Chase seems to be making all the headlines this week in the world of credit card rewards. As of yesterday, they released an offer for new applicants of the United MileagePlus Explorer card (MPE) to earn 70,000 United miles upon spending $3,000 in 3 months–which is the highest sign up bonus that has ever been offered on this card. The normal sign up bonus for this card is 30,000 miles.
While the offer is technically targeted, MANY folks have reported getting targeted this offer, which goes to show the cut-throat nature of the credit card acquisition business. I even got targeted this offer and I’ve already owned the United MPE card in the past!
Here’s how to get access to the offer:
Step 1: Visit this link and enter your UMP login + password
Step 2: You will be taken to a screen that shows what you qualify for. Here is my 70k offer:
My analysis on the card: While the sign up bonus is absolutely worth it, spending on the card after meeting the $3,000 minimum requirement is probably not worth it. The card does come with some great add-ons like:
- 2 guest passes into any United Club
- A free first checked bag for you and a companion
- 2x miles on United ticket purcheses
- No foreign transaction fees
- Priority boarding (though this is not a real benefit as everyone and their mother has this card)
- waived annual fee for the first year
- Undocumented benefit of increased Saver Award availability on United economy awards seats
Other than these benefits, there is very little other earning value for the card itself. If you had a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card like the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, you could easily spend on those cards instead (which carry better category multipliers like 2x on all travel and dining on the Sapphire Preferred) and transfer your UR points on a 1:1 basis to United, which is a much better way to maximize United miles.
That being said, 70k is too good to turn down. While I absolutely HATE United airlines, the fact of the matter is they have one of the best frequent flyer rewards programs out there, offering tons of award space on flights while also offering award availability on Star Alliance flights too. I recently used United miles to book an Air India ticket to attend a cousin’s wedding in India, and would not have been able to book that Air India flight with any other airline miles program.
If you live in a United hub like Houston, Chicago, or San Francisco, this deal is even better as you will often find great nonstop routes on United in these markets (though your experiences may vary).
My analysis on the ‘why’: Even though United is already Chase’s largest portfolio by number of accounts, it looks like Chase is still pushing hard on the acquisition game, particurly through digital channels, getting people to switch their airline mile earning credit cards to this one. While its a great push for the summer, the move really just goes to show how increasingly cut-throat the credit cards market is, especially in the airline miles earning space. Just like currency systems and monetary policy swings, it’s not sustainable — and it’s the reason you will find large devaluations over time where your miles wont be worth as much as they are today. That’s why I always live by mantra “earn and burn.” Don’t stockpile them because you know what they are worth today, but won’t know tomorrow.
Bottom line: If you’ve been targeted for this offer and are under 5/24 (see earlier posts), go for it. 70k is an incredible value for a no annual fee the first year card. And when it does come time next year to pay the fee, you can always downgrade your card to the no annual fee version of this card, keeping your account active and “average age of accounts” score higher, which is a factor in your credit score.
Happy travel hacking!