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The United℠ Explorer Card comes with a decent welcome bonus and loads of travel-centric perks. If you've recently taken the plunge and applied for the United℠ Explorer Card, here are some suggestions on what to do next.
1. Hit the minimum spending requirement
As a new United℠ Explorer Card holder, you can take advantage of the sign-up bonus: Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
This is an acceptable bonus with a relatively low spending requirement. Make sure you're using the card for every United purchase (more on that later) and larger purchases until you hit the mark.
The welcome bonus becomes more exciting when you consider that the United℠ Explorer Card's annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
2. Rack up the miles
The United℠ Explorer Card's earning structure is fairly basic: You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, direct hotel bookings and United purchases, including airfare, seat upgrades and in-flight entertainment. You earn 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else. That's all there is to it.
If you're looking to get the best value from the miles you stockpile, we suggest using them on a trip abroad. According to NerdWallet's valuations, United miles are worth an average of 1 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value.
In other words, aim for award redemptions that offer 1 cent or more in value from your United miles. Typically, you may find stronger redemptions when using your miles on international award tickets.
3. Speed through security with Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Now that you carry a United℠ Explorer Card, you should sign up for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. As a United℠ Explorer Card holder, you'll get reimbursed for either a $100 application fee for Global Entry or an $85 fee for PreCheck.
Simply charge the card for this purchase and you’ll receive a statement credit. The credit is available every four years — right when you'll need to renew those applications.
» Learn more: How to get TSA PreCheck for free
4. Check a bag for free
If you pack a lot when you travel, the United℠ Explorer Card will take the sting out of checked bag fees. As a United℠ Explorer Card holder, you and your traveling companion are each entitled to one free checked bag per flight when flying United.
Just make sure you use your United℠ Explorer Card to buy the airfare, and you'll be all set to go.
5. Familiarize yourself with the free travel insurance
The United℠ Explorer Card includes many travel insurance benefits, so you may not need to purchase a stand-alone trip insurance policy for your next vacation. Here are some of the best benefits to protect your nonrefundable trip plans:
Trip cancellation: Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip.
Trip interruption: Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip.
Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket if your trip is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.
Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for three days if your luggage is delayed more than six hours.
Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per person.
Other important coverage includes auto rental collision, purchase protection, Visa concierge and extended warranty on purchases.
» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance
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 2022, 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
IHG® One Rewards
- Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
- Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
- Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.
World of Hyatt
- Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
- Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
- Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.
Alaska Mileage Plan
- Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
- Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
- You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend