A Reminder From United: Book Flights With Your Explorer Card

United sent out a friendly and useful postcard reminder in the mail:

To save on checked bags, always purchase your tickets with your MileagePlus Explorer Card.

I thought the information on the postcard could be a useful reminder for many and could also save you some money when flying with United.

A nice benefit you receive for paying for a flight with your Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card is getting your first checked bag free as well as one for a companion traveling on the same reservation. You can save up to $100 for each round trip.

For our trip to South Dakota we booked an award flight from NYC using Kim’s United miles. Kim paid the taxes, $20 total with one of her cards. 
We made the mistake of not using my United Explorer Card. We figured since Kim’s miles were being used, one of her cards should be used to pay the taxes. I also thought that since I was flying on the itinerary and had my Explorer card linked to my account, our checked luggage would be free.

Boy was I wrong!

When we got to the check-in counter, we were told each checked bag would be $25. I mentioned that I had the United Explorer card and was immediately told the rules. You must pay for your flight using the card to get the free checked bag benefit. This meant that our free award flight + tax was now going to cost us an additional $50 each. Not cool!

I quickly came up with a plan. I’d pay for our baggage fees with my Chase Ritz Carlton card. The card came with a very useful benefit, a $200 annual credit meant to be used for checked bags or other incidental airline fees. This softened the blow.

The lesson to be learned here is be sure to fully understand the benefits of your credit cards. It can definitely save you some money. 

Had I realized that I needed to use my Explorer card to qualify for free checked luggage, I could have saved my $100 Ritz Carlton benefit for something else! 

Thank you United for the reminder.

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