Maximizing The New United Business Card: What To Do With 100K Miles
If you’re wondering how good the United Business card’s welcome offer is, it is phenomenal. If you have wondered how you should go about maximizing the new United Business card and its offer, I have you covered there as well. We’ll look at how to earn the miles from the card’s welcome offer, the key perks of the card itself, and then what I would do if those miles were in my account.
The New United Business Card
We talked a bit about this card with its launch. This is considered a different product than the previous United Business Explorer Card, so you should be eligible for the welcome offer bonus on this new version. Here are the important details of the welcome offer:
- Type of card: business
- Card issuer: Chase
- Application rules to follow: 5/24 rule and no more than 2 cards in past 30 days
- Spending requirements: $10,000 within the first 3 months
- Welcome offer: 100,000 United MileagePlus miles
- Annual fee: $99 (not waived first year)
New United Business Card Benefits
- Earn 2x on local transit and commuting. Things like taxis, mass transit, tolls, and ride share services, etc.
- Get an anniversary bonus of 5,000 bonus miles when you have the new United Business Card and a personal United card (learn more)
- $100 annual United travel credit after seven United flight purchases of $100 or more
- 25% back on United inflight purchases (includes Wi-Fi, food and beverages)
- Learn More
- 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases
- 2 miles per $1 spent at gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants
- 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Free first checked bag
- Priority boarding
- 2 United ClubSM one-time passes at account opening and on each Cardmember anniversary
- No blackout dates
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- No foreign transaction fees
- Learn More
Maximizing The New United Business Card – Burning 100,000 Miles!
So…what would I do with 100,000 United miles? Technically, you’re going to have more than that. After spending $10,000 on the card, you’re going to have a minimum of 110,000 miles in your account, and I’m going to use this number for trip planning. Let’s take a look at options for economy, business, and first class. We’ll of course be using the Excursionist Perk where possible to maximize value. I gave an intro here, and Ian provided some mind-bending options for maximizing the perk here.
Economy Trip To Australia, New Zealand & Japan
United operates on regions, and I can fly non-stop from a few cities in the continental U.S. to Sydney, Australia (SYD airport) in economy for 40,000 miles one-way. After some time in Australia, I can use my Excursionist Perk to go over to Auckland, New Zealand, since they’re both in the same region for United’s chart. This flight costs me no points, just taxes.
From New Zealand, I’m spending 30k miles to jump up to Tokyo and visit Japan. After a week in Japan, I’ll fly back to the U.S. for 35k miles. I’ll get a direct flight from Tokyo to LAX on United. Total cost of the trip is 105,000 United miles. I’ll see 3 countries and make great use of my welcome offer of 100k United miles + 10k miles from the spending requirements. I’ll pay $181.85 in taxes for this trip. Remember that United doesn’t charge carrier-imposed fees, which helps me out. Additionally, Australia, New Zealand & Japan set limits on those fees (some countries limit these fees), in case I were to book with a different program.
Business Class to South America, Central America & The Caribbean
Using my 100k United miles and the extra 10,000 miles from the spending requirements, I’m going to see South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. From Chicago, my first stop is Peru. I’ll go see Machu Picchu by flying to Cusco CUZ airport. I’ll use 35,000 miles to fly there in business class.
After this, I’ll use my Excursionist Perk to visit the Galapagos Islands, which are part of Ecuador. This is still in the “Northern South America” region with Peru and will be a free flight by staying in the same region. I’ll just pay taxes.
After the Galapagos Islands, I’m looking for zip-lining in the jungles of Costa Rica. Flying to San Jose, Costa Rica will cost me 20k miles in business class.
At this point, I’ll end my vacation by relaxing on the beaches of Jamaica. Flying to the Caribbean region will cost me 20k miles in business class. After a few days soaking up the sun, we’ll fly home in business class for 30k miles. I’ll spend a total of 105,000 United miles flying in business class. I’ve got $306.02 in taxes to pay for the flights. Almost $100 of that comes from Ecuador because of visiting a protected nature area in the Galapagos.
First Class – 2 Different Options
I think we can all admit that you’re not going far in first class from the U.S. with 100k United miles. To maximize these and ride a great product, I’d go with either of 2 options.
Option 1 – Lufthansa First Class
Remember that Lufthansa doesn’t release first class award space to partners until 2 weeks before the flight. You’ll need to snag these shortly before your travel date, which can make planning a bit tough. It’s doable, though. If we want to burn as much of our 100k United miles as possible, Lufthansa runs 2 direct flights with first class options to South Africa: Munich MUC-Cape Town CPT and Frankfurt FRA-Johannesburg JNB. Either of these will cost you 100k United miles.
Because I’m into maximizing, remember that “Europe” is a region. Also, visiting the First Class Lounge before your long flight is all the rage (I wouldn’t know). So, we can add another flight from elsewhere in Europe to get that layover lounge experience. Unfortunately, these won’t have first class, so we’d have to slum it in business class for this connection. Add any city served by Lufthansa directly to your connection in FRA or MUC.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any availability for these flights in first class within the next 2 weeks. My next option is going to India to see the Taj Mahal. I need 68.5k United miles to get there in first class on Lufthansa from FRA. Since I want to max it out, I’ll start in Lisbon, Portugal (LIS). I’ll use 68,500 miles and only $39.70 in taxes.
Option 2 – Thai Airways First Class
The other Star Alliance first class with great reviews is Thai Airways. Going from Bangkok BKK to Japan costs 68.5k miles. This doesn’t use up all of my 100k United miles, and there’s no way to get a round-trip. Also, I won’t qualify for adding any flights with the Excursionist Perk. To add some value, I can start from somewhere else in the South Asia region. I’ll start in Singapore and get a business class seat on Singapore Airlines to connect to Bangkok. Leave enough time for your free massage at the BKK lounge when flying Thai Airways first class.
There are options for longer and shorter layovers if you play with it. This itinerary requires 68,500 miles and $37.20 in taxes. I scrolled past several options marked as “mixed cabin” offering the first leg in economy. Those would have a shorter layover, inferior product, and still cost the same points / taxes, so probably not what we’re looking for.
Speaking of Taxes
All award tickets will have taxes. That’s a guarantee. While the United Business Card earns 2 miles per $1 on United purchases, I find that…meh. As I recently mentioned, using the best card for your purchase nets more miles. So does using shopping portals and cash back sites. I wouldn’t use a United card of any type to pay the taxes for these bookings, to be honest.
I’d use an American Express Platinum Card as my first option. That would give me 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 when paying the taxes. The 2nd option would be Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Gold Card. Either of those will give me 3 points per $1 (Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards).
Final Thoughts On Maximizing The New United Business Card
If you are about to have 100k United miles in your account from the welcome offer on the new United Business Card, here are some great ideas for using them. We looked at the card, the welcome offer, and uses in economy, business, or first class for great trips.
This card is also a great long term keeper for anyone who flies United regularly, due to the useful perks, especially the extra award space for cardholders.
If you’re working on the minimum spend for this card and are already dreaming of how to use your miles, maybe you saw some new ideas. Planned your trip already? I’d love to hear how you’re using your 100k United miles.