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Chase United Explorer Card Review – Limited-Time 65,000 Mile Offer

United Mileage Plus Explorer CardThe United Explorer Card is a co-branded credit card between Chase and United Airlines. This card offers unique perks for regular United customers including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. Right now, there is a limited-time offer boost until 1/8/19.  Here are the highlights:

  • Up to 65,000 bonus United miles. 40,000 bonus United miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles
    after spending $10,000 total in the first 6 months.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Priority boarding + 2 United Club one-time passes every year.
  • 2X miles at restaurants and on hotel stays.
  • 2X miles per on purchases from United.
  • 25% Back on United inflight purchases (Wi-Fi, Food and Drinks).
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn.
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

This product is available to you if you do not have this Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus for this Card in the past 24 months.

This card is very focused on rewarding you for being a United customer. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so that this how they get the value of $120 each roundtrip. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on. While onboard, you get 25% back on your inflight purchases of WiFi, food, and drinks.

Expanded award availability. You earn United miles for all your purchases (double miles on restaurants and hotel stays), but then they also make it easier for you to redeem those miles on Saver level tickets with no blackout dates. Expanded award seat availability is another of the top perks from this card, and it is actually a significant difference. Saver Award ticket redemptions start at 12,500 miles one-way within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Another unique feature of this card is that it offers primary coverage on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. On most other consumer cards, this coverage is offered as secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your personal auto insurance has been exhausted.

Bottom line. The United Explorer Card offers great perks for folks that fly United even just once or twice a year. The card provides lounge passes, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts. There are bonus categories to earn more miles, and special expanded award seat inventory for credit card holders to make it easier to actually redeem those miles for flights. Since you can only get this bonus at most once every 24 months, it is best to apply during a limited-time offer.

I have added this limited-time offer to my list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

Ally Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD Review: 2.20% APY for $25k+

Rates updated as of 11/15/18. Ally Bank raised the rate on their 11-month No Penalty CD. These have been an interesting new product in this rising rate environment. If you have older No-Penalty CDs, you may want to take advantage of this higher rate. Here are the new interest rates for the No Penalty CD under their tiered structure (as of 11/15/18):

  • 2.20% APY at $25,000 minimum opening deposit
  • 2.05% APY at $5,000 minimum deposit
  • 1.75% APY at no minimum deposit.

The 11-month No Penalty CD is unique in that while the rate is locked in at deposit, you can still withdraw your principal and interest without penalty at any time (well, you must wait at least 6 days from the deposit date). In other words, your interest rate can never go down, but you can still jump ship if rates rise or if there is a better promo elsewhere.

For comparison, the Ally Online Savings account is currently at 2.00% APY for all balances. The interest rate on the savings account can go up or down, although in this current rising rate environment that seems unlikely. The Ally 12-month CD is at 2.65% APY, which is fixed but if you withdraw early there is a penalty of 60 days of interest.

In addition, Marcus Bank has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 2.15% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. CIT Bank has a 11-Month No Penalty CD at 2.05% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. If you have lower balances, one of these may be a better fit.

If you recently opened one of these, remember that Ally Bank offers a “Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee”:

When you fund your CD within 10 days of your open date, you’ll get the best rate we offer for your term and balance tier if our rate goes up within that time. The Ally Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee also applies at renewal.

If you have an existing No Penalty CD past the 10-day rate guarantee, this means you may consider closing it and then opening up a new one at a higher rate. You will have to withdraw everything at once – there are no partial withdrawals allowed on this type of CD. If you have an Ally savings or checking account, you can close the old CD, see the deposit in your savings/checking, and open up a new CD all in minutes online. (Note that savings accounts are limited to 6 withdrawals per month, so use your checking if possible.) You will be extending the term out another 11 months, but since you can always close it at any time it isn’t much of a concern.

Here’s a screenshot of my withdrawal showing no penalty and instant availability when withdrawn directly into an Ally account:

ally_np_withd

You can use my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you switched over.

Ally is my primary “hub” bank, despite not being at the tippy-top of all rates. I like Ally because their rates are generally competitive across both savings and CD products and they offer an easy-to-use website, Live Chat customer service, easy bank account linking, and 1-day bank transfers in many cases. I then proceed to open additional bank CDs as temporary “spokes” when external rates are significantly higher.

Bottom line. The Ally No Penalty CD is unique in that you are always able to move out to a higher rate, but you’ll never get a lower one. This means you can even break the No Penalty CD simply to get another No Penalty CD if/when the rate rises again.

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