If you’re new to earning United miles with credit cards, you can build up your United MileagePlus® account balance quickly with bonus mile offers.
If you get approved for multiple credit cards you might earn 50 – 90,000+ miles (5ok from one card plus 40k from another) if you meet the introductory spending requirements for each.
It starts with applying for both the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The Sapphire is special because it earns points you can transfer into your United account at any time (see how it works).
So getting both lets you almost double up on intro bonus miles for your MileagePlus account and gives you flexibility to take advantage of the unique benefits of each card, like point transfer from the Sapphire Preferred and a free first checked bag and priority boarding from the Explorer Card. You can space out your applications – no need to get them all at once.
But first, here’s some background…
It’s OK to apply for multiple credit cards to take advantage of the unique benefits of different cards, since some are better for some types of spending than others. Just note you can only get one bonus offer per individual card with Chase, the exclusive provider of credit cards that earn United miles (i.e. only one United Explorer bonus).
There are no explicit limits on the number of cards you can hold, but you may sometimes be asked to reduce the credit line on one card to support a new one.
At MileCards.com we think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the best credit cards for spending to earn United miles.
A lot of people don’t know it, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns points you can transfer 1:1 into United miles (see how).
You can also transfer your points into Southwest Rapid Rewards and over 10 other airline and hotel programs. No other personal card that earns United miles has more flexibility, so keep this at the front of your wallet.
It offers 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, including things like taxis and parking — something no United credit card currently being marketed does.
So a good strategy is to put your normal spending on your United card – taking advantage of its annual 10,000 point bonus when you spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year. And use it to buy United flights and enjoy priority boarding and free first checked bag benefits.
Then use the Sapphire Preferred for special category bonuses like dining and travel – and any spending where you want points with the flexibility to transfer elsewhere.
Here’s our strategy for racking up United miles quickly…..
1. Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 40,000 points. Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
In addition to being able to transfer 1:1 into your United account with no fees for the transfer, it earns 2x points on all dining and travel purchases.
You can apply right away too, just make sure you’ll be able to handle the minimum spending required to earn the bonus.
2. Apply for the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card: 50,000 miles. Start with 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months the account is open. And get 5,000 more miles if you add an authorized user to your card with in the first 3 months. Limited time offer ends 6/2/15.
That could be 90,000 or more United miles over a few months if you are approved and meet the minimum spending requirements for each. Both cards waive their annual fees the first year.
The Sapphire Preferred® Card can be the better one all around for earning via spending — the 2x bonus on dining/travel is strong and the points can be used on airlines besides United.
But if you’re not an elite flyer, you’ll probably want to keep the United Explorer for the free checked bag and priority boarding it offers. 2 flights a year with a checked bag more than pay for the annual fee.
To double your rewards, consider having your spouse apply for the credit cards as well if he/she does a fair amount of independent spending.
For bonus mile seekers who have small businesses, you can also earn more United credit card miles with these offers…
This is a credit card designed for small business owners and like the Sapphire Preferred® Card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can transfer to United. You don’t need a long running business to qualify for the card and some businesses even get one before having the business up and running to put start up expenses in one place.
Your personal credit history is what is used to determine eligibility for the card, so this is an option to earn more miles after finishing the above. See the MileCards.com guide to applying for business credit cards here – ‘Business Credit Cards for One.’
2. Apply for a United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card: 50,000 miles – limited time (link here)
The rule on ‘one bonus per credit card’ doesn’t apply to having a bonus from both the consumer and business version of the cards. So, if you are a business owner you can apply for the business version of the United Explorer even if you have the consumer card.
So, you have the potential to earn 150,000+ United miles over the course of a year if you decide to hold all of the credit cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, the Ink Plus®, and the United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card.
And you’ll end up with cards you’ll want to keep. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card should be ‘go to’ for a lot of spending, and the United Explorer’s bag fee savings are likely to add up, while the business versions of the cards let you separate business from personal spending.
Also note if you have an older United credit card like the United Select Visa, you can retain that card and its features — they won’t cancel that account if you apply online for a new United card and take advantage of the bonus.
What about your credit score?
Your credit score generally drops about 5 points or so with a new card application, but often recovers that and more within a year as you’re showing you are responsibly handling additional credit.
When it comes to approvals for credit cards there aren’t a lot of benefits to keeping your score much above about 720, so if your score is well above that there may not be a lot of extra benefits from having a perfect 800+ score.
You should feel comfortable applying unless you plan to take out a mortgage or large loan shortly, and even then small credit inquiries are one of the lesser things lenders consider.
Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.
"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."