Chase's co-branded United credit cards don't get the same love Citi's American Airlines and Barclaycard's US Airways cards do. At first blush, the reason for this neglect is obvious: Chase's Ultimate Rewards cards have higher earning rates in more lucrative categories, and those points can be transferred instantly to United. If you're going to carry even one flexible Ultimate Rewards-earning card, why would you also carry a United co-branded card?
As sound as that argument is, I want to take the other side and argue that the Chase MileagePlus Explorer Business card is very much worth considering – and indeed, if it weren't for Chase's Ultimate Rewards cards, might be the second-most-valuable co-branded airline credit card (American Express's Delta Platinum and Reserve cards are in a class of their own, in the opinion of your humble blogger).
Great Signup Bonus
For months and months Chase has been offering 50,000 United miles after spending $2,000 on the Explorer Business card within 3 months. To get the offer to show up, open a private browsing window, log into your United account, and open this link (it may not be available for all users, although I've seen tons of reports of success).
Compare that to the Chase Ink Bold and Plus cards, which offer 50,000 flexible Ultimate Rewards points after spending $10,000 on the cards. We can praise flexibility all we want, but how many people end up transferring all 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points to United anyway?
Great Earning Rate
Unlike the non-business MileagePlus Explorer card, the Explorer Business earns 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores. That's one card with all three of the most lucrative Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink bonus categories (although with only 2x at office supply stores rather than the Ink's 5x).
And since the Business Explorer card is a Visa small business credit card, it's eligible for Visa Savings Edge as well.
Great Threshold Spend Bonus
Each calendar year you spend $25,000 or more on the Business Explorer card, you'll earn an additional 10,000 MileagePlus miles.
That means if you spend $25,000 at office supply stores and gas stations in your first year of card membership, you would earn 110,000 United miles, or 4.4 miles per dollar. If you applied mid-year, you could even get in a second $25,000 in your second calendar year of card membership and earn another 60,000 United miles (and a second year of waived PQD – see below).
Great Premier Qualifying Dollar Waiver
If you actually have to fly United (hub captive?), you might be interested in the Premier Qualifying Dollar waiver you get when you spend $25,000 on any co-branded MileagePlus card. Note that the waiver only allows you to reach up to Premier Platinum without meeting the PQD requirement — there's no PQD waiver for Premier 1K status.
Great Last Seat Availability
I have a confession to make: I love last seat availability. With either a personal or Business Explorer card, you're able to redeem your miles at the "standard" level for any seat on any United-operated flight.
Will I apply for this card? Definitely not this year, probably not next year, but someday? Why not: it's a really solid card, and if you're running out of Chase credit cards to apply for, it's well worth your consideration.