Travel Better with the United MileagePlus Explorer Card

By Christina Majaski. Last updated 27 June 2017. 0 comments

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If you're a fan of United Airlines and its partners, the United MileagePlus® Explorer card provides frequent flyers and loyal users excellent perks. And with its generous bonus offer, now's the time to apply! (See also: 5 Best Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards)

How This Card Works

You can earn two miles for each dollar spent on tickets purchased from United Airlines and one mile for each dollar spent on all other purchases. There is no limit to the number of miles that can be earned and miles do not expire as long as your credit card account is open. 

Your miles can be redeemed for award flights with United Airlines, as well as any Star Alliance member airlines. Besides airfare, however, you can redeem miles for hotel stays and merchandise.

Other Benefits

First checked bag free. As the primary card holder, you receive your first checked bag free as well as one companion's first checked bag free when traveling on the same reservation with United Airlines. This saves you approximately $100 in checked bag fees for two travelers on a round-trip flight.

Priority boarding. You and a companion on the same reservation are eligible for Priority Boarding, which allows you to board the plane before general boarding (which is after first and business class).

United Club lounge passes. You receive two one-time-use passes for the United Club airport lounge every 12 months after you open your card account. These passes provide access to complimentary amenities such as wireless Internet, and beverages and snacks, and usually cost $50 for a one-time pass or $500 per year for a single membership. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Free Airport Lounge Access)

Anniversary bonus. As long as you renew your card membership every year, you'll be able to earn 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000 in net purchases with your card.

Premier statuses. The United MileagePlus program allows you to earn Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Premier 1K premier statuses when you fly United, Copa, and select partners. These statuses require a certain number of flight miles, depending on the level, and provide additional flight benefits when you travel. For example, the Silver level requires 15,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) or 30 Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) each calendar year, and provides benefits such as a 25% bonus on flight miles every time you fly paid flights on United, Copa, or MileagePlus partners. Bonus award miles, award miles and any other miles earned through non-flight activity don't count toward qualification for Premier status. (See also: Which United MileagePlus Credit Card Should You Get?)

Pros

Anniversary spend bonus. If you spend $25,000 with your card within a calendar year, you receive an anniversary bonus of 10,000 miles, which is nearly enough for one Saver Award flight alone. Since you also earn double miles if that $25,000 is spent on tickets purchased from United Airlines, your total miles earned for the year is 60,000 miles, enough for two round trip flights or almost five Saver Award flights.

No foreign transaction fee. There is no foreign transaction fee on this card, and this is noteworthy because there unfortunately are still rewards credit cards — even travel rewards cards — which charge as much as 3% on purchases made outside of the United States. (See also: Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees)

Cons

Limited airline perks. Offers very few extra airline perks, especially considering the annual fee. Free checked bags and priority boarding are often standard with airline rewards programs, even without being a credit card holder.

Award flight limitations. As with any co-branded airline credit card, your redemption is limited to that particular airline and its partners. If United isn't your favorite airline, or you prefer to have more options for redeeming awards tickets, you might want to look into other good travel rewards credit cards.

Annual fee. You'll need to see if you can earn enough rewards with this card to justify the annual fee. (See also: 5 Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fees)

Who This Card Is Best For

If you travel frequently with United Airlines (especially outside of the U.S.) and can benefit from the airport lounge passes and free checked bags, the United MileagePlus Explorer card is a great card for earning and redeeming miles for award flights. 

Info about the United MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase has been collected independently by Wise Bread. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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