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New United Select benefits, but should you upgrade to the Explorer Card?

by on Fri September 13, 2013 • 29 Comments
New Chase United credit card benefits

New Chase United credit card benefits

Chase recently sent United MileagePlus® Select cardholders a new guide to benefits via email. It changes a few of the benefits, including purchase protection, the extended warranty, and auto collision damage waiver coverage. Similar changes were sent to some other Visa Signature card holders, including the Chase Hyatt Credit Card.

The United MileagePlus® Select Visa is a legacy card only offered before United and Continental merged, and is no longer available for new applicants. But if you’re an existing card holder you can keep it as long as you want to keep paying the annual fee. Now the base card for United miles is the MileagePlus® Explorer Card.

Unfortunately Chase doesn’t make the benefit guides publicly available – they send links only to your email directly, which is an improvement from before when they were only offered in paper form, but here are some of the benefit changes we noticed:

  • Purchase protection. The benefit now covers issues that arise up to 120 days after purchase – the prior benefit was for 90 days.
  • Extended warranty. There is now a cap of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account per year in coverage.
  • Collision damage waiver with auto rentals. There are now no specific country exclusions listed. Previously Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica were among countries specifically excluded. It’s not clear whether these countries are still excluded, or whether coverage has expanded to include them as the language now states “The benefit is available in the United States and most foreign countries.”

Even with these changes, the United MileagePlus® Select Visa is still missing pieces of coverage offered to United  MileagePlus® Explorer Card holders. These include…

  • Price protection. If you buy an item with the card and see a print ad or non-auction online ad with a lower price within 90 days or purchase you can receive a refund of the difference, up to $500 per item.
  • Primary auto collision damage waiver. With the Explorer Card coverage kicks in before your own personal insurance, so you don’t have to report a claim to your insurer, potentially saving you on future premium increaess.
  • Return protection. If you decide to return an item with in 90 days and the store won’t take it back you can receive up to $300 per item ($1,000 per year).
  • Trip cancellation insurance. If you are genuinely unable to travel due to doctor-verified illness (not pre-existing), death, or injury of yourself or an immediate family member, you can receive a refund of the nonrefundable portion of your travel expenses, up to a specified amount.

That’s on top of the following United benefits the Explorer Card offers:

  • Checked bag waiver. Free first checked bag for you and one companion on your reservation.
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets. If you are a Premier level flyer the complimentary upgrades you are eligible for on paid tickets will apply to award tickets
  • Annual bonus. You get 10,000 miles every year you spend at least $25,000 on the card, effectively earning 1.4 miles per dollar on the first $25,000 in purchases.

What do you lose by dropping a MileagePlus® Select Visa?

The United MileagePlus® Select Visa was and is a strong card. It offered several benefits not found on other United cards, and if you close the account to open an Explorer Card account you will lose:

  • Category bonuses. The United MileagePlus® Select Visa offers 2x miles on dining, gas, groceries, and home improvement, 3x points on United purchases, and 2x points on Star Alliance member airline purchases. The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card only offers 2x points on United purchases.
  • Elite qualifying miles. You earn 1 elite qualifying mile for every dollar you spend on for tickets with the card, up to 5,000 EQMs per card.
  • Anniversary bonus. 5,000 miles every year on account renewal.

So it’s a tough call. If you really value checked bag fee savings and extra protection, go with the Explorer Card. But if you want to maximize mile earning and the ability to earn Premier qualifying miles, stick with your existing MileagePlus® Select Visa.

> United MileagePlus® Explorer Card benefits summary

> United MileagePlus® Explorer Card review

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29 thoughts on New United Select benefits, but should you upgrade to the Explorer Card?

  1. Vern

    Does the Explorer price protection cover the difference in cost when I buy a United ticket and a month later the price drops on the same flight and same day?

  2. Maple

    Hi, Does the Select card offer improved availability to standard awards, like Club and Explorer? Thank you.

  3. Alan Reinberg

    I have select card and considering Explorer card but want to keep both active.United website says only one of the cards can be tied to mileage account. Is this true ?

  4. Brian Y.

    I have had a select card for 25 years. I will be renting cars quite a bit in the next two years. How does select differ from explorer on collision/insurance protection?


      @Brian – Best to call the number on the back of your card because there might be slightly different flavors, but the Explorer offers primary coverage for collision damage, meaning you don’t have to file a claim against your own insurance.

  5. Lisa

    I have the Select card. I recalled that they used to not charge foreign transaction fees, but my last overseas trip late last year I saw this foreign transaction fees on my bill. I called Chase but the rep was unable to explain and kept saying only the Explorer does not charge this fee. Since I am beginning to start traveling overseas more often, I am thinking of applying for the Explorer, but I do want to keep the Select card since I earn more miles on my everyday purchases. Can I have both the Select and the Explorer card register to my UA mileage account?

  6. Neil

    I’ve had the Select card for many years. I’m now considering the Explorer card. I was on the fence, but then today I received notification that the Select annual fee was being increased to match the Explorer fee – $95. Things are starting to swing toward Explorer. Then I talked to a rep who suggested possibly keeping both cards. Use Explorer for the travel benefits – free luggage, club passes, etc. Do spending on the Select card which earns miles faster. Some of those miles can then be used to pay the card’s annual fee. So I end up with more miles plus the Explorer travel benefits for no additional out of pocket cost. Thoughts?



      @Neil – If you already have the Select, only good reason to get the Explorer is you check enough bags to offset the annual fee with bag savings.

      Using miles to pay the annual fee takes away miles you could be using for a flight.

      For the first year though, there’s no fee on the Explorer, so it’s a way to try it out and earn a sign up bonus, and that might be something to consider while you see how it saves you on bag fees over the course of a year.

  7. Sharon

    I have United MileagePlus select card for over 20 years. I am going on travel and rent a car. Does this card have the benefit of collision damage waiver?



      @sharon – Yes it does have a collision damage benefit – always good to call the number on the back of your card before you rely on it to double check any details specific to your situation.

  8. frank brisben

    I have had a Mileage Plus card for over 20 years. I now have a Mileage Plus Select card.
    Is there an advantage to obtain an Explorer card? I currently have over 1.2 million miles
    in my current account. Will those miles be transferable?


      @frank – The miles stay in your account regardless of what card you have. Just earn or use miles in any form at least once every 18 months to keep them from expiring. The advantage of the Explorer is the free first checked bag. What you give up is the 3x miles on United purchases, and the 2x miles on dining, gas, groceries, and home improvement.

  9. Anthony Bianchi

    “MileagePlus® Select Visa
    Elite qualifying miles. You earn 1 elite qualifying mile for every dollar you spend on for tickets with the card, up to 5,000 EQMs per card (up to 10,000 per year if you have secondary cardholders feeding into your account).”

    How do you getr the secondary card to pay into the primamery’s PQM/MilagePlus account?


      @Anthony – Thanks for flagging this. The secondary card always accrues miles in the primary cardholder’s account. But the ‘up to 10,000’ is no longer a feature. It’s 5,000 max – but you can earn toward that 5,000 either from a primary or a secondary card.

  10. FG

    I have this card and would like to know whether home improvement includes garden centers specifically – so plant sales? How would I find out? Thanks, Francesca


      @FG – Probably not. While it’s impossible to tell ahead of time how a store codes itself with the credit card network, looking at the codes for Visa, there is a separate code for home improvement warehouse stores like Home Depot than garden only stores like Nurseries:

      5200 Home Supply Warehouse Stores
      5211 Lumber and Building Materials Stores
      5231 Glass Stores
      5231 Paint and Wallpaper Stores
      5231 Wallpaper Stores
      5251 Hardware Stores
      5261 Nurseries – Lawn and Garden Supply Store

  11. Jim

    I have had a United Mileage Plus Award cards by Chase for several years now and just received an offer for the Explorer card. With the Awards card I was getting free 1st bag checked, One time pass for the United club and 10,000 miles every year if we spent $25,000 miles. Now it appears that we no longer can get that unless we upgrade to the explorer card. I just got off of the phone with a Chase person and she could not explain why we were getting those perks on our Awards card. Di Chase chang the perks on the Awards card so we have to upgrade to the Explorer Card?


      @Pat – The Select gets an annual 5,000 mile anniversary bonus, earns 2x at home improvement, gas, and groceries, and 3x on United purchases. It also earns you up to 5,000 Premier Qualifying Miles a year.

      The Sapphire earns 2x on dining and travel spending, and lets you transfer your points to United as well as Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore KrisFlyer, Korean Skypass, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG Hotels. So you gain more flexibility, but may earn fewer points on gas / home improvement / grocery spending.


    I don’t understand how the PQM’s are earned. I understand that they have to be purchases made on, however, do they have to be on flights that are purchased for personal use? Or can they be flights purchased on the card for anyone?

  13. MileCards

    @Thomas – The Premier Qualifying Mile benefit is 1 Premier Qualifying Mile per dollar you spend on flights at, up to 5,000 miles each year.

  14. Thomas Eberts

    I have a Select card from Continental that was moved to United after the merger. My question is about Elite Mile Qualifying. It says I can receive upt o 5,000 Premier Qualifying Miles each year but I never get them I do get the anniversary bonus of 5<000 miles but they are just regular miles and do not count towards Premier Status. I am missing something here? I called and a Chase rep sent me some letter saying I did get the bonus miles but nothing about the Premier Qualifying miles. Maybe I don't understand the PQM aspect? Thanks


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