United Revamping Explorer Card Benefits June 1

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A few days ago we learned that Citi would be increasing earn on its primary American AAdvantage consumer credit card: adding 2 points per dollar at restaurants and gas stations, and an annual $100 American Airlines flight discount after $20,000 spend within a year provided after card renewal.

Now United and Chase are out with changes coming to the United card. Cardmembers are being informed by letter over the next few days that there will be new benefits effective June 1.

  • Adding 2 points per dollar on hotels and restaurants.
  • Adding a statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Adding 25% off inflight purchases made with the card (Wi-Fi, food and beverages)
  • Dropping 10,000 bonus miles after $25,000 spend each year

I view their shaking up the card offerings as a response to the airline’s frustration with stagnating acquisition numbers. United and Chase suggest that the new higher ear on hotels and restaurants will mean more miles than the annual threshold bonus.

The card continues to offer 2 annual United Club passes, free checked bags when paying for United tickets with the card, priority boarding, no foreign transaction fees, and last seat availability when redeeming awards at a higher points price.

They’re explaining the loss of price protection, return protection, and reduction in trip cancellation coverage as driven by low utilization suggesting “less than 0.2% of cardmembers use” these benefits.

If you like the changes you don’t need to wait to apply for the card, as “anyone who applies between today and June 1 will be automatically upgraded to the new card.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,

    If I’m correct, this card is also one of the few cards outside the big annual fee cards that also offers “Primary” coverage on car rentals instead of “Secondary” coverage? Will that benefit still remain in force as well?


  2. Dropping 10,000 bonus miles after $25,000 spend each year

    Hi Gary, so if I currently put $ on this card to meet the 10,000 bonus, should I stop? unless I can spend $25K before June 1, 2018?

    Are they honoring that clause for the current members for the year of 2018?
    Thank you for your help.

  3. If you have the Sapphire Reserve, that card is a better deal as it earns 3 UR points per dollar on hotels and restaurants. Those points can then be transferred to United mileage account.

  4. I called and worked Chase over yesterday for a retention deal. The offered nothing so I closed the account. I needed the Global Entry rebate and would have kept the card! I wonder why they didn’t mention any of this t me?

  5. I would apply for this card if not for 5/24. Might even keep it after one year with the improved benefits.

  6. They’re explaining the loss of price protection, return protection, and reduction in trip cancellation coverage as driven by low utilization suggesting “less than 0.2% of cardmembers use” these benefits.
    – – – – – – — –
    What, you want me to start making claims? I didn’t really pay attention to these benefits until this year even though I have no claims. I want my trip cancellation and extended warranty. Return protection is probably not needed except maybe a foreign purchase at a tiny shop (very rare). Price protection maybe of slight use.

  7. These airline cards are only worthwhile for a business frequent flyer of that particular airline. If you aren’t flying 100k miles with that airline, then the cards that offer more transferable points are a much better deal. No card beats the Amex Platinum with 5 points for airline spend. Which is the best deal for airline spend.

  8. So it still has less earning than my CSR (and really the CSP too), and now it doesn’t have purchase protection (which I use about once a year, usually with items that break or get lost)? Not sure how these new benefits are going to really grab more customers, especially when dropping the bonus mile benefit (whereas AA added both extra earning and a bonus flight credit).

    I guess the 25% off wifi could add up…

  9. If you’re a big spender on the card ask to speak to a supervisor. If you threaten to cancel they will start adding more benefits. It only works if you threaten to cancel the card. They don’t like cancellations since that gets reported. I have done this twice,

  10. If no one is using the price protection then why not keep it? People will view it a good benefit even if it’s really of no use. Dropping it makes no sense at all to me.

  11. How about making it competitive with AA and DL cards by not requiring the United ticket be purchased with the card for it to receive the free bag?
    They should make United spend 3X to at least match the earn on the CSR and Prestige. This one will stay in the sock drawer. It’s still not compelling as all–especially to UA elites (as a gold I can’t get an upgrade on a paid ticket not to mention reward)–probably a cancel now that I can’t sell the lounge passes. They must figure that they’d rather lose the 3X business to Prestige and CSR than pay the extra mile to those who don’t have those cards..

  12. Gary – might be worthwhile to write an article on why Chase changing terms on all its cards. IHG, Marriott, UA.

  13. Gary – Dropping the 10,000 mile bonus for June 1 seems to stick in to people that were depending on it. Will they honor the calendar year or not? In any case, when they end it is when I go to my Barclays AA card which occasionally offers bonus miles. I would try to place most of my charges on the explorer card – not any more. Chase must not realize people use numerous cards. Poor decision on their part.

  14. If I didn’t already have the Reserve (and Preferred) losing the 10K bonus would have been enough to drive me away from putting any spend on the card. The only reason I keep it is for the checked bag and the passes…and to keep my points alive if I don’t fly UA during a calendar year which hasn’t happened yet but could.

  15. What about the no annual fee version of the card? Any updates there?
    The only thing of interest to me is the discounted wifi.

  16. The fundamental problem with the Explorer Card is that spend gets you UA miles. Compared to UR, MR, or SPG/Marriott, the value’s just not there.

  17. I’ve kept the card for the 10K bonus at $25K spending and the extra flight availability on some Saver Awards – “Exclusively available to you as a MileagePlus Chase Cardmember.” Will the flight availability perk be retained?

  18. I guess this is a (baby) step in the right direction and maybe it will spur other carriers to increase benefits on their co-branded cards. Anyway none of the benefits are compelling enough for me to keep my Explorer card when the AF is due.

    SFO is my primary airport so I do fly United several times a year but have yet to see any benefit from this card save the 70k signup bonus. SFO, IAH and DFW where I tend to fly United all have Centurion clubs making the lounge passes useless to me. I have never received priority boarding when booking with my United card which to my understanding isn’t required to receive priority boarding. I don’t check bags when flying domestically and won’t consider United for an International trip. And of course I prefer 5 Amex points to 2 United miles so booking a ticket with the United card makes no sense.

    While the Global Entry benefit has some value, I don’t see any of these changes moving the needle in terms of acquisitions. What would do the trick is another 70k signup bonus.

  19. According to the mailer I received today regarding the changes. For those of you who have reached the $25k spend by 5/31/18 you will receive the 10k mile bonus. For those cardholders that have a spend of $10k to $24999 posted to the account by 5/31/18 they will receive a one time bonus of 4K miles.

  20. I saw online that there is now 60k miles for new cards… Anyone think I can ask for 10k more since I just signed-up ~2 months ago?

    Also, I was told that the $100 for TSA precheck or global entry is only for the primary account holder.

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