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With the United Explorer Card, you can earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s a good offer – enough for a round-trip coach flight within the US or a one-way coach ticket to Europe, with miles left over.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of holding the card – and whether or not it makes sense for you.
Is the Chase United Explorer Card Worth It?
Apply Here: United Explorer Card
Read our review of the Chase United Explorer
When you open the Chase United Explorer card, you’ll earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
There’s a $95 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year. The card also comes with:
- 2 United Airlines miles per dollar you spend on purchases from United Airlines, at restaurants and hotels when you book directly
- 1 United Airlines mile per dollar you spend on everything else
- Free first checked bag for the cardholder and one companion – but you MUST use your card to pay for your ticket
- Priority boarding
- 2 United Club lounge passes (one-time use) per card membership year
- Access to an increased number of award seats
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100)
Because the card’s annual fee is waived the first year, there’s no harm in trying the card for ~11 months to decide if you like it. Plus, if you take advantage of the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, you’ll nearly come out ahead!
Global Entry saves you lots of time by getting you quickly through US Customs and Immigration when you return to the US from abroad. When you enroll in Global Entry, you’ll also receive a membership to TSA PreCheck, which allows you to keep your shoes and jacket on when you go through airport security. You don’t even have to take your laptop and toiletries out of your carry-on!
I’ve had this card for years and don’t plan on canceling any time soon. That’s because, given my travel habits, the benefits outweigh the cost of the annual fee. And that might be the case for you, too!
After the First Year, Is the Chase United Explorer Card Still Worth It?
Whether keeping the card and continuing to pay its $95 annual fee is worth it will depend on your travel habits and goals. For me, the answer to if it’s worth it is a firm “yes.” Here’s why.
More Available Award Seats
I’ve kept my Chase United Explorer card year after year because of one single perk – access to more available award seats. This has come in handy so many times because my family and I regularly fly United Airlines.
It’s hard to put a monetary value on a benefit like this, but I can assure you it takes some of the headache out of searching for award tickets, especially if you’re traveling with family or friends and need multiple award seats.
I’m happy to pay a $95 annual fee for the extra assurance that I’ll likely be able to find an award ticket that fits my travel plans, even if I’m looking to fly last minute.
Chase United Explorer cardholders and any travel companions on the same reservation will get priority boarding on United Airlines operated flights. This way, you can board the plane before lots of other passengers and get situated.
It can be especially useful when you’re traveling with kids because you don’t have the added hassle of competing for overhead bin space. It makes for a less stressful journey! And when I’m traveling, anything I can do to make life easier is a win in my book.
Day passes usually cost $59 each to access one of over 45 lounge locations. But when you have the Chase United Explorer card, you’ll find 2 passes (one-time use) loaded to your account upon card opening, then every year you renew the card.
If you use both lounge passes every year, this benefit alone can completely cover the card’s annual fee. Plus, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy free snacks, drinks and Wi-Fi along the way!
You can earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after meeting minimum spending requirements on the United Explorer Card.
One of my favorite benefits is the access to more available award seats the card gives you. My family and I have used this perk on numerous occasions and for me, this benefit alone makes the card’s annual fee worth it. But whether it makes sense for you depends on your personal travel and spending habits, so you’ll have to crunch the numbers for yourself!
Just remember, United Airlines is eliminating their award chart for travel after November 15, 2019, and we aren’t quite sure yet how this will (if at all) affect the perks of the United Explorer Card. Earning United Airlines miles to use for award tickets now, before the changes take effect, certainly isn’t a bad move.
If you want to learn more about United Airlines miles, check out:
- United Airlines Miles Review: How to Earn, Redeem, & Get the Most From the Program
- What Are United Airlines Miles Worth?
- United Airlines Elite Status Review
- The Best Credit Cards to Earn United Airlines Miles
- 10 Ways to Keep United Airlines Miles From Expiring
- Our Dedicated United Airlines Promotions Page
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