Update: A credit card offer in this post may no longer be available, but check the Hot Deals for the latest offers!
I’ve written about the increased 50,000 mile sign-up bonus on the Chase United Explorer card and some of its benefits. And also about a potential offer with an extra $50 statement credit!
But did you know if you have the card, there are more United Airlines award seats available for you than for non-cardholders?
On some flights, United Airlines might show no award seats available to folks who don’t have the card. But Chase United Explorer cardholders will still see available award seats, unless the flight is sold out.
How Does This Work?
Link: Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card
United Airlines says there will always be award seats available for eligible MileagePlus cardholders on United Airlines and United Express flights, as long as there are seats for sale (i.e.: as long as the flight isn’t sold out).
MileagePlus Premier® members and eligible United MileagePlus Cardmembers have unrestricted access to Standard Awards on United and United Express. If there’s a United seat for sale, these members can get it with award miles, guaranteed, even if it’s the last seat on the airplane.
And the Chase United Explorer card is an eligible card!
Standard awards cost double the miles of low-level saver awards, but if you’re willing to pay the extra miles for an award seat, this is a very nice perk to have! And cardholders also get access to extra low-level award seats.
Example: Chicago to Phoenix on Super Bowl Weekend
The Super Bowl is in Phoenix on February 1, 2015, and it’s often hard to find award seats to fly to the game!
First, I checked for available award seats from Chicago to Phoenix on January 30, 2015 without signing-in to my United Airlines frequent flyer account.
United Airlines showed NO award seats available in any class of service and at any level (saver or standard awards).
To compare, I signed-in to my United Airlines frequent flyer account. I do NOT have a Chase United Explorer card. The search returned the same result: NO award seats available at all!
But Emily IS a Chase United Explorer cardholder. When I signed-in to her United Airlines frequent flyer account and did the same search, the result was different! There were standard level award seats available in both coach class and First / Business Class!
This is very useful for folks who don’t have flexibility in their travel dates, or who have to fly during busy travel times, like holidays or special events!
Example: San Francisco to Honolulu in December
Hawaii can be 1 of the most difficult destinations to fly to on award tickets, especially during busy travel times like the holidays or Spring Break.
I searched for award seats between San Francisco and Honolulu on December 21, 2014. The results were the same with and without signing-in to my United Airlines frequent flyer account.
There were no saver award seats on any flight, and no non-stop flights available. The only available award seats were standard level First / Business Class award seats (90,000 miles 1-way!) on connecting flights.
But when I did the same search from Emily’s frequent flyer account, there were more available flights (including non-stops) and standard level coach class award seats (45,000 miles 1-way)!
So Chase United Explorer cardholders have access to more (and cheaper) award seats and often better, more direct flights. That’s a great perk!
Example: Houston to Seattle for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving weekend is another very busy travel period where folks sometimes have trouble finding award seats.
I searched for award seats from Houston to Seattle on November 27, 2014. There were no coach class saver award seats available when I checked without signing-in and from my account, only standard award seats (25,000 miles for a 1-way ticket).
The same search from Emily’s account shows saver level award seats available in coach class (12,500 miles 1-way)!
So by having a Chase United Explorer card, you’d save 12,500 miles 1-way (or 25,000 miles round-trip) for a coach class award seat. 25,000 miles is enough for a whole other saver level coach class round-trip domestic ticket!
Be Sure Your Card Is Linked to Your Frequent Flyer Account!
If you’re a Chase United Explorer cardholder, your credit card details should be linked to your United Airlines frequent flyer account. But if you want to be sure, here’s the way to tell.
Sign-in to your United Airlines frequent flyer account and hover your mouse over “Mileage Expiration“. If you’re NOT a cardholder, a message about miles expiring after 18 months of inactivity will appear.
But if you are a Chase United Explorer cardholder, the message will say that your miles won’t expire as long as you have the credit card.
Note: Some folks report that clicking the “Remember Me” button when they sign-in causes available award seats to not show up. I’m not sure why this happens, but it could have something to do with cookies on your browser. In any case, do NOT click “Remember Me” when you sign-in!
If you’re a Chase United Explorer cardholder, you’ll see more award seats available than folks who don’t have the card. Even if there are NO award seats available for non-cardholders, you’ll be able to book an award seat, unless the flight is sold out.
Folks who have the card can get access to more flights, better routings, and lower level award seats. This can save you time and frequent flyer miles.
This is a really great perk! And it’s very useful especially if you have to travel at peak times, like during holidays, school vacations, and special events.
Has having the Chase United Explorer card made a difference in your travel plans? Please tell me about it in the comments.