14 Valuable Benefits of the United Explorer℠ Card

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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!

Hot Tip: See our in-depth review of United Airlines here

1. 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 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.

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!).

2. Earn More Miles at Hotels and Restaurants

Earns 2X miles per dollar at hotels and restaurants.

3. 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 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.

4. Free Checked Bag With United Airlines (up to $100/Round-Trip Value)

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 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.

5. United Club℠ Passes ($108/Year Value)

United Club Hong Kong
Enjoy access to United Clubs with your annual passes thanks to the United 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.

6. Priority Boarding

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.

7. 25% Off In-Flight Purchases

Get 25% back on United in-flight wi-fi, food and drinks.

8. Elite Status Spend Waiver

For those who fly with United Airlines regularly, this first $25,000 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 LevelPQD RequirementPQM/PQS RequirementWaiver Eligible?
Premier Silver$3,00025,000 PQM or 30 PQSYes
Premier Gold$6,00050,000 PQM or 60 PQSYes
Premier Platinum$9,00075,000 PQM or 90 PQSYes
Premier 1K$15,000100,000 PQM or 120 PQSNo

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.

9. 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.

10. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit (Up to $100 Value)

Every 4 years receive a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment/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

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.

12. 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 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).

13. 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.

14. 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.

[Discontinued] Big Spend Bonus

On June 1, 2018, Chase stopped offering 10,000 bonus miles for $25,000 calendar year spend.

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.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock.com


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.

Spencer Howard

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).

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  1. patrick · March 6, 2019 · Reply

    I have the Explorer card but wondering if I still receive priority boarding if I used a different credit card to purchase the ticket. My Mileageplus number is in the reservation and my Explorer card is in my MP profile. TIA.

    • Christine Krzyszton · March 6, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Patrick, thanks for the question. You will receive priority boarding even though you used another card to pay for the ticket. Thanks also for mentioning that you have your MileagePlus number in the reservation because that is a key factor. You will not receive a free checked bag, however.

  2. I just received my United Explorer card. I made my reservation using my old United Mileage Plus Visa, but I paid for the travel insurance for that flight on United’s website today using the new Explorer card. Will this get me free checked bag?

    • Stephen Au · March 19, 2019 · Reply


      You most likely will not get the free checked bag. As per the terms and conditions, you must purchase the actual ticket with your card.

  3. Kay coon · April 9, 2019 · Reply

    Can I use my United Explorer card miles to upgrade on a cruise that was paid for using my Explorer card?

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 10, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Kay. If you booked through the MileagePlus Cruise Award website, you could ask them if it is possible. If you booked through another cruise company, you would not be able to upgrade with United miles. Here is the website link for redeeming your United miles for a cruise and securing an upgraded cabin: https://cruises.mileageplus.com/promotion/member-benefits.do

  4. Julie Patrick · April 10, 2019 · Reply

    I purchased two RT tickets, one for my daughter and son-in-law, with my explorer credit card. Will the travel protection apply to them as well?
    We will be on the same return flight but not the outgoing flight.

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 10, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Julie. I accessed the Guide to Benefits for the Explorer Card and found that only immediate family is covered for travel protection benefits such as trip cancellation and trip interruption. The Guide to Benefits for the Explorer Card defines immediate family: “Immediate Family Member, means your Spouse or Domestic Partner and their children, including adopted children or step-children; legal guardians or wards; siblings or siblings in-law; parents or parents-in-law; grandparents or grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews.” You can read more about the United Explorer travel protections and the terms/conditions here: https://www.chasebenefits.com/unitedVW4

  5. How does the Explorer card compare to Amex cards in terms of travel protection? Is it comparable or better?

  6. Ronald · April 19, 2019 · Reply

    If I use my miles for award travel and pay for the extra fees using my Explorer card, do I still get the travel benefits (priority boarding, free checked bag, etc)?

  7. Casey · May 15, 2019 · Reply

    I also just got the United Explorer Card but I used a different credit card to purchase 4 basic economy tickets for me and my 3 friends (2 on one reservation and 2 individual reservations). Will I still receive priority boarding? If yes, do I just show my Explorer Card at the gate? My Mileageplus number is on the reservation. Thank you!

    • Christine Krzyszton · May 15, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Casey. You should receive priority boarding as there is no requirement to purchase the ticket with your MileagePlus Explorer card for this benefit. Your frequent flyer number should trigger priority boarding as the card will be recorded in your profile. If your boarding pass does not reflect priority boarding, you can just show your card to the gate agent. You will not receive the free checked bag, however, as that benefit requires purchasing the ticket with your card. Have fun on your trip.

  8. Kerry · May 17, 2019 · Reply

    I would like to know how much the trip interruption/cancel benefit is if you charge a trip on your MileagePlus Explorer card. I have a final payment due soon and would like to clarify this.
    Also, is any trip accident/medical insurance included while on the trip ?
    Site is a bit confusing as to exact amount of the coverage on this benefit.

    • Christine Krzyszton · May 17, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Kerry. Trip cancellation and interruption benefits are included complimentary on your card and do cover you during your trip. These benefits, however, are not a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance. There are plenty of terms and conditions that come with the benefits provided with your card. Here is the guide to benefits for the card which will give you additional information. https://www.chasebenefits.com/unitedVW4

      • Karen Didomenicis · June 12, 2019 · Reply

        I have the same question as Kerry, and the link at the bottom of your answer does not work for me. thanks.

        • Christine Krzyszton · June 13, 2019 · Reply

          Hi Karen. There is no charge for trip interruption/cancellation insurance on the United Explorer card. There is no medical insurance included with the card. The link to the guide to benefits unfortunately must have timed out. I have replaced it now so hopefully it will work for you.

  9. Danny Doan · June 3, 2019 · Reply


    I just used my miles for award travel, and my Untied Explore Business Card to pay for the fees. I booked a total of 4 tickets for my family. Below is my itinerary:

    1. Houston to London flight operated by United
    2. London to Rome, flight operated by Lufthansa airline
    3. Paris to Houston, flight operated by United
    I have a question about the free checked bag. Do I get 2 checked bags free, one for me and one for my companion even though I purchase 4 tickets for trip 1 and 3? For trip 2, will it be the same or I have to check with Lufthansa airline?

    About the priority boarding: How do I know if I have the priority boarding?

    Thanks so much for your help

    • Christine Krzyszton · June 3, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Danny. Regarding your question about checked bags. Yes, you get one free checked bag for yourself and for one companion traveling with you. Make sure that your MileagePlus number is on your reservations because your United Explorer card will be tied to your frequent flyer number for the free checked bag and priority boarding. You can add your record locator number to this baggage calculator to determine if there are any additional baggage charges. Some codeshare flights do not afford free checked bags. Priority boarding should show up on your boarding pass when you check in for your flight. If it does not, you can just show your United Explorer card at the airport. https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/baggage/changed-bag-rules-optional-services.aspx

  10. Karen Schickedanz · June 12, 2019 · Reply

    If I use my United Explorer card to book air travel for a river cruise and then have to cancel the trip due to illness, will the trip cancellation benefit also cover the cost of the cruise in addition to the airfare? (The cruise is being paid for by check.)

    • Christine Krzyszton · June 13, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Karen. If the air travel was purchased separately from the cruise, the benefit would not be extended to include the cruise. You would need to have paid for some portion of your cruise with your United Explorer card to have coverage. However, you may have coverage with the cruise line. I would check with them.

  11. I have a United Plus Explorer card. I don’t see that ypy listed. It’s with chase bank. What benefits does that equate to?

    • Christine Krzyszton · June 16, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Fran. I am not sure I understand your question. Would you please clarify?

  12. I just applied and got approved for the Explorer Card but won’t get my physical card until my upcoming United Flight. Can I show my credit card app to get priority boarding?

    • Christine Krzyszton · June 26, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Wonju. I would just call United and see if it is tied to your MileagePlus number yet. Hopefully you gave your United MileagePlus frequent flyer number when you submitted the credit card application. I went into my MileagePlus frequent flyer account to see if my United Explorer Card was listed there as this may have been a way for you to find out, however I did not see it listed. So call and see if the two are connected yet then take a copy of your credit card approval with you as the back up plan. Not sure if it will work but no harm in trying. Good luck, Wonju.

  13. Kristin · June 28, 2019 · Reply

    Do you offer one Free Companion ticket per year with the United Explorer Card?

    • Hi Kristin, please be advised we are not United, nor are we Chase Bank. However, you can find a list of basic perks for various United cards here – at this time it does not appear United/Chase offer a companion ticket on this card.

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