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Originally posted on 8/4:
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Limited time signup bonus
From today through 9/30, you can earn 60,000 bonus miles for opening a Chase United Explorer card and spending $3,000 within 3 months.
Comparison to previous signup bonus:
The standard offer for this card is 40K miles for spending $2,000.
The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year with this offer.
Welcome bonus terms
You can receive the bonus on this card if you haven’t received a bonus on a United Explorer Consumer card in the past 24 months and don’t currently have a United Explorer Consumer card.
You can receive the bonus on this card even if you got a United business card or United Club card in the past 24 months or currently have a United business card or United Club card.
All Chase cards are now subject to 5/24 restrictions. That means it will be hard to get approved if you have been approved for 5 or more consumer credit cards in the past 24 months. Read more about that here.
United has added new features to the United Explorer card:
- It now earns 2 miles per dollar on hotels and dining as well as on United purchases.
- Cardholders get Global Entry/Pre-Check for free.
- Cardholders get a 25% rebate on inflight WiFi, food, and drink purchases.
The card continues to offer benefits like:
- 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.
- Primary rental car CDW insurance in every country.
- 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, 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 $12K/year on the card it will give you 500 PQPs and if you spend $24K/year you’ll get 1,000 PQPs. PQPs from multiple cards can stack together.
- United miles never expire, even if you close your card.
You can downgrade this card to a no-annual fee card.
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.
This availability differential applies to all domestic and international routes and makes it crucial to be a United cardholders.
ll 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.
Here Is United’s Hidden Award Chart
United no longer publishes an award chart, but rates for United flights found in their old award chart are still correct.
United does charge a close-in mileage surcharge and they can be found in the chart below. Note that the you’ll want to book travel as 2 one-ways to avoid paying the surcharge on the return leg when it wouldn’t apply when booked separately. However if you do that you would lose your ability to take a free stopover.
Partner award rates have gone up and they can be found in the unpublished award chart below with one-way rates for flights to/from the mainland US:
|United flights||Partner flights|
|Close-in surcharge within 7 days||2.5K-3K miles||1K-3K miles|
|Close-in surcharge 8-21 days in advance||2K-2.5K miles||1K-3K miles|
|Mainland US/Canada||12.5K Coach|
35K Premium Business
40K Premium Business
50K Premium Business
|Central America||17.5K Coach|
|Northern South America||20K Coach|
|Southern South America||30K Coach|
|Middle East||42.5K Coach|
|Central Asia||42.5K Coach|
|South Asia||40K Coach|
|North Asia||35K Coach|
|Japan and Oceania||35K Coach|
|Australia and New Zealand||40K Coach|
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:
- 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
Will you signup for a United Explorer card?