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If you fly United Airlines, either with paid tickets or award seats, the United℠ Explorer Card can save you money and time when you travel – even if you don’t fly often!
On top of earning 40,000 United Airlines miles after meeting minimum spending requirements, you also get perks when you fly United Airlines, like free checked bags, access to more award seats, and 2 passes to United Airlines lounges each cardmember year.
Plus, the welcome bonus is enough for a one-way coach award flight to just about anywhere, including Europe, parts of Asia, Australia, or anywhere in South America. In some cases, you can even get a round-trip vacation. And the annual fee is waived the first year!
Here’s what to know about the United Explorer Card and its benefits!
Earn 40,000 United Airlines Miles With the Chase United Explorer Card
Apply Here: United℠ Explorer Card
When you open the Chase United Explorer card, you’ll earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.
There’s a $95 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year.
If you fly United Airlines a lot, you might open it to start using the card’s money-saving benefits.
I’ve personally had this card for a few years, and always get a big return on the annual fee. And I don’t fly United Airlines more than a couple times every few years!
This card is affected by Chase’s stricter approval rules. So if you’ve opened 5 or more credit card accounts (from any bank) in the past 24 months (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards), it’s unlikely you’ll be approved.
How to Earn Points With the Chase United Explorer Card
With the United Explorer card, you’ll earn:
- 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on purchases from United Airlines
- 2 United Airlines miles per $1 spent at restaurants and hotels when you book directly
- 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
The earning rates are OK if this is the only card you have with a 2X bonus category. But other cards give you a better return for your spending.
For example, I earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve for all my dining and travel purchases. The travel category includes any airline. And I can book my hotel through a 3rd party and still earn bonus points.
I use this card because the points transfer to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. And I earn more than if I’d used the Chase United Explorer card! Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve here.
Plus, folks with a Chase Sapphire Preferred card earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel and dining. So you’re not as limited in the bonus categories as you are with the Chase United Explorer card. Those points also transfer directly to United Airlines (and many others!). Here’s our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
All this to say, if you don’t have another card with better bonus categories, this card is an easy way to add more United Airlines miles to your balance. And the real value of the United Explorer card is in the perks!
How to Redeem Points With the Chase United Explorer Card
Using your miles is the best part! Luckily, United Airlines makes it easy to book award flights directly on their website.
United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, which includes partners like Air Canada and Lufthansa. So you can use your miles to travel on United Airlines, or any of their 20+ partners.
United Airlines never adds fuel surcharges to award flights like other mileage programs. These junk fees can easily cost $100s of dollars! I hate paying them, so using United Airlines miles can be a huge savings, depending where you want to visit and which airline you want to fly.
You can use United Airlines miles for:
- 2 round-trip coach award flights within the US or Canada for 50,000 United Airlines miles
- Round-trip coach award flight to Hawaii for 45,000 United Airlines miles
- Round-trip coach award flight to Europe for 60,000 United Airlines miles
- One-way Business Class award flight to Europe for 60,000 United Airlines miles
- Round-trip coach award flight to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, or Uruguay, for 60,000 United Airlines miles
- Anywhere else in South America round-trip in coach for 40,000 United Airlines miles
- Round-trip in coach to China, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, or Taiwan, for 70,000 United Airlines miles
- One-way in coach to Australia, or New Zealand, for 40,000 United Airlines miles
For example, with a quick search, I found non-stop flights from Chicago to Tokyo for 70,000 United Airlines miles on ANA, which is a United Airlines partner.
While it’s a long journey in coach, you’d arrive in time to see the peak of cherry blossom season, which is so beautiful. This flight would cost ~$2,000 if you paid cash.
When you’re ready to go somewhere, here’s our complete guide on how to use United Airlines miles.
Chase United Explorer Card Benefits
This card is packed with benefits – and you’ll get the most out of it if you like to fly United Airlines. Let’s take a look.
A Free Checked Bag for You and a Companion
When you use your Chase United Explorer card to purchase a ticket (or pay the taxes and fees on your award ticket), and add your loyalty program number, you’ll get 1 free checked bag for yourself and a companion traveling with you.
Note: You’ll only get a free checked bag on United Airlines and United Express operated flights, not partner flights.
Considering United Airlines just raised the fee to $30 for your first checked bag, this perk alone can save you $120 per round-trip flight. If you use this perk 1 time a year, it easily covers the annual fee after the first year.
And if you check bags often on United Airlines, having this card is a no-brainer.
Two United Club Passes per Cardmember Year
Each year when you renew your United Explorer card, you’ll get 2 United Club Lounge passes.
One-day passes are usually $59 each, so again, when you use both passes, you can easily cover the card’s annual fee.
Lounges are a great place to unwind, grab a snack and a drink, and use free Wi-Fi. Some locations even have a shower that can come in handy during a long trip to refresh yourself.
Keep in mind, starting November 1, 2019, you’ll need to fly United Airlines or one of its partners to access United Clubs.
More Open Award Seats
Even better, it’s “shareable,” meaning you can book these awards for other people. Aren’t you nice? 😉
Having these awards is valuable because it can shorten (or lengthen, if you want to explore the lounge) a connection, give you a better arrival time to your destination, and increase your flexibility by showing awards that aren’t available on other days.
You can board after First Class, and just before general boarding, when you have the United Explorer Card. Have you seen the state of overhead bins lately? Get in line and stow your bags before everyone else does!
Save 25% In-Flight
When you use your United Explorer to pay for food, drinks, or in-flight Wi-Fi when you fly, you’ll get 25% credited back to your account.
While that doesn’t justify a $12 sandwich (or however much they’re charging for food on planes these days), it helps to ease the sting a little. Cheers, and yes, I’ll have another!
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit
With the United Explorer card, you’ll get a credit up to $100 every 4 years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which allows you speed through airport security. I recommend Global Entry, which helps you clear customs faster when you return from overseas because it also includes TSA PreCheck!
Primary Rental Car Insurance
You’ll get primary rental car insurance for most car rentals under 31 days when you charge the entire amount of the rental to your United Explorer card.
This perk means insurance kicks in before you have to file a claim with your personal insurance company.
New purchases made to your card are covered for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.
Manufacturer’s warranties get an additional year added, on eligible warranties of 3 years or less.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
This insurance reimburses you or your immediate family members up to $1,500 if something extreme prevents you from taking a trip (like sudden sickness or a tropical storm), and up to a maximum of $6,000 per trip.
Trip Delay Insurance
When your travel is delayed 12+ hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, like meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that’s lost or damaged, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
Baggage Delay Insurance
If your bags don’t arrive when you do, this insurance kicks in after 6 hours. You can get reimbursed up to $100 a day for 3 days for things like toiletries, a change of clothes, and other essentials until your bags arrive.
Get 25% More Miles Through MileagePlus X App
The MileagePlus X app lets you buy gift cards to dozens of retailers and earn United Airlines miles in the process. If you haven’t downloaded it, definitely take a look.
And folks with the Chase United Explorer card get 25% more miles instantly added to their account. Even better, you do NOT have to use the card to pay for gift cards within the app – simply having it is enough to trigger the bonus!
Is the Chase United Explorer Card Worth the Annual Fee?
You can easily cover the annual fee with free checked bags and the 2 lounge passes. If you like to fly United Airlines or collect United Airlines miles, this card is worthwhile to have in your wallet.
The annual fee is waived the first year, so you can always see how you like it for ~11 months – nothing to lose!
Does the Chase United Explorer Card Charge Foreign Transaction Fees?
Who Can Get the Chase United Explorer Card?
If you’ve opened more than 5 cards from any bank in the last 24 months, you won’t qualify for this card.
But if you like the benefits with this card, or fly United Airlines often, it’s definitely worth getting to save money.
Credit Cards Similar to the Chase United Explorer Card
Apply Here: United Explorer Business Card
Apply Here: United MileagePlus® Club Card
Apply Here: United MileagePlus® Club Business Card
The information for the United MileagePlus Club Card, and United MileagePlus Club Business Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Folks who like to fly United Airlines are spoiled for choice with credit card options.
If you have a small business, consider the United Explorer Business Card. While it’s also under Chase’s application rules, it won’t count against them when you open it, and has similar perks (and the same annual fee) as the Chase United Explorer card. Here’s more about how to fill out a Chase small business card application.
And if you REALLY like to fly United Airlines, you could consider the United MileagePlus® Club Card or United MileagePlus® Club Business Card. Both cards include a membership to the United Club lounges, which means you can access them every time you fly. So the steep $450 annual fee might be worth it to access the lounges and get extra benefits.
But for casual flyers looking to save on checked bags and get perks for flying, the Chase United Explorer card should be more than enough. It’s done me well for a few years, and I plan to keep it long term.
The Chase United Explorer card comes with 40,000 United Airlines miles once you complete minimum spending requirements.
There are so many ways to use United Airlines miles, and this bonus is enough to travel to Europe, Asia, or South America one-way in coach – and round-trip in some cases! Or save them up and fly in First or Business Class!
This card has money-saving perks like free checked bags, 25% off snacks and Wi-Fi in-flight, and 2 lounge passes every cardmember year. You can save time with Global Entry (there’s a $100 credit for your application every 4 years), and priority boarding so you can stow your carry-on faster. Plus, you’ll find more award seats!
This card doesn’t have the best category bonuses, but folks who fly United Airlines can do well with this card. I’ve gotten a great return on the $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year, and I don’t fly United Airlines all that often.
Will you apply for this new best-ever offer?