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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Now might be the perfect time to sign up for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase, as it’s waiving the $95 annual fee for the first year. The sign-up bonus is still at 40,000 miles — not the highest we’ve seen — but the opportunity to try the card out for 12 months before having to pay could make it worth signing up now instead of waiting for a higher offer.
Based on TPG’s valuations, 40,000 MileagePlus miles are worth $600. Since you won’t be paying an annual fee the first year, the sign-up value is truly $600 — or more if you’re able to redeem your United miles for outsized value.
The MileagePlus Explorer Card is a good choice if you’re a frequent United traveler looking to enjoy a few extra perks with the airline. You’ll get a first bag checked free on UA flights when you purchase the fare with your card, and you’ll enjoy priority boarding, plus two United Club passes per year. Cardholders also get better award availability than non-cardholders, which could come in especially handy now that the holiday travel season is upon us.
You might also consider this card if you’re looking to waive the PQD (Premier qualifying dollar) requirement for most tiers of United elite status. If you spend at least $25,000 across United co-branded cards — including this card, the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, the United MileagePlus Club Card and others — you don’t need to meet the PQD threshold ($3,000 to $9,000 in a year) for elite status qualification, up to Premier Platinum status. You can’t waive the PQD requirement for Premier 1K status, but if you’re going for one of the other tiers, this is something to keep in mind.
It’s not clear how long the personal United MileagePlus Explorer Card will be waiving the annual fee for the first year, so don’t wait too long if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity.