United Explorer Card | Review & United Miles Calculator

United Explorer Card

Card Review & United Miles Calculator
2X United Purchases
2X Restaurant
2X Hotel
1st Checked Bag Free
2 Annual United Club Passes

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.

Bonus Categories

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.

2x Restaurant

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.

2x Hotel

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.

1x Non-Category

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.

Priority Boarding

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.

If you enjoy United Club lounges, you should consider the United Club Infinite Card which grants complimentary access along with a bunch of other benefits.

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.

Complimentary Upgrades

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

Annual Fee
Authorized User Fee
Foreign Transaction Fee

Annual 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.

and Card Value Calculator

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.

Credit Card
This calculator will calculate the cash value of the selected credit card(s) based on spend, benefits, and fees. You can compare this card against any other rewards card side-by-side by clicking on the Compare A Card button.
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Currency Worth
This is the cash value of points and miles used in these calculations. You can click on the amount to change the value or you can select View Rewards As to calculate your rewards when transferred to partners.
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View Rewards As...
This section allows you to view your rewards as if you transferred them to a partner. Select a transfer partner below and the calculator will alter the calculator to reflect the transfer ratio and the reward currency of the receiving program. This only applies to the currency of the selected card. Not all programs have transfer partners. I also do not have the cash value of points and miles for all transfer partners.
Edit Value
Enter the cash value of these rewards in cents per point/mile. You can enter the value as X.XX cents or 0.0XXX cents. The maximum value allowed is 15 cents ($0.15) and the minimal value is 0.1 cents ($0.001).
Loyalty/Rewards Programs
Covers hotel loyalty status, status with bank rewards programs, and few others. These are added automatically based on card selection, but can be manually added as well.
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Add/Remove Loyalty Programs
Select which loyalty programs you want to include in the calculations. You will be able to select your status with the program and it will calculate additional points/bonuses based on what you enter in the calculator.
Loyalty Programs
Other Bonuses
All card card specific bonuses will be listed here. These are added automatically based on the selected card(s).
Categories Spending
Enter how much you spend in each category listed. You can click on the amount to edit the value. You can use +/- Categories to add and remove categories from the list and Options to copy spend between columns and clear all spend.
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Select which categories you want to appear in this calculator. You can search categories by typing in a keyword below. De-selecting categories will remove them from this calculator. Categories are changed once you hit 'Update'.
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Clear Spend
This will clear the spend in all of the categories in both columns. This will also clear all saved values.
Copy Spend
Copy Right will take the spend from the left column and copy it to the right column. Copy Left will take the spend from the right column and copy it to the left column. The spend amount ($) and unit of time (month, day, quarter) will be copied over.
Reward Bonuses
This section holds sign up bonuses, loyalty bonuses, and bonus bonuses. Most bonuses here will be listed automatically based on certain criteria. You can click 'Extra Bonus' if you wish to enter your own bonus amount.
Extra Bonus
Any additional bonuses you wish to add such as a sign up bonus or point bonus for adding authorized users
Total Earnings
Sum of all rewards above this line.
Cash Value of Earnings
Based off of currency worth.
Learn how you can use cash back portals to earn hundreds in cash back every year booking travel and shopping online. Easily double and triple dip on rewards when you combine cash back portals, loyalty programs, and rewards credit cards.
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Monetary Bonuses/Perks
This is a list of cash perks and bonuses associated with the selected card(s). Some perks will be listed here automatically. You can click on 'Perk Bonus' if you want to add additional value for the card.
Perk Bonus
Enter how much you value any unmentioned perks this card offers.
Annual Fees
This section contains the annual fee and authorized user fee (if applicable) to hold on to the listed card(s).
Edit Fees
Edit the annual fee and authorized user fee of this card (if applicable).
Annual Fee:
Auth Fee:
Grand Total
The total estimated value you can get out of this card and the amount of return for your spend.
Total Card Value
The value of the card when everything is taken into account.
Total Return
The percent you are earning per dollar spent on this card.

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Page Last Updated: 2020-03-25
Article By: Robert Flowers III

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