The United℠ Explorer Card, our favorite card for both frequent and occasional United flyers, is currently offering a limited-time sign-up bonus of up to 65,000 bonus miles. Should you jump on this offer before it expires Jan. 22? Let’s take a look.
We love the United℠ Explorer Card because of the significant benefits it offers when flying United. Using this card to book your flights makes your travel experience easier: You’ll get priority boarding and a free checked bag, 25% off inflight purchases, and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment credit.
You’ll also get two free United Club passes every year, and since United miles never expire, you don’t have to worry about losing your hard-earned rewards.
Perhaps the best perk of this card is that you get more options for redeeming your United miles. United Explorer cardholders get exclusive access to additional economy award space on United flights — a significant perk that no other airline program offers its credit card members.
Through Jan. 22, 2020, the United℠ Explorer Card has a limited-time increased sign-up bonus of up to 65,000 United MileagePlus miles with qualifying purchases. You’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, and another 25,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 total in purchases within the first six months. The card’s annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
Nerd tip: Be aware that when evaluating credit card applications, Chase, like other issuers, takes into account how many cards you’ve applied for and opened recently. Read more about Chase’s so-called 5/24 rule here.
Is the offer worth it?
This is among the highest publicly available offers we’ve seen from Chase for this card — though it also requires significant spending to get the full bonus. If you’ve been thinking about applying for this card and the minimum spending requirement isn’t a problem for you (and if you’re eligible for a new card with Chase’s restrictions), then this would be a great opportunity to give your MileagePlus balance a solid boost.
Should you spend the extra $8,000 to get the additional bonus miles?
It depends. Spending an additional $8,000 for 25,000 United miles isn’t a particularly great deal when you do the math. While you’re essentially earning 20 bonus miles per dollar on the first $2,000 you spend, the next $8,000 of spending only gets you 2.5 bonus miles per dollar.
While that’s still quite good compared to most credit cards, it’s a lower return on your spending than you’d get from the sign-up bonus on another credit card. So if you’d use this card for purchases that would otherwise go on a cash-back card, for example, the United miles are more valuable.
On the other hand, if you would otherwise apply for another credit card and put your spending toward that card’s sign-up bonus for a higher return, it’s probably not worth going for the additional 25,000 United miles.
Are there better alternatives?
If you’re interested in having the benefits of a United credit card, this card is the best option for most people. The other United card that gets you travel benefits like a free checked bag, priority boarding, inflight discounts and enhanced award flight availability is the United Club℠ Card. While this card includes United Club access, it also comes with a much larger $450 annual fee (not waived for the first year) and a smaller sign-up bonus.
However, if you’re just looking to increase your balance of United miles, you can find better deals with other Chase credit cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card is currently offering the following: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
And if you’re eligible to apply for small-business credit cards, here’s the offer on the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Both cards allow you to transfer those Ultimate Rewards® points 1:1 to United MileagePlus miles.
While you will have to pay the annual fee for each of these cards in the first year — unlike the United Explorer Card — the significantly lower spending requirements make them far more economical options for increasing your MileagePlus balance if you’re not interested in benefits when you travel.
The information related to United Club℠ Card credit card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.