174 Plus Card Chase Sapphire Preferred(SM) Card Ink Bold(SM) With Ultimate Rewards – 25,000 Bonus Points
Bonus Miles 40,000 Miles – 25,000 after first purchase, 5,000 after adding additional card member, 10,000 after annual spend of $25,000 40,000 Miles – 25,000 after first purchase, 5,000 after adding additional card member, 10,000 after annual spend of $25,000 50,000 Points after $3,000 spend within 3 months 25,000 Points after 1st purchase
Miles Formula Double Miles For Continental & United Airfares Double Miles For Continental & United Airfares Double Points for booking Airfare & Hotels with Chase Double Points For booking Airfare & Hotels with Chase
Baggage Fee waiver First Baggage Free First Baggage Free n.a. n.a.
Foreign Transaction Fee 3% 3% No FX Transaction Fee 3%
Annual Fee $95 – First Year Fee Waived $95 – First Year Waived $95 – First Year Waived $95 – First Year Fee Waived
Airline & Hotel Partners United & Continental Continental & United Continental, British Airways, Mariott, Hyatt, Priority Club, Amtrak Continental, British Airways, Mariott, Hyatt, Priority Club, Amtrak

Given the United Continental merger and the fact that Continental will no longer be issuing their cards after 2011, the answer to the question of which United credit card really boils down to signing up for cards NOW for maximum sign up bonus. In the long run, you would want to use the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card. But for now, one should be getting your hands on all these cards over a period of months to rack up miles in your United or Continental account.

This is what I would do if I was a Continental or United Frequent Flier. Firstly, I would get the Chase Sapphire Preferred(SM) Card to get the 40,000 bonus points. Then at the same time, apply for the Chase Ink Bold(SM) with Ultimate Rewards – 55,000 Bonus Points (business card) as a sole proprietor. This one is even easier. You get 25,000 points after your first purchase and an additional 25,000 points after spending $10,000 after three months.. So after three months, you would have 90,000 points which can be transferred to 90,000 Continental miles (which can be transferred again to United).

Then I would get the Continental Airlines OnePass&#174 Plus Card next. After your first purchase, you get 25,000 miles. Add your spouse or partner as an additional user and you get an extra 5,000 miles. That is a total of 30,000 miles. When you combine that with the points you earn from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Bold, that adds up to 105,000 miles. Then during your next calendar year, spend $25,000 on the card and you’ll get your 10,000 anniversary bonus. That rounds up the total to 115,000 bonus miles.

The lastly, get the United MileagePlus&#174 Explorer Card. Rinse and repeat the process to get the extra 40,000 miles. That will make a total of 155,000 bonus miles. If your spouse does the exact same thing, then you can earn a total of 310,000 miles together!

Perhaps you may already have one or even two of these cards. But even then, you should get the remaining two. (and I also forgot to mention that both Continental and United have business credit cards as well). That should be a source of additional miles.

To sum Up – Right now (and this looks to be the case going forward), United has only one credit card. This should be your main card if you are a United or Continental frequent flier. But in the mean time, you should get other cards that let’s you earn “Continental or United miles” and rack up your miles before the opportunities disappear.

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One Response to “Which United Airlines Credit Card To Get?”

  1. Mark Gason Says:

    You say “For example, the Access Visa has one economy plus seating (annually) and two Red-Carpet passes given out once a year whereas the Mileage Club Visa (though with a higher annual fee) does not!” According to your chart the Mileage plus Club Visa includes annual Red Carpet club membership so you do not need 2 lounge passes. if you get a years lounge membership, that is unlimited access for a year to the lounge, value at United to buy Red Carpet Lounge access for one year is $475. So in fact if you travel a lot and want a lounge membership you save $100 by getting the card, you have in fact a negative fee!!

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