How to Get the Most From the United Explorer Card

The United Explorer Card has benefits that can improve your journey when traveling through airports and hotels.

Natasha GabrielleJul 13, 2020
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

The United℠ Explorer Card is an airline-branded Chase credit card that comes with a significant sign-up bonus and quite a few benefits. If you’re loyal to United Airlines, this card can help make air travel experiences better. Before applying for this United credit card, plan how to get the most from card membership. Here’s how to maximize the benefits of the United℠ Explorer Card.

Have a plan to meet the minimum spend

If you’re a fan of bonus points, you’ll like this card’s welcome offer. You’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. This is an easy way to get a significant number of miles to use shortly after getting the card. Start planning right away how to hit the required spending and pay off your credit card balance in full every month so interest and fees don’t work against you.

Use your card perks to board the plane early

United’s MileagePlus program offers many perks at the various elite membership levels, but it takes time and effort to get there. When you have the United℠ Explorer Card, you don’t have to worry about that. Just by being a cardmember, you’ll get elite perks like priority boarding. You and your travel companions can get on the plane early, settle in and likely find plenty of space for your carry-on in the overhead bin.

Use your free checked bag perk

Another perk that comes with this card is a free first checked bag. This is available to you and up to one travel companion, as long as they’re on the same reservation. You can each get one free checked bag per one-way journey. If you’re traveling as a family, be sure to take advantage of the free bag for a companion traveler so you don’t overpay for baggage.

Pay for travel with your United card

It’s easy to earn points with the United℠ Explorer Card. You will earn 2 points per $1 spent on United purchases, including tickets, in-flight purchases, seat upgrades and fees. You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 at restaurants and hotels when you book directly through the hotel. So use this card for purchases while you’re traveling since you’ll get rewarded for doing so.

Plan to visit the United Club

With this card, you’ll get two complimentary one-time United Club passes. You and a companion can hang out and relax in the lounge before your next flight so make sure that you don’t forget about this perk. At every card anniversary, you’ll get two new complimentary one-time United Club passes.

Use your card to rent a car

If you’re taking a trip that requires a rental car, make the reservation with your United℠ Explorer Card. Make sure that you decline the insurance coverage offered by the rental company since you’ll get the coverage that comes with the card: If the rental car is damaged due to theft or collision, the auto rental collision damage waiver will cover up to the cash value of the vehicle. This is a huge benefit.

Apply for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

When you get the United℠ Explorer Card, take advantage of a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement. You can use this perk every four years as a cardmember. If you’ve been meaning to apply for one of these programs, your new United card makes it the perfect time to do so.

Make in-flight purchases with your card

If you’re tempted to make an in-flight purchase — to order booze, buy food or use the Wi-Fi — you’ll get a 25% discount in the form of a statement credit on United-operated flights.

Book stays at Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection Properties

Another great benefit of this United card is a chance to get upgrades when staying at Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties. You can take advantage of early check-in and late checkout, which are subject to availability, and complimentary daily breakfast for two. This is a simple way to make your hotel stays more enjoyable just by using your United℠ Explorer Card.

Make purchases when traveling abroad

The United℠ Explorer Card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. Make sure that you get this perk by using this card when you travel outside the U.S.

The bottom line

Now that you know some of the best ways to use the United℠ Explorer Card, you can create your own plan to get more value. Since this card has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95, the card benefits are well worth the price. If you choose to apply for the United℠ Explorer Card, make sure you’re ready to use its perks.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for: