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14 Valuable Benefits of the United Explorer Card [$2,200+ Value]

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Spencer Howard
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Spencer Howard

Former Content Contributor

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Always a fan of flying, Spencer wanted to find ways to upgrade his travel experience. Over the years, Spencer has been a guest speaker on multiple YouTube shows as well as podcasts on maximizing point...
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Juan Ruiz

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For those who fly with United Airlines regularly or even just several times per year, the United℠ Explorer Card has some benefits that can save you money and improve your travel experience.

These benefits extend beyond earning points and into different protections that can ensure you are reimbursed for some problems you might face during your travels.

This co-branded credit card is provided by Chase and falls under the Chase 5/24 rule, so keep that in mind when you are making your credit card decisions.

Let’s dive in and take a look at the many benefits of the United Explorer card.

United MileagePlus Benefits

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, so there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself flying with them at some point. You might as well make the experience enjoyable!

1. Welcome Bonus ($720)

2. 2x Miles With United Airlines ($150)

Unfortunately, United Airlines now awards MileagePlus miles for flights based on how much you spend on the flight in conjunction with your elite status. Here’s a breakdown of how miles are earned for flying with United:

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However, with the United Explorer card, you can earn an extra 2x miles per dollar whenever you book a flight with United Airlines. We’ll value this benefit at $150, assuming you purchase $5,000 worth of airfare per year.

This means that as just a general member of MileagePlus, you’ll earn 7x miles per dollar on all flights purchased with United Airlines. If you’re a Premier 1K member, you’ll earn 13x miles per dollar when you book your flights with United.

Hot Tip: Check out the best ways to earn tons of United miles, and you’ll be booking amazing trips before you know it!

With all the miles you earn, you can redeem your United miles for some amazing flights, such as Lufthansa first class, one of the most luxurious in-flight experiences (complete with Champagne and caviar!).

3. 2x Miles at Hotels and Restaurants ($400)

United Explorer card
Image Credit: United

Earns 2x miles per dollar at hotels and restaurants. We value this benefit at approximately $400, assuming you spend around $1,000 per month in combined purchases at hotels and restaurants.

4. Access Extra MileagePlus Award Space ($200)

Once you earn enough United miles, you’ll be ready to hunt for some award space to book flights for your next vacation.

If you are looking for an economy class award, holding the United Explorer card gives you a big advantage as you will have access to extra economy class award space.

Cardholders also have access to standard-level awards whenever there is a seat available on a flight. Typically, this perk is only available to those who have earned elite status. While this is a very poor use of points (you should always look for saver-level awards), the ability to book an award seat at any time can be very useful in a pinch.

We value this at $200, assuming you can conservatively save around 13,000 miles every year by accessing extra saver-level award space.

5. Free Checked Bag With United Airlines ($100)

As a cardholder, you can save tons of money on your flights with United Airlines with the free checked bag benefit. If you purchase your flight on United with the United Explorer card, you and 1 companion on your itinerary will each receive a free checked bag.

Unlike other airline co-branded credit cards, you are required to use the United Explorer card to pay for the flight if you want to be eligible to receive your free checked bag.

We value this at $100, assuming you take 1 checked bag on 1 round-trip flight every year.

6. 2 United Club Passes per Year ($118)

Airports can be hectic places, especially during busy travel seasons, but a reprieve in an airport lounge can turn a normally stressful experience into a relaxing one.

Once approved for the United Explorer card, you will receive 2 single-use United Club passes. You’ll continue to receive 2 passes every year you keep the card.

We peg these to around $118 since each United Club pass costs $59.

7. Get Priority Boarding ($50)

Flights are often very full these days, and the situation on United Airlines is no different. With the United Explorer card, you will receive priority boarding access to help ensure there is overhead space for your carry-on bag.

This benefit can be particularly useful if you have a tight connection or obligations shortly after arrival such as a meeting.

We estimate the value of priority boarding to be around $50, though your time (and sanity) might be more valuable than that.

8. 25% Back on Inflight Purchases ($25)

Get 25% back on United inflight Wi-Fi, food, and drinks.

Everybody’s travel habits are different, but if we assume you’ll spend $100 on inflight purchases every year, getting 25% off means getting back $25 per year.

9. Elite Status Spend Waiver ($100)

United credit cardholders can earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) through their annual credit card spending and can apply this earned PQP toward Premier 1K status.

The United Explorer card earns 25 PQP for every $500 spent, up to 1,000 PQP in a calendar year.

Hot Tip: Other Chase United credit cards have varying PQP earning capabilities — visit United’s MileagePlus cardmember update page for more details and terms and conditions.

With Premier 1K elite status, you’ll have access to Star Alliance business class lounges as a Star Alliance Gold member when you travel abroad, even when flying in economy class. This can be particularly nice before a long flight or when connecting abroad.

In fact, if you are departing from the U.S. on a trip to Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, etc., you’ll even have access to United Clubs and you won’t have to use one of your 2 complimentary United Club passes.

The value of this benefit is super subjective — it could be a game-changer if you’re on the cusp of getting top-tier elite status. It could also be totally insignificant if you’ve already qualified for your elite status goal. We estimate this benefit at $100 per year.

10. Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS Application Fee Credit ($100)

Every 4 years receive a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS enrollment or renewal.

Travel Protections

The United Explorer card doesn’t just help you earn and redeem United miles. In fact, it can even help when your flights don’t go as planned. Let’s discuss a few of this card’s benefits that can protect you when things go wrong.

11. Trip Delay Insurance ($100)

As frustrating as it can be, flights get delayed sometimes. With the United Explorer card, you are entitled to trip delay insurance if your flight is delayed by 12 hours or overnight.

When you book your flights with this card, you are entitled to reimbursement of up to $500 in reasonable expenses that can include hotel accommodations, ground transportation to and from the airport, and meals.

Make sure you request and receive documentation from the airline so you can submit your claim and get reimbursed.

If your travel is prone to delays from weather (such as in the Midwest or Northeast), you’ll get much more value from this benefit. We estimate the value of this to be around $100.

12. Baggage Delay Insurance ($100)

Delsey luggage with Star Alliance priority tag
With the bag delay insurance that comes with the United Explorer card, you can rest easy. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

Another frustration travelers occasionally face is a delay in the arrival of their checked bags. If you booked your flight with the United Explorer card and your bags are delayed by at least 6 hours, you are entitled to reimbursement.

This benefit covers essential items such as toiletries, clothing, and even a charging cable for your cell phone. Chase will reimburse you up to $100 for each day that the bag doesn’t arrive (up to $500).

Although the maximum reimbursement amount is $500 per trip, we assume a conservative value of $100.

13. Lost Luggage Coverage ($50)

Taking things a step further, in the unfortunate event that your bags are not just delayed but lost, you are also covered by Chase. Whether it is a checked bag or a carry-on bag, each passenger is eligible for up to $3,000 in reimbursement.

Even though losing your luggage is a horrible experience and could result in a reimbursement of up to $3,000, we estimate that this benefit has a value of $50.

14. Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance ($50)

If your trip is cut short or canceled because of severe weather or illness (plus some other situations), you could be eligible for up to $6,000 in trip interruption or cancellation insurance.

This coverage includes reimbursement for prepaid, non-refundable common carrier travel expenses.

While we sincerely hope you don’t need to ever use this benefit, we assume the value of this benefit is around $50.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear from the start that the United Explorer card can help you earn more United miles to book award travel. But with perks such as increased economy class award space and the elite status spending waiver, it brings a lot more to the table than just the ability to earn miles.

To top it off, holding the United Explorer card ensures that you are protected during your travels, so you don’t have to stress about flight delays and problems with your checked and carry-on bags.

If you plan on flying with United Airlines even just a few times per year, the United Explorer card can save you a ton of money on checked bag fees, make booking award flights easier, and protect you from some unforeseen events during your travels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do miles earned with the co-branded United credit cards count toward elite status?

No, the points earned with the Chase United cards are redeemable for award flights but do not help you earn status.

Can you transfer United MileagePlus miles to other airlines or hotels?

No, MileagePlus miles must be used to book award flights with United Airlines.

Can you have more than one co-branded United credit card?

Yes.

What points can be transferred to United miles?

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to United almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott transfers to United at a 3:1.1 ratio. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to United in a single transaction, you’ll also get another bonus of 5,000 United miles.

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About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience.

Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class!

Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal). He runs Straight to the Points, an award-seat alert platform.

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