Home Airlines Are Seven Reasons Enough To Make The United Explorer Credit Card Worth The Annual Fee?

Are Seven Reasons Enough To Make The United Explorer Credit Card Worth The Annual Fee?

by joeheg

The annual fee for our Chase United Explorer card was due and I looked for reasons to keep the card for another year. I look at every card on a yearly basis to see if it still fits into our travel needs and if I’m getting value for the money I’m paying in fees. Here are seven reasons I found to keep the United Explorer card from Chase.

United Explorer Card (new)

You Get To Check One Bag For Free

The United Explorer card lets you and one companion on the same reservation check their first bag for free. Now that United has increased the fee for the first checked bag to $30, this benefit alone is worth up to $120 on a single trip. You need to pay for the ticket with your United Explorer card to get the free checked bag and this benefit is only valid on United and United Express operated flights.

Two Single Use United Club Passes

Each year, at your card renewal, you get two passes to a United Club. To use the passes, you need to present a same-day boarding pass (but you don’t have to be boarding a United flight, just any airline that day). I’ve found United club agents to be very helpful when I’ve dealt with them in Newark and Orlando.


Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck® Fee Credit

If you charge your Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee to your United Explorer card, you’ll receive a credit back to your account for the charge. I recently used this benefit to pay for my Global Entry renewal and the credit was on my account within two days of the application fee.

Priority Boarding & Carry On (Even With A Basic Economy Ticket)

The primary Cardmember and companions on the same reservation will be invited to board United-operated flights prior to general boarding. This boarding is with Group 2, which includes Star Alliance Silver members. This advanced boarding sounds great but there are still at least ten other groups who can board before “Group 2.” If you book a basic economy ticket on United (which I even wouldn’t do on United), having the credit card will allow you earlier boarding and the ability to bring a bag for the overhead on the plane.

Expanded Award Ticket Availability

When you’re a United Explorer cardholder, you have access to award tickets that other passengers don’t. If you’re looking to make an award booking using your miles, having access to this inventory for domestic award tickets might allow you to book routings that would otherwise be unavailable.

25% Back On Onboard Purchases

Do you need a snack (or drink) to make your United flight more tolerable? If you pay with your United Explorer card, you’ll receive 25% back on your purchase.

Your United Miles Will Not Expire

Normally, United miles will expire if you have no account inactivity within 18 months. According to the Chase website, when you have the United Explorer card your miles will not expire. I’m not sure if you need to use the card in that time but it’s not hard to charge $1 to your card every 18 months to make sure your miles stay active.

Final Thoughts

So there are seven reasons to keep the Chase Explorer card open

We still closed the card. 

Right now, we have no intentions of flying with United. It’s a personal choice. Most of the benefits of the card, like increased award space and free bags, are only good when you fly on United. Without those benefits, the card isn’t worth the $95 annual fee. We still can use United miles on plenty of partners and we just used the card for Global Entry so our United miles will stay active for another 18 months.

I plan on telling Chase the reason I’m closing the card is that we no longer want to deal with United. This is the only way I can let United’s business partners know United’s practices are hurting their business as well. Whatever we can do, that’s what we will do.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



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