Update: The Chase United Explorer Card offer is now 60,000 miles for spending $3,000 within three months.
Sign up bonuses are, by far, the easiest and fastest way to earn big stacks of rewards. Many of the most lucrative sign up bonuses are only available for a limited time to encourage customers to sign up. In other words, scarcity marketing. So how do you wade through enticing offers to choose the one(s) that fit your consuming and travel behavior? I’ll go over some specific points below looking at two offers; one that expires tomorrow and one that expires in a week.
Chase United Explorer Card offer ending tomorrow
The United Explorer Card comes with 65,000 United miles for spending a total of $10,000 on the card within six months. The first tier of this bonus, 40,000 United miles, is unlocked after spending only $2,000 within the first three months of account opening. Once you spend an additional $8,000, as long it’s within six months, you will earn an additional 25,000 United miles. When all is said in done you’ll have at least 75,000 United miles for spending $10,000 within six months (65k bonus miles + at least 10k for everyday spending).
Examples of what you can book with those United miles:
- Lufthansa Business Class to Europe for 70,000 United miles one way.
- All Nippon Airways economy to Japan for 70,000 United miles roundtrip
Other valuable benefits of the United Explorer Card
- Free checked bag on United flights
- 2 miles per dollar on spent on United, and at restaurants and hotels
- Extra MileagePlus award space availability compared to non-cardholders
- Two United Club one-time passes
- Global Entry or TSA Precheck® application fee statement credit
Who The United Explorer Card is Right For
Those who fly United often: You can use the bonus on United flights (or Star Alliance partners), and keeping the card long term is likely worth it as the United flyer-centric benefits will save you hundreds of dollars a year (the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year).
Credit card churners*: A credit card churner is someone who maximizes their return on spending by opening numerous credit cards and funneling the majority of their spending towards meeting minimum spending requirements. They tend to be points omnivores, someone who collects any mile or point they can to get more travel.
*The Chase 5/24 rule is technically supposed to apply to the United Explorer Card, but there have been reports online–including one here in the comments–that Chase has been letting those far over 5/24 open it anyways.
A Little More About 5/24
For those that aren’t aware: Once you open five consumer credit cards within 24 months, from any bank, Chase will typically deny you for their credit cards. This is called the 5/24 rule. The United Explorer Card is issued by Chase, so it should fall under jurisdiction of the 5/24 rule. You don’t need to include business cards in your 5/24 total, they do not count.
While I do think the United Explorer Card‘s current offer is a valuable one, likely worth taking up one of your 5/24 slots, I do not necessarily recommend prioritizing over some other more valuable Chase card bonuses. If you are under 5/24 and plan on maximizing Chase card bonuses, please read The First Five Chase Cards to Apply For.
Apply for the United Explorer Card before tomorrow to qualify for the 65,000 United mile bonus.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card offer ending January 27
The Spark Miles for Business Card comes with 200,000 Capital One miles for spending $50,000 within six months of opening the card. Like the United card’s bonus, this bonus is also tiered. Spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening unlocks the first tier of 50,000 bonus miles. Spending an additional $45,000 within the six months unlocks the remaining 150,000 bonus miles. Spending $50,000 in the Spark Miles for Business Card in six months will garner you a total of 300,000 Capital One miles (200k bonus miles + 100k for everyday spending, as the card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases).
Another way to look at this sign up bonus offer is that you will earn 6 Spark Miles per dollar spent as long as you spend $50k within six months. The return on that $50,000 in purchases is at the very least 6% (6 cents per dollar), which is fantastic. And that’s the lowest possible return you’d get. Keep reading to learn how you can get an even higher return.
How Spark Miles Work
2 Spark Miles = 1 to 1.5 Airline Miles
1 Spark Mile = 1 Cent Towards Travel
There are two ways you can spend Capital One Spark Miles.
#1: Transfer to 15 different airline mileage programs, at the following rates….
- Aeromexico Club Premier, 2 Spark Miles = 1.5 Aeromexico miles
- Air Canada Aeroplan, 2 = 1.5
- Air France/KLM (Flying Blue), 2 = 1.5
- Alitalia MilleMiglia, 2 = 1.5
- Avianca LifeMiles, 2 = 1.5
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, 2 = 1.5
- Emirates Skywards, 2 = 1
- Etihad Guest, 2 = 1.5
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, 2 = 1.5
- Finnair Plus, 2 = 1.5
- Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club, 2 = 1.5
- JetBlue TrueBlue, 2 = 1
- Qantas Frequent Flyer, 2 = 1.5
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club, 2 = 1.5
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, 2 = 1
So if you used your bonus this way, 200,000 Spark Miles = 100,000 to 150,000 Airline Miles. Those partners cover all three alliances and include some non-allied airlines, so you can get all over the world. Once you’ve met the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have more than enough miles (150k to 225k) to fly anywhere in the world in a premium cabin roundtrip. You’ll even have enough to fly two people in a premium cabin roundtrip to some destinations.
#2: Redeem for 1 cent each towards paid travel purchases, either by erasing already made flight/hotel purchases, or by applying them on the front end by booking travel through Capital One’s travel portal.
Having the flexibility to redeem Spark Miles numerous ways only adds to their value. While you can get much more than 1 cent of value per Spark Mile transferring to airline miles and redeeming on international and/or premium cabin flights, it’s certainly convenient to be able to redeem them on cash tickets. To learn how to compare and see which way you should be redeeming Spark Miles, check out Reader Question: Chase Travel Portal or Transfer to Airline Miles? That post is written about Ultimate Rewards, the reward currency of Chase, but the same logic applies. Just make sure you factor in the different rates that apply to Spark Miles, as 1 Utlimate Reward = 1 Airline mile, and that’s not the case with Spark miles.
Who The Spark Miles for Business Card is Right For
Note that the following categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Businesses with significant spending: A $50,000 minimum spending requirement is large. But if your business spends at that rate, which would be a little more than $8,300 a month, then I would apply for this card. It’s mega-bonus will save you at least $2,000, but more towards $3,000 if you redeem your Spark Miles wisely as airline miles.
Businesses that want simplicity when it comes to earning/redeeming rewards: Earning at least two cents per dollar spent on all purchases, no matter what kind business expense it is, is quite competitive. This kind of business doesn’t want to organize and funnel spending onto different cards; having just this one business card will give them a good return and no organization or knowledge is required on either end (earning nor redemption).
Businesses that want to up their return on everyday, otherwise non-bonused spending: This kind of business utilizes specific business cards, like the Chase Ink Business Preferred, for 3x points on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, and online advertising. But they want higher than a 1x return a card like that gives for everyday business spending.
PRO TIP: If you have applied for another Capital One credit card within the last six months, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, for example, do not apply for the Spark Miles for Business Card. Common knowledge is that one cannot be approved for more than one Capital One card within a six month period.
The Chase United Explorer Card‘s 65k bonus offer for spending $10,000 within six months expires tomorrow, January 22. Apply tonight if interested. Remember that the Chase 5/24 rule applies to this card.
The Capital One Spark Miles for Business‘ 200k bonus offer for spending $50,000 within six months expires January 27. Apply by Sunday, January 26 if you run a business that falls into one of the categories described above.