The Chase Explorer card is getting a new benefit starting June 1st – no more foreign transaction fees, as they helpfully explain in the email, below:
This is an ancillary benefit – in other words, it’s not one of the primary reasons to apply for the card. Here’s why – Chase charges 3% on each foreign transaction and the card has a $95 annual fee (free the first year, however). You would have to spend over $3066 internationally – ($95/.03) – to come out equal with Chase every year after the first.
Additionally, Chase, as well as other banks, has cards with better spending benefits on things like travel and dining, which are probably the most typical credit card purchases when out of the country. For instance, the no-forex fee Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2.14 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points per dollar on travel and dining, while this card only offers 1 United mile. Remember, UR points can be transferred to Amtrak, Hyatt, United, British Airways and other partners, so you have the added flexibility with none of the downside if United increases the price of an award ticket. So, if this is your only no-forex fee card, please use it exclusively when you are abroad, but see the next paragraph for the real reasons to get this card. Lastly, Chase has started extending this benefit to many of their cards, so welcome to le club Chase Explorer!
The real reason to get this card is the 50,000 United miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, the two free United Club passes which are handy for taking showers upon arriving back in the US on a coach ticket and having the first checked bag free on United flights. This last benefit has already saved me $100 on two flights to California and will save me another $50 on a trip to Omaha for the College World Series in June. (Use Google for the 50,000 offer, not the public 30,000 offer.) Priority boarding, another benefit, is useless, as I try to be on the airplane as little as possible (unless I’m in first class!).
You also receive double United miles when purchasing United tickets through the United website, but I prefer to go through the Travelocity Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to get 2x Chase UR points per dollar through Travelocity and 2x United Miles per dollar by purchasing with the Explorer card. Additionally, United states for the free checked bag benefit to work, you have to book through the United.com website, but this isn’t true. I checked my United account yesterday after booking the Omaha trip and even though I booked through Travelocity, I still get a free checked bag – see the below photo.
|Free checked bags – look near the bottom!|