So my post on Pursuing United MileagePlus Miles through Manufactured Spend on either the Barclay Arrival or United Club Card (or Chase Sapphire Preferred) got some great comments and feedback. I’m grateful for the feedback, whether it comes via comments on the blog or via twitter.
Reader @Saianel commented:
@tmount it would be interesting to compare the benefits of the $95 and $395 united cards 🙂
— Saianel (@saianel) July 15, 2014
So I thought I’d dive a little deeper. In my last analysis, I didn’t incorporate a spend threshold bonus.
The United Explorer card, with an annual fee of $95, has the same “payback point” as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but just for a reminder:
They key however, in the fact, as @Sanianel rightly highlights: The United Explorer gives you 10k more United Miles if you spend $25k on the card. So lets look at how that matches up:
With the above chart, I’ve went ahead with the assumption that you’d spend $25,000 on the particular card. I’ve used the “direct buy” cost of 3.76 cents per mile, then subtracted the Annual fee, $395 for the Club Card, and $95 for the United Explorer. You can see that at that spend level, you’d get more miles, but less “value” with the United Club Card. For the United Explorer, you get more than $200 more “value” for 2.5k miles less earned.
What this further match-up tells me, is that you’d need to spend roughly $28.7k on the United Club Card to match the same value that $25k spend gets you on the United Explorer. That said, beyond $28.7k in spend, you’ll be generating more value with the United Club Card. Its clear though, spend thresholds matter, but for them to be truly meaningful, you need to be prepared to meet that threshold and shift your spend to other cards immediately.