I visited a friend last week who doesn’t fly a huge amount each year and he asked me what I thought about United’s Mileage Plus Explorer credit card. United is aggressively promoting the card (and yes… I’m featuring it here now, too), but he wondered if he should hold off applying for the current offer he saw to wait for a better one.
First, I had him log in to his MileagePlus account and then click on the Chase MileagePlus Explorer credit card offer on United’s website. It often will yield a higher bonus mile offer for new applicants than the one promoted by United elsewhere (onboard, in the United Club, airport kiosks, etc).
After he did this, it directed him to the current bonus offer of 30,000 miles – actually 35,000 miles by adding a second cardholder to the account and making a purchase. Many have reported success in getting a 50,000-mile offer this way (as well as a statement credit), but sadly he didn’t. And the links I had previously for the 50k offer all seem to have expired (redirect to the 30k offer). My login only gives the United Club card as I already have a former iteration of the Explorer card. There are reports, though, that once you apply for the current offer, you can contact Chase and ask for the upgraded 50k offer.
The offer of 30,000 bonus miles is as follows:
- 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months
- 5,000 additional bonus miles after adding an authorized user and making a purchase on that card during the first three months as a cardmember
- 10,000 bonus miles each calendar year you spend $25,000 on the card
- $0 introductory annual fee, $95 thereafter
And the benefits the card carries are as follows:
- Free checked bag for the primary cardholder and one companion on the same reservation so long as the ticket was purchased on the card
- Priority boarding for the cardholder and companions on the same reservation, which I believe is Boarding Group 4 right behind Premiers
- Two United Club passes every calendar year
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United tickets purchased with United directly
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere
- Earn unlimited miles on the card, which never expire so long as you’re a cardmember
- Other travel perks including hotel room upgrades and car rental protection
He’s primarily a domestic flier, which is good, because this card does charge foreign transaction fees. And the Mileage Plus Club Card didn’t interest him as he doesn’t fly enough to warrant the hefty annual fee after the first year, feeling the two club passes with this card are fine for him. And his flying is normally spread out on Delta, United and US Airways.
I told him the next time this card might see a better offer is at the turn of the year, as Chase seems to make (mostly) quarterly tweaks to their card offers.
So is it a good deal? It really depends on your flying pattern, but for my friend, it does pay off having the card and “buying” the benefits of Premier Silver status, effectively. He decided to apply for the card as the bonus miles will push him over the miles he needs for an international business class ticket. And I’ll be helping him plan it on a Star Alliance carrier (he didn’t know he could use United miles this way!)