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Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

BuildingBetterCredit2020
Valued Member

Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

Apologies in advance if this topic has been covered already and I've missed it in the forums. Does it make any sense to get the United card if one already has the CSP? The only thing I can tell that would make it worth it, are the two annual club passes, priority boarding, and the free checked baggage which ultimately can pay off the annual fee of the card. One would have to fly at least a couple times a year with United too from what I can tell. Outside of that, I see the CSP and United as being comparable travel/dining-wise in terms of points. 


June 2021

Message 1 of 10
9 REPLIES 9
coldfusion
Community Leader
Super Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

The Explorer also has TSA Pre reimbursement, the CSP does not. 

 

If you fly United with checked baggage but only fly a couple a times a year domestic i.e. you have no UA MP status it might be worthwhile at least for the 1st year.  If you flew regularly enough to comfortably reach at least Silver status I'd probably have a different view.

 

I would apply with the mindset of grabbing 40,000 miles with $2K spend and not reaching for the 65,000 level and seeing how things pan out with regard to renewal after the 1st year. 



(4/2021)
FICO 8 (EX) 815 (TU) 822 (EQ) 808
FICO 9 (EX) 827 (TU) 826 (EQ) 832

$1M+ club

Artist formerly known as the_old_curmudgeon who was formerly known as coldfusion
Message 2 of 10
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?


@BuildingBetterCredit2020 wrote:

Apologies in advance if this topic has been covered already and I've missed it in the forums. Does it make any sense to get the United card if one already has the CSP? The only thing I can tell that would make it worth it, are the two annual club passes, priority boarding, and the free checked baggage which ultimately can pay off the annual fee of the card. One would have to fly at least a couple times a year with United too from what I can tell. Outside of that, I see the CSP and United as being comparable travel/dining-wise in terms of points. 


1. Club passes - if you only need to go once or twice, maybe. You can also just buy club passes if you really are a once or twice a year person. If you're flying with any frequency and would make quick work of the passes, just get the Club card and have unlimited visits instead.

 

2. Priority boarding - No. Just no. Group 1 and 2 (card holders are in group 2) are often over half the plan on United flights. While rare, I've seen instances where overhead bin space is already gone by the end of group 2, and partly through you're probably already loading your bag in a bin two rows behind where you're sitting.

 

3. Checked bag - can be worth it if you have no status and check bags. This one is probably your biggest value driver among the list, but it still requires enough flying that it's probably not worth throwing all those flights on an Explorer when you could do a higher-value card like CSR.

 

I'd say for you, stick to CSP.

 

For those wondering, where does the MPExplorer really start to shine in value? PQD (PQP now, sorry) waivers for infrequent-but-long-distance flyers. If you were the type who can rack up 75k PQM and still only have 2000 PQD, the Explorer was your card. Go spend $25k and jump to Platinum. Now it still makes it easier, but with the PQF requirement in play, you won't make Platinum on 7-10 flights anymore. There's some other high-value perks, but they apply to frequent flyers and in almost every case would be better serviced by the Club card rather than the Explorer.

Message 3 of 10
BuildingBetterCredit2020
Valued Member

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

Thanks for the info. FWIW, I am a Premier Silver MP member so it seems it probably wouldn't really be worth it,  in addition to the valid points Coldfusion made. I pretty much use United exclusively when I travel, hence I asked. I guess the CSP is more than enough. 


June 2021

Message 4 of 10
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?


@BuildingBetterCredit2020 wrote:

Thanks for the info. FWIW, I am a Premier Silver MP member so it seems it probably wouldn't really be worth it,  in addition to the valid points Coldfusion made. I pretty much use United exclusively when I travel, hence I asked. I guess the CSP is more than enough. 


You already have group 2 and a free bag then, diminishing value even more. The card perks for those are rundandant and do nothing for you.

Message 5 of 10
CaptJOB
Regular Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

I've been silver since 2019(might even make it to Gold this year) and I still want this card for a couple of reasons:

 

25% bonus on MPX purchases

CPU eligibility for award flights(as a silver and probably even as a gold I imagine this is effectively useless unless you do a lot of non-hub flights)

SUB

Option for the 500 PQP bonus at 12k spend

 

Chase doesn't like my profile at the moment so I'm not gonna get it but I did apply for it twice in the past 14 months

Message 6 of 10
quikj9
Regular Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

@BuildingBetterCredit2020 I got the United Card for pretty much the exact situation @coldfusion described. I fly domestically regularly, but never enough to earn status. The Explorer card basically gives you the silver status you already have. 

 

I will say that getting Global Entry/TSA Precheck as a perk of the card has been quite nice and I've benefitted from the extra award availibility only shown to United co-brand card users. 




Message 7 of 10
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?


@CaptJOB wrote:

I've been silver since 2019(might even make it to Gold this year) and I still want this card for a couple of reasons:

 

25% bonus on MPX purchases

CPU eligibility for award flights(as a silver and probably even as a gold I imagine this is effectively useless unless you do a lot of non-hub flights)

SUB

Option for the 500 PQP bonus at 12k spend

 

Chase doesn't like my profile at the moment so I'm not gonna get it but I did apply for it twice in the past 14 months


Unless things have changed significantly since 2017 or so (when I started flying DL much more than UA and lost 1K status), I can tell you the CPU eligibility on award tickets is useless unless you booked award tickets on regional flights. Even then, you're talking about a seat on one of the United Express Canadair/Embraer jets.

 

The problem is your CPU eligibility on award is considered the lowest fare bucket in existence, so you will get an upgrade as a Silver only if there is R space left after every other Silver has cleared an upgrade (or Gold if you're Gold). This could have some potential value to a GS/1K and maybe a Platinum, but those people are also flying frequently enough that the MP Club card makes more sense for unlimited domestic lounge access.

 

I've heard a couple mention the 25% bonus on MPX, and I suppose that could be of value, but you'd have to run a lot of MPX spend to get to that point. Even pricing UA miles at 6cpm, that's just over $6,300/year in MPX purchases to recoup the AF; at the more traditional 2cpm rate, it's $19k in MPX spend. Every little bit helps I'm sure, but that's a tough one to be the primary value driver.

Message 8 of 10
Citylights18
Established Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

You could pair a CSP with a CFF. Buy flights with the CFF to get the 5x and the carrier loyalty points. Reedem for flights on the CSP with the 1.25 discount. No annual fee with the CFF so that is an advantage.

 

My brother swears by United and talks about having 300,000 miles stored up. However you are completely limited for using them on flights when compared to flexible points which in the case of chase can translate into travel categories or even grocery purchases.

 

The united card lineup has an advantageous price point either. Infinite is $525 and is club and 4x earn on United. You can do better by buying flights with a no annual fee Chase Freedom Card. The next tier Quest gives you $125 travel credit and two 5,000 miles annual credit, but it equals out to the $250 AF and you only get a 3x earn on United spend. You pretty much get your money back if you travel united regularly but you don't get your united club access either. 

 

Explorer gives you next to nothing but a checked bag and 2x on travel and dining. You already have that with the CSP earn rates and can move the points directly to United. You gain free checked bags but that is it. Gateway gives you 2x gas and transit for no annual fee but also no free bags benefit.

 

United Infinite seems to me to make the most sense because it gives you club access, if that is something you really value. Personally I think airline club lounge is a niche product. My impression though I've never had airline club access is that its at least a relatively elite product compared to say priority pass which is part of many top tier cards.

Official travel point totals as of 1/21/20 (366,614 Total Points)
Chase Ultimate Rewards 148,834
World of Hyatt 92,284
AMEX Membership Rewards 63,172
AA Advantage 15,244
United MileagePlus 13,316
British Airways Avios 11,332
Citi Thank You 2,850
Hilton Honors 2,157
NASA Platinum Rewards 1883
Marriott Bonvoy 1,350
Jet Blue TrueBlue 885
Southwest Rapid Rewards 762
Expedia Points 740
Delta Sky Miles 175
Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points 100
Hotels.com Rewards 6/10 ($135.99)
Message 9 of 10
Citylights18
Established Contributor

Re: Getting United Explorer w/CSP worth it?

I found an article on TPG on how you can double dip on flights by reedeming through a CSP at discount and then picking up united miles.

 

https://thepointsguy.com/guide/ultimate-rewards-travel-portal/

 

I believe though the example doesn't really show it you'll still get the 5x earning rate (or more) which corresponds to your United status but earn 5x Chase points from the purchase which is more than any United card.

Official travel point totals as of 1/21/20 (366,614 Total Points)
Chase Ultimate Rewards 148,834
World of Hyatt 92,284
AMEX Membership Rewards 63,172
AA Advantage 15,244
United MileagePlus 13,316
British Airways Avios 11,332
Citi Thank You 2,850
Hilton Honors 2,157
NASA Platinum Rewards 1883
Marriott Bonvoy 1,350
Jet Blue TrueBlue 885
Southwest Rapid Rewards 762
Expedia Points 740
Delta Sky Miles 175
Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points 100
Hotels.com Rewards 6/10 ($135.99)
Message 10 of 10
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