An Increased Bonus, Lounge Passes, and Better Access to Award Seats: Here’s Why the United Explorer Credit Card Is Worth It

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An Increased Bonus, Lounge Passes, and Better Access to Award Seats:  Here’s Why the United Explorer Credit Card Is Worth It

Meghan HunterAn Increased Bonus, Lounge Passes, and Better Access to Award Seats:  Here’s Why the United Explorer Credit Card Is Worth ItMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Through May 16, 2019, you can earn up to 60,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements on the United℠ Explorer Card.  That’s a good offer – enough for at least two round-trip coach flights within the US or a one-way Business Class ticket to Europe!

But with the announcement that United Airlines is eliminating their award chart starting November 15, 2019, you might question whether the United℠ Explorer Card is worth it.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of holding the card – and whether or not it might make sense for you.

The 60,000-Mile Welcome Bonus From the Chase United Explorer Card Is Enough for a One-Way Business Class Ticket to Various European Cities, Including Beautiful Frankfurt, Germany!

Is the Chase United Explorer Card Worth It?

You can apply here for the United℠ Explorer Card

Our full review of the United Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

Through May 16, 2019, when you open the Chase United Explorer card, you’ll earn up to 60,000 United Airlines miles after qualifying purchases:

  • 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Additional 20,000 miles after spending a total of $8,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening

There’s a $95 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year.  The card also comes with:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on purchases from United Airlines, at restaurants, and hotels when you book directly
  • 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free first checked bag for the cardholder and 1 companion – but you MUST use your card to pay for your ticket
  • Priority boarding
  • 2 United Club lounge passes per card membership year
  • Access to an increased number of award seats
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100)

Because the card’s annual fee is waived the first year, there’s no harm in trying the card for ~11 months to decide if you like it.  Plus, if you take advantage of the $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, you’ll come out ahead!

Global Entry saves you lots of time by getting you quickly through US Customs and Immigration when you return to the US from abroad.  When you enroll in Global Entry, you’ll also receive a membership to TSA PreCheck, which allows you to keep your shoes and jacket on when you go through airport security.  You don’t even have to take your laptop and toiletries out of your carry-on!

I’ve had this card for years and don’t plan on canceling any time soon.  That’s because, given my travel habits, the benefits outweigh the cost of the annual fee.  And that might be the case for you, too!

After the First Year, Is the Chase United Explorer Card Still Worth It?

Whether keeping the card and continuing to pay its $95 annual fee is worth it will depend on your travel habits and goals.  For me, the answer to if it’s worth it is a firm “yes.”  Here’s why.

More Available Award Seats

I’ve kept my Chase United Explorer card year after year because of one single perk – access to more available award seats.  This has come in handy so many times because my family and I regularly fly United Airlines.

When You’re Searching for Award Tickets, It’s Easy to See Which Are Available to United Cardholders

It’s hard to put a monetary value on a benefit like this, but I can assure you it takes some of the headache out of searching for award tickets, especially if you’re traveling with family or friends and need multiple award seats.

I’m happy to pay a $95 annual fee for the extra assurance that I’ll likely be able to find an award ticket that fits my travel plans, even if I’m looking to fly last minute.

Priority Boarding

Chase United Explorer cardholders and any travel companions on the same reservation will get priority boarding on United Airlines operated flights.  This way, you can board the plane before lots of other passengers and get situated.

It can be especially useful when you’re traveling with kids because you don’t have the added hassle of competing for overhead bin space.  It makes for a less stressful journey!  And when I’m traveling, anything I can do to make life easier is a win in my book.

Lounge Passes

Day passes usually cost $59 each to access one of 45+ lounge locations.  But when you have the Chase United Explorer card, you’ll find 2 passes loaded to your account upon card opening, then every year you renew the card.

If you use both lounge passes every year, this benefit alone can completely cover the card’s annual fee.  Plus, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy free snacks, drinks, and Wi-Fi along the way!

Bottom Line

For a limited time, through May 16, 2019, you can earn up to 60,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements on the United℠ Explorer Card.

One of my favorite benefits of the card is the access to more available award seats the card gives you.  My family and I have used this perk on numerous occasions and for me, this benefit alone makes the card’s annual fee worth it.  But whether it makes sense for you depends on your personal travel and spending habits, so you’ll have to crunch the numbers for yourself!

Just remember, United Airlines is eliminating their award chart for travel after November 15, 2019, and we aren’t quite sure yet how this will (if at all) affect the perks of the United℠ Explorer Card.  But earning United Airlines miles to use for award tickets now, before the changes take effect, certainly isn’t a bad move.

If you want to learn more about United Airlines miles, check out:

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United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • Limited time offer! Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Miles.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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