Which Is Right for You? Comparing New United Card Offers

These increased sign-up bonuses are available for a limited time.

Alisha McDarrisAugust 4, 2020
On a similar note...
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Which is right for you? Chase United vs. Club Infinite Offers

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Chase just released new offers with stellar sign-up bonuses for two of their co-branded United Airlines cards, and they are definitely worth a look. Here’s what the new offers look like for the United℠ Explorer Card and the United Club℠ Infinite Card and how to decide which one is right for you.

United℠ Explorer Card

Already a solid card for United fans, the popular United℠ Explorer Card is offering even more bonus miles to new cardmembers with initial spend, but only for a limited time. Whereas new cardmembers can usually claim 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, that number is increasing to 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Yes, the initial spend requirement is a bit higher, but that extra 20,000 miles is nearly enough for two domestic round-trip flights as some award flights start as low as 6,000 miles for one-way travel.

As for the other perks and benefits of this card:

  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

  • Up to a $100 statement credit to use toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • Your first checked bag is free (for you and a companion).

  • Two one-time-use United Club passes each anniversary year.

  • 25% back as a statement credit when you purchase food, beverages or Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights if you pay with your card.

You’ll also earn 2x miles per dollar on hotels, restaurants, and, of course, United purchases (and 1x mile per dollar on everything else).

United Club℠ Infinite Card

The United Club℠ Infinite Card is also going through some temporary changes. Usually, the new cardmember offer doesn’t include thousands of miles like with most other travel rewards cards, but instead waives the $525 annual fee for the first year (no initial spend required). But now, new cardholders can instead enjoy None with a full annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $525 (not waived the first year).

All the card’s other perks will remain the same:

  • United Club Membership ($650 value).

  • Up to a $100 statement credit to use toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • First and second checked bags free for cardholder and a companion.

  • 25% back as a statement credit when you purchase food, beverages or Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights if you pay with your card.

As for miles earned, you can earn 4x miles per dollar on United purchases, 2x miles on travel, dining and restaurants, and 1x miles on everything else.

Which card is right for you?

Both cards are offering tempting increased bonuses, especially the United Club℠ Infinite Card, which doesn’t usually come with any sign-up bonus at all. But these new offers won’t be right for everyone.

The United℠ Explorer Card will likely be more approachable for most as the $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee remains intact for the duration of the special offer. The only thing required to snag the extra 20,000 miles is to spend an extra $1,000 compared to the normal offer. Of course, that’s not a small sum for most, but there are creative ways to organize your spending to reach that goal and claim the bonus.

If the $3,000 spending requirement is attainable, the other benefits are valuable and will almost certainly come in handy for those who travel with United at least once a year. The Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit alone makes the card worth it (up to a $100 value). If you already have Global Entry or TSA Precheck, you can also consider charging the application fee for a spouse, partner, child or friend to get them complimentary access to one of the programs as well. And don’t overlook the free baggage perk which, at $35 per bag, per flight, can save you and your travel companion $140 for just one round trip flight. If you’re a casual flyer of United (especially if you don’t have elite status), this card could be a nice fit.

As for the United Club℠ Infinite Card, it’s usually one of the few travel rewards cards with no high-value mile bonus upon sign-up. But this special offer is now exceeding the welcome bonus of other high-end premium travel credit cards, albeit to a smaller target audience of United loyalists.

So while the United Club℠ Infinite Card’s usual offer of no annual fee for the first year likely enticed more causal travel or United customers into giving the card a go, the new higher cost of entry and six digit welcome bonus will likely make it more tempting to business travelers and those who have had high-end cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve® in the past.

Those who fly with United frequently will find this card most suitable, especially if you like to frequent airport lounges during your travels and can make the most of the complimentary United Club membership. If you’re already Premier Gold (or higher) the free bag benefit won’t be nearly as valuable to you, since Gold status gets you two free checked bags, but you’ll still benefit from saving on your companion's free bags. Plus with twice the earn rate on United purchases, you’ll get more value out of the high-fee card than the casual United flyer.

The bottom line

Even with limited-time special offers, these two cards won’t be right for everyone, but if you fly United, one or the other is very likely worth your consideration. The United℠ Explorer Card is a solid option for even occasional United customers, while the United Club℠ Infinite Card will likely be a hit with frequent United flyers and business travelers who don’t mind paying the high annual fee for the quality perks and higher earning potential. Either way, both cards offer more points in your pocket right off the bat, which is almost always a good thing.

All information about The Platinum Card® from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Platinum Card® from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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