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Now could be a great time to sign up for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card or the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card if you’re hoping to boost your United account balance for an upcoming award booking. Both cards are currently offering elevated sign-up bonuses of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Even better, some cardholders are being targeted for 70,000-mile offers, just like we saw in June.

The standard sign-up offer for these co-branded cards is 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, so the current bonus is a significant step up. You have to spend $2,000 more in the first three months to earn the miles, but that’s still a relatively reasonable spending requirement — especially with Tax Day not too far away.

TPG values United miles at 1.4 cents apiece, so this 50,000-mile sign-up bonus gets you $700 in value. Of course, the actual value depends on how you redeem them, and you have a variety of options using this one bonus alone. For example, with 50,000 miles, you could book a round-trip domestic flight in first class at the Saver level, two domestic Saver round-trips in economy or a one-way Saver flight in the main cabin from the US to Europe.

Beyond the 50,000 miles you’ll earn for meeting the minimum spending requirement, these cards could be worth having thanks to the perks they extend to you when you’re flying United. With both the MileagePlus Explorer Card and the MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, you’ll get a free first checked bag, priority boarding and two United Club passes per cardmembership year.

You’ll also earn 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United, and you won’t ever have to pay foreign transaction fees. Both cards have a $95 annual fee — it appears to be waived the first year with the business card’s current offer, but not for the personal card. And with the personal card, you can earn 5,000 bonus miles when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months. Additionally, both cards offer a Premier-Qualifying Dollar (PQD) waiver, plus 10,000 bonus miles, when you spend $25,000 or more on the card each calendar year.

Bottom Line

We saw similar bonuses on these cards last summer, but if you missed out then and are looking to jump-start your award travel on United or other Star Alliance carriers, now could be a great time to sign up for either, or both, of these cards.

How would you use 50,000 United miles?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.
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