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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Chase announced identical offers for new United and Continental credit cards today. These are decent offers, but nothing that has me really excited. If you fly United/Continental and want some perks, these cards might make sense. However, as I wrote earlier today, I think there are better Chase offerings right now, including the Sapphire Preferred card, which has a 50,000 point bonus (expired) after only $3,000 in spend in 3 months (and those points transfer to United/Continental, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club and Amtrak) instantly. That being said, the Sapphire Preferred card won’t get you free bags or priority boarding so if those benefits interest you, you should look into either one of the new cards.
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 miles after first purchase, 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user and 10,000 miles every calendar year when you spend $25,000. This is a little bit annoying that they have this relatively large spend threshold and you only have less than half the year to meet it.
Mileage earning: 2 miles per dollar spent on United/Continental purchases, 1 mile per dollar for everything else
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
Airline benefits: Free first checked bag for you and a companion on United/Continental flights, Priority boarding, 2 lounge passes every year.
Other benefits: Primary auto rental insurance with coverage up to $500,000, purchase protection up to $10,000, concierge service and luxury hotel benefits
So overall, if you fly United/Continental and you are happy with those miles (which can be used for award travel on all 27 Star Alliance members), then using this card as your primary mileage earning card may make sense. I found their marketing chart comparing the card offerings to American Express to be pretty interesting. I love competition, so it’s nice to see Chase nipping at the Amex’ feet because I hope Amex responds with even bigger bonuses! Right now their 10/15/25 bonuses for the Gold/Premier Rewards Gold and Platinum cards are pretty boring (even though they can be bumped to eye-popping 75/75/100 bonuses with a simple phone call as I highlighted in this post).
To be fair to Amex, they could easily respond with two key counterpoints: Ability to transfer (and at times with up to a 50% bonus) to Oneworld, Skyteam and other airline partners?: Amex Premier Rewards, Yes/ Continental No. 3x points for all airfare Amex Premier Rewards: Yes/ Continental No (only 2x and only on United/Continental purchases).
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards