TravelSort reader Louis writes "I got the United MileagePlus Explorer card for the 65,000 bonus miles (ok, actually 55,000 miles, since I didn't want to spend $25,000 to earn the final 10,000 miles). My card will be coming up for renewal next month and I haven't used it that much, so I plan to cancel. Is there anything I'm missing? Isn't this card mainly just good for the signup bonus?"
While everyone's situation is a bit different, it's safe to say that many of us were highly motivated to sign up for the United MileagePlus Explorer card with the 55,000 bonus miles, especially when it was after first purchase, but even with $1000 minimum spend. Heck, that's why I still rank this offer as #2 on my Best Travel Credit Cards list, although do note it is targeted, and you may or may not be able to see it when logged into your United MileagePlus account.
But what about the decision on whether to keep the card? Many folks will probably opt not to keep the card as the main motivation was the signup bonus miles, and they don't want to pay the annual fee when it comes due. Here are the main reasons I see to keep the card and the main reasons to cancel the card. Only you can determine how much you value the various benefits cited as reasons to keep the card.
Reasons to Keep the United MileagePlus Explorer Card
- Access to greater United economy award availability: In case you missed it in my post on United Expert Mode and United Fare Codes, United credit card holders get access to the XN fare bucket, just as United elites do. So even if you don't have elite status with United, you can improve your chances of nabbing United economy award seats by holding the United MileagePlus Explorer card.
- Annual fee waiver or retention bonus: It never hurts to ask for an annual fee waiver or retention bonus--the worst that can happen is they'll say no. Just don't expect a fee waiver or retention bonus if you haven't used the card at all since earning the signup bonus. Also see our Retention Bonus Tips
- Value of the benefits is worth the annual fee to you: The United MileagePlus Visa offers first checked bag free, priority boarding, and 2 United Club passes. Everyone will value these benefits a bit differently, from not at all (for example for elites, who already get these benefits) to quite a bit. And make sure to value these against the annual fee less any reduction/retention bonus you receive
- Improve Average Age of Accounts: This isn't of course unique to the United MileagePlus Explorer and on its own is likely not enough to warrant keeping the card, but in conjunction with a fee waiver or retention bonus, it can make sense. You ideally want to already have a couple of no annual fee cards that you never close, but it can also be helpful to keep open any credit cards that are free or nearly so, thanks to a fee waiver or retention bonus.
Reasons to Cancel the United MileagePlus Explorer Card
- You're a United Elite: It's a bit ironic, but the United MileagePlus Card just doesn't make as much sense to hold if you're already an elite MileagePlus member. You already receive priority boarding and also are entitled to 1 checked bag free as a United Silver, and 3 free checked bags for Gold, Platinum, 1K and Global Services members.
- You Don't Book Economy Award Flights: The access to the XN award space is pretty nifty if you're not already a United Elite, but if you don't actually book economy awards, it doesn't help you.
- No Fee Waiver or Retention Bonus: If you don't receive any kind of fee waiver or retention bonus, you probably also haven't been using the card much and it makes sense to cancel.
- You Earn Your United Miles at 2.14X-5X or More: If you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus and the Chase Freedom, it's not hard to earn most of your United miles at 2.14X-5X or more per dollar spent. It's pretty hard for the United MileagePlus Explorer's 2X miles per dollar spent to compete with that.
Have you decided to keep or cancel the United MileagePlus Explorer card, and why?
United MileagePlus Explorer 65,000 Bonus Miles Offer Tips
United Expert Mode and United Fare Codes
Best United Miles Bonus Offers Available Now
How to Find Star Alliance Award Space
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