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When Should I Apply for the United MileagePlus Explorer?

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – United MileagePlus Explorer Card

TPG reader Jason tweeted me to ask

@thepointsguy – “Is it worth signing up for the United MileagePlus Explorer card now?”

Right now the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase is offering a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. My advice is not to sign up for the card just yet, because it’s possible (or even likely) that you could get a better deal. Chase sometimes offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles for this card, and often targets individuals for that same larger bonus (this happened to me when I was a United MileagePlus elite member).

Also, you may be able to find a better offer when booking airfare through the website, because United sometimes presents deals to those purchasing airfare or checking out. The 30,000 mile bonus is respectable, but I would hold off in hopes of a better offer.

I would wait for a better bonus to come along. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you happen to have a small business, the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card currently offers a 50,000 mile bonus after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, so you could apply for that card now and then wait for a better bonus from the personal card.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

Apply Now
  • Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Check your first bag for free - save up to $100 per roundtrip
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club with two one-time-use passes every year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn double miles on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Your miles don't expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit