United Explorer Card
Review the benefits of the United Explorer Card, calculate how many United Miles you can earn based on your spend, and compare the results against any card.
The United Explorer Card is an entry level co-branded airline card offered by Chase Bank. It provides great benefits that mirror having status with United Airlines like priority boarding, a free checked bag, complimentary premier upgrades, and more. It also offers the ability to earn double United Miles for airfare along with several other categories. The Explorer Card is great for anyone that primary flies with United and wants to enjoy a few extra perks and benefits to earn miles and save money.
The United MileagePlus Explorer Card features three bonus categories that earn extra miles. Those categories are United Purchases, restaurants, and hotels. There is no limit to the amount of United Miles you can earn spending in these categories. Miles will not expire as long as a United Mile earning card is opened. Below are the details of the Explorer Card's bonus categories.
2x United Purchases
The United MileagePlus Explorer Card earns 2 United Miles per $1 spent on United Airline purchases. This includes United airline tickets (purchased directly with United), seat upgrades, in flight food, beverages, Wi-Fi, baggage service charges and other United fees. This does not include United Cruises, MileagePlus X, DIRECTV, and Merchandise Awards.
You can earn 4x United Miles using the United Club Infinite Card if you're looking for a premium United Card that also grants United Club Membership.
Using the United Explorer Card at restaurants will earn 2 United MileagePlus Miles per $1 spent. These purchases must be coded as restaurant. This usually applies to merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments.
As with the United Purchases, you can earn a higher return on restaurant spend using the Chase Sapphire Reserve which offers 3x points on dining which are transferable to your United MileagePlus account.
Hotel purchases with the United Explorer Card will earn 2 United MileagePlus Miles per $1 spent. These purchases must be coded as hotel. This will usually include hotels and motels, and many smaller establishments like bed & breakfasts, and inns. Hotel accommodations not booked directly with the hotel will not qualify (such as Orbitz, Expedia, etc).
Hotel credit cards will generally take you significantly farther than 2x United Miles. This is a low return, but if you want to earn United Miles on all purchases than this is the way to go.
Any spending done outside of the categories listed above will earn 1 United MileagePlus Mile per $1 spent. This is a solid return since United Miles have some value, but if you have an Ultimate Rewards Points earning card, you can use the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card to earn 1.5% cash back per $1 spent and convert that to 1.5 United Miles per $1 spent. Your other alternative to earning rewards with United is by picking up the United TravelBank Card to earn 1.5% United TravelBank Cash on all non-United purchases.
Perks and Benefits
Free Checked Bag
When you use the United MileagePlus Explorer Card to pay for your United airfare ticket (directly), you and up to one companion traveling on the same reservation will receive the first checked bag free (standard size bag).
Authorized users are only eligible if they are on the same reservation as the primary cardholder.
As a primary United Explorer cardholder, you and companions on the same reservation will have priority boarding. This means you will be invited to board United-operated flights before general boarding. This can be helpful when it comes to securing overhead bin space before it runs out. This is a benefit featured on most co-branded credit cards.
United Club Passes
On the anniversary of you obtaining the United Explorer card, two United Club one-time passes will be deposited into your MileagePlus account. This is a nice perk if you want to relax in the comfort of a lounge before flights or during layovers.
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Credit
When you use the United Explorer Card to pay for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you will be reimbursed via a statement credit for the full cost (which is up to $100). This credit is available once every 4 years which is in-line with about how long your membership in either program will be good for.
If you already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you can use your United Explorer Card to pay for another person's application and the credit will still trigger.
25% Off In-Flight
When you use the United Explorer Card to pay for in-flight purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on United operated flights, you will receive 25% off in the form of a statement credit. This benefit is featured on all United credit cards. It's a common benefit found on many airline credit cards.
As the primary cardmember of the United Explorer Card and MileagePlus Premier member traveling on an award ticket, you can take advantage of complimentary premier upgrades on United-operated flights (when available) if you're. This can be useful if you're loyal to United and still want the chance to be upgraded on award tickets.
Travel & Purchase Protections
The United Explorer Card comes with a bunch of useful travel and purchase protections that are commonly found on Chase's credit cards. These benefits include:
- Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement
- Trip Delay Reimbursement
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
- Purchase Protection
- Extended Warranty Protection
Sign Up Bonus
The standard sign up bonus for the United Explorer Card is 40,000 United Miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months that your account is opened. This is worth around $400-$500+ depending on how much you value United Miles.
Promotional sign up bonuses can reach as high as 60,000 United Miles for usually the same amount of spend.
Credit Card Fees
|Authorized User Fee|
|Foreign Transaction Fee|
The Annual Fee for the United Explorer Card is $0 the first year, then $95 annually. If you make use of the free checked bags and the 2 United Club Passes, the fee can easily be worth picking up the card.
Authorized User Fee
The United Explorer Card's authorized user fee is $0. This means you can add friends and family to your card account to assist in building miles faster.
Foreign Transaction Fee
The foreign transaction fee is 0% for the United Explorer Card. This lets you earn United MileagePlus Miles worldwide without being penalized a fee for transactions made outside of the United States. This can be useful if you're looking to earn United Miles, but there are better credit cards for travel purchases.
You can use this rewards calculator to calculate how many points, miles, or cash back you can earn based on your spend per category. This calculator will also give you the dollar value of the card based on rewards earned and how much each benefit is worth to you minus the fees. You can click the Compare A Card button to compare this card against another card in the same calculator.
All category spend entered in the primary card's column will carry over to all credit card pages on the site so you don't have to re-enter the same information over again.
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