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

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Spencer Howard

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...
Edited by: Jessica Merritt

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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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)

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

United℠ Explorer Card

With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
60,000 miles
Credit ranges are only a recommendation and a variation of FICO© Score. Issuers may use many types of credit scores when considering an application.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

You travel United all the time, but you have heard that there could be ways to make your travel experiences even better, including priority boarding, free bags, and more miles.

You should consider the United℠ Explorer Card, because this card does all that and more!


  • 2x miles per $1 on United purchases, dining purchases (including delivery services), and hotel stays
  • 1x mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 1 traveling companion
  • 25% statement credit on United inflight purchases
  • Priority boarding
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS statement credit
  • 2 United Club 1-time passes each year
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets
  • Travel and purchase protections


  • $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card
  • Free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

United MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program

We value United miles at 1.2 cents per mile, so a 60,000-mile welcome bonus for the United Explorer card would be worth $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:

United Elite Status LevelMileagePlus Miles Earned per Dollar Spent
Member5x miles per dollar
Premier Silver7x miles per dollar
Premier Gold8x miles per dollar
Premier Platinum9x miles per dollar
Premier 1K11x miles per dollar

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)

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 500 PQP for every $12,000 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)

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

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

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


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.

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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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


Alex O.

August 10, 2019

I used MileagePlus card to purchase 3 United Airline tickets for my family (wife and 2 children), but I myself will be flying to that destination on a different United flight (also purchased via this card).
I know that I will get the free checked bag, but what about her and one of the children? Again, they will be on a different flight from me.
Thank you for the help.

Catherine Luther

August 13, 2019

Hi Alex,

For a companion to receive the free checked bag benefit, they must be flying on the same reservation as the primary cardholder. So they would not get a free checked bag unfortunately.


August 11, 2019

I had to make 2 different reservations for a trip this month bringing my son to college. My husband and I are one 1 RT reservation and my son on a separate reservation all paid with our new United Explorer card. I do understand that my husband and I will get our first check in bag free. Since my son’s reservation is separate from ours, would he also get his first check in bag free as well or would we have to pay at the gate? If we do need to pay for his 1st bag, can this be pre-paid before we get to the airport? Lastly, would the 3 of us get priority boarding?

Catherine Luther

August 13, 2019

Hi Anne,

For a companion to receive the free checked bag benefit, they must be flying on the same reservation as the primary cardholder. So your son would not get a free checked bag unfortunately. This also applies to the priority boarding benefit – the cardholder must be on the same reservation.

You can pre-pay for luggage online when you check-in from 24 hours before the flight.


August 18, 2019

I’m booking a multicity flight for myself and my spouse:

1. Denver to Barcelona
2. Stuttgart to Denver

I’m booking on Lufthansa using United Explorer card. I’ve also added my MileagePlus number to the reservation. Do I still have free baggage allowance or do I have to pay extra for baggage?

Andrew Kunesh

August 19, 2019

Hey Teresa, your credit card benefits will not carry over if you’re booking a flight on Lufthansa. However, you should still get one free checked bag so long as you’re not traveling on a basic economy ticket. Lufthansa will tell you how many pieces of complimentary baggage is included with your ticket at checkout. Thanks for reading!


August 29, 2019

Thanks for the nice article. I have a couple of questions:

1. Many flights to Asia are offered as codeshare flights with Lufthansa and United. Do benefits apply when booking is made in United’s website, though the flights may be operated by Lufthansa or vice versa.

2. For Asian destinations 1 check in baggage is allowed for free in economy class. If we book with this card, does that mean an additional baggage will be allowed for free check in? Usually this additional baggage costs $100 if we don’t the card.

Andrew Kunesh

August 30, 2019

Hey Sam, good questions. You must be traveling on United-operated flights in order to take advantage of the flight benefits. Further, you will receive one extra checked bag if your ticket to Asia already includes one checked bag—thanks!


December 22, 2020

Really – I saw elsewhere – on United baggage info site – stating only applicable to First Bag (within USA) – and doesn’t apply to 2nd bag
And in addition – doesn’t apply to international flights.

International travel:
Club and Presidential Plus Cardmembers will not get additional free checked bags if there are no first and second checked bag service charges applicable to their international travel itinerary.

>>>Explorer Cardmembers and Cardmembers with certain other United Chase Credit Cards will not get an additional free checked bag if there is no first checked bag service charge applicable to their international travel itinerary.

Himayun Mirza

September 11, 2019

I bought my round-trip, basic economy domestic short flight using my United Explorer card. Will I be allowed a carry-on or just a tiny bag?

Thanks and regards,

Stephen Au

September 11, 2019

Hey Himayun,

The in-cabin allowance is the same. You can bring 1 personal item (the “tiny bag”) but you can check in a bag for free. You won’t be able to bring it onto the airplane cabin with you, but it’ll be checked to your final destination and you can pick it up at baggage claim.


September 11, 2019

So I generally get 2 checked bags free. When you say you get a free checked bag with the Explorer card, does that mean a third bag, since I already get 2 free? And is that just for the main card holder? Or authorized account user as well?

Katie Seemann

September 12, 2019

Hi Kaye,

How are you getting your first 2 checked bags free? I would need to know that to answer your question.
The free checked bag from this credit card is for the main card holder only. Here’s United’s policy:

“The primary Cardmember and one traveling companion on the same reservation are each eligible to receive their first standard checked bag free; authorized users are only eligible if they are on the same reservation as the primary Cardmember.”

Hope that helps!

Carl Albero

September 24, 2019

Can’t you get gift cards for family and friends at places like Sephora, Chili’s or Panara Bread anymore? Why not?

Christine Krzyszton

September 24, 2019

Hi Carl. This is an article about the benefits of the United Explorer Credit Card. I think you may be referring to redeeming your United MileagePlus miles. Here is a link to redeem miles for gift cards.


September 26, 2019

If you use the United Explorer Credit card To purchase your ticket on United and you have to change the flights to a later date, will they waive change fees?

Christine Krzyszton

September 26, 2019

Hi Kathy. Unfortunately no. Waiving change fees is not one of the benefits of having the card.

Edgar Nieto

September 26, 2019

Hello, I booked a flight to NYC from Chicago on Basic Economy. I purchased it with my explorer card through Expedia. Credit Card was charged through United. Basic Economy restrictions apply where no full-sized carry-on bag on board is permitted. Since I made the purchase with the untied card will I still be able to bring on a carry-on? I also bought a ticket for my partner under the same reservation, with the card, will she be allowed to do a carry-on? Also I am assuming I get a free checked bag.

Jarrod West

September 29, 2019

Hi Edgar,

As long as your included your MileagePlus number then yes, you and your companion will each be able to bring a checked bag. The United card only included checked bags though, not a carry-on.

Thanks for reading!

Joan F Kiddie

October 06, 2019

Hello. I’m traveling from San Francisco to S. Korea on United which includes 2 free checked bags. I purchased the flight with my Explorer card. Does that mean I get a third checked bag?

Jarrod West

October 06, 2019

Hi Joan,

Unfortunately not, that perk only applies to the first checked bag for you and a traveling companion. Since your two bags are already free, it does not extend to a third.

Thanks for reading!

priscilla costa

October 08, 2019

Can I use my United credit card to purchase a flight with another airline?

Jarrod West

October 08, 2019

Hi Priscilla,

Yes, you can use your United credit card to purchase a flight with another airline.

Thanks for reading!


December 22, 2020

But do you get the benefits – like Trip Cancellation/ Trip Interruption, Baggage Delay, etc. when using United Credit Card – while flying on another airline
the benefits are only when flying with UNITED?


December 12, 2019

Do I receive priority boarding if I am just an additional user not the primary card holder?

Jarrod West

December 13, 2019

Hi Julie,

Unfortunately, that benefit is reserved for the primary cardholder.

Thanks for reading!

tom a

December 27, 2019

I have the united explorer card. If I book reward travel through my Citi premier card with points on basic economy will I get a carry on bag and priority board with united?

Jarrod West

December 28, 2019

Hi Tom,

With the United Explorer card, you must pay for the flight with the card in order to get the baggage benefit. So, in the example you’ve provided, you would not receive a carry-on bag or priority boarding.


January 08, 2020

I am the cardholder of a United Explorer credit card. If I book and pay the following with my credit card:
A flight for my 2 sisters in San Antonio to flight to Houston where I would board the same flight that takes us all 3 to Las Vegas.
Would they receive priority boarding in San Antonio & also be allowed 1 carry on? Or would that only apply when I’m boarding the flight in Houston?

Christine Krzyszton

January 09, 2020

Hi Grace. The terms and conditions state that 1 travel companion receives a free checked bag and must be on the same reservation as the cardholder. It appears that your sisters are on a separate reservation and different itinerary so they won’t get the free checked bag. It does sounds like a very fun trip, however.

john milan sebik

January 26, 2020

If I book a flight using my United card for me and 3 family members will I get all bags checked for free or only for me and my wife?

Christine Krzyszton

January 26, 2020

Hi John. If you used your United Explorer card to pay for your flight, you will receive a free checked back. One additional passenger on the same itinerary will also receive a free checked bag.

Dennis Douville

February 21, 2020

If I pay for the TSA pre-check fee with my United Explorer Mileage Plus credit card will I get reimbursed for the cost automatically.

Jarrod West

February 21, 2020

Hi Dennis,

Yes, your card will be credited back for the application fee after the purchase is made.


February 23, 2020

We have a trip to Italy booked thru the Explorer card in two weeks. My husband had a run-in with a table saw and may need follow up surgery in this time frame. Should I try to just cancel? Or change the dates? Which option would cost less, if they are both possible?

Christine Krzyszton

February 23, 2020

Hi Carol. Sorry to hear of your husband’s accident. Just give United a call and they can explain the options based on the type of ticket you purchased. Also tell them about
your husband’s situation. It is possible they may be generous. You might just ask for a credit for a future purchase and then you can re-book when everything is settled and he
is well enough to travel.


March 04, 2020

I have the old United MileagePlus card and the Explorer card. Since the old MileagePlus card has been downgraded and no longer gives me access to economy plus seats, but now gives me access to the United Club when flying with United, is it still worth keeping the old MileagePlus card.? I can’t seem to find a comparison chart to help me decide if I should keep or not.

Jarrod West

March 05, 2020

Hi June,

It really just depends on how much value you receive from the card. If you travel frequently and really value being able to access the United Club each time you do, then it might be worth holding onto the card.

kamila nat

March 18, 2020


Thank you for this helpful article. I was wondering if I still get a free checked bag on Lufthansa flight , as it is a part of Miles and More same as United?

Christine Krzyszton

March 18, 2020

Hello Kamila. The free checked bag benefit on the United Explorer card is is available only on United flights. Thank you for reading.

vincent hendy

April 19, 2020

Does anybody have any idea what date The Explorer Card benefit for Trip Interruption changed from $10,000 to $6,000

Stephen Au

April 20, 2020

Hi Vincent,

This change was from the previous version, known as the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Now, the maximum benefit is $6,000 per trip and $1,500 per person. Thanks for reading.

Emma Dedyukhina

April 30, 2020

Hello, in your overview of the United Explorer trip cancellation benefits you mention that hotel expenses are also subject to reimbursement under a covered event (in my case medical emergency). However, recently I was told by Chase that hotel coverage was dropped and they no longer reimburse hotel expenses. Are you aware of this change? When did it occur?

Hello Emma. There was a new Guide to Benefits dated 12/1/2019 that shows the reduced benefit. We will update the article. Thank you for reading.

Emma Dedyukhina

May 04, 2020

Hello – do you know when did United Explorer card stopped covering hotel expenses as part of trip cancellation benefit on the card?

Guy De Pinto

September 30, 2020

Is the up to 7x miles earned benefit a recent addition. I purchased 2 tickets on the United Explorer Card on June 20, 2019, and only received 2x times the cost of the tickets. If I had flown, from past experience, I would have gotten 1x for the flight for a total of 3x.

Please clarify.

Jarrod West

September 30, 2020

Hi Guy,

If you are a general United member, and purchase a standard economy ticket with your United Explorer card then you should receive 7x miles per $1 spent. 5x for your membership and 2x for your United card.

Brian L

October 07, 2020

Does the Business version of this card offer the same benefits, specifically extra Award Space?

Stephen Au

October 08, 2020

Hi Brian!

Thanks for your question.

We’ve actually written a separate guide on the business version of the card. You can find it below:


Bob B.

October 17, 2020

Does an Authorized User on a United Explorer card get the same benefits as the card holder? If the Authorized User logs in to their separate United account, will they get access to the additional award availability? Thanks

Christine Krzyszton

October 19, 2020

Hi Bob. According to the terms and conditions, only primary cardholders have access to expanded award availability.

Joanne Clawson

November 01, 2020

If we use Celebrity Cruise Choice Air and book their United flight using our United credit card, do we still get a free checked bag?

Jarrod West

November 02, 2020

Hi Joanne,

If the flight is booked directly with United, then yes you should get your baggage benefit. If the booking is made through a third party then you will not receive the baggage benefit.


December 07, 2020

I just booked a basic economy international flight from Washington DC to Asia using the Explorer card. Now as a part of the standard ticket I get the 1st checked bag free and it says $100 for the second bag. As I am traveling on a United flight with this card, will my second bag be free under this benefit?

Jarrod West

December 08, 2020

Hi Irma,

Unfortunately, the benefit does not stack if you’re already receiving a checked bag for free. So you would still need to pay for the second checked bag.


February 05, 2021

#9 is not applicable.
United miles no longer expire.

Jarrod West

February 09, 2021

Hi sg,

Thank you for pointing that out! I’ve updated the post to reflect that.


February 07, 2021

As all international tickets for United Airlines include one checked bag free, how will I get the benefit of a 2nd checked bag for free? Since the Explorer card is supposed to receive one free checked bag.

I am the primary cardholder and I am booking a return ticket from the US to Asia for myself, but for my family I am booking a one-way ticket. So I just wanted to understand, how can I combine 2 itineraries so that my family will also get the explorer card benefits such as a free checked bag, priority boarding, travel insurance, and all related benefits?

Jarrod West

February 15, 2021

Hi Vidy,

Unfortunately, United does not allow for “baggage stacking”, so if your flight already offers one checked bag for free, then you do not receive another free checked bag for being an Explorer cardholder.

Other passengers on your itinerary will only receive the benefits of your United Explorer card when they are traveling with you. So your family will automatically receive those benefits on the first leg of the flight that you are on together.

Jen Schimbeno

February 12, 2021

Does anyone know the best way to get both spouses to achieve status? We run our finances joint within our household and have just one United credit card. Any time I fly without him I don’t get the perks. Even though we both operate off one card, because it’s in his name I don’t get the flight perks. It seems that this is something that I either am misunderstanding and can be added or they should change it to make the perks applicable to a joint holder credit card?

Christine Krzyszton

February 12, 2021

Hi Jen. You are correct in that the primary cardholder and traveling companion receive the flight perks. Unfortunately, there is no provision for authorized users to have those perks. You would need your own United Explorer card or have elite status with United to receive a free checked bag and priority boarding when traveling on your own.

Michael Finley

March 12, 2021

Great article, still going strong! I used miles to buy tickets from the US to Mexico roundtrip. I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay the taxes, as they are then paid by my “travel credit” on that card. I also have an Explorer Card, (which I probably should have used instead) but as I rarely check bags (using the carry-on and personal item only), I didn’t worry about the free bag. I’m now worried about having to check a bag, as my “personal item” is a little bigger than what is strictly allowed. If I did have to check a bag, do you think it might make a difference if I used the Explorer Card to first pay for an upgrade of a seat to Premium Economy on one of the legs of the trip? Might this put my Explorer card “into the system” to show some payments from the card? As I purchased the original tickets with a mileage reward, might this be a way to get my Explorer Card included in the reservation and perhaps trigger the free checked bag?

Christine Krzyszton

March 13, 2021

Hi Michael. Thanks for reading and for your kind words. According to United’s terms/conditions, it is stated that you would have to pay for the taxes and services charges (on an award ticket) with the Explorer Card in order to receive the free checked bag. While the chances of success using your card for a seat upgrade and triggering the same free checked bag are doubtful, I applaud your creative thinking and wish you luck if you do try it. More info here:


May 10, 2021

According to the portal, it says that I am eligible for a free bag on each leg of my flight. However, when I go to purchase, they are charging $40 per bag. Are the free checked bags credited on the Chase statement?

Hi Matt. It must be a United flight that you paid for with your United-branded card. You should receive the free checked bag upfront, not as a statement credit. Give United a call if you purchased the flight with your card and are not getting the free checked bag, 800-864-8331. Have your record locator number handy.


September 05, 2021

If I purchase a basic economy UA round trip flight from IAD-NAS (Nassau, Bahamas) using 100% future travel credit, and I have a Chase United Explorer MileagePlus credit card that gives me MileagePlus status but the system wont allow me to pay a portion of my ticket with the credit card, can I still bring a personal item and full size carry-on (with no checked bags) and be eligible for priority boarding just by having my MileagePlus account number tied to the reservation?

Christine Krzyszton

September 06, 2021

Hi Jayden. You will receive priority boarding. However, please note that the United credit card does not give MileagePlus status, only United perks such as priority boarding and a free checked bag when you pay for a portion, or all, of your ticket with the card. Thanks for reading.


October 01, 2021

Here’s a question I haven’t seen. What happens to the free checked bag benefit when connecting between a United operated flight and a different airline, in the same reservation? Say for example, BOS-IAD-MUC where BOS-IAD is operated by United and IAD-MUC is operated by Lufthansa. Is there a separate charge just for the LH operated leg of the trip?

Jarrod West

October 01, 2021

Hi Manny,

If the ticket was still purchased through United, you should still receive the free checked bag.


October 12, 2021

I need to purchase a ticket for my grandmother. If I use my Explorer card, will I receive the miles even though the ticket is not in my name?

Christine Krzyszton

October 12, 2021

Hi JM. You will receive the miles for the amount of the purchase on your card. However, your grandmother would receive any frequent flyer miles awarded for taking the flight. Be sure to sign her up for the United MileagePlus program.


May 17, 2022

Does an authorized user get the Car Rental Insurance benefit (which I understand is primary on this card), or only the main cardholder will have that?

Hi YK. Chase describes the eligible driver like this: “You are covered when Your name is embossed on an eligible card issued in the United States, and You use Your credit card account and/or rewards programs associated with Your Account to initiate and complete Your entire car rental transaction. Only You, as the primary renter of the vehicle, and any additional drivers permitted by the Rental Car Agreement are covered.” So, it appears as if the authorized user holding a card with their name on it is covered. You can always call the number on the back of your card for a more definitive answer and to request a coverage letter prior to renting.


September 28, 2022

I am using my United card to purchase my flight, but I am not buying the flight on Will I still get free bags and will I still get Qualifying dollars?

Jarrod West

September 28, 2022

Hi Jeff,

Unfortunately not, you would need to purchase through United to receive the benefits.


October 04, 2022

If I use Hertz Reward points to get free car rental days and then use my Chase United Explorer card to pay for the fees, am I covered by the Chase CDW? Technically I am paying the “entire rental transaction” with my Chase card. Thoughts?

Christine Krzyszton

October 05, 2022

Hi ML. Based on the Guide to Benefits, it’s really not clear if you’d be covered using Hertz Rewards points plus your card for the taxes/fees, but I follow your thinking. Here is the wording: “Use Your credit card Account and/or rewards programs associated with Your Account to initiate and complete Your entire car rental transaction”. You might have to give Chase a call for clarification.


October 10, 2022

Can I use my United miles to upgrade from economy to a business class ticket?

Christine Krzyszton

October 10, 2022

Hi Mark. It is possible. Here are some tips for doing so. /travel/airlines/how-to-upgrade-on-united-airlines/


December 10, 2022

Have United Explorer Mileage Plus credit card that was used to rent car in Brazil. Can you please send info on what documentation is required by benefits administrator to file a claim for auto collision damage waiver coverage for a car accident that took place in Brazil? Called and offices are closed until Monday and accident was today.

Christine Krzyszton

December 10, 2022

Hi Deborah. So sorry to hear of the accident, hopefully, everyone is ok. You can obtain the information and start the claim process online here:

David Kiser

April 18, 2023


I have a United Explorer Milage Plus card and just booked a flight on United Airlines. How do I make sure I get one free baggage check in?



Jarrod West

April 19, 2023

Hi Dave,

As long as you paid for the flight using your card you’ll receive the free checked bag.


June 15, 2023

Does the free checked bag for explorer card apply to basic economy fares on international United flights too?

Jarrod West

June 15, 2023

Hi Nir,

Yes it does.

Owen Eatherly

September 12, 2023

If I am the primary cardmember of the United Explorer card, will I be able to bring a carry on? This is assuming I booked my flight using the card through United.

Christine Krzyszton

September 13, 2023

Hi Owen. Yes, you can bring a carry-on bag plus a personal item. And, since you used the card to pay for your flight, you will have a free checked bag.


September 14, 2023

If I am the primary card user of the United Explorer MileagePlus card- would I be an allowed a carry on bag without a fee when booking basic economy? I know it says “no full fixed carry on” but then it also notes that “primary card members of qualifying MileagePlus credit cards” can bring a carry on.

Christine Krzyszton

September 16, 2023

Hi Dale. Yes, as a MileagePlus cardholder, you would be able to bring a free carry-on when holding a basic economy ticket.


September 21, 2023

If I’m an Explorer cardholder booking a United flight using partner miles (eg., on Aeroplan), will I still get the free bag benefit if I add the trip to my account?

Jarrod West

September 21, 2023

Hi Vivian,

If you add your United number to the booking, then yes you should receive your baggage benefit.

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