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For a limited time only you can earn 50,000 bonus miles for opening a Chase United Explorer card and spending $3,000 within 3 months. The normal bonus is 30,000 miles. Plus you’ll earn an additional 5,000 miles for adding a free additional user card and making a purchase within 3 months. There is a $95 annual fee.
This offer is available on the consumer and business card. For the business card just click on the consumer link and then click on the link under “Are you a business owner?”
It can be difficult to get approved if you have been approved for 5 or more consumer cards in the past 24 months.
Spend $3,000 on a new card and add an additional user and you’ll have at least 58,000 miles.
A short-haul United domestic award under 700 miles in distance is just 10,000 miles. That’s more than the BA 7.5K short-haul, but availability is much better, it allows for a longer flight distance, and you are allowed to have connections for the same rate, something that BA doesn’t allow.
Best of all United never charges any fuel surcharges. Other airlines like American collect massive fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways. Delta charges fuel surcharges to fly on some partners and if you originate in Europe and other regions. United will never collect a fuel surcharge and they have access to awards on 36 partner airlines which means better availability on more awards.
The United card is easily my favorite of all of the airline cards. Here’s why:
View all the reasons why after the jump:
-It is the only card that gives expanded award ticket availability.
Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class).
It’s not just slightly expanded. There is a world of difference between the availability that cardholders can access and the availability for non-cardholders.
When a non-cardholder searches for a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 2/26 for example (or for many other dates) they’ll be quoted the price for a standard award, 85K miles:
But when a logged-in cardholder searches they’ll be quoted just 42.5K miles for the same flight:
You can view the underlying data explaining this concept by using United’s expert mode.You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.
In this case United is selling one-way flights for $1,738. But if you look under “available fare classes” you’ll notice that it says XN9 X0:
XN9 means that United is willing to sell at least 9 seats as saver awards if you have a United credit card or elite status. X0 means that United is not willing to sell any saver award seats to non-cardholders.
This availability differential applies to all domestic and international routes and makes it crucial to be a United cardholders.
United is also the only major US carrier that caps the mileage rate for standard awards at a reasonable rate.
For example if you want to fly nonstop from NYC to LA on this Wednesday in business class there are 5 airlines to choose from:
American would charge 97.5K miles with their variable standard award pricing:
Delta would charge 120K miles with their variable standard award pricing:
All JetBlue award pricing is variable and they want 158K miles:
All Virgin America award pricing is variable as well. They charge 67.5K miles:
That would be incredibly foolish though as Alaska can book the same Virgin flights for just 25K miles. And you can transfer 20K Virgin America miles into 26K Alaska miles! Great deal, but the caveat is that Virgin America is the only airline flying nonstop between NYC and LAX without lie-flat seating in business class. But yes you’re reading that correctly, the cost for Virgin business class is less than coach:
If a non-cardholder searches for a United award they won’t see any availability. That’s because United has a fixed 50K rate for domestic business class, but they restrict availability on their standard awards for non-cardholders.
However cardholders get access to last seat availability and can book a lie-flat seat for 50K miles, even if it’s the last business class seat on the plane:
Once again, you can view the underlying data explaining this concept by using United’s expert mode.You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.
JN3 means that United is willing to sell 3 seats as business standard awards if you have a United credit card or elite status. ZN0 means that United is not willing to sell any business standard award seats to non-cardholders.
This same concept applies to coach, business, and first class standard awards on all domestic and international routes. And United’s standard last seat pricing for cardholders is downright reasonable compared to their competition.
-As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Read more about Plan B in this post.
No airline besides United offers a Plan B redemption.
-United is launching basic economy fares that won’t allow you to bring large carry-ons aboard and will only allow boarding in the final boarding group. However if you have a United credit card you’ll be able to board in the priority boarding group for cardholders and you’ll still be able to bring a carry-on bag for free, even on a basic economy fare!
-United cardholders and their companions can check a free bag on domestic routes when using their card to pay for the flight. The card also offers double miles for United flights.
-The United card offers primary rental car CDW insurance in every country. Many other cards only have secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country. This means that if you damage your rental vehicle you must file the claim with your own personal insurance policy first, and only if they won’t cover the damage will the credit card cover the damage. Even additional cardholders get primary coverage when they rent.
With primary rental car CDW insurance you will not have to file anything with your own insurance company. Chase will cover the entire bill for any damage to your rental car. Just be sure to decline the rental agency’s CDW coverage. This primary coverage applies in every country in the world.
-The United Explorer card gives 2 free United Club passes every year for being a cardmember.
-Your miles will never expire as long as you are a United cardholder, even if you don’t have any activity.
-There are no foreign exchange fees on the card.
-United cardholders get exclusive access to auctions that allow you to use your miles for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A few years ago I used 25K miles for 4 field box seats to an Indians game along with the right to run onto the field before the top of the 7th inning and swipe 2nd base right off the field. Nobody could believe it as I walked around the ballpark with 2nd base. I even got it signed after the game by the Indians wining pitcher that night, Justin Masterson, who was equally shocked that I actually had 2nd base.
-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K. That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. That’s not as good as you can do with the Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5 points per dollar, but that card requires a premium Ultimate Rewards card to transfer points into miles.
-A massive benefit for United elite members is that they can get free upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.
-Another benefit for United Elite members is that if they spend $25K in a year on the card it will waive the requirement to spend $2.5K on United flights to get Silver status, $5K on United flights to get Gold status, and $7.5K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.
While American and Delta have eliminated free stopovers, United continues to offer a free excursionist perk as described in this post. Just use the multi-city award search on United.com to piece it together.
A round-trip ticket to 2 European or South American cities is just 60,000 miles round-trip thanks to the free excursionist perk:
A flight to 2 of my favorite cities in Asia, Hong Kong and Chiang Mai, Thailand is 80K thanks to the perk:
You’re even allowed a free open jaw in addition to the perk to really maximize your travel. For example this itinerary includes travel to London, Paris, and Zurich. You can take a train or use 4.5K BA Avios to get from London to Paris to fill the hole in the open jaw:
Of course the free stopover isn’t just useful from the US.
You can stopover in NYC and LA when flying from Tel Aviv to the US:
If you find yourself in Japan you can fly to 2 cities in Micronesia (I’ve been hankering to get back to Palau since the moment I left) for 25K miles:
Or you can fly from Bangkok to Sydney and Auckland in Thai first class (with a free 1 hour massage in the Bangkok first class lounge) and Air New Zealand business class for 80K miles round-trip:
United has dozens of partner airlines which means lots of great award opportunities. However not all of them are currently bookable online, you’ll have to call (or use the Aeroplan or ANA sites) to get the full picture:
United partners that currently must be booked over the phone:
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways (Ends 3/25/17)
And here’s the list of partners currently bookable on United.com:
-Air New Zealand
-Azul Brazilian Airlines
-South African Airways
-Swiss International Airlines
You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice. Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.
Are you a United cardholder?