Earn now to travel later: United cards offering up to 100,000-mile bonus

Aug 4, 2020

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During the pandemic, card companies have been focusing on limited-time promotions for existing cardholders. In fact, we’ve created a full list of pandemic-related card perks here.

However, new cardholders have certainly not been forgotten either. And if you’re in the position to do so, signing up for a card now still qualifies you to take advantage of temporary bonuses and benefits.

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Chase and United are now offering an elevated limited-time sign-up bonus on both the recently launched United Club℠ Infinite Card and the long-standing United℠ Explorer Card. The limited time offers end on Sept. 30, 2020.

In This Post

New United Explorer sign-up offer

For the United Explorer Card, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. The first year annual fee is waived and it’s $95 per year thereafter.

This isn’t the highest offer we’ve ever seen, but it’s a huge step up from the previous 40,000-point bonus.

Related reading: Full review of the United Explorer Card 

Photo by The Points Guy
(Photo by The Points Guy)

For a limited time through Sept. 30, select Explorer cardholders will receive 5x United miles at grocery stores and gas stations (up to $1,500 combined). You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on United, dining and hotel spending and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.

You’ll also get perks such as a free checked bag for you and one companion on the same reservation, as long as you purchase your ticket (or pay taxes and fees on an award ticket) from United using the Explorer Card.

Then, there are other benefits which include priority boarding, two one-time United Club passes each year, a 25% discount on inflight United purchases — including Wi-Fi, food and beverage — and access to additional award space.

United Club bar (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
United Club bar (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

In non-pandemic times, the United Explorer Card allows you to earn up to 1,000 elite Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) on the card with $24,000 in annual spending on the card (500 points for each of the first $12,000 in annual spending).

But for 2020, there is a promo that doubles the number of PQPs you can earn with the Explorer Card to 2,000 PQPs. United has already announced that current elite status levels will be extended an extra year, into early 2022, but if you find yourself pushing for a higher elite status level this year, your card spending can help you more than normal, especially since elite thresholds have been reduced by 50%.

Apply for the United Explorer Card here 

New United Club Infinite Card sign-up offer

For the United Club Infinite Card, you’ll earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. This card was launched earlier this year and matches the sign-up bonus from that previous limited-time offer.

Related reading: Full review of the United Club Infinite Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

The most recent offer for this card had no sign-up bonus at all (but did have the $525 annual fee waived). Now, the annual fee is back — but the card comes with a huge 100,000-mile bonus. TPG values United miles at 1.3 cents each, which makes the bonus worth $1,300.

For a limited time through Sept. 30, 2020, select Infinite Club cardholders will receive 7x United miles at grocery stores and gas stations (up to $1,500 combined). You’ll also earn 4x miles on United purchases, 2x on all other travel and dining purchases and 1x on everything else.

Related reading: Best ways to redeem 100,000 United miles 

The perennial perk of the Infinite Card is a United Club membership which typically costs $650 per year for a general United MileagePlus member.

United Club LGA Terminal B
United Club LGA (Photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy)

Other travel-related benefits include free first and second checked bag for the cardholder and one traveling companion, Premier Access, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement, 25% back on in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi purchases, improved access to United award availability, and more.

Looking at this offer strictly from a lounge access cost perspective, you’d clearly be coming out ahead versus paying for a membership outright. However, the obvious fact is that most United Clubs are temporarily closed, and travel, in general, continues to be curtailed.

Apply for the United Club Infinite Card here

Related reading: Which U.S. airline lounges are currently open?

Bottom line

A sign-up bonus under your belt can also you strategize for a future trip — even if travel isn’t on your radar right now. These increased United card sign-up offers are a nice step up from previous bonuses and will only be offered for a limited time.

However, since this is a card issued by Chase, it will be subject to the issuer’s 5/24 rule. If you have opened five or more accounts in the past 24 months, you will likely not be able to be approved for these cards.

Featured photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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