55k Public Offer On United MileagePlus Explorer Card is Back for a Limited Time

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The United MileagePlus Explorer card is now offering 50,000 United miles for spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it. This bonus is a limited time offer ending March 15, 2018.

This is significant because the United MileagePlus Explorer card is one of the first travel credit cards we recommend applying for due to the Chase 5/24 rule–the fact that Chase cuts you off to the majority of their lucrative travel credit cards once you’ve opened five personal credit cards from any bank–but only if its bonus is at 50k or higher. The standard offer is 30k United miles for spending $1,000 in three months.

With a valuable sign up bonus and lots of perks when flying United, the United MileagePlus Explorer is one of the most valuable Chase cards.

Quick Facts

  • Sign up bonus: 50,000 United miles after spending $3,000 in three months
  • Value of United miles: Our valuation is 1.6 cents each
  • Authorized user bonus: 5,000 Bonus Miles when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months
  • Anniversary/loyalty bonus: 10,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $25,000 in net purchases on your card each year
  • United specific perks: Free first checked bag for cardmember and one companion on United flights purchased with Explorer Card; Priority boarding for you and anyone on your reservation; Two United Club passes per year
  • Category bonus: 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Eligibility: Chase 5/24 Rule applies

The card has a $95 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year.

Before diving into the perks, I want to point out that sometimes you will find an elevated sign up bonus higher than the standard 30k offer by logging into their United MileagePlus accounts. If you’re interested in this card, definitely log into your account first to check if there’s a better offer there. 

Value of United Miles

We value United miles at 1.6 cents each, making the sign up bonus alone worth $800 to us if you redeem them wisely.

United is in the Star Alliance, the largest and most comprehensive airline alliance with 28 member airlines. United and Star Alliance airlines are known for having the most plentiful award space compared to other programs. United miles are arguably the best reward currency (in chances of actually finding reasonable award space at a reasonable price) for flying in a flat bed to Europe. Why else are United miles valuable?

  • United does not collect fuel surcharges on awards–ever. 
  • The process of award space searching and booking online is simple. You can find award space for most partners (except a few, like Singapore and Brussels) and book right on united.com.
  • You should never have to pay a close-in award booking fee because of this trick.

These points along with a fairly priced award chart combine to make United miles very versatile, valuable for travelers based in the United States.

Star Alliance carriers
Star Alliance carriers

Authorized User Bonus

Make sure you add an authorized user to the account during the application for the easy 5,000 miles. The extra card will be sent to you, so you can always decide not to give it to the authorized user. The authorized user will not be precluded from opening his own account with a 50k mile bonus later.

Note that adding that adding an authorized user will count against that person’s 5/24 count, so perhaps add a trusted friend or relative that isn’t into collecting rewards cards (with their permission of course). They don’t have to use the card for you to get the authorized user bonus.

Anniversary/Loyalty Bonus

The United MileagePlus Explorer card offers a 10k bonus when you reach 25k in spending on the card each calendar year. This is probably not enough incentive to keep spending large amounts on the card as the return isn’t high when compared to the return you’ll get from category bonuses on Chase’s other cards like the Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel and restaurants) or Ink Business Preferred (3x on search engine and social network advertising), but if you’re a big enough spender it could worth working towards, at least with purchases you wouldn’t earn category bonuses with anyways.

United Specific Perks

First Checked Bag Free

When you purchase United flights on your MileagePlus Explorer card, you and one other companion will get your first checked bags free. That represents a savings of $100 on a domestic roundtrip, as checking a bag costs $25 per person each way.

Priority Boarding

You and anyone on your reservation will get to board before general boarding. This means a better shot at getting your luggage in the overhead bin so you don’t have to gate check anything.

Two United Club Passes

After opening the account and each year after you card anniversary, you get two United Club Passes.

For a peak into the United Club experience, read my trip report that covers the United lounges in San Francisco and Houston.

United Club San Francisco

Category Bonuses

You will earn two United miles per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly from United.

Fees

The United MileagePlus Explorer Card has no foreign transaction fees. It also has chip technology for global acceptance, so it’s a great card for overseas travel.

The card has an annual fee of $95, and the first one is due on your first statement.

Eligibility to Be Approved

If you have opened five or more new credit cards in the last 24 months, you will be denied for Chase cards, including the Ink Business Preferred. This is the so-called Chase 5/24 rule.

Chase Matches

Did you sign up for this card in the last 90 days with the 30k for spending $1,000 offer?

Chase is the best about matching people who have applied for and been approved for inferior offers to the best available offer. You can always send a Secure Message through chase.com to ask to be matched to a better offer on a card you have. Scott says that in his experience, Chase will only match you if you were approved within 90 days of your Secure Message. Your experiences may vary. Share them in the comments.

It’s through these matches that folks have been able to get approved for the 50k + 5k bonus on the Explorer Card for at least the past 18 months. For much of that time, there was a 50k + 5k offer available at Chase bank branches or online, and folks who applied for the 30k + 5k offer online could get matched to the better offer through Secure Messages.

Bottom Line

Apply before March 15, 2018, and you can earn 58,000 United miles very easily with the current sign up offer for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card issued by Chase. You’ll get 50k for meeting the minimum spending requirement, 5k for adding an authorized user, and (at least) 3k for spending $3,000 on the card. We value 58k United miles at about $928.

The card also comes with a myriad of valuable perks for those that often fly United.

Looking or a business card instead? The United MileagePlus Explorer Business card also comes with a 50k bonus for spending $3,000 right now (5/24 rule also applies). It has a similar benefits package to the personal card but with business-centric category bonuses, no authorized user bonus, and no annual fee the first year.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Is anyone else out there like me…and just saying, “Screw Chase” and their silly 5/24 rule!
    I for one am NOT going to allow Chase to lock me in to only applying for their cards or scare me into NOT applying for others cards…so for now, Chase loses my business, my MS – which generates transaction fees for them, and my respect for them AND more importantly…all the companies that choose to affiliate credit cards with/through them.

    So, I guess I won’t be earning any United Miles anytime soon!

    To you bloggers, are you losing clicks to Chase applications in a measurable way? Are you willing to admit it or do they not allow you to?

    • +1
      Once in a blue moon Chase came up with a [then] worthwhile credit card option, and now they think they can get away with arbitrary rules…
      Well, I am not even going to spend on my freedom card (freedom – right?:)
      Boycott Chase and their cards, and United with them.
      There are enough attractive options, let’s see who wins!

  2. Oh, and one more comment to add to my dislike of Chase…

    For Active Duty military members – Chase and Citi do not NOT want our business.

    Active Duty military members get all annual fees waived from AMEX, Barclay, and CapitalOne. They also will waive fees for your spouses as well – (note: for AMEX, in non-property sharing states – the military member has to be an authorized user on the spouses card to get the annual fee waived)

  3. I have a question regarding value of the anniversary miles bonus. I was targeted for the 70,000 mile offer, knowing that I could easily meet the spending requirement to get the bonus. I have already met that requirement, as well as the 5k bonus for adding an authorized signer. My plan was to basically just open the card so I could receive that bonus. However I have some really large purchases to do this year: new windows/doors that will cost 10k (can put on a credit card), graduate tuition $7500, and some other misc expenses. I am trying to determine if it’s worth putting all of these charges on the United card to try to make that $25,000 spending bonus. My confusion is in the trade off. I also hold the Chase Reserve and Citi DoubleCash cards. If I am going to spend $25,000 in one year, is there more value in receiving 25k ultimate reward points, 35k United miles (25 from the purchases and then the 10k bonus), or $500 in cash back from the Citi card?

    I am interested in taking a fancy business class or first class flight at some point in the future, but not sure yet when it will be. So is that 10k bonus from United worth concentrating my spending on, or can it be made up in more value from one of the other cards I currently hold?

    • Sorry that I missed your comment before, Michael. The return on spending will always be better opening new cards for more bonuses that align with your current balances and future travel goals, but if you’re not open to applying for more cards, and are trying to decide between the difference in value of 35k United miles, 25k Ultimate Rewards, or $500 cash back… well, I’d look at it this way personally: I value United miles at an average of 1.6 cents each (35k x .016 = $560), Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each (25k x .02 = $500), and $500 is $500.

      If you’re interested in a fancy premium cabin flight then ALWAYS choose miles or points over cash back. There is no outsized value to be found in cash back…it’s a fixed value. 1 cent a point. That won’t go far for an expensive premium cabin flight. You can maximize miles and points strategically to find outsized value, which is why I value Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to airline/hotel partners at 2 cents each. ~2 cents a point will go further than 1 cent a point.

      Albeit late, I hope my response sheds some light on your prior confusion.

  4. I don’t think it’s worth it. I recently got this card and when trying to book my 57000 points became amazed at how many points they require for trips. At least double my favorite carrier, Alaska. Added to the fact that San Francisco is there main hub on the west coast trips I often take, it’s a loser.

  5. The perk of getting a free checked bag is nice, but if it requires purchasing the ticket with the UA card, is that a good trade-off for the Chase Sapphire Reserve 3x points and their better trip cancellation/delay benefits and car insurance benefits? Also remember that you will get free baggage on int’l flights regardless.

    Do you have to purchase the ticket with UA card to get priority boarding, or does simply having the card provide that?

    • No, it’s probably better to buy with the Sapphire Reserve if you have one (or Sapphire Preferred).

      According to the offer terms of the card: “To receive priority boarding, the primary Cardmember must include their MileagePlus® number in their reservation”

  6. Does Chase limit getting the same card more than once (in addition to the 5/24 rule)? I’ve had this card a year ago and closed the account in March 2017 (so less than a year ago). Am I out of luck to get the sign up bonus again? Thanks!

  7. I have the United CC and only kept it to keep miles from disappearing and now knowing how hard it is to get the card. Plus, not alot of ways to earn those United Miles. I have learned that my wife keeps getting turned down for this card due to 5/24. The really bad thing about this, is that each time you apply, even though I think she is under 5/24, they hit you with a hard pull and then send you the letter. Why they have to do a hard pull is beyond me.

    The hard thing to understand is why some Chase cards you can get and others you cannot. So confusing.

    • Yea that is frustrating. In regards to why you can get some Chase cards and not some others, I think it’s just the ones with the most valuable bonuses/rewards (that are most popular with churners) that people are cutoff to once they’ve hit 5/24. The ones you can get despite being over 5/24 aren’t typically as valuable.

  8. I cancelled my old Marriott Visa card last month because it didn’t have the same perks as the newer ones that are out now. I have no Sapphire cards. I do have an SPG card and a AMEX Platinum card and a couple of AA cards. WHich Chase travel rewards card would you recommend getting first (assuming I qualify). This United 50,000 mileage offer, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve? Or another Marriott card? Or something else?
    thx

    • Oh and I also just opened an AMEX Everyday preferred because they offered 30,000 points. So I use that for groceries and gas.

  9. Just got the card delivered and the good news is that the enclosed literature says the annual fee of $95 is waived the first year, we will see if that is true. The bad news is that it says the miles will expire if the card is cancelled. Is that correct? I assumed that once the miles were in my United account, they would be there as long as that account activity was sufficient. I doubt I will want to renew the card for $95 in a year.

    • If you cancel the card your United miles shouldn’t expire. They’ll be in your United account, not a Chase account. The only cards you run that risk with are points-earning credit cards. Most points do expire at some point once you cancel a points-earning card like a Sapphire Preferred or Amex Platinum (for example).

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