Earn 40,000 bonus miles with the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card

United MileagePlus Explorer card

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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 Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card is a great option. Currently, the card is offering 40,000 bonus miles to new cardholders who spend $2,000 in the first three months of opening an account.

Additionally, cardholders can earn an extra 5,000 miles when they add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months – for a total of 45,000 bonus miles in the first three months alone.

Recent changes to the United MileagePlus Explorer card

Chase often updates the sign-up bonus for the United MileagePlus card – teetering between 30,000 and 50,000 points. But be aware that as the sign-up bonus increases, so does the spend requirement.  

United MileagePlus Explorer card recent changes

Change date Sign-up bonus
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
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)

The current sign-up bonus is 10,000 miles less than the highest bonus offered by this card, but it also requires cardholders to spend $1,000 less in the first three months to earn the bonus.

United MileagePlus perks

In addition to its bonuses, the United MileagePlus Explorer card allows cardholders to earn rewards on every purchase and offers a variety of travel perks.

Those benefits, however, come at a price. While the $95 annual fee is on the high side, it is waived the first year. Also, the card’s yearly value more than covers its annual fee each year.  

United MileagePlus Explorer card


Rewards rate
  • 2 miles per dollar on tickets purchased from United
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • 40,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5,000 miles when you add the first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months

Why use it?

Those who are partial to United Airlines can benefit from the United MileagePlus Explorer card’s travel perks. Along with the opportunity to earn more than 45,000 miles in the first three months – which can be used toward free travel – there’s no an annual fee the first year.

Read review

Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($15,900 spend)
$416
Annual Fee
$0 first year, $95 after that

United MileagePlus Explorer card benefits include the following:

  • Free first checked bag – The primary card member and one companion traveling on the same reservation will each receive their first standard checked bag free on United-operated flights -- saving card members up to $100 per round trip.
  • Priority boarding – The primary card member and companions traveling on the same reservation will be allowed to board United-operated flights before general boarding.
  • No foreign transaction fees – Cardholders will not be charged foreign transaction fees for card purchases made outside of the U.S.
  • Two United Club passes – Each year on card members’ anniversaries, they will receive two United Club passes, where they can enjoy complimentary beverages, snacks, Wi-Fi and other amenities.
  • Added security – Chip-enabled cards provide greater security in the U.S. and abroad.

Who is eligible for the sign-up bonus?

The United MileagePlus 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 appears to be enforcing 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 United’s Star Alliance partners (28 partners in 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.

As you can see from our redemption chart below, you have many redemption options beside airfare, but most other options have a very poor value:

United MileagePlus redemption options

Redemption option Average mile value Value of 40,000-mile sign-up bonus
Saver airfare – economy 2.3 cents $920
Saver airfare – business/first class 3.5 cents $1,400
Everyday airfare – economy 1 cent $400
Everyday airfare – business/first class 1.2 cents $480
Hotels 0.8 cent $320
Car rentals 0.9 cent $360
Cruises 1.1 cents $440
Merchandise 0.6 cent $240
Experiences Varies Varies
Dining 3.8 cents $1,520
Magazine subscription 2.2 cents $880
Newspaper subscription 2.5 cents $1,000
TSA PreCheck 1 cent $400
In-flight Wi-Fi 0.7 cent $280
United Club membership 0.8 cent $320
Charity donation 1.52 cents $608
Membership fee reimbursement 0.8 cent $320

When it comes to United, it’s all about Saver awards. You can get more than 2 cents of value out 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 a round-trip 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. (25,000 miles round-trip at the Saver level) – You’ll have more than enough miles to score a round trip ticket across the U.S. with 40,000 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 (15,000 miles one-way at the Saver level) – While a round-trip ticket to Europe will cost you 60,000 miles, you could use your 40,000-mile bonus to hop between countries – it’s only 15,000 miles per flight.

Should you apply for the United MileagePlus Explorer card now?

If you want to stock up on bonus miles to use toward free flights for summer travel, now is a good time to sign-up for the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Although the 40,000-mile bonus is not the highest available from this card, it’s still a great opportunity to rake up a large sum of miles in a short period of time.

But if you can hold off for a while, you’ll more than likely get the chance to earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles later this year. Based on past history, we can speculate that the United MileagePlus Explorer card will offer a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after $3,000 spend in the first three months sometime during 2018.

To see just how far the bonus can take you and start planning your next trip, check out United’s interactive award chart.

See related: Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide: The best ways to earn and use Ultimate Rewards pointsEarn up to 30,000 bonus points with JetBlue cards, Southwest Rapid Rewards cards boost sign-up bonuses to 50,000 points

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy



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Updated: 04-21-2018