The nation’s collective excitement about jetsetting somewhere fabulous this summer took a nosedive late last month when it was reported that jet fuel had reached its highest price since 2014: $2.24 a gallon. That’s a 48 percent increase over last year according to the Los Angeles Times. A report from Reuters on June 3 didn’t help, with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker warning consumers about possible airfare price hikes — leaving many Americans looking ahead for ways to save.
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When it comes to saving on travel, ticket sales come and go — and living frugally isn’t exactly a lot of fun. For plenty of reasons, travel rewards credit cards are consistently one of the best ways to save on vacations. Basically, they make it easier to accumulate airline miles for free flights by making normal, travel-adjacent purchases of food and hotels stays. Plus, cardholders often receive special travel perks like free checked bags, which can save you a couple hundred dollars if you’re traveling with family.
And on June 1, the latest travel rewards card made a smooth landing into the marketplace, when Chase and United Airlines launched a new version of their co-branded travel rewards card — the United Explorer credit card. The United Explorer replaces the United MileagePlus Explorer Card in Chase’s portfolio of products, with existing cardholders transitioned over to the new card.
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The card offers a host of new features, like:
- 2x miles on hotel and restaurant purchases
- Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit, up to $100 every four years
- 25 percent back on in-flight purchases with United, such as WiFi, food and beverages
New cardholders will also receive a $100 statement credit after their first purchase and have the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months. That’s a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to New York without even taking advantage of other rewards spending.
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Some benefits have been removed or reduced since the last iteration of this co-branded card, including price and return protection and trip cancellation/interruption coverage.
The decision to remove price and return protection might dampen the card’s appeal to some, but the change simply means the Explorer Card will be more in line with its direct competition, which doesn’t offer these kinds of perks anyway. And something as useful as Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit could go a long way toward helping repair United’s controversial reputation.
So if you’re getting ready to take a trip this summer, don’t fret about ticket prices — cheap summer travel isn’t about to vanish into thin air. But there’s never a bad time to look for savings solutions. Travel rewards credit cards are a great way to get “cash back” toward free travel with all of your regular spending.
As long as outstanding debt isn’t one of your vices, take advantage and you will be able to breathe a little easier if airfare price hikes do come over the horizon.
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