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In the post below, I’ll be comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and United℠ Explorer Card credit card offers. Both Chase cards can not only enhance your travel, but they also come with extra rewards for everyday things like dining purchases. I’ve held both cards in my wallet, so let’s dive into the “Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card” comparisons.
Jump ahead to Sapphire Preferred and United Explorer offers:
60,000 bonus points; 1:1 United transfer partner: Learn more: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 bonus miles; $0 introductory annual fee (then $95): Learn more: United℠ Explorer Card
Best Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred or United Explorer Card?
Let’s start with the exciting offers. Which card has the better signup bonus offer?
New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Member FDIC
United credit cards come with United-specific options to earn more points as well.
New United℠ Explorer Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, there’s a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
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 card within the last 24 months.”
Also, Chase will likely not approve your application if you have applied for 5+ credit cards in the last 24 months too.
United waives the $95 annual fee for the first year. The Sapphire Preferred does not waive its $95 annual fee. Neither card has a foreign transaction fee to worry about.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card thanks to better flexibility with the bonus points.
Best Spending Benefits: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card?
United Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card earns 2x miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases. You’ll earn 1x mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get 25% back as a statement credit on United® inflight purchases like food, beverages, and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights when you pay with your Explorer Card.
Additionally, this card comes with up to a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. When you use your card to purchase your United ticket, you can check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip). You can also enjoy priority boarding privileges and be able to visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your card anniversary.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
There are several Chase Sapphire reward categories. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns unlimited:
- 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit)
- 3x points on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out)
- 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart®, and wholesale clubs)
- Also 3x points on select streaming services
- 2x points on all other travel purchases
- 1x point per $1 spent on all non-bonus purchases
There is a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit. It comes in the form of a statement credit that will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for hotel accommodation purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program, up to an annual maximum accumulation of $50.
Plus, on each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year. So, if you spend $25,000 on purchases, you’ll get 2,500 bonus points.
Even though you can earn United miles, I would rather spend on my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because of the points on ALL travel and dining. Plus, I value Ultimate Rewards points more (more on that below).
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best Perks: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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 top travel partners, 25% bonus when you redeem your Ultimate Rewards points through the UR travel portal, and 24/7 direct access to customer service representatives.
United does have options for some of the best credit cards for miles. The United℠ Explorer Card comes with two United Club℠ one-time passes 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 Signature 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, then go with United)
Best Points System: Ultimate Rewards or MileagePlus?
Ok, on to the points in this Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card review.
United MileagePlus Miles
The United℠ Explorer Card earns United Airlines 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.
Traveling in a premium cabin to Europe on United metal is a cheaper option. It starts 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. Those began at 60,000 miles round-trip (which can basically get you to Europe and back in economy…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® Card earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred out to several 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.
In addition to your transfer options, you can get a 25% bonus by booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards site. The nice thing about this option is that your booking will count towards airline elite status. This is even though you’re paying with points.
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. This is especially because United is one of the transfer partners.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Conclusion on United Explorer vs Chase Sapphire Preferred
In conclusion, both the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card comes with possibilities. However, overall, I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better daily rewards card, and I personally consider the points to be more valuable. 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® Card and United℠ Explorer Card rewards cards.
If you’re still not sure but want to earn points and miles, there are other options. For instance, check out our comparison of the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Both of these travel credit cards are powerhouses in the travel rewards category.