Ends Today! A Limited Time Offer On My Favorite Airline Mileage Card; How To Take Advantage Of United’s Most Generous Awards

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Update: This card now offers 40,000 bonus miles for spending $2,000 and an additional 5,000 miles for opening a free additional user card and making 1 purchase on that card in the first 3 months.

Originally posted on 7/15:

Until 8/15, you can earn 40,000 bonus miles and a $100 statement credit for opening a Chase United Explorer card and spending $2,000 within 3 months plus you can receive an additional 5,000 miles for opening a free additional user card and making 1 purchase on that card in the first 3 months. The additional cardholder bonus bumps the 40K bonus up to 45K. The $95 annual fee is also waived for the first year with this offer.

You can receive the bonus on this card if you haven’t received a bonus on this card in the past 24 months and don’t currently have this card.

This card is subject to 5/24 restrictions.

United has added new features to their credit 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.
  • 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 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, 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.

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 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:


Let’s say you want to fly from Newark to Tel Aviv from January 27-February 7.

If you’re a cardholder and are logged in on United, you’ll pay 85K miles:

If you’re not a cardholder you’ll pay 132.5K miles:


If you have read the United Expert Mode post, you know that’s because United is willing to sell at least 9 saver award seats in XN class to cardholders (XN9), but there are no seats in X class for saver award for non-cardholders on those flights (X0):


This availability differential applies to all domestic and international routes and makes it crucial to be a United cardholders.


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.


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.



Short-haul nonstop flights within any region outside of the US are just 8K miles:


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 charges 82.5K-97.5K miles with their variable standard award pricing:


Delta charges 142.5K-152.5K miles with their variable standard award pricing:



All JetBlue award pricing is variable and they want 81K-152.4K miles:




All Virgin America award pricing is variable as well. They charge 70K miles. Alaska is the only airline flying nonstop between NYC and LAX without lie-flat seating in business class.



With United there is 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:



If you find yourself in Japan you can fly on the island hopper to 2 cities in Micronesia (I’ve been hankering to get back to Palau since the moment I left) for 30K miles:



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:

  • ANA
  • Adria Airlines
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • Aeromar
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca Airlines
  • Azul Brazilian Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cape Air
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • Edelweiss
  • Egyptair
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Eurowings
  • Germanwings
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Island Air
  • Juneyao Airlines
  • LOT Polish
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Silver Airways
  • Singapore
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Airlines
  • TAP Portugal
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines

Are you a United cardholder?

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64 Comments On "Ends Today! A Limited Time Offer On My Favorite Airline Mileage Card; How To Take Advantage Of United’s Most Generous Awards"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Sheldon Krause

I already have the Explorer Card. Any way for me to benefit from this offer?


I couldn’t find the PQD waiver listed anywhere.
The only place I see it is when tracking status on my Mileage Plus account

Lucas Noble

Does this perk (the expanded award ticket availability) apply to chase united mileage plus explorer card


on united’s website they had links to THREE different offers: 40K miles + $100, 50K miles + $100, and 60K miles


If you are a plat or a 1K – this card has far fewer values, other than the auction stuff or whatever. The real value of this card is for non-elite flyers. I had the explorer card and closed it after realizing it added ZERO value for me.


Thanks Dan. What about the Business version of this card? How would ghe consumer and business versions of this particular card compare in terms of all the great perks you mention in this post?


I only see on the application website 40,000 miles and not 45,000. Please advise.


If not happy with the card after the first year, is it necessary to close or is there a downgrade to a free alternative possible?


There’s a free version that you can downgrade to, that still offers expanded availability.

Chaim L.

To me the business explorer card sounds exactly the same with even more benefits (price protection, 10k bonus/year) any reason I should rather sign up for personal?


Can do both


If not happy with this card after the free first year, would I have to close the card, or is there possibility to downgrade to a free alternative?


Possible to downgrade


Hi Dan, thanks for all the info! Is it better to get the personal card (45k +$100) or the business card (50k + 10k if you spend $25,000)? Can one get both? Thanks!


@Dan if I make a mileage reservation with out having this card then when I fly I have it. Will I get free bags? Also if I have this card will it extend the cancellation period time over 24hrs? This is very important for me so I have time to figure out hotels in Hawaii …


You only get the free bags if you pay for at least some of the ticket with the card and the cardholder is on the reservation. It will not extend the 24 hour cancellation period.


is united expanded saver award availability for cardholders work for business class or only for economy? and is there a way to access that benefit by calling up on the phone? i found that even though i do not any united cards or elite statues a rep was able to see saver award availability and book me over the phone even though it was not showing on the website? if someone can please answer this question thank you

a shailah

can i sign my wife up for this card using my ffn or will that cause problems?i want it to be linked to my account because i already have prexisitng rewards there and i do not liek to many accounts opened i end up losing trak

United downgraded

United gives the special availability even for the downgraded cards


Not directly related, but does anyone have a clue if the flights, included with some of the auctions (i.e, https://exclusives.mileageplus.com/Listing/Details/5202587), are ticketed as award flights, or revenue? if it gives you PQM, it might be worth it

shmoe joe

What is the usual sign up bonus?


Will Sapphire Reserve card holders also see the expanded Saver ticket options, or only the Explorer card holders?


Is the expanded award availability different from the expanded availability offered to United elites?


does this card wave the $75 fee for booking an award ticket within 21 days of the flight?
for all passengers on the reservation?


U may want to ask your LOR (I did) but I book for my boss with more than three weeks out, then change immediately (once the tickets issued within minutes) to the date within 3 seeks and bingo, no $75 fee


Weeks not seeks

Francine Naor

If I already have 11000 miles with United is there a way to connect this account with the new card?


The offer has now been extended to August 15.


Will a United Premier Gold member get the enhanced or expanded saver awards availability?


Dan or JJ,
If I was mixed up and thought the United offer was expiring in July. I also recently opened up the Chase Marriott Premier Card. I am not sure about being able to afford meeting the spending threshold for both cards. Is there a way to prevent the time from ticking on the united card until august 15th? Any other advice?


Dan, I saw this post when it was posted and, taking your word for it, signed myself and my wife up for the card immediately. Now I just read the post through completely and I’m so glad I got this card! Thanks for always looking out for us.


If I got the card / bonus 3 years ago and last year I downgraded to the free United card, do I qualify for the bonus again?


What’s the difference between the free version of this card and the one that has a $95 annual fee


Can Elite status get upgrades even on basic economy fares?


2bm or 3bm still work with chase?


Whats the difference between business one and regular one? I have the business ink. Same process? Any CONs?


Does the AU get the benefit of global entry too?


Can I transfer miles from my wife’s United account to my United account? And how?
Thank you!!!


Seconding this question


Does the credit card give better award availability beyond the expanded award availability I get based on my Silver status?


I don’t have any Chase card, should I do a 2bm with this ? Witch card you will recommend to apply right now ?


will the business one stick around?


Can I sign my wife up and put my MileagePlus number? I already have a card under my name with my MileagePlus number connected to it.


Hi Dan, I am looking into getting a new card and I am deciding between this card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited. I currently have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Freedom x2. Which do you recommend?


@Dan, thanks. Would you recommend getting the business and personal together? Or just one?

Yitz Weiss

Dan, if my wife has a United Explorer card & we book basic economy tickets entirely using Chase points (no cost to charge to the United card), is there any way to still get the free luggage & carry one?