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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, including utilizing some of the card’s lesser known perks.
Here’s how to maximize the benefits of the United℠ Explorer Card.
Best benefits of the United℠ Explorer Card
1. Welcome bonus
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
2. Elevated earning rates
Cardholders can collect UnitedPlus miles even faster by optimizing their spend in the following bonus categories, which earn double miles:
Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on United purchases.
Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on hotels booked directly with the hotel.
Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on dining and restaurant delivery.
3. Travel perks for both international and domestic trips
This card should stay in an easy-to-grab place in your wallet whether you're flying across the country or across borders. It's packed with traveler-friendly perks like:
No foreign transaction fees.
Credit toward Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck fee every four years.
Priority boarding and priority check-in.
This can make your spending and airport experience a breeze.
» Learn more: Is the United Explorer Card worth its annual fee?
4. Premier upgrades on award tickets
Complimentary upgrades are only available to Premier elites flying on paid tickets. However, as a cardholder, you’re eligible for complimentary upgrades, even when flying on an award ticket. This unsung benefit can really elevate your travel experience, especially if you get to sit in business class for the price of an economy award ticket.
Complimentary premier upgrades are available on the following routes: within the continental U.S. except premium transcontinental flights, flights between San Francisco or Los Angeles to Hawaii, and between the U.S. and Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean or Central America.
5. Priority boarding for you and your travel companion
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.
6. Free checked bag perk for you and a companion
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.
7. Two United Club passes
With this card, you’ll get two complimentary one-time United Club passes. A day pass to a United Club costs $59 per person, so this benefit is valued at $118. United Club lounges offer quiet spaces to work, Wi-Fi, food and drinks, including alcoholic drinks, and more. At every card anniversary, you’ll get two new complimentary one-time United Club passes.
8. Travel insurance protections
If you book your vacation with the United℠ Explorer Card, you'll benefit from complimentary trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage delay and lost luggage coverage. In addition, you'll also receive purchase protection, extended warranty, 24/7 Visa concierge and auto rental insurance. If the travel insurance benefit limits are adequate, you won't need to purchase a separate standalone travel insurance policy.
If you’re booking a car rental with the United℠ Explorer Card, make sure to decline the insurance coverage offered by the rental company (you’ll get the coverage that comes with the card automatically). The insurance is primary, which means you won't need to seek reimbursement with another insurance policy (if you already have one). 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.
» Learn more: What to know before buying travel insurance
9. 25% savings on in-flight purchases
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. This benefit can come in handy since amenities purchased mid-flight can be pricey.
10. Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection program and upgrades
Another great benefit of this United card is membership to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection program, giving card members access to more than 1,000 luxury hotels, resorts, lodges and spas. When you make your reservation through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection website, you’re also eligible for upgrades for your stays. You can take advantage of early check-in and late checkout (subject to availability), plus complimentary daily breakfast for two.
This is a simple way to make your hotel stays more enjoyable just by using your United℠ Explorer Card.
11. DashPass membership
Cardholders can get one-year of complimentary DashPass that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. This benefit must be activated by 12/31/24.
Maximize the United℠ Explorer Card
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 familiar with all the benefits, including the lesser known ones.
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card