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The question is “Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card?” The answer is 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 travel card is best for you. So today, I’ll be comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and United℠ Explorer Card credit card offers.
Best Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred or United Explorer Card?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a sign-up bonus of 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $800 in cash, or at least $1000 in travel redeemed through the Chase portal. The ability to transfer points on a 1:1 basis makes this card one of the best rewards credit cards 2020.
The United Explorer Card has a sign-up offer of 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account is open. United credit cards come with United specific options to earn more points as well.
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 the first year. The Sapphire Preferred does not.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best Spending Benefits: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card?
The United Explorer Card gives you 2x miles per $1 on restaurants, hotel accommodations booked directly through the hotel, 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® Card gives you 2x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining and travel, and 1x on all other purchases. Cardholders also get unlimited deliveries with no delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DashPass subscription from DoorDash. This is worth over a $100 value. But, you must activate with your card by December 31, 2021. Also, cardholders earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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 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 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.
United does have options for some of the best credit cards for miles in 2020. 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)
Best Points System: Ultimate Rewards or MileagePlus?
Ok, on to the points.
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.
Learn more: Best United Credit Cards
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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.
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. This is even though you’re paying with points. That means 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are at the very least worth $1000 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. This is especially because United is one of the transfer partners.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Conclusion: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card
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® 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. Both of these travel credit cards are powerhouses in the travel rewards category.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.