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Saturday, May 18, 2024

United℠ Business Card Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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United℠ Business Card Review

Rated 4.4 /5.0 ★★★★

Small business owners who get the United℠ Business Card from Chase likely fall into either of two categories. The first category is owners who usually take business trips on United Airlines. The second category includes those who fly various airlines and own multiple business travel cards.

Either way, the United℠ Business Card can be a valuable asset for your business. The MileagePlus miles you redeem can offset some of your travel expenses through free flights and checked bags.

This review explores the card and three of its top-rated competitors to help you decide which, if any, makes sense for your business.

Main Takeaways:

  • The United℠ Business Card offers a reasonable balance between cost — its annual fee is $99 — and benefits.
  • Your rewards come in the form of United MileagePlus miles, the same miles you earn when you fly United, and the top-tier reward rate applies to United flights you purchase with the card.
  • United is one of those airlines with complex frequent-flyer rules. In addition to miles, you accumulate Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) that entitle you to additional perks.
  • You’ll earn 25 PQPs for every $500 you spend on the card (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year) that you can apply toward your Premier status qualification — up to and including the Premier 1K level.
  • You can distribute free employee cards to your staff and accrue miles from their purchases.
  • You can book a United flight at any time, with no blackout dates or other restrictions.
  • United is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can earn MileagePlus miles on any of its 26 member airlines. You can redeem your United MileagePlus miles to book flights or pay for in-flight wifi, hotel stays, and car rentals.

How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

Chase Bank, the card issuer, designed the United℠ Business Card for business owners with good credit. You also must be 18 years or older and have a valid Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a physical address in the United States, and enough income to afford the monthly minimum payments.

You can apply and learn more about the card on Chase’s website by clicking on the Apply Now button:

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

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BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★

4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Receive a 5,000-mile "better together" bonus each anniversary when you have both the United℠ Business Card and a personal Chase United® credit card.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining including eligible delivery services, at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account so you can earn rewards faster.
  • Enjoy a free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply), 2 United Club℠ one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges.
  • $100 United® travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year.
  • Member FDIC
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.99% - 28.99% Variable
$99
Good/Excellent

Chase reserves this product for business owners, including self-employed individuals and one-person LLCs. The card is subject to the Chase 5/24 Rule, which prevents the bank from approving a new card if you have received five or more credit cards in the last 24 months. This Rule applies to cards from all issuers, not just Chase.

Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

This card offers rich benefits given its modest annual fee. Generally, its perks make flying on United less expensive and more convenient. Some of its benefits are pedestrian; others are downright pampering. But you should also consider the card’s downsides before you decide to apply.

Benefits

    • Large sign-up bonus: New cardowners can earn a significant number of miles by spending the required amount on purchases during the introductory period.

    • Earn bonus miles: The card offers substantial bonus miles for purchases in specific categories, such as business services and travel on United.

    • Anniversary bonus: You can collect bonus miles on each card anniversary when you have both this card and a personal United credit card.

    • United travel credit: This is available after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more each year.

    • Premier Qualifying Points: You’ll earn 25 PQPs for every $500 you spend on purchases with your Business Card (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year). You can apply your points toward your Premier status qualification, up to and including the Premier 1K level.

    • Free checked bag: This perk can save you significant fees.

    • Priority boarding: Get on the plane earlier and have more time to settle in.

    • Complimentary employee cards: Your employees fly, and you collect the rewards. It’s good to be the owner!

    • United Club access: You get two United Club one-time passes per year. Relax in comfort while waiting for your flight with complimentary beverages, snacks, and high-speed wifi.

    • Selected rebates: Receive 25% back on United in-flight and Club premium drink purchases.

    • Travel and purchase protections: These include travel accident insurance, trip cancellation/delay and baggage delay/loss insurance, rental car coverage, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection on purchases.

    • No foreign transaction fees: Making purchases abroad won’t incur additional costs.

    • Complimentary DashPass: The pass gives you membership for both DoorDash and Caviar for one year. This perk provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After the first year, the card automatically enrolls you in DashPass at the current monthly rate.

    • Exclusive cardmember events: Purchase or use miles for unique experiences via United Card Events from Chase and United MileagePlus exclusives.

Drawbacks

    • Annual fee: The card carries a $99 annual fee. Check with your accountant to see whether the fee is a deductible business expense.

    • No introductory APR: The card lacks an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for new cardmembers.

    • Interest rates: Carrying a balance on these cards incurs a 21.99% - 28.99% Variable APR. You can avoid interest on purchases by paying your entire balance each month. The APR on cash advances is typically high.

    • Other costs: The card imposes several contingent costs, including fees for balance transfers, cash advances, and late/returned payments (which also trigger a high penalty APR).

    • Qualification criteria: The card requires good to excellent credit, making it inaccessible for some businesses. In addition, business owners must pledge to pay the business card bill even if their company cannot.

    • Reward limitations: MileagePlus miles are not as flexible as other reward types, such as cash back or general-purpose points/miles. United can also alter the value of your miles at any time without notice.

Generally speaking, the United℠ Business Card has relatively few disadvantages. Some result from the fact that the co-branded card’s miles don’t apply to competing airlines (i.e., carriers non-Star Alliance members). As is true of most Chase cards, this offering has more pros than cons if you use it wisely.

Other Top-Rated Business Travel Cards

These three travel cards compete strongly with the United℠ Business Card. If you’re no stranger to business trips, consider one of these offerings. Two of them provide general-purpose rewards you can use on any airline, and the third caters to business owners who frequently fly on Southwest Airlines.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel℠
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Round-the-clock monitoring for unusual credit card purchases
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Travel℠
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Member FDIC
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.24%-26.24% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is an excellent business travel card, even if you and your employees don’t travel frequently. It offers a bonus point rate on select purchases and a standard rate on all others.

You can transfer your points 1:1 to most airline travel programs. Point values increase by 25% when you redeem them for travel through Chase Travel℠. Your points don’t expire while the account remains open, and you can redeem them for gifts and cash back, among other options.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles – equal to $500 in travel – once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
  • Skip the lines with up to a $100 statement credit on TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards which also earn unlimited 2X miles from their purchases
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business awards you miles on every purchase. You can redeem the miles in any amount and won’t face blackout dates or seat restrictions. This top-tier travel card is for business owners who have excellent credit. The card has generous rewards, United mile transfers to 15-plus travel partners, and many other benefits.

You can download your purchase records in several formats, including QuickBooks. You also receive customized quarterly and yearly spending reports to help with your planning, taxes, and budgeting.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn 4X pts on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Member FDIC
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
$199
Good/Excellent

The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card charges a high annual fee and offers bonus points for Southwest Airlines purchases, plus in-flight wifi credits and upgraded boarding.

The card reimburses you for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fees. You can check your first two bags for free, and you receive insurance against luggage delay or loss. Employee cards are available at no extra cost. Other benefits include auto rental insurance, roadside dispatch, purchase protection, travel accident insurance, and extended warranty protection.

FAQs: What Credit Score Do You Need For a United Business Card?

The card requires good credit, which usually translates into a minimum FICO score of 670 to 700. The issuer, Chase Bank, doesn’t release score requirements, but several online sources put the required score near 700.

Keep in mind that your credit score is just one factor (albeit an important one) influencing your approval odds. Other critical criteria include your existing debt, income, employment status, number of open accounts, recent credit inquiries, and housing costs.

What Is the Card’s Credit Limit?

This card is a Visa® Signature card, meaning its minimum credit limit is $5,000. We’ve seen other review sites put the top credit limit at $15,000.

A business with substantial income likely will qualify for a much higher credit limit. That is even more likely if the business owner also has a high personal income.

If you want to request a higher limit, you can call Chase customer service at 1-800-432-3117. Before you do, increase your approval odds through creditworthy behavior — pay your bills on time for at least six months in a row and keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%.

Be sure to inform Chase when your income increases. Additionally, review your three major credit reports for any misinformation that may depress your credit score. See our article for complete details on checking your reports.

How Do I Redeem the Card’s Rewards?

To understand the value of the card’s rewards, you should first understand its complex Premier Qualifying Status program. Premier awards extend to flights and purchases from Star Alliance members.

Complicated Premier Tiers

United Airlines offers several tiers of Premier status within its MileagePlus loyalty program, each with its own set of benefits to enhance travel experiences. The tiers are Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, and Premier 1K.

Premier tiers
Each tier offers customers a different set of benefits.

You earn a Premier status through a complex arrangement of Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) and Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs).

You earn PQFs through flights with all types of United tickets except for Basic Economy and award tickets. United awards you one PQP for every dollar you spend with the airline.

Premier Silver

This is the initial PQP tier, and its benefits include:

    • Complimentary access to economy plus at check-in (when available), offering more legroom in the economy cabin

    • Premier upgrades on select flights, subject to availability

    • One free checked bag with a 70-pound weight limit

    • Priority check-in, security screening (where available), boarding, and baggage handling to save time at the airport

    • 7X MileagePlus miles earned on flights, enhancing the accumulation of miles for awards

You can achieve Premier Silver status by earning 5,000 PQPs or a combination of 12 PQFs and 4,000 PQPs.

Premier Gold

Premier Gold is the next tier. It offers all the benefits of Premier Silver, plus:

    • Complimentary access to economy plus at booking for the member and one companion, offering more legroom in the economy cabin

    • Two free checked bags with a 70-pound weight limit each

    • 8X MileagePlus miles earned on flights, providing a faster way to earn travel rewards

Premier Gold status can be yours when you earn 10,000 PQPs or a combination of 24 PQFs and 8,000 PQPs.

Premier Platinum

The next tier is Premier Platinum. It provides all the benefits of Premier Gold, plus:

    • Complimentary Premier upgrades are confirmed 48 hours before departure, subject to availability

    • Priority baggage handling, ensuring your bags are among the first to arrive at baggage claim

    • 9X MileagePlus miles earned on flights for a more rapid accumulation of miles

    • Fee waivers for changes to tickets and other services

Premier Platinum status requires 15,000 PQP or a combination of 36 PQFs and 12,000 PQP.

Premier 1K

If you reach Premier 1K status, you get all the benefits of Premier Platinum, plus:

    • Complimentary Premier upgrades confirmed 96 hours before departure, subject to availability

    • A higher priority for upgrades and standby lists

    • Three free checked bags with a 70-pound weight limit each

    • 11X MileagePlus miles earned on flights, the highest earning rate for the most rapid accumulation of miles

    • United Club access with two one-time passes each year

    • Exclusive 1K customer service line for assistance

You can achieve Premier 1K status with 24,000 PQPs or a combination of 45 PQFs and 18,000 PQPs. While that may seem an almost impossible requirement, remember that you also accrue the rewards of your card’s authorized users.

With a large enough staff of traveling employees, the impossible becomes easy.

Redeem Your Miles

The card rewards you with MileagePlus miles, so United Airlines sets the redemption rules. You can use your miles to pay for various travel-related expenses, including the following:

    • Airline tickets: You can use your miles to book seats on Star Alliance flights to more than 1,000 destinations worldwide. Or you can redeem miles for a statement credit when you use your card to buy flights. You can pay with a combination of money and miles if you don’t have enough miles to cover your whole trip.

    • Flight extras: You can use your miles to pay for TSA PreCheck, United Club membership, baggage check on domestic flights, in-flight dining and wifi, and meals at select restaurants and bars at Newark Airport and Houston Intercontinental Airport.

    • Hotels: Book a room at hotels and resorts worldwide with United Hotels. MileagePlus Premier members and eligible MileagePlus Chase cardmembers receive VIP Access benefits by signing in.

    • Car rentals: Rent a car with Avis or Budget. If you’re a Premier member or United cardmember, you can also get Avis elite status for free.

    • Cruises: Book a cruise with miles or a combination of miles and money through United Cruises. Premier members enjoy exclusive onboard extras on select cruise lines.

    • Shopping: You can use your miles to shop for thousands of products, such as electronics, household items, and jewelry from major brands, including Apple products, gift cards, and periodicals. Download the MileagePlus X app to shop with miles on the go.

    • MileagePlus Exclusives: Your miles allow you to bid on unique experiences, including VIP sports tickets, Broadway shows, and international adventures.

If you’re feeling generous, you can also donate your miles to your favorite cause and help people in need.

The dollar value of the MileagePlus miles you use to pay for flights can vary widely depending on several factors, including the route, class of service, time of booking, and overall flight demand.

Generally, miles tend to have a higher value when you redeem them for premium cabin flights or during peak travel periods. The value can fluctuate, so you’ll want to compare the mile cost of a flight to its cash price to see how best to use your miles.

One thing you can’t do with MileagePlus miles is convert them to cash. This is generally true of all co-branded mileage cards, setting them apart from generic travel cards.

How Does the Card Make Travel Better?

The United℠ Business Card makes your travel smoother and more enjoyable by offering benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags, and United Club access. These perks reduce travel-related stress and costs.

You can also use miles to upgrade your seat on any Star Alliance flight. For example, you can book an Economy seat and later upgrade to Business or First Class.

The card also improves travel in other ways. You can get a free or upgraded hotel stay with your miles and save money on car rentals. Your miles also pay for selected travel expenses, including in-flight dining and wifi.

Couple these perks with the card’s yearly credits, and it’s easy to justify the moderate annual fee.

How Does It Compare to a Business Travel Card With Generic Rewards?

The United℠ Business Card is a Chase card co-branded with United Airlines. This arrangement limits the scope of the card’s miles since you can only use them for flights on United Airlines (and partner carriers). Also, you can’t cash out the card’s miles (although you can redeem them for United gift cards).

Cards with generic miles or points are not co-branded. You can use your rewards to pay for any flights, and you can redeem them for cash. Here’s a more in-depth comparison:

Feature United℠ Business Card Generic Business Travel Card
Miles Earning Earn miles on Star Alliance purchases Earn points on various categories
Bonus Categories Focused on United flights, dining, hotels Broad, including travel and dining
Redemption Options For United flights, upgrades, partners Flexible, including any airlines or hotels
Cash Out You cannot cash out miles You can redeem rewards for cash
Travel Benefits Free bags, priority boarding, lounge passes Varied, may include travel credits
Annual Fee Yes, with travel perks to justify it Varies, some with fewer perks but lower fees

While generic rewards are more flexible, co-branded miles are often more valuable because cardmembers belong to the airline’s frequent flyer program. Of course, you can own several co-branded cards if you fly on different carriers.

Alternatively, you may prefer a mix of co-branded and/or generic cards to ensure you always get the most value.

Is the Card Worth It?

When evaluating whether the United℠ Business Card is worth it, weigh the annual fee against the value of perks, rewards, and credits you receive. If you often fly with United and enjoy benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags, and lounge access, these perks easily outweigh the cost of the annual fee, especially for frequent travelers.

The card lets you leverage its offerings to your advantage. If you aren’t a regular United passenger, you may get more value from a generic travel card.

For example, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card costs $95 per year and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has a $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, yet both cards, which are reviewed above, deliver a generous number of perks.

Some small-business owners don’t regularly fly on behalf of their companies. For them, it may make sense to own a personal travel card in addition to a business credit card. Perhaps the best credit card for travel (and my personal card) is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — it’s expensive but easily pays for itself with valuable features and travel credits.

Chase also issues the United Club Infinite Card if you don’t run a business but want an excellent co-branded card. The annual fee for United Club Infinite is $525.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • You often fly with United Airlines or its Star Alliance partners for business.

    • You travel frequently for work and can use the card for business expenses.

    • You want to maximize your United miles earnings and Premier status benefits.

    • You value travel comforts such as lounge access, priority boarding, and free checked bags.

If you own a larger company with higher earnings and often fly on United, your best credit card choice may be the United Club Business Card, also from Chase. It has a $450 annual fee but provides even more generous rewards and benefits.

About the Author

Eric Bank
Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Eric Bank