Home » Travel » Chase Sapphire Preferred® vs United Mileage Plus Explorer: Helping you do the math

Chase Sapphire Preferred® vs United Mileage Plus Explorer: Helping you do the math

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This article was last updated Aug 17, 2015, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The biggest advantages of the United℠ Explorer Card are:

  1. One free checked bag each for you and a companion on United.
  2. Priority boarding in Group 2 on all United flights.

For the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the major advantages are:

  1. 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  2. An EMV chip for foreign purchases.
  3. The ability to transfer points 1:1 into United, British Airways, Southwest, Amtrak, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz Carlton, Virgin Atlantic, and Korean Airlines.
  4. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

You’re going to want the United℠ Explorer Card if you really value a free first checked bag or priority boarding. But if you want maximum flexibility from the points you earn and bonuses on common spending categories like dining and travel, you’ll want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Here’s a table that breaks down the differences:

Best low interest credit cards

Best overallThe Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Best for balance transfersDiscover it® Balance Transfer
Best for large purchasesCiti Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Best for rewardsCiti® Double Cash Card – $150 Cash Back Offer
Best for travelCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Savings calculator to help you decide

Most of the decision to you will come down to some math.

How much is the United℠ Explorer Card’s checked bag benefit worth based on how much you fly? And how much is the higher point earning power of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is worth based on your dining/travel and foreign transaction spending?

You can use our free CardFinder tool to enter your spending and travel habits, and it will show you whether the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or United℠ Explorer Card gives you more value and earns you more miles.

Is holding both beneficial?

In may cases holding both is a good idea.

If you check more than 4 bags per year (2 roundtrips for you and a companion) you can save the entire cost of the $95 annual fee ($0 Intro for First Year, then $95) of the United℠ Explorer Card.

Then consider using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for your dining and non-United travel spend to get the double points on those purchases.

Note that if you are an elite Premier level flyer with United, you already get the free bag waiver and priority boarding of the Explorer. For you there is one other reason to consider the United℠ Explorer Card:

  1. The ability to get Premier upgrades to first class while traveling on award tickets

Otherwise, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s dining / travel bonus categories are enough to hold on its own.

You could also consider the more expensive United MileagePlus® Club Card* which offers full access to United airport clubs.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and apply.

Click here to learn more about the United℠ Explorer Card and apply.

*The information related to the United MileagePlus® Club Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.


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