If you’re a fan of United Airlines and looking for an easy way to earn an influx of bonus miles, the United Explorer cards from Chase are great options.
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If you’re a fan of United Airlines and looking for an easy way to earn an influx of bonus miles, the United Explorer cards from Chase are great options. The United Explorer Card currently offers 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. The United Explorer Business Card, on the other hand, offers 100,000 bonus miles after you make qualifying purchases.
While the spend threshold on the business card is relatively high, it offers a unique opportunity to bring in a whopping 100,000 United miles. If you spend these miles on Saver airfare, they can take you quite a long way.
Comparing United Explorer cards
The United Explorer and United Explorer Business cards share several similarities. Both cards offer a 2-mile bonus on restaurant and United purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. However, the Explorer Business card also offers a bonus on business-related expenses, including office supply stores and gas stations. On the downside, the business card does not waive its annual fee in the first year.
United Explorer Card
United Explorer Business Card
|Sign-up bonus||40,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months|
|Annual fee||$0 first year, $95 after that||$95|
|Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)||$892||$1,053|
While both cards charge a $95-fee after the first year, the value of the cards’ perks more than cover the annual fees each year. For example, both cards allow the primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation to receive their first standard checked bag free on United-operated flights – for a savings of $120 per roundtrip. Also, card members receive two United Club one-time passes each year on their account anniversary, which Chase values at more than $100.
United Explorer card sign-up bonus history
Chase often updates the sign-up bonus for the United Explorer card – teetering between 40,000 and 75,000 points.
United Explorer card recent changes
|Change date||Sign-up bonus|
|May 17, 2019||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|April 4, 2019|
|Jan. 9, 2019||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Nov. 14, 2018|
|Aug. 16, 2018||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|June 1, 2018|
|March 16, 2018||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Feb. 8, 2018||50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months (until 3/15/18)|
|Aug. 1, 2017||40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months|
|Feb. 1, 2017||50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months|
(previously 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months)
While the current sign-up bonus is 25,000 miles lower than the highest bonus offered by the United Explorer card, it also requires cardholders to spend $8,000 less to earn it.
United Explorer Business card recent changes
The United Explorer Business card is currently boasting the highest sign-up bonus in its history, but the spend threshold is also at its highest.
|Change date||Sign-up bonus|
|Oct. 10, 2019|
|Aug. 8, 2019|
|March 19, 2019||50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months|
|Jan. 15, 2019|
|(Previous offer: 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months|
Who is eligible for the sign-up bonus?
The United Explorer sign-up bonus is only available to new cardholders who have not received a new card member bonus for this card in the past 24 months. Of course, you must qualify for the cards first, which means you have to have a credit score in the excellent range (at least 750).
Chase doesn’t appear to have a hard limit on how many cards you own, though they may deny your application if you have too large of a credit limit across your other Chase cards. Also, while there is no strict rule on how many Chase cards you can apply for within a certain timeframe, many applicants report a limit of one to two new cards per month.
Chase has come down hard recently on applicants who open many accounts at once. Though it’s not an official policy, Chase enforces a “5/24” rule on new credit card applications. What this means is – if you have opened at least five credit card accounts in the past 24 months with any issuer (not just Chase) – your application will likely be denied. The rule seems to apply to any credit card account that shows up on your credit report, including co-branded store cards and authorized user accounts. (On the plus side, business credit cards that don’t report to your personal credit report do not affect your chances of being approved.)
Bonus tip: If the sign-up bonus increases within 90 days after you’ve been approved, you can ask to be matched to the higher offer.
Best ways to spend 40,000 MileagePlus miles
40,000 miles can take you a long way on United – not only can you use them to travel all around the world on United flights, but you can use them for flights on one of 28 United’s Star Alliance partners or 11 additional airline partners (39 partners total) for a good value. MileagePlus miles are very valuable – worth 1.52 cents per mile by our estimates – but the value can vary greatly depending on how you use your miles.
United MileagePlus redemption options
|Redemption option||Average mile value (cents)||Value of 40,000-mile sign-up bonus|
|Saver airfare – economy||2.3||$920|
|Saver airfare – business/first class||3.5||$1,400|
|Everyday airfare – economy||1.0||$400|
|Everyday airfare – business/first class||1.2||$480|
When it comes to United, it’s all about Saver awards. You can get more than 2 cents of value out of your miles with an economy-level Saver fare. And Business class Saver fares offer an exceptional value at 3.5 cents per mile on average. In fact, the pricing on Business class Saver awards is so reasonable, that cardholders who normally couldn’t afford business class could easily rack up enough United Miles to fund a round-trip ticket to Europe or Asia in business class.
That said, business-class flights across the Atlantic start at 60,000 miles for a one-way ticket, so you’ll have to save up a few more miles to afford the fare.
If you’re looking to spend 40,000 miles right away, here are a few good options:
- Economy-class flights across the mainland U.S. (20,0000 to 25,000 miles for a round-trip at the Saver level) – You’ll have enough miles to score two round trip ticket across the U.S. with 50,000 MileagePlus miles.
- Economy-class flights to Mexico, Central America and Caribbean (35,000 miles round-trip at the Saver level) – You could use your bonus to take a flight south of the border for spring break for only 35,000 miles.
- Economy-class flights to northern South America Saver (40,000 miles round-trip at the Saver level) – Destinations in the northern South American region – including Peru – only require 40,000 miles for a round-trip ticket.
- Economy-class flights across Europe (8,000 to 15,000 miles one-way at the Saver level) – Since a round-trip ticket to Europe will cost you 60,000 miles, the bonus won’t be quite enough to get you there. Instead, you can use the miles to hop between countries – it only costs between 8,000 and 15,000 miles per one-way flight.
If you can meet the high spend requirements to earn the full 100,000 miles from the United Explorer business card, your options are even better.
Should you apply for the United Explorer card now?
Whether you’re a consumer looking to earn bonus miles to use toward free flights for summer vacations or holiday travel, or a business owner wanting to stock up on miles for free business travel, now is a good time to sign up for the United Explorer cards. The United Explorer Business card’s bonus is currently at its peak, and the United Explorer is still offering a great opportunity to rack up a large sum of miles in a short period of time.
To see just how far the bonus can take you and start planning your next trip, check out United’s interactive award chart.