12 Valuable Benefits of the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

Travel Partners in Airport

For those who fly with United Airlines regularly or even just several times per year, the United MileagePlus® 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 MileagePlus® 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!

Earn More Miles With United Airlines

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 Level MileagePlus Miles Earned per Dollar Spent
Member 5X miles per dollar
Premier Silver 7X miles per dollar
Premier Gold 8X miles per dollar
Premier Platinum 9X miles per dollar
Premier 1K 11X miles per dollar

However, with the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, you can earn an extra 2X miles per dollar whenever you book a flight with United Airlines.

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!).

Extra Award Space

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 MileagePlus® 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.

1 Free Checked Bag With United Airlines

United baggage fees
As a cardholder, you will receive 1 free checked bag for you and a companion if you book with your United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.

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 MileagePlus® 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 MileagePlus® Explorer Card to pay for the flight if you want to be eligible to receive your free checked bag.

Priority Boarding

Flights are often very full these days, and the situation on United Airlines is no different. With the United MileagePlus® 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.

2 United Club Passes

United Club Hong Kong
Enjoy access to United Clubs with your annual passes thanks to the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card. Image courtesy of United.

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 MileagePlus® Explorer Card, you will receive 2 single-use United Club passes. You’ll continue to receive 2 passes every year you keep the card.

Big Spend Bonus

It’s unusual for credit cards to offer big spend bonuses, but the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is one of the few that does. When you spend $25,000 on the card, you will earn a bonus 10,000 United MileagePlus miles.

This means that you will earn 35,000 United miles for your first $25,000 in spending on the card, which effectively means you are earning 1.4X miles per dollar spent. Of course, if you are purchasing flights with United Airlines, that number is even higher.

Elite Status Spend Waiver

For those who fly with United Airlines regularly, this first $25,000 in spending on the card doesn’t just come with the benefit of a bonus 10,000 United MileagePlus miles. That $25,000 in spending earns cardholders an elite status Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) waiver.

This means that you can earn elite status without meeting specific thresholds for spending on flights with United Airlines. This leaves only the Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) or Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) requirement to be met.

Elite Status Level PQD Requirement PQM/PQS Requirement Waiver Eligible?
Premier Silver $3,000 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS Yes
Premier Gold $6,000 50,000 PQM or 60 PQS Yes
Premier Platinum $9,000 75,000 PQM or 90 PQS Yes
Premier 1K $12,000 100,000 PQM or 120 PQS No

As you can see in the chart above, you can receive a spend waiver for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum elite status…but not Premier 1K. When you consider the fact that most people (even those with work travel) won’t reach 100,000 Premier Qualifying Miles in a calendar year, this can be a great way to earn mid-tier elite status.

With Premier Gold or Premier Platinum 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 United States 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.

MileagePlus Miles Don’t Expire

As a member of United’s MileagePlus program, your miles will expire after 18 months if you don’t earn miles or redeem miles within that timeframe.

As a cardholder, though, this expiration policy does not apply. So if circumstances in life prevent you from earning or redeeming United miles, you can rest assured that your miles will be there the next time you’re ready to book an award flight.

Travel Protections

The United MileagePlus® 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.

Trip Delay Insurance

As frustrating as it can be, flight get delayed sometimes. With the United MileagePlus® 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.

Baggage Delay Insurance

Baggage Claim Area Lost Delayed Luggage
With the bag delay insurance that comes with the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, you can rest easy.

Another frustration travelers occasionally face is a delay in the arrival of their checked bags. If you booked your flight with the United MileagePlus® 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).

Lost Luggage Coverage

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.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

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 $10,000 in trip interruption or cancellation insurance.

This coverage includes pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses like airfare, hotels, and even tour costs.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear from the start that the United MileagePlus® 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 MileagePlus® 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 MileagePlus® 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Here are 9 best ways to use 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (including round-trip to Hawaii for 2 people!)

And – discover 10 of the most valuable benefits you’ll get access to as a cardholder


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?

What points can be transferred to Rapid Rewards points?
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to United almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio. SPG Starpoints transfer to United at an awful 1:0.5 so it’s best to avoid doing so.