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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Chase has relaunched the United Explorer card with an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles (after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months from account opening) plus an additional 5,000 when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months. The standard bonus for this card is 30,000 miles, and while there have been targeted offers floating around for as high as 60,000 miles, the present offer is the best publicly available one we’ve seen in a while. As with previous offers, this card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year.
–Priority boarding (for the cardholder and companions on the same reservation)
– 2 United Club passes per year
– Free first checked bag on United operated flights (for the cardholder and one companion on the same reservation when you use your Explorer card to purchase tickets). Note: when redeeming miles for an award flight, you can still get a free checked bag by using your card to pay for the TSA security fee.
- Earn 5,000 bonus miles when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first three months;
- Earn 2x miles on United purchases
- Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 in net purchases each calendar year
The 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user is a no-brainer; it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes extra when you call to activate your card. Earning 2x miles on United purchases is nice, but I’d rather earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points by using my Chase Sapphire Preferred for its travel category bonus. So, you’d probably want to use the Explorer to buy United tickets in order to get the free checked bag, but then use Sapphire or another card for in-flight purchases.
The 10,000 mile bonus after spending $25,000 would effectively boost your miles earning to 1.67 miles per dollar spent, or 2.67 miles/$ if you spent the entire $25,000 on United purchases. If you spend that much on United airfare each year, the bonus is a freebie. Otherwise, I’d use other cards like the Sapphire Preferred or the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express for everyday spending because those points can be transferred to a number of different partners.
In my most recent monthly valuations, I list United miles at 1.5 cents apiece, so I’d value the sign-up bonus for the Mileageplus Explorer card plus the extra 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user at about $825. If you take just four one-way United flights each year, the free checked bag benefit will save you $100, and I value the two club passes at about $25 each. Thus, you’re getting around $1,000 worth of travel and benefits out of the Mileageplus Explorer just by signing up and meeting the spending requirement.
For those who have had this card previously and are curious about earning the bonus a second time, the card application has this to say:
“”This new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months.”
So if you’re not a current cardholder and it has been more than 24 months since you last earned a bonus for this card, then you’re eligible.
It’s unclear how long this offer will be available. If you’re considering signing up, I recommend doing so sooner rather than later.