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

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

Recent changes to the United Explorer card

Chase often updates the sign-up bonus for the United Explorer card – teetering between 30,000 and 50,000 points.

United Explorer card recent changes

Change date Sign-up bonus
Aug. 16, 2018 40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
June 1, 2018
  • 40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • $100 statement credit after making first purchase
  • Offer ends Aug. 15, 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 10,000 miles lower than the highest bonus offered by this card, it also requires cardholders to spend $1,000 less in the first three months to earn the bonus.

United Explorer perks

On June 1, 2018, the United Explorer card added a variety of travel perks, including a 2-mile bonus on hotel stays and restaurant purchases.

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

United℠ Explorer card

United Explorer card

Rewards rate
  • 2 miles per dollar on hotel stays
  • 2 miles per dollar on restaurant purchases
  • 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

Why use it?

Those who are partial to United Airlines can benefit from the United Explorer card’s travel perks. Along with the opportunity to earn more than 40,000 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)
Annual Fee
$0 first year, $95 after that

United Explorer card benefits include the following:

  • $100 application credit – The card offers a $100 statement credit to use toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck applications every four years.
  • 25 percent discount – Cardholders receive a 25 percent discount on in-flight purchases, including Wi-Fi and food purchases.
  • 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.

With the June 1 changes, which included the $100 application credit and 25 percent discount, the United Explorer card also removed or reduced other benefits: The card no longer offers price or return protection, and trip cancellation coverage has been reduced to $1,500.

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 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 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.

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 (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
Airline statement credits 1.0 $400
Hotels 0.8 $320
Car rentals 0.9 $360
Cruises 1.1 $440
TSA Precheck 0.9 $360
In-flight Wi-Fi
0.7 $280
United Club membership 
0.8 $320
Merchandise 0.6 $240
eGift cards
0.6 $240
Gas discounts 1.3 $520
Magazine/newspaper subscription 2.4 $960
Varies Varies
Event awards 0.7 $280
Broadway shows 0.7 $280
Restaurants.com gift cards 
3.8 $1,520
Airport dining 0.7 $280
Credit card annual fee 0.8 $320
Charity donation 1.5 $600

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. (20,0000 to 25,000 miles for a 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 (8,000 to 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 only costs between 8,000 and 15,000 miles per one-way flight.

Should you apply for the United Explorer card now?

If you want to stock up on bonus miles to use toward free flights for holiday travel, now is a good time to sign-up for the United Explorer card. Although the current bonus is not the highest ever available from this card, it’s still a great opportunity to rake 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.

See related: Ultimate Rewards Guide: The best ways to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points, Best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards 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: 10-23-2018