Chase New United Explorer Offer Is Smaller – Yet Much Better

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UnitedSM Explorer Card

Chase’s offer to earn 65,000 United MileagePlus miles with a new co-brand credit card just expired. They’ve got a new offer, the initial bonus you can earn is ‘just’ 60,000 (still the second largest public offer ever) but it’s actually a much better deal.

That’s because instead of having to spend $10,000 within 6 months to earn all the miles, this new offer requires spending $3000 within 3 months.

This is a fantastic card to have if you live in a city with lots of United service, fly them regularly but not enough for elite status, or you’re an elite who wants upgrades on award tickets or help towards the spending requirement for status.

While I definitely prefer to put spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card because its points transfer to United or other airlines (in other words I prefer the flexibility), the UnitedSM Explorer Card is a great card to have for its benefits.

  1. 60,000 bonus miles. For a limited-time Chase has boosted the signup bonus to earn 60,000 miles in the first 3 months your account is open.

    United’s Europe and Asia Award Availability in Premium Cabins is Great Because of Star Alliance Partners

  2. $0 annual fee the first year. Traditionally the card’s annually fee has been charged the first year. Chase is now waiving the first year fee on the UnitedSM Explorer Card. (After the $0 first year annual fee it is then $95.)

  3. First checked bag free. What’s great about the UnitedSM Explorer Card is the travel benefits when flying United. You get first bag for free when you use your card to purchase your ticket. Two people traveling with a bag each way really scales the savings.

  4. Priority boarding. Avoid having to gate check your carry on, you don’t actually want to be the first to board this card ensures you don’t have to be last.

  5. Bring full sized carry on bags onboard even on a basic economy fare. On a Basic Economy fare you can still bring on a full-sized carry on bag since the Basic Economy prohibition on full-sized carry on bags is handled via boarding group).

  6. United Club passes With this card you’ll get 2 one-time United Club passes each year for your account anniversary as well. United now charges $59 each for one time club passes.

  7. United elites get upgrades on domestic award tickets. That’s a benefit which requires a co-brand card to access, elites without a United credit card aren’t eligible.

  8. Extra saver award availability United does a really nice job of making extra award space available to elites and credit card customers.

  9. Last seat availability when redeeming extra mileage awards. Airlines offer awards that charge extra miles and in American’s case you get access to the last seat on the plane when spending more miles, at United to get the very last seat on the plane (where these awards can offer real value) you need to be an elite or a co-brand credit card customer.

  10. Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Even if you already have Global Entry, get it for a spouse, child, friend or co-worker — the cardholder doesn’t have to be the one to use the benefit, just use the card to pay anyone’s application fee you wish.

  11. Primary car rental collision damage waiver. Adult bumper cars! Not really, but if you ding your bumper car and you’re paying with this card your insurance company may not even need to know.

The UnitedSM Explorer Card is a great tool for someone who flies United semi-regularly but not enough to earn elite status, since many of the benefits of the card approximate was entry-level status would be like. And you can get it now with bonus miles and not even pay an annual fee for the first year.

It’s subject to ‘5/24’ meaning they’re most appropriate for folks that haven’t signed up for 5 or more new cards in the last 24 months.

Even if the annual fee applied in the first year, the card would be well worth the signup bonus. The card is even worth the fee if you fly United semi-regularly for the benefits. If you find yourself buying basic economy fares you’re not just saving on checked bag fees each trip but on the fare buy up too and still getting to bring your carry on bag on board.

Since you get the bonus and the benefits in year one it’s a no brainer, the $0 annual fee the first year lets you “try before you buy” and decide whether or not to keep it into the future.

UnitedSM Explorer Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. No free bag if your company buys your ticket. You have to use your United card to buy the ticket. Alaska gives you the free bag no matter how the ticket if paid for. So does JetBlue, even though their terms say otherwise.

    Club passes are no good unless you are flying United or a partner. Besides, as a paid Lifetime Member I already get turned away from the club when flying another airline.

    With the demise of the award chart, United miles now have only speculative value. Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each cuts right through all the hassle of miles.

  2. Good points by nsx, however if your company buys your ticket then you can also expense your checked bag fee. If your company doesn’t allow this, call your headhunter.

  3. There is no
    Longer a waiver for the spend requirement for elite status qualification after spending 25k with the card.

  4. How is last seat availability useful in the days of no award charts? It was super-useful in the days when there were published standard award levels. Saved a ton of money on 25k redemptions for last-minute domestic flights that were often over $500. Now that arbitrage opportunity is dead.

  5. @David Black – correct however United credit card customers will be able to earn 500 premier qualifying points after $12,000 in spend each year, and another 500 premier qualifying points after $24,000 in spend, for a maximum total of 1000 PQPs that count for status up to the Platinum level.

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