A few days ago I received a targeted off for the United MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase. The targeted offer stated that I’d earn 70,000 United MileagePlus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. In the past I dismissed this card because I don’t necessary love co-branded credit cards. I don’t typically like co-branded because they don’t earn flexible points. These cards typically earn the currency of the co-branded partner. I much prefer to build up a balance of flexible points rather than co-branded miles.
Recently however I’ve started noticing how valuable United MileagePlus miles are. I often find United MileagePlus miles are especially valuable for last minute premium cabin awards. In fact, I used United miles to book my recent Lufthansa First Class flight from Frankfurt last minute. Thanks to the increased offer and my recent love affair with United MileagePlus miles I decided to open the card.
The card finally arrived and with it came a detailed brochure advertising the cards fairly generous benefits. After reviewing the card’s benefits I’ve discovered this card is worth keeping open in perpetuity. Many of the benefits are especially valuable to infrequent United Airlines flyers who don’t maintain elite status.
United MileagePlus Explorer Card’s United Benefits
As with most co-branded credit cards, this card’s primary benefits come from traveling with United Airlines. Personally, American Airlines has been my primary carrier for the past 5+ years. Recently however, I’ve started flying United more often when the time or price make sense. In the past when I’d book a United flight I’d find myself in one of the final boarding groups and have to gate check my bag. Now that I’ve opened the United MileagePlus Explorer card I’ll receive the following benefits when traveling with United Airlines.
- Free First Checked Bag
- Priority Boarding
- 2 United Club Passes Annually
- Earn 2 United MileagePlus Miles on all United Airlines purchases
- Earn 1 United MileagePlus Mile on all other purchases
- United Premier Elites receive upgrades on award tickets
- Access to otherwise restricted award seats on United flights
As you can see from the benefits above the free checked bag, priority boarding, and 2 United Club passes easily make up for the $95 annual fee. This is especially true for those flyers who don’t maintain Premier Elite status with United. For those who do maintain Premier Elite status, this card helps card holders unlock upgrades on award seats. The card also opens up more award seats for all MileagePlus members which should making booking your next award flight even easier.
It’s important to keep in mind that these benefits are tied to your MileagePlus number. This means that you don’t need to carry the card with you when traveling to enjoy the benefits. However, it also means that you must include your MileagePlus number to your United Airlines reservations to receive the benefits. I guess I won’t be crediting these flights to Singapore Airlines for now.
Additional United MileagePlus Explorer Card Benefits
On top of the benefits you receive when traveling with United, card holders also receive many additional benefits. These benefits alone don’t help justify paying the annual fee, but are important to keep in mind when carrying the card.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Access to special events though “Inside Access” from Chase
- Access to “The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection” hotels and benefits
- Travel protection benefits
- Auto rental collision damage waiver benefit
- Purchase protection benefits
- Fraud protection
- Easy payment options through Chase
As is the case with most Chase Visa Signature cards, card holders receive a slew of travel benefits and protections which hopefully you’ll never need to use. One benefit which is especially important and very common these days is the waived foreign transaction fees. Most annual fee credit cards come without foreign transaction fees now, but it’s nice to have a backup card tucked away when traveling just incase you get pick pocketed.
I’ve maintained a list of “on the radar” credit cards in my my wallet section of this site and the United MileagePlus Explorer card has never been on that list. I generally try to avoid opening co-branded credit cards and wasn’t expecting to open this card for a while. I didn’t start looking at the card’s benefits until I received the targeted offer, but I’m glad I did. After taking a closer look I realized this card fits the needs of casual United travelers and frequent flyers alike. After finishing the sign-up bonus spending requirement I doubt I’ll use the card very often. I’d much rather earn multiple flexible points on other cards, but I’m happy that I’ll receive additional travel benefits when flying with United. I also look forward to receiving the 2 United Club passes which should effectively offset the $95 annual fee in perpetuity.
Featured Image Courtesy of Chase