Credit Cards Travel Tips

Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer Card – $1400+ in savings thanks to perks

With some amazing travel protections, primary rental CDW, free checked in bags, lounge access and much more, the United Mileage Plus card is one to consider as a mid-game credit card.

Sign Up Offer

There are two types of offers available:

40,000 United Miles when you spend $2000 in the first 3 months of opening the card. (Blog link)

60,000 United Miles when you spend $3000 in the first 3 months of opening the card. (Public Offer)

wherein both cases, the $95 annual fee is waived. I personally got the card back in December 2019 when there was a promotional offer of 65,000 United Miles on Spending $10,000 in the first 6 months.

Multiplier categories

The card earns a meager 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, restaurants and hotel stays (booked directly with hotel – and not third party websites).

It earns 1 miles per $1 on every other category – which really isn’t great because each point on average is worth 1.2-1.5 Cent per Mile.

Card Member Benefits

$100 Global Entry/ TSA Precheck free credit

In my opinion, this is the single best benefit you can get for yourself. Since Global Entry automatically covers TSA Precheck, I would recommend to get the former. While the process to get approved may take time, it will potentially save you hours in security lines and immigration.

If you are a frequent traveler – it is like owning a pair of noise cancelling headsets – once you’re used to it, its impossible to go back.

The credits are a one-time use every four years after which they will be made available again.

Free first checked bag

With United charging $30 for your first checked bag, this perk alone could give you more value than the annual fee (from second year). On a recent trip with a friend, we both avoided having to pay almost $120 thanks to the card covering my and my companion’s bag. Do note – this perk is only limited to the cardholder and one companion traveling on the same itinerary. Additional card members do not get to claim this perk if the primary card holder is not traveling with them.

Additionally, either part or the complete fare needs to be paid for using this card if you wish to claim this perk.

Case 1: If you book your tickets through the United portal using Miles and pay the taxes with the card, you are covered.

Case 2: If you book your tickets through the Chase portal (or any other portal) and pay the taxes using the card, you are not covered.

Case 3: If you use a third party portal and use this card to pay for the whole amount, you are covered.

Case 4: If you use Chase UR points to book and pay a partial fare or taxes using the card, you are not covered.

Two United Club Passes (one-time use)

While united values this at $100 – I honestly do not think they are worth it if you already have a priority pass membership, access to the AMEX Centurion Lounge (AMEX Plat or above cardholder) unless you access the newly redesigned Polaris lounges.

Additionally, you need to have valid United tickets to use these passes – which do renew every card member year – making them a not so flexible option.

25% back on United in-flight purchases

Honestly, I’ve never bought anything on a United flight – but if you do happen to, you get a decent discount (albeit the prices are already pretty high).

Chase Card VISA Signature Benefits

The main reason I think this card can be great for people is because of the Chase Sapphire Reserve/Preferred like benefits it offers.

Primary Rental Auto CDW

With this card, you never have to worry about insuring your rental again – however, do follow state laws and ensure you have minimum liability insurance (not offered by any credit card).

If you think this isn’t an important perk, note none of AMEX cards offer primary coverage and also be sure to read how one reader saved over $1660 in damages thanks to this coverage.

Travel Insurance

Flight delayed, cancelled or your baggage didn’t arrive on time – all these are covered. Learn more on the benefits page.

Purchase Protection

One of the few cards that offer a longer period of coverage- this perk can save you upto $10,000 in damages or theft on products you purchased in the last 120 days i.e. 4 months per claim and upto $50,000 per year.

I recently had a case where-in I bought a $1200 iPhone 11 for a friend and they clumsily dropped the phone causing the screen to crack completely. Having used the card, I called the claims department, sent them all the information and we received a refund of the complete amount within 3 weeks.

Extended Warranty

Your United Explorer Card extends the time period for the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less – great for electronics.

My take on the card

The only reason I got this card was because I knew I would be making a large down-payment on my car (learn more on why I financed it rather than pay cash here) and that the points do not expire. Additionally, I was able to help a family member pay for their Global Entry application and they reimbursed me part cost.

In my opinion you should get this card if you fall under any of the following cases:

Frequent United Flier/live near hub

No brainer – as this can help you save hundreds on checked in baggage fees and soon you’ll be able to redeem your miles for free flights.

Benefits but at a discounted cost

If you want all the benefits that the Chase Sapphire Reserve/Preferred cards offer but do not want to pay the annual fee (first year) then this is a great card to get.

Gotten all other Chase cards

Keeping in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule, if you’ve gotten all the cards you wanted and still have a slot left, this is a good one to consider given the flexibility to redeem the sign up bonus points for a vacation down the line.

My recommendation/advice is not to use this card as a daily because cards like the Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Preferred, Reserve, AMEX Gold, Platinum to name a few have much better multipliers.

Additionally if you have your ideal Chase Trifecta setup, you will earn more points per dollar spend through Chase UR which you can then transfer over to United using Chase’s portal.

Downgrade to no-annual fee card

Whats good to know is that there is a no annual fee downgrade path to this card which means you do not have to close the card – and it affecting your credit profile (temporarily) – which is what I will probably do at the end of the first year of card-membership or call in and ask for a retention offer (albeit it’s highly unlikely I’d receive one).

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