Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card Offer?

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The question is “Chase Sapphire Preferred or United Explorer Card?” Chase makes it hard for us. They have so many great travel rewards credit card offers, it can hurt your head trying to decide which offer is best for you. So today, I’ll be comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs United Explorer rewards credit card offers.

Edit: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card now comes with a bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. Read the full solo Chase Sapphire Preferred review here. 

Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Link: United℠ Explorer Card

Should you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or United MileagePlus credit cards?
Should you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or United MileagePlus credit cards?

Best Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred or United

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 60,000 Ultimate Rewards pointsare worth $600 in cash, or at least $750 in travel redeemed through the Chase portal.

The United Explorer Card has a standard sign-up offer of 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account is open. 

For those of you who have had one of these travel cards before, the application terms from the landing page state: “This new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit cardwithin the last 24 months.

Also, you will most likely not be approved if you’ve applied for 5+ credit cards in the last 24 months too.

United waives the $95 annual fee the first year. The Sapphire Preferred does not.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best Spending Benefits: United or Sapphire Preferred Card?

The United Explorer Card gives you 2x miles per $1 on restaurants, hotel accommodations, and United purchases including tickets, food, Wi-Fi, and beverages. You’ll earn 1x mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights when you pay with your Explorer Card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you 2x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining and travel, and 1x on all other purchases.

Even though you can earn United miles, I would rather spend on my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because of the 2x on ALL travel and dining. Plus, I value Ultimate Rewards point higher, but more on that in a sec.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best Perks: Chase Sapphire Preferred or United MileagePlus?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees, is chip & signature enabled, comes with primary CDW on car rentals, $10,000 trip cancellation/insurance, 1:1 point transfers to 13 top travel partners, 20% bonus when you redeem your Ultimate Rewards points through the UR travel portal, and 24/7 direct access to customer service representatives.

The United Explorer comes with two United Club one-timepasses annually, free first checked bag, up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® fee credit, priority boarding, primary CDW on car rentals, and no fees on foreign transactions.

Both of these cards have Visa Signatures benefits, like free movies, hotel discounts, and wine tastings.

If you fly United a handful of times per year and don’t have status, the United Explorer packs a lot of perks and easily justifies the annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has chip technology and more flexible points, so I’m going to just call this one a tie. Hope that’s cool.

Winner: Tie (Unless you primarily fly United Airlines) 

Best Points System: Ultimate Rewards or MileagePlus?

Ok, on to the points.

United MileagePlus Miles

The United Explorer card earns United miles. Obviously. United is a part of the Star Alliance, so that means you can fly any airline in the Star Alliance with your United miles. United doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on partner flights but did raise the cost to fly partners in premium cabins. Those redemptions are now 140,000 in business class, and 222,000 in First Class round-trip. Ouch.

Lufthansa A380 first class can be booked through United with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Traveling premium cabin to Europe on United metal is a cheaper option at 115,000 in business class, and 160,000 in first-class round-trip.

The price for international economy tickets on United and their partners stayed the same at 60,000 miles round-trip (which can basically get you to Europe and back in economy…pretty sweet).

Domestic trips on United will cost you 20,000 – 25,000 miles round-trip in economy, or 50,000 miles in business class. Economy class round-trip tickets to Hawaii will cost you 45,000 miles.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred out to 13 travel partners, including United.Transfers to Ultimate Rewards travel partners are instant and at a 1:1 ratio.

I prefer to transfer my Ultimate Rewards points out to Hyatt, British Airways, United, and Singapore Air.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners can help keep points active.

In addition to your transfer options, you can get 20% off by booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards site. The nice thing about this option is that your booking will count towards airline elite status, even though you’re paying with points. That means 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points is at the very least worth $750 in travel.

When it comes to deciding which points currency is better, I think having the option to transfer Ultimate Rewards points out to travel partners makes them more valuable than United MileagePlus miles, especially since United is one of the transfer partners.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Conclusion: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer

Overall, I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better daily rewards card, and consider the points more valuable. The Chase Sapphire Preferred also currently has a larger sign-up bonus which makes it more appealing, but if you fly United often, then you may want the benefits the United Explorer card offers.

I hope this helps if you are trying to decide between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and United Explorer rewards cards. If one of these cards is right for you, the applications links for these cards are below.

Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Link: United℠ Explorer Card

The information related to the United Explorer Card has been collected by Johnny Jet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card Offer?
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About the Author

Mary Renking
Mary writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

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