Lame Offers: Chase MileagePlus Explorer 50% more, with a catch

This is the first in an occasional, tongue-in-cheek, series on lame offers, be they from frequent flyer programs, credit cards, or anything travel. It is just too dull to only focus on the mega-offers, every hobby can do with a bit of perspective and fun.

I received an offer in the mail for my Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card, a generally pretty good card, proclaiming “Earn 50% More Miles Now Through 2/28.”

Sounds good, similar to an offer last year, then I opened it up the full detail (bold emphasis added), “Now through 2/28/2013, you’ll automatically earn 50% more miles on every $1 you spend above $1,000 each month on non-United purchases, up to 50,000 miles.”


The nice thing is that no registration is required, but that $1,000/month minimum is steep for such a small bonus. Perhaps United is churlish after the 5,000 mile bonus intended for Central America cardholders in the fall?

Update: and “The bonus offer does not apply to purchases that earn more than 1 mile in the rewards program, specifically: purchases made directly from United.”

Readers, send me any lame offers you want to share and shame.

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  • I’m pretty sure I got that 5k mile bonus a few months back

  • The card isn’t even worth spending $100 a month, let alone more than $1,000 to activate the 50% bonus (remember, the first $1,000 is still bonus-free). Explorer ranks as one of the worst Chase cards IMO, unless you don’t have status and need the free checked bag.

  • So is the bonus 50k or is the spend 50k.

    If the bonus is 50k. Then you can get up to 150k miles at a cost of about .006 not bad for a United Mile.

  • Cindy

    Is this a target offer? I am interested in it. Since if you spend 25000 you get 10000 miles bonus. Combined with this offer, it is pretty good deal to palmy big tax bill.

  • Brian

    I don’t think its necessarily the worst card. I enjoy using it for all my non-bonus spending. United miles are pretty valuable to me, so I actually try to hit 25K on it asap for the extra 10K bonus. However, after that then it gets dumped in the coffers so the SP card can gef full-time usage.

  • Jeremy

    I got offered 2x points once you spend above $2,000 each month.

  • Having award flights being CPU eligible is worth it to me (and the 2 UC passes don’t hurt). That said, I haven’t used it in like 4 months because I have my Premier Rewards Gold card and I’m trying to get MR points for SQ F.
    To meet the 50K limit, you have to spend $101,000 or $102,000 depending on when you start, so you’ll end up with 151,000-152,000 miles. How many people have a credit limit high enough to achieve that spend? Not many I’m guessing.

  • Mgs

    Mine was above 2500,card stays in the draw!

  • Dee Tee

    While I agree with Scott the card itself is weak, this offer is not all that bad. As a matter of fact, this a great deal especially for someone who doesn’t have the UA MP Club card.

    Say someone has not reached the other bonus yet (10K after $25K in spend). That means after spending $25 on the card, I would receive 25K+ 10K spend bonus + 12.5 50% bnous. 47.5K miles for $25K in spending is a very good deal.

    This is not a lame deal by any strech of the imagination. Honestly, I think you felt like you had to put something out there and this came in handy. We all receive lame deals daily (Delta emailing about Bed Bad and Beoynd going from 1 mile to 2 miles per dollar as BIG NEWS).

    Dare I say this post is lame compared to your other posts.

  • jon

    This is a targeted promotion my wife got via a card in the mail. I agree that it’s not a particularly generous offer.

    Particularly since I got a card on November 2 saying 2x mileage after the $1,000 spend for November and December. I used the heck out of it for those 2 months and stuck it in the drawer the the offer lapsed at midnight, 1/1/13.

    I got 50k sign up bonus on this card and so it’s been good for me (I got it last summer). However, I don’t know that I won’t dump it on its anniversary unless some other good promotion comes along.

  • @Cindy – it is targeted and different people are reporting different offers, so look in your mail.

  • @MileageUpdate – bonus miles capped at 50,000 miles “which equates to $100,000 in net purchases,” though would actually have $51,000 per month to get that.

  • jon

    I don’t think that math is correct. How do you figure?

  • @Scottrick – though there are debates on the value of Rental Car Primary CDW, that is about the only benefit other than first checked bag, that I see as potentially high value. Since I don’t own a car that is not relevant to me. Now if it would waive the close-in award fees like the Club Card, then I would keep it beyond the first year.

    @Dee Tee – thanks for your feedback, though even with the various prepaid cards (which do have their costs, for instance $197 in Vanilla fees for $500 cards to reach 25k), the population that is willing and able to put 25k spend on a card is somewhat limited, and as the 10k does not apply to elite qualification, it is not a big spend target that I think is particularly good value.

    I posted because the $1,000 spend threshold struck me as particularly weak, the post, however lame, did create some interesting discussion that I appreciate, including your analysis. Maybe I will continue the series, maybe not, I like to play with new things when so many people stick to the same repetitive stuff.

  • jon

    Good summary and post #14 Rapid Travel Chai!
    I have the Ink card for my biz and the Sapphire Card for consumer spending. Are there any other Chase cards to consider if I elect to dump the explorer card?
    thanks for your thoughts

  • @jon – the first $1,000/month is not eligible, so would need $51,000/month on my offer, splitting evenly, to get a 25k bonus each month, though there is no requirement or cap for each of the 2 months, so it would be possible to get the full bonus with $101,000 spend in a single month. Over 2 months you would need $102,000 total spend.

  • @jon – you already have the cards that are most favored for putting spend on, the BA card is good for a big bonus when one comes around, but otherwise you can just as easily transfer to BA from Ultimate Rewards. Next you can perhaps consider the hotel cards which each have benefits and annual certificates that I find worth the annual fee, I currently have the Hyatt, Marriott and Priority Club cards and will keep them indefinitely. Some people get good value out of the Southwest cards to get a companion pass, Southwest is not much use to me so I have not done it for myself. Lastly, a number of people like the category bonuses of the Freedom card, there used to be better benefits for Chase Exclusives when combined with Chase checking, that has been watered down, but with your Sapphire those points can still be moved to full Ultimate Rewards for transfer to airlines and hotels.

  • jon

    Chai: I just closed my BA accounts after being assured my FIRST flights to Spain next summer were locked in. SW is of no use to me. I have the SPG consumer and biz cards.
    Why do I want to get the Hyatt, Marriott and Priority Club cards-I know 0 about all of those. And please explain what the Freedom card is. I think those 4 sound like where I go next. Thanks for your time and your blogging. It’s great!