A new version of the United℠ Explorer Card is getting ready for takeoff. On June 1, 2018, the card will be relaunched with new benefits. Current cardholders will also see changes at that time, Chase, the bank that issues United-branded cards, says.
For most cardholders, this new version's benefits will be a big step up from the current ones. And the best part: The new offer will have the same annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
Here's how the new offer will differ from the current offer:
Expanded bonus categories. With the current offer, cardholders get 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases at United. With the new version, you'll get 2 miles per dollar spent in three categories:
United purchases (including tickets, seat upgrades, in-flight food, baggage service charges and more)
This makes it a stronger option for certain everyday spending. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® also has announced additional bonus categories.
Added Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit. The new version will offer a credit for the cost of your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee when you use your card to cover it. That could save you $100 or $85, respectively. (Each program needs to be renewed every five years; the benefit on this card renews every four years, Chase says.)
Added in-flight discounts. The new version will offer 25% off in-flight purchases, including WiFi, food and beverages, when you use your card.
Fewer ancillary benefits. Chase previously notified cardholders with the United℠ Explorer Card that some ancillary benefits would end on June 1.
Price protection and return protection will be removed
Trip cancellation coverage will be lowered to up to $1,500 per trip. The current coverage is up to $10,000 per trip.
Chase says few cardholders used these benefits and it's reinvesting in other parts of the program.
No more spending bonus. The new version won't offer 10,000 miles bonus for spending $25,000 in a calendar year, as the current one does.
What's staying the same
The annual fee. The new version will also have an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95, Chase says.
Your card number and other preferences. The transition to the new benefits will be seamless, Chase says. You won't get a new card number and won't have to update your auto-pay preferences.
The primary rental car coverage. The United℠ Explorer Card is one of the few cards that offer this valuable benefit, and it’s not going anywhere.
The airport lounge passes. The current offer gives cardholders two day passes to the United lounges each cardmember year. The new one will, too.
The other ongoing rewards and benefits. In addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, you’ll still get:
1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases that don’t fit into the bonus categories above
Free first checked bag when you pay with the card for you and a companion on the same reservation
No foreign transaction fees
Overall, the changes are positive
News of these changes might be unsettling to those who know and love the current card's price protection, return protection and travel cancellation perks.
But cardholders overall will come out ahead. The Global Entry and TSA PreCheck benefit, primarily offered only on premium cards with annual fees of $400 or more, is a boon for travelers. The expanded bonus categories also make the card more valuable in the long run.