Many observers wonder if this competitive market for rewards credit cards will be looked back on as the golden age for these products. It seems like each week, credit card companies release new credit card products, while enhancing existing cards by adding increased perks and sign-up bonuses.
The United Airlines Mileage Plus Explorer Card from Chase bank supplants their Mileage Plus card as well as Continental’s OnePass Plus Card. The card provides a number of benefits for business and leisure travelers. Benefits include combining the benefits of United Airlines and Continental Airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
Before you choose a travel rewards credit card, read more about some of the key features, advantages, and disadvantages of the United Airlines Explorer credit card from Chase.
- Earn Miles with the Combined Programs of United and Continental. United’s merger partner, Continental, has discontinued their OnePass program and converted all frequent flyer miles to United’s Mileage Plus accounts. At long last, cardholders can receive double miles for purchases from United or Continental. This is an improvement from the old card that curiously did not offer this benefit. Cardholders earn one mile per dollar charged to the card for most other purchases.
- Sign-Up Bonus. New cardholders receive 25,000 bonus miles after their first purchase. Cardholders receive another 5,000 miles when they add an authorized user. Finally, customers can earn another 10,000 miles if they reach the spending threshold of $25,000 in a calendar year.
- Checked Bag Fee Waiver. Cardholders and one companion can each check a single bag for free when they purchase their tickets with this card.
- Priority Boarding. Over the course of United’s complex boarding process, cardholders can board after people with disabilities and elite members of their frequent flyer program, but before general boarding.
- Other Perks for Cardholders. Elite members who are also cardholders may receive upgrades on award flights. In addition, cardholders’ miles do not expire, and cardholders who are elite members have access to last-seat availability for standard level awards. Customers also receive two passes to the United business lounge each year when they renew their card.
- Fees. Chase waives the $95 annual fee for the first year. A 3% foreign transaction fee applies to all charges processed outside of the United States.
- Checked Bag Fee Waiver. One of the worst things about flying United is paying for checked bags. Other carriers, such as Southwest and JetBlue, still allow passengers to check bags for free. At least with this card, you and another person traveling on the same itinerary enjoy a single free checked bag.
- Priority Boarding. Many United passengers carry on the maximum baggage allowance, because of the checked bag fees. Therefore, overhead space is often consumed before most people board. By gaining access to the aircraft before others, cardholders have a better chance of finding room for their bags in the overhead bins.
- Lounge Passes. Getting two free passes doesn’t seem like a lot, but travelers can save them for times when a flight is delayed or cancelled, and when the gate area is very crowded.
- Annual Fee Waiver. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, so you can try this card out without worrying about whether or not the card is paying for itself.
- Reasonable Interest Rate. At a time when most cards offer customers a range of rates, depending on their individual credit rating, Chase offers a single rate that is actually quite competitive for a rewards card. People who carry a balance should instead choose credit cards with the lowest APR.
- Travel and Purchase Protection Services. Cardholders receive travel and purchase protection services including the auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation and trip delay coverages, and lost luggage protection. Cardholders also receive purchase protection and price protection when using this card.
- Many Perks Already Exist. United advertises that elite cardholders receive last seat award availability and can receive seat upgrades. Elite members already receive these benefits; however, they are being taken away from elite members who don’t have the card. United also claims that cardholders’ frequent flyer points do not expire, yet miles do expire if there is no activity within 18 months. Since receiving the sign-up bonus and paying the annual fee every year qualifies as activity, this benefit is moot.
- Limited Checked Bag Fee Waiver. Several of the Delta SkyMiles cards offer a checked bag fee waiver for up to nine passengers on the same itinerary, while this card’s benefit only applies to two passengers.
- Scarce Benefits for Elites. Elite members of United’s frequent flyer program already receive many of these card’s perks, including the checked bag fee waiver and priority boarding. Elite members will not receive many new benefits from using this card.
- Sign-Up Bonus Is Not Available to Existing Cardholders. Those who have put up with United’s old card can use the new card. Unfortunately, they do not receive the sign-up bonus.
United has replaced their old credit card with a new product, Explorer. With valuable mileage rewards and other perks, United has finally introduced a strong product to compete with other entry-level mileage rewards cards.
Do you have a United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase? Would you recommend the card to friends or family?