The Chase Sapphire Preferred is known for its flexible rewards program and a broad range of transfer partner options.
On the other hand, the United Explorer Card offers exclusive benefits for United Airlines loyalists.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with which card to pick, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
Overview: Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer
- 5x Points on Travel Booked Via Chase
- 3x Points on Dining and Eligible Delivery Services
- 2x Points on All Other Travel Purchases
- 10% Anniversary Points Boost
- Trip Delay and Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Primary Rental Car Insurance
- $95 Annual Fee
- 2X Miles on United Purchases, Dining, and Hotel Stays
- 2 United Club One-Time Passes Per Year
- Free First Checked Bags for Two People
- Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or Nexus Credit
- 25% Savings on United In-Flight Food and Drinks
- Priority Boarding
- Primary Rental Car and Trip Delay Insurance
- $0 Intro Annual Fee, Then $95 Per Year
The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently offers the following welcome bonus:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points and offers bonus points on spending in several categories:
- 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal;
- 5 points per dollar on Lyft purchases (through March 2025);
- 5 points per dollar on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases of $250 or more (through March 2025, with a limit of 25,000 bonus points);
- 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out;
- 3 points per dollar on online grocery store purchases (excludes Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs);
- 3 points per dollar on select streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, Youtube TV, Pandora, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Hulu, and ESPN+;
- 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal; and
- 1 point per dollar on all other eligible spending.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred offers more earning opportunities on expenses like travel, dining, online groceries, and streaming. It also has higher earning rates compared to the United Explorer Card.
Card Benefits and Perks
The Sapphire Preferred offers nice benefits, including:
- Receive 25% more value on points redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
- $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards.
- 10% Points Bonus for each Cardmember anniversary.
- A complimentary one-year subscription to DashPass by DoorDash when you enroll by December 31, 2024.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip).
- Primary car rental insurance.
- Lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger)
- Baggage delay insurance (up to $100 per day for five days).
- Trip delay insurance (up to $500 per ticket for a delay longer than 12 hours or overnight).
- Extended warranty.
- 120 days purchase protection (up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per year).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Free 6-month membership to Instacart+ (activate by July 31, 2024).
The United Explorer offers several nice benefits, including:
- Free first-checked bag on United-operated flights for you and one companion on the same reservation when you purchase the flight with the Explorer card.
- Two United Club one-time passes for each account anniversary.
- Priority boarding for cardholder and companions on the same reservation.
- 25% back as a statement credit for in-flight purchases.
- Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit — up to $100.
- Trip Delay insurance ($500 per ticket for delays more than 12 hours or overnight)
- Baggage delay insurance (up to $100 a day for up to 3 days)
- Lost Luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000)
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance ($1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip)
- Primary rental car insurance.
- 120-Day purchase protection
- Extended warranty protection.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Winner: It depends on how often you fly United Airlines. Both cards offer great travel and purchase protections.
The United Explorer is better if you can take advantage of the first free checked bag, priority boarding, and United Club pass when flying United.
But if you don’t fly United often, the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s $50 annual credit and special promotions could be a better deal.
Value of the Annual Fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with an annual fee of $95.
While some users might be initially deterred by this cost, it’s important to consider the value and benefits that come with the card.
The rewards points, travel benefits, and purchase protections can help offset the cost of the annual fee for frequent travelers.
The United Explorer has a reasonable $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.
This fee can be offset by the card benefits for free checked bags, two United Club passes each cardmember year, 25% in-flight savings, and priority boarding.
You can also add authorized users to the card for no extra fee.
The earns Ultimate Rewards points, one of the most flexible points currencies.
You can use your points to book flights, hotel stays, and even rent a car through Chase Travel — all at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents per point. For example, 100,000 points are equivalent to $1,250 towards travel.
You can unlock even more value than 1.25 cents per point by transferring rewards to Chase airline and hotel partners.
United Airlines is in the Star Alliance allowing you to redeem miles on airlines such as ANA, Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, Avianca, Singapore Airlines, EVA, and more.
The best thing about the United MileagePlus program is that it doesn’t add fuel surcharges to award tickets, saving you hundreds of dollars when redeeming miles on airlines such as Lufthansa.
Some of the best ways to redeem United Miles are:
- Flying United Airlines to Europe for 31,800 miles in economy class or 80,000 miles in business class.
- Fly Lufthansa first class from the U.S. to Frankfurt, starting at 121,000 miles.
- Business class on a Star Alliance partner from the U.S. to Africa starting at 88,000 miles one-way.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Sapphire Preferred’s ability to transfer points to multiple airline partners across different alliances is one of the biggest reasons why it’s superior to the United Explorer Card.
With more transfer partners, you’ll have more opportunities to score better flight deals to a wider range of destinations.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great option if you fly multiple airlines each year and want the flexibility to redeem points for different airline and hotel programs.
The United Explorer is a good option if you fly United several times a year and can take advantage of the card’s benefits on United Airlines.
Which card are you going to choose?