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Limited time signup bonus
Until 10/10, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles for opening a Chase United Explorer Business Card. You’ll get 50,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in 3 months and another and another 50,000 bonus miles for spending an additional $20,000 in 6 months.
There is a $95 annual fee.
Welcome bonus terms
You can receive the bonus on this card if you haven’t received a bonus on a United business card in the past 24 months and don’t currently have a United business card.
You can receive the bonus on this card even if you got a United consumer card in the past 24 months or currently have a United consumer card.
- A free checked bag for the cardholder and a companion, even on basic economy fares.
- A free carry-on bag for the cardholder and companions, even on basic economy fares.
- Priority boarding for the cardholder and companions, even on basic economy fares.
- The ability to use online checkin and get a boarding pass in advance on basic economy fares. United does not allow online checkin on basic economy fares unless you have elite status or a United card with free bags.
- 2 free United Club passes every year for being a cardmember.
- Miles that will never expire as long as you are a United cardholder, even if you don’t have any activity.
- Primary rental car CDW insurance in the US when renting for business purposes and in every other country for any rental purpose.
- 2 miles per dollar on United, restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores.
- No foreign exchange fees.
- Exclusive cardmember 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.
- Cardholders with United elite status get free upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes.
- If you spend $25K/year on the card it waives the requirement to spend $3K on United flights to get Silver status, $6K on United flights to get Gold status, and $9K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.
Business card and 5/24 info
This is a business card, but you may already have a business that needs a card to keep track of expenses. For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can open a business credit card for “Joe Smith” as the business. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that. Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field.
It’s important to just write your own name as the business name if you are just applying for your own small business as a Sole Proprietorship that doesn’t have any business paperwork.
If you’re like me and you run more than one business, you can signup for multiple of the same card for each business to manage each businesses expenses separately.
All Chase cards appear to be subject to 5/24 restrictions, meaning that you are not likely to be approved if you have been approved for 5 or more consumer credit cards in the past 24 months. Note that the Chase system automatically counts cards like authorized user cards and store cards as cards that count towards 5/24, but if you explain to Chase that those cards are merely authorized user cards or store cards they can manually approve you for a new card.
However, it’s important to note that business cards from most banks, including Chase business cards, do not get added to your 5/24 count of recently opened cards. That’s because business cards from most banks don’t show up on your personal credit report and the 5/24 count is based off of your personal credit report. That means that applying for these cards won’t “hurt” your 5/24 count.
Another benefit of the card not reporting on your personal credit report is that when you spend money on personal cards your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card bill before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a couple dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month. On an business cards from banks like AMEX and Chase it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score. That also means if you close the card, it won’t have an effect on your credit score.
Expanded award ticket availability
The reason this card is the best airline card you can get isn’t for the spending benefits, it’s for the perks. And they are awesome.
The reason this is my favorite airline card is that the United card is the only airline card that offers expanded award ticket availability.
This increases the value of your miles significantly and in turn makes the Chase Quadfecta/Quinfecta spending strategy even more valuable.
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.
Availability calendar for non-cardholders:
Availability calendar for cardholders:
This availability differential applies to all domestic and international routes and makes it crucial to be a United cardholders.
Expanded Plan B availability
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 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 style award redemption.
Discounted awards for cardholders
United runs promotions offering discounts on award flights for cardholders.
New 5K Saver Awards
United recently introduced new lower cost saver awards starting at just 5K miles:
- Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Montreal, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Toronto: 5K
- Asheville, Norfolk, Richmond, Washington DC: 5.5K
- Burlington, Portland/PWM: 6K
- Knoxville, Savannah, Syracuse: 9K
- Buffalo, Charleston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Rochester: 9.5K
- Houston: 10.5K
- Denver, Minneapolis, New Orleans: 11K
- Miami, West Palm Beach: 11.5K
- Dallas, Madison, Nashville, Seattle: 12K
Short haul routes to/from NYC where I only found the regular 10K saver rate: Akron, Albany, Bangor, Boston, Detroit, Greensboro, Greenville, Halifax, Hilton Head, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nantucket, Pittsburgh, Presque Isle, Providence, Quebec City, Raleigh, South Bend, Traverse City
Long haul routes to/from NYC where I only found the regular 12.5K saver rate: Austin, Bentonville, Bozeman, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Jackson Hole, Kansas City, Key West, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Montrose, Orange County, Palm Springs, Pensacola, Phoenix, Portland/PDX, Rapid City, S. Louis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Sarasota, Steamboat Springs, Tampa, Vail, Vancouver
The advantage of United MileagePlus
In general I’m a big fan of United miles as they’re part of the Star Alliance, which has the best award availability of any airline alliance.
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.
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.
United is also the only major US carrier that caps the mileage rate for standard awards at a reasonable rate.
For example the last time there was a limited time offer on this card I checked on award space from NYC to LA:
American charged 82.5K-97.5K miles with their variable standard award pricing:
Delta charged 142.5K-152.5K miles with their variable standard award pricing:
All JetBlue award pricing is variable and they wanted 81K-152.4K miles:
Alaska is the only airline flying nonstop between NYC and LAX without lie-flat seating in business class and they wanted 70K miles:
With United there was a saver award for 32.5K. Those come and go, but the standard awards on United are just 50K-60K on this route. That’s significantly less than other airlines. Best of all, cardholders can book a standard award even if it’s the last coach or business seat on the plane:
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 to 2 Hawaiian Islands is just 45,000 miles round-trip thanks to the free excursionist perk:
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 miles 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:
United has dozens of partner airlines which means lots of great award opportunities. It can be worth checking for award space on partner sites like ANA or Aeroplan.com to search for award availability and then call United to book if you don’t see availability on United.
Partners airlines include:
- Adria Airlines
- Aegean Airlines
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air Dolomiti
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- Avianca Airlines
- Azul Brazilian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Cape Air
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- EVA Air
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Island Air
- Juneyao Airlines
- LOT Polish
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Silver Airways
- South African Airways
- Swiss International Airlines
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
Are you a United cardholder?