As you’ve probably heard by now, the offer on Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card is increased to 55,000 miles (once you add an authorized user) through September 2nd, and annual fee is waived. The minimum spend is $2,000 in 3 months, so should be manageable for most families. The card does pay me commission if you apply through my site.
There is also a non-affiliate offer that comes with extra $50. After I wrote this post, I checked it and the landing page wasn’t working. It may or may not come up for you, so try it just in case. I’m not aware of another working link, but there may be one.
You could always take a screenshot of the better bonus page, and chances are, Chase will match it. Either offer is good and worth a credit pull. In fact, I will probably apply for this card myself and just send a secure message to Chase to get the $50. But should you apply for it?
The answer is as always: It depends. There are some very tangible benefits to this card, like access to extra award space, a huge plus for families. You also get a primary car rental insurance, plus no foreign transaction fees when you use it for purchases overseas. Here is United award chart. There are several factors to consider:
1. Will you be able to use these miles within 3 years? This card is not going away like US Airways Premier World Mastercard, so there isn’t any urgency of “use it or lose it” in this case.
2. Do you live near an airport with decent amount of flights on United airlines or its partners? If you have to drive 8 hours to a closest airport, it may not be an ideal thing with small kids.
3. What are your travel goals? If you are looking to fly to Australia next summer with your family of four, this card probably won’t help you. For one thing, it’s very hard to find these many award seats on that particular route. Second, the mileage requirement is very high, so even if you get a card in each spouse’s name, you would still have to do a huge amount of manufactured spending.
That said, this offer could work very well for certain situations:
1. Flights within Lower 48 States and Canada.
The cost is 12,500 miles each way (one-way redemption is permitted) and availability is usually pretty good. You would want to avoid Alaska, because it costs extra 5,000 miles one way.
So, if just one spouse gets the card, you would have 57,000 miles after meeting minimum spend. That’s more than enough for 4 one-way tickets. If both spouses get one, you could get roundtrip flights for your entire family. If you have more than 4 people, and some of you do, you could do some manufactured spending, using techniques I outlined in this post.
You would need 62,500 miles in each account in order to get 5 one-way tickets. Alternatively, you could transfer Ultimate Rewards points 1:1 from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred (pays me commission). Finding these many award tickets could prove to be a challenge, but not impossible.
2. Flights to Caribbean
The cost is 17,500 miles each way, so just one bonus could easily cover 3 one-way tickets. I’ve mentioned before that ANA program (Membership Rewards and SPG partner) could be a better fit, since you can potentially do it for 22,000 miles roundtrip, but the process is a bit cumbersome, plus the transfer is not instant and no one-ways are allowed.
3. Flights to Hawaii
Generally, I recommend you use Singapore Krisflyer program (transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, SPG and certain CITI cards). That’s because it costs 17,500 miles one-way on United flights, compared to 22,500 through United Mileage Plus program. However, just like with ANA, there is one downside to going this route: The transfer is not instant (takes 1 day). If you are not super flexible on dates, the seats may be gone by then.
That’s why it could make sense to redeem the miles through United.com if you find availability. A bird in a hand is worth 2 in the bush, or in this case 1.29.
So, if both spouses get the card, you could redeem for 4 one-way flights from Mainland to Hawaii. You would have almost enough miles left for 2 one-way tickets within Lower 48 States and Canada.
4. Flights to Europe
The flight costs 30,000 miles one way. You would need to have 60,000 miles in each account to redeem for 4 one-way tickets. So, if both spouses apply for this card, you would need to come up with 3,000 extra miles each, doable through moderate amount of MS or regular spending.
One of my readers actually asked what bonus would be a good fit for him and his wife. He mentioned that they are planning to fly from San Francisco to Dublin. I recommended United Mileage Plus card. Why? Aer Lingus partners with United and flies non-stop from San Francisco to Ireland.
If they both got the card, they would have almost enough miles for 2 roundtrip tickets. There is a big advantage to getting a roundtrip award ticket through United program. You can tack on a free one-way flight within Continental U.S, as long as it’s a redemption for an international destination. So, Europe would qualify. You would have to select “Multiple Destinations” option when doing your award search.
To use the above-mentioned example: This couple could fly from San Francsco to Dublin, return from Dublin to San Francisco, and then add a one-way flight from San Francisco to Seattle (or other city within Continental US, served by United) at some point in the future. They would have to book a flight back from Seattle on their own.
This would work for award flights to Caribbean, Hawaii and Alaska, because those destinations fall within a different region. Remember, this trick is only valid on roundtrip awards. You can read a post that goes into details on how to do it on United.com
Be aware, it’s from NoobTraveler, who seems to occasionally use odd language: “S-load”, “redic.” I don’t even want to guess what the first one means, but the second one is probably “ridiculous”, as in “good”? Someone help me out here.
So, there you have it. Only you can decide if this increased bonus is right for you. Personally, I consider it redic. I think?
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The map is provided courtesy of GCmap.com