By Chad Morris


5 Min. To Read

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United Airlines has teamed up with Chase to offer a suite of Visa Signature cards that come with some very nice perks, especially for frequent flyers of the airline. The cards earn miles in MileagePlus, United’s loyalty program. They also come with other benefits when used for everyday purchases.

The Explorer Card earns 2 miles for every dollar spent on air tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile on all other purchases. Cardholders receive a free checked bag on United flights, and a travelling companion is also eligible for the same benefit. Explorer members receive priority boarding at the airport. If they fly to a foreign country, they will receive a 0% foreign currency exchange fee.

The Explorer Card does come with an uncomfortable $95 annual fee, but United has tried to compensate cardholders by giving them 2 United Club passes every year, a value of over $100. These passes can be used at any of the airline’s lounges, which are located around the world. Some of the more notable locations include Hong Kong, Boston, London, and Tokyo. A variety of services are available at United Club locations, including free wifi, shower facilities, free breakfast and afternoon snacks, and beer, wine, and spirits.

The United MileagePlus Club Card offers even more benefits, although there is a very steep $450 annual fee. Holders of the Club Card receive an on-going complimentary membership in United Club, which is worth more than $500 annually. In addition to the cardmember, eligible travel companions can also visit any United Club location.

With this card, Star Alliance lounges are also available. There are more than 1,000 of these; locations include Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and Dubai. Star Alliance sites have similar services as the United Club lounges. Also with the Club Card, a second bag can be checked free of charge on all United flights. Premier Access is another great feature attached to this card. It is United’s premier travel service, providing priority check-in, security screening, and baggage handling.

In addition to the excellent airport benefits, the Club Card includes some very luxurious bonuses, not least of which is a free Discoverist membership in the World of Hyatt loyalty program. This includes a long list of perks, such as a free night after staying at 5 different Hyatt brand hotels. Discoverist members earn Hyatt Base Points for stays at any Hyatt location. They also receive extras on Avis car rentals and free room upgrades.

Club Card members who don’t want to rent a car with Avis can use Hertz instead and receive a 25% bonus in the Hertz rewards program. Using a Club Card will also earn free car upgrades and other exclusive offers. Moreover, the Club Card earns 50% more miles than the Explorer Card on all purchases outside of United.

United and Chase have also joined forces to offer Club Card holders special deals in the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. This is a network of resorts, lodges, hotels, and spas that cater to Chase cardholders. Club Card members receive early check-in, free room upgrades, complimentary daily breakfast for two, and other nice benefits. Searching for facilities in New York reveals Gramercy Park Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental.

Miles earned with either card have no expiration date, and there is no limit on the number of miles that can be earned. They can be used to book any seat on any United flight without blackout dates or other restrictions.

The MileagePlus program provides other Visa cards as well. If you own a business, be sure to check out United’s business cards. They come with all the same great benefits that the personal cards have. The business cards carry the same annual fees as the personal cards, but provide employee cards at no additional cost. It’s possible to set an individualized spending limit for each employee card, and MileagePlus business cards earn 2 miles for every dollar spent in select business categories.

If you don’t want to add a hard inquiry to your credit report, United’s frequent flyer program offers a Visa prepaid card called the MileagePlus GO Card. It earns 1 mile for every dollar spent on qualifying purchases, with a 2,500 monthly maximum. The card is issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, and balances are covered by FDIC insurance. Like the credit cards, the prepaid card has an annual fee (it’s $85). Unlike the credit cards, the prepaid card charges 3.5% for foreign transactions.

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