Chase is Making Changes to United(SM) Explorer Card Card

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Starting June 1, 2018, the Chase United(SM) Explorer Card is getting a new look. On this date, you’ll begin earning bonus miles on more purchase categories and other benefits that will save you money and time each time you fly United.

Source: United Airlines

New United(SM) Explorer Card Travel Benefits

In addition to the new benefits, a limited time offer is being presented. Cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus miles after they spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening their account.

These three new United credit card benefits start on June 1, 2018.

Earn 2 Miles Per $1 On Hotels and Restaurants

You will begin earning unlimited 2 miles per $1 on the following purchases:

  • United Airlines purchases
  • Hotels (starting June 1, 2018)
  • Restaurants (starting June 1, 2018)

All remaining bonus categories will earn an unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent.

With these two new bonus category editions, you now have more incentive to make the United(SM) Explorer Card your primary travel rewards credit card. But the Chase Sapphire Preferred already earns 2x points per $1 on restaurants and Ultimate Rewards points are transferable. Plus, if you have to rent a car or book any other travel purchases, you can still earn double points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and transfer your points on a 1:1 to your United MileagePlus account.

$100 Global Entry Application Fee Reimbursement or TSA Precheck Fee Credit

A credit for Global Entry is probably the most popular new benefit for travel rewards credit cards of every stripe. This benefit reimburses your application fee every five years and saves you $100 having to wait through the long lines to re-enter the United States for international travel and the TSA security lines for domestic flights.

If you don’t have a valid passport or don’t have time to visit a Global Entry enrollment center, this new benefit also reimburses the $85 application fee for TSA Precheck. You’ll still have to go through the regular Customs security line when you travel abroad but can breeze through airport security for domestic travel.

25% Back on United In-Flight Purchases

Start getting 25% back on the following in-flight purchases:

  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Onboard Wi-Fi

You’ll also earn 2 miles per $1 on these in-flight purchases too. For other purchases, you can earn 1 mile per $1 spent.

These United Explorer Card Benefits Remain Intact

In addition to the three new benefits listed above, you’ll also continue to enjoy these benefits:

  • Free checked bag for you and one travel companion
  • Priority boarding
  • Last seat availability
  • Two United Club passes every card anniversary
  • Miles don’t expire
  • No foreign transaction fee

If you crave experiences as much as the United travel benefits, you will also continue enjoying access to Inside Access once-in-a-lifetime events including celebrity meet and greets, redeeming MileagePlus miles for MileagePlus events, and on-site benefits with the Visa Signature Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection when you book a stay with your United credit card.

These Two Benefits Are Being Replaced

Chase is reducing two benefits to make room for the three benefit upgrades. Both of these benefits are only used by a small section of the current United Explorer Card population, so it’s not a significant impact on most people. And, it helps keep the annual fee at $95.

10,000 Point Bonus After Spending $25,000 In Card Purchases

You will no longer receive 10,000 bonus MileagePlus miles after spending at least $25,000 in card purchases each card anniversary. If the United Explorer Card is your primary travel rewards credit card, this benefit elimination might be a bummer unless you can make it up with the new dining and gas station bonus rewards categories.

For most people that only keep the Explorer Card as a secondary credit card or come nowhere close to the $25,000, spending requirement won’t be impacted by this change.

Elimination of Select Purchase Protection Benefits

Chase will eliminate price protection and return protection benefits effective June 1, 2018. If you buy an eligible product and the price drops, you will no longer receive a reimbursement of the price difference. And if you need to return a product but the retailer refuses to accept the product, you won’t receive a refund from Chase anymore.

Reduction of Travel Protection Benefits

More details of the reduction of travel protection benefits will be released very soon, but if you’re booking non-refundable travel that you can’t afford to not be reimbursed for, you might consider booking it with another flexible travel rewards card that earns bonus points and has a more generous travel protection policy.

The United Explorer Card is first and foremost a co-brand rewards card for United Airlines. Chase and United will do their best to make sure your United flight itinerary is protected.

Redeeming Your MileagePlus Miles

Now that you have two additional ways to earn bonus MileagePlus miles, it can be easier to build your points balance to book award flights. Domestic United award flights start at 12,500 miles for most flights within the mainland U.S., Alaska, and Canada. Although, you can book a flight that is 700 miles or less for 10,000 miles each way.

United Explorer get exclusive awards

United Explorer get exclusive awards

Owning the United(SM) Explorer Card gives you exclusive access to the best United award flights!

If you’re just browsing the United award flights availability, you’ve most likely seen a box at the top of the screen stating that qualified MileagePlus Chase cardmembers are eligible for exclusive award travel availability. Make sure you log into your account before browsing award seat availability, otherwise you might end up paying for the more expensive Everyday Award seat instead of the discount Saver Award seat.

Upgrade to the United Club Credit Card to Avoid Close-In Booking Fees

The United Explorer Card is a great option if you fly United on a regular basis, but you will still need to pay close-in booking fees on award flights you book within 21 days of departure. If this a regular occurrence for you, consider upgrading to the United MileagePlus Club Card to avoid this pesky fee and to enjoy a few additional benefits including unlimited United Club lounge membership and two free checked bags for you and your travel companion.

Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points as Necessary

United is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer points in 1,000 point increments to your United MileagePlus account for free when you need to book an award flight but don’t have quite enough miles at the moment. Even if you just own the United(SM) Explorer Card to book your United flights and enjoy the free Global Entry and checked baggage benefits, owning the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve lets you earn bonus points on all travel and dining purchases so you’re always earning the most points possible on every purchase!

Summary: United(SM) Explorer Card Changes

On June 1, 2018, you’ll begin earning two points per $1 on hotels and restaurants in addition to every United purchase. And, United also reimburses your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee and gives you a 25% credit on in-flight purchases.

Mary Renking

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Chase is Making Changes to United(SM) Explorer Card Card
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About the Author

Mary Renking
Mary writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

1 Comment on "Chase is Making Changes to United(SM) Explorer Card Card"

  1. We consistently spent $25k/year with our card so the loss of the 10,0000 miles is a huge “bummer”. Flying on United is a necessary evil for us so the extra 10,0000 miles made it a little more bearable. The “additional” benefits are almost worthless to us. Now it’s spend the same and get less for us.

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