6 Things to Do When You Get the United Explorer Credit Card

Here are some United Explorer Card benefits to take advantage of while you try the card out fee-free for the first year.
Elina Geller
Chris O'Shea
By Chris O'Shea and  Elina Geller 
Edited by Meg Lee

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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 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 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 1.2 cents 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 1.2 cents or more in value from your United miles. Typically, you may find stronger redemptions when using your miles on international award tickets.

🤓Nerdy Tip

When you're out of the country, feel free to keep using the United℠ Explorer Card, as it carries no foreign transaction fees.

3. Speed through security with NEXUS, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Now that you carry a United℠ Explorer Card, you should sign up for NEXUS, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. As a United℠ Explorer Card holder, you'll get reimbursed for either a $100 application fee for Global Entry, an $78 fee for PreCheck or a $50 fee for NEXUS.

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.

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.

6. Activate your DashPass

Cardholders get one year of complimentary DashPass that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. This perk must be activated by 12/31/24.

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 2024, including those best for:

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