The United℠ Explorer Card comes with a generous 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.
Hit the minimum spending requirement
As a new United℠ Explorer Card holder, you can take advantage of the following sign-up bonus: Limited-time offer! Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first three months from account opening
This is a big bonus with a relatively low spending requirement, at least to hit the first threshold. Make sure you’re using the card for every United purchase (more on that later) and larger purchases until you hit the mark.
This welcome bonus is even more exciting when you consider that the United℠ Explorer Card‘s annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
Rack up the miles
The United℠ Explorer Card‘s earning structure is fairly basic: You earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, direct hotel bookings and United purchases — including airfare, seat upgrades, in-flight entertainment and more. You’ll 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 0.08 cent. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.8 cent or more in value from your United miles. Typically, you may find stronger redemptions when using your miles on international award tickets.
While you’re out of the country, feel free to keep using the United℠ Explorer Card, as it carries no foreign transaction fees.
» Learn more: United Airlines MileagePlus program: The complete guide
Speed through security
Now that you’re the proud new owner of 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 $85 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.
Do you like getting situated on the airplane before it gets too packed? Well, the United℠ Explorer Card has you covered. The primary cardholder and traveling companions on the same reservation will receive priority boarding on United-operated flights. This perk kicks in about two weeks after your account has been opened.
Priority boarding means that you and your flying partners will board after MileagePlus Premier members, Premier Access travelers and those requiring special assistance. The days of waiting in a long line to find that there’s no overhead space left to store your bag are officially over.
Use the lounge
The United℠ Explorer Card comes with two complimentary day passes to United Club airport lounges, which you can use when flying United or its partners. Cardholders also receive two day passes every year on their cardmember anniversary. Normally, a day pass to a United Club lounge would run you $59, so this is a great perk.
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 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.
The bottom line
The United℠ Explorer Card is worth checking out if you fly the airline often. It has good travel benefits and a relatively low annual fee.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best airline credit card for you
Benefits of United Airlines credit cards
4 Things the United Airlines MileagePlus Program Gets Right