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United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Review – Offering Friendlier Skies

by on Sun November 1, 2015 • 212 Comments
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united170If you fly United, it’s hard to miss the ads for the United Explorer card throughout terminals and on their website. You might already have an older United card and are considering switching to the Explorer Card, or are thinking about getting one for the first time.

United miles are among the most useful around, especially for long international travel thanks to its many airline partners, and the Explorer Card earns a basic 1 mile per dollar on most purchases.

Who should get this card?

There are several cards that can earn you United miles, but you should consider the Explorer Card if you value at least one of these benefits:

  1. A free first checked bag for up to 2 people in your reservation on United Airlines flights – this can save you $25 per bag
  2. Priority boarding for everyone in you reservation so you can stow your carry ons more quickly
  3. A 10,000 mile annual bonus each year you spend $25,000 on the card. That’s like earning 1.4 miles per dollar on your spending.

If the checked bag benefit isn’t useful to you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a card that can might earn you United miles more quickly. That’s because it earn 2x points on all dining and travel spending, and the points it earns can be transferred directly into your United mileage account, but it doesn’t have the free checked bag and priority boarding benefits.

You can compare how the Sapphire stacks up to the Explorer for earning miles based on your spending using MileCards.com’s Card Finder tool.

They both offer no foreign transaction fees when you travel and both have no annual fee the first year, then $95 after, which is pretty standard for airline branded cards.

How does the free checked bag work?

The checked bag can save you $100 roundtrip if you’re traveling as a couple and both of you check bags, but not all of us check bags. So think about how often you really do check bags on flights, and if it’s more than a couple times a year, then carrying the card could be worthwhile just for that.

Also remember that some international destinations already give a first checked bag free, so this benefit is most useful for domestic flights and trips to places like the Caribbean and Latin America.

Just be aware that you must purchase your United tickets with the card to enjoy the checked bag benefit. It’s an annoying requirement, as American and Delta don’t make you do that for the free bag that comes with their cards, but that’s how it works at United, so keep that in mind when deciding.

What is priority boarding?

Priority boarding is helpful, but you have to set your expectations straight to get the most out of it. It doesn’t mean you’re the very first to board the plane, as that’s a privilege reserved for the most frequent fliers, people who are flying 75,000 miles or more a year, as well as people in first class.

But it does mean you can board with ‘Group 2′, which includes many of United’s frequent fliers, even those who fly over 50,000 miles a year, so the benefit gives you a decent edge on other passengers who are in Groups 3 – 5. United makes the boarding lanes pretty clear with big signs pointing to Group 2 so you can line up there if you’d like to get an early crack at overhead bin space.

On some flights that are heavy with business travelers you’ll find that over half the plane is lining up to board with Groups 1 and 2, but on other flights that are filled with more people headed on vacation you’ll have less competition for early boarding and can settle in well ahead of the rest of the plane.

Regardless of the situation you can bring your traveling companions along with you in the priority boarding lane.

What’s the bonus like?

You can get the intro bonus for this card even if you have an older United card like the MileagePlus Select.

The current public offer is available here, but sometimes there are higher offers with a different spending requirement if you apply via a Chase branch, and we talk about those here.

Are there spending category bonuses?

The personal card earns 2x miles per dollar spent on United purchases made directly through United. If you get the Business version of the card you can also get 2x miles per dollar on dining, gas, and office supply stores.

How strong is the travel protection?

The Explorer Card is like a Swiss Army knife when it comes to travel protection and it’s surprisingly good  for an entry level card.

First, you get primary collision damage coverage when you rent cars with the card. Unlike most cards, which only provide secondary coverage, you don’t need to file a claim with your own insurance company if your rental car gets damaged. That can save you from higher premiums on your own policy if you end up damaging your rental.

It also has good coverage if your trip gets delayed.

You’ll get up to $500 reimbursed  if your flight is delayed 12 hours or more and you’re stuck paying for hotel rooms, meals, or other reasonable expenses the airline won’t cover.

That’s especially helpful for times when your flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, because in those cases the government doesn’t require the airlines to help you out, and you’re stuck in the terminal or worse.

There’s also generous trip cancellation coverage in case you or a family member gets sick and can’t make your trip or need to cut it short.

This package of coverage is rare – American Express doesn’t offer trip delay protection with any of its cards, even premium ones that cost more than $400 a year. And if you want to buy a package of trip delay and cancellation coverage separately it can often cost you $25 or more per trip.

With the Explorer Card all you have to do is buy your plane ticket with your card for travel any airline (it doesn’t have to be United) and you’ll be covered.

It even covers tickets you buy with your frequent flier miles, as long as you use the card to pay any associated fees.

Are there benefits for Premier members?

If you’re already a MileagePlus Premier level flyer, the free checked bag isn’t of much help since you’re already eligible for that benefit.

But there is one benefit you can only get if you hold an Explorer Card or its more expensive cousin the Club Card.

It’s the ability to get your elite upgrades when you’re flying on an award ticket. If you hold the card your upgrades will process like they normally do on cash tickets whenever you fly on an award.

What about business owners?

If you are a business owner looking for a United card for business spending. There is an Explorer Card for business that has extra features like 2x points on dining spending, and you can also consider the Ink Plus card, which each earn points you can transfer into your United account at any time, but also gives you the flexibility to transfer them to many other programs like Southwest and Marriott.

Conclusion

If you fly United a few times a year and check bags, the card is worth it for the free bag benefit alone. Otherwise, if priority boarding or primary car rental collision coverage aren’t interesting to you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might offer you more flexibility since the points it earns can be transferred to United as well as several other airlines. It’s probably worth trying our CardFinder tool to see whether the Explorer or Sapphire Preferred will earn you more miles based on your spending habits.

 

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212 thoughts on United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Review – Offering Friendlier Skies

  1. LAURA DAUZAT

    i am close to the $25,000 mark on my card for 2016. When will I get the 10,000 mile credit?
    As soon as bill is paid?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Laura – Should hit when the statement is generated for the period where you hit the mark, or the statement after that.

      Reply
  2. Kathleen Maultsby

    I currently have a MileagePlus Explorer Mastercard credit card. If I get the Visa card, will the miles I have now merge with the ones I get for the Visa?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kathleen – If you use the same MileagePlus number the miles will all accrue to that account.

      Reply
  3. Arlene Nelson

    I am traveling on United in a week I have an explorer milage card I am taking two suitcases Is this permissible and how much is the second suitcase

    Reply
  4. Bonnie Lemons

    Does the card cover hotel/motel/HomeAway/Airbnb costs if a trip is canceled due to illness or death?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Bonnie – If you booked your transportation and the lodging with the card then it might be possible – but always check by calling the number on the back of your card for your situation.

      Reply
  5. James Baker

    I completed my application for the Explorer Card on 1/31/2016. I would like to know how long it will take for an approval of the card because I have a trip coming up to Washington DC on 02/24/2016. How long does the approval usually take and should I wait for the approval before booking my flight? I would like to start accumulating the $1,000 spending for first 3 months to be eligible for the 30,000 mile bonus and I thought this would be a perfect flight to start accumulating that purchase requirement. Am I going to be able to do that?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @James – It’s hard to say and really varies. Some people are approved instantly, others take longer (for identity protection, credit, or other reasons). Generally it takes about a week after approval to receive the card, but if you call you might be able to request an expedited card. Never hurts to call and ask if they can do something on your account, explaining the purchase you want to make.

      Reply
  6. Donna

    My United explorer card does it give me trip cancellation insurance. I just booked 2 first class tickets and was never offered insurance at check out.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Donna – Yes it does offer trip cancellation coverage for ‘covered’ reasons like severe illness, dangerous weather, jury duty, and others. You can call the number on the back of your card to get the exact details for your account, so you can decide whether you want to purchase additional coverage from an insurance company.

      Reply
  7. Shanah

    I purchased a united ticket for my husband using my united club card. I didn’t realize he wouldn’t get a checked bag. He has a united explorer card. can he get the checked bag because he has the explorer card?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Shanah – Yes, but only if he purchased it with his card. He might have luck at the airport asking an agent nicely.

      Reply
  8. matt

    Do miles expire if I cancel my MileagePlus Explorer card after a year? If so, do I just lose the miles that I get from credit card spending and the bonus? or Do I lose everything?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @matt – United miles expire after 18 months of no activity in your account. All the miles in your account have the same expiration date. The good news is, anytime you earn miles or use them, the clock starts again for another 18 months. So it’s possible to keep them alive as long as you’d like. There are lots of ways besides flights to keep your miles alive:

      http://milecards.com/5470/stop-united-miles-from-expiring-and-is-reinstating-them-worth-it/

      Reply
  9. Tom

    If I use the card to buy a United ticket for my wife, will I still get the 2 miles for the purchase? Or does the ticket bought with the card have to be under the cardholder name in order to get the 2 miles benefit?

    Reply
  10. Anne

    I get approved of the united card but I went for vacations for a long time. When I come back I want to use it to get the offered mileage points but they told me that It’s already expired last 12/15/2015. I just use it today. Is there anyways I can still get the promotion mileage since I never activated the card.

    Reply
  11. Courtney Hollis

    I have a MileagePlus Awards card and want to switch to the Explorer card so I can get the free checked bag benefit. Is this in option or do I have to open a whole new account?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Courtney – They may be able to do a ‘product change’ to an Explorer for you if you call in to request. Though you miss out on any introductory sign on bonus if you go that route. If instead you open a brand new account you become eligible for the sign on bonus.

      Reply
  12. Luis

    How can I merge, or transfer my United mileageplus explorer credit card rewards to my mileageplus member card account?

    Reply
  13. ward

    I used united award miles to purchase my tickets and charged the fees to my united explorer card.
    Does this make me eligible for priority boarding?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @ward – Absolutely, as long as the miles used are from your MileagePlus account and they are United (not partner) flights.

      Reply
  14. Ted

    Can I purchase a gift flight for someone with my United Visa? I will not be flying with my mom. How can she check in for the return flight without the card?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ted – No need to use the card to check in for the flight. A confirmation number or ticket number will be sufficient.

      Reply
  15. Yvonne

    Hello, my husband and I have a lot of UAL miles. Problem is he forgot to keep them active. They expired in February 2015. Please detail the ways we could reinstate them. We have over $300,000 miles and would prefer not paying cash to reinstate them. Thank you!

    Reply
  16. DL

    Hello – We currently have the MileagePlus Explorer card (1st year) and will book our flights for mid-May 2016 soon. However, we will cancel the card mid-April 2016 to avoid paying the $95 annual fee.

    If the trip was booked with the credit card but is then canceled by the time the trip takes place, will we still have the benefits of the card?

    Many thanks,
    DL

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @DL – Officially, the card needs to be open and in good standing to get it. But also be aware there is sometimes a grace period between when the fee is billed and when you can get it credited back if the account gets closed.

      Reply
  17. Ron Fritzsche

    One major problem with this card is the “Free” checked luggage. If your flights begin with a United partner (Star Alliance or code share), you will have to pay for checked baggage. This is because those other carriers to not accept the United benefit. This applies evern if the flight has a UNited Airlines number but is operated by another airline. Be forewarned.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ron – Yes – for Canada if you’re starting with Air Canada, or Hawaii if you’re starting with Hawaiian Airlines it’s an issue. For most other places you’ll fly a United partner to the US the first bag is free with or without the card.

      Reply
    2. Marcella

      I called to book two flights using the 89,000 plus miles on my Mileage Plus card> I was informed that due to the fact that both flights were in the month of December they would not be available. Also advised that Mileage Plus seats were very limited and it was suggested that I apply for Mileage Plus Explorer Card which would allow flights at anytime. I inquired about the miles transferring to the Mileage Plus Explorer Card and was told they would not. I searched your website MileCards.com and found two or three questions about this with the reply stating that if you supply you frequent flyer number the miles will transfer to the Mileage Plus Card. On another site it was stated that your original Miles Plus Card number would be the same on the Mileage Plus Explorer card with the exception of the Code on the back of the card being changed. Please advise if this is true in both instances.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Marcella – Where are you trying to fly and around what dates? The ‘fact that both flights were in the month of December they would not be available’ sounds like a strange answer.

        Reply
  18. Jocelyn

    I thought we are supposed to get priority boarding with the explorer card but I’ve just travelled to Japan and back and they did not acknowledge my card, saying the we needed to have gold or silver alliance?

    Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Jocelyn – Your boarding pass should have ‘Group 2′ printed on it, which is the priority for having an Explorer card. There are no security check in benefits, and if you’re not flying on a United flight you won’t have the better boarding group number.

        Reply
  19. Brian

    I have been a United MileagePlus member for a long time and finally decided to click on the offer for the MileagePlus Explorer Card. The offer was for 50,000 miles bonus after spending $3000 in the first 3 months. I received my card today and there is nothing mentioned about this sign-up bonus. Is this normal? All it talks about is the normal benefits of the card and the 10,000 point bonus for an annual spending of $25,000. Should I be worried about the sign-up bonus points?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Brian – Yes that’s normal – they don’t reference the offer terms in your card mailing. You can always call the number on the back of your card to verify them.

      Reply
  20. susan lupton

    United…..it would have been nice to know …. IN ADVANCE that I now have to pay baggage fees because my ticket was not purchased with the primary cardholder’s account. Not welcome information amidst the expensive ticket and stress of flying home to say goodbye to my dying father.
    After the fact is not the time to discover this critical piece of information!
    Not a good value thus far.

    Reply
  21. Ariadne Monfalcone

    Be careful with the free first bag option. It will only work if the Primary cardholder books the trip, and that’s something they don’t seem to tell anyone.

    I have huge issues with this card–I opened my account with them in 2003 when they were still with Continental. When they switched to United, they CHANGED my status as primary cardholder (I had opened the account and added my husband later), without notification or consent. I found out it happened after calling with a question on the account and they wouldn’t talk to me, only my husband. We conferenced him in, and we asked that they change the status back as myself as the primary. They agreed, but apparently, they never completed the change. So when I booked travel on the card this year, flying without my husband, they refused to give me the free checked bag at the airport.

    I’m fighting to get my money back right now, but needless to say, I’ll be canceling this card as soon as I get it back. Not a fan.

    Reply
    1. susan lupton

      United…..it would have been nice to know …. IN ADVANCE that I now have to pay baggage fees because my ticket was not purchased with the primary cardholder’s account. Not welcome information amidst the expensive ticket and stress of flying home to say goodbye to my dying father.
      After the fact is not the time to discover this critical piece of information!
      Not a good value thus far.

      Reply
  22. ct

    i signed up for a united mileage credit card last year…i currently have 17000 miles…do my miles expire if i cancel my credit card ? thx

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @ct – They expire after 18 months if you do nothing else. But anytime you earn or use miles the clock gets reset another 18 months.

      Reply
  23. Sb

    Hi,

    If I purchase United flights on 3rd party websites like Expedia using united mileage explore card, would I still get “double miles” or ticket needs to be purchased directly through united website? Also, for the past purchases, how can I check to see if I received double miles?

    Thanks,
    Sb

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sb – It should still give you the double miles if it’s issued as a United ticket. You’ll know that by looking at your statement and seeing a charge with a ticket number that starts with ’016′ – which are the first 3 numbers of any United ticket.

      For past purchases, the should show up on your MileagePlus statement as a category bonus.

      Reply
      1. Sb

        I just checked but it doesn’t look like I received double miles on my previous flights which was booked on third party website. Could you send the best contact on this matter? Thanks

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Sb – Try calling MileagePlus first – they can tell whether that third party site was actually issuing tickets on United ticket stock, or they were using another airline.

          1-800-421-4655.

          Let us know if you don’t get a good answer. It’s possible you won’t get the double miles because of that, or because you may have booked some ‘consolidator’ or other special low fare.

          Reply
          1. Sail

            I just called chase and they said that the terms of the 2x benefit are that you must make a purchase DIRECTLY from United Airlines, Inc. Purchases from third party vendors (e.g. expedia, travelocity, orbits) only return 1x points as with all other purchases. If you think about it this makes sense because United has to give a cut to the third party vendor so they make less money, and thus want to incentivize you to purchase directly from them. Bonus: purchasing upgrades (or booze on the flight!) should also garner 2x points, at least thats my understanding

      2. RR

        If buying from a 3rd party – i understand from this thread that double miles will not count – but will my perks like 1 free checked baggage and priority boarding still apply to the flight if i purchase with my millage card?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @RR – Officially you need to buy it ‘from United’ to get the free bag though some have experienced otherwise. The priority boarding applies no matter where you buy the ticket as long as you add your MileagePlus number to your reservation.

          Reply
  24. Cindy

    Hi! We have United Mileage Plus card and will be applying for Mileage Plus Explorer card. Can we transfer our miles to the new card & if so, how do we go about doing that? Also, how do we get rid of old card? Do we just pay balance and cancel it?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Cindy – Yes you can pay the balance and cancel or ask for a no annual fee option. As for your miles, if you gave them your MileagePlus number when you applied all the miles should go into the same account.

      Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Maria – No official policy on that, but credit card companies often have some grace period for cancellation after the fee is first billed.

      Reply
  25. Mike

    If I call and sign up for the United Card tonight, when do the benefits kick in? I have a flight in the morning, will the Priority Boarding benefit be active?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Mike – Probably not until you activate your card (which has to arrive in the mail) though if you decide to test it out, let us know. We have seen a hotel card that gives benefits without activating it, though it wasn’t instant.

      Reply
  26. Kavita Sarma

    I used to be a star alliance gold member and a united mileage plus platinum almost a 1K member. I had a baby and could not keep up with my business travel so I lost my status to silver and now to nothing – just member. I am doing some international trips with family this year and several more into next year and I would like to get lounge access eventually. I have over 120K miles now and my question is if I apply for this card, hit the spend limit and get the bonus miles will I be eligible for status with united mileage plus program? I will probably hit the $6000 PQD for the year.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kavita – It’s quite confusing, but the PQD can only be earned on what you spend buying United Airlines tickets, it’s actually not connected to your card use at all.

      You’ll have to earn PQDs and flight miles from United flights to get the status back, though you may want to call MileagePlus and see if you are eligible for a fast track promotion that can let you earn status faster if you fly enough within a short period of time (usually 3 months).

      For lounge access quickly, the United Club Card, which may be available to you with no fee the first year is your best bet. You can learn about that here:

      http://milecards.com/5238/free-united-club-card-for-one-year-offer-for-premier-elite-members/

      Reply
  27. Beth

    If I do not use the mileage plus explorer card to purchase the ticket, but later use it on the same itinerary to upgrade to economy plus seating, will that use of the card qualify me for free checked luggage?

    Reply
  28. Bongo

    Do the MileagePlus Explorer cards only provide the 2 UL passes? If I am flying United First class, can I not use the UL WITHOUT having passes? (I mean, it’s first class and United is *technically* a member of the Star Alliance group…) Also, are the items in the UL complimentary? Like, can I grab a sandwich and head out for free?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Bongo – Yes it’s only two one visit passes. If you’re flying first class on an international flight then you can get in without the passes. But it’s just a domestic trip then no. The club items are free, but you’ll generally only find soup, hummus, salad, and dry snacks, and they ask that you consume in the club.

      Reply
  29. Sam

    I just purchase a ticket with United for a trip in November with another credit card but I just found out I was approved for the Mileage Plus Explorer card can I re due my ticket and use my new explore card and have my other credit card credited

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sam – You have 24 hours after your purchase to cancel your old ticket with no penalty and request a refund.

      Reply
  30. Ernie

    I have over 100,000 miles on my United MileagePlus Select Visa card. I assume that they will transfer to the United MileagePlus Explorer Visa Card if I upgrade to it. Is this correct

    Reply
  31. judy

    So I understand if I purchase a ticket for my mother she will not get the bag or priority boarding benefit. Will she be able to use one of my lounge passes? Thanks

    Reply
  32. Brenda

    I booked airline tickets with United in January for travel this July. I obtained the United explorer card because I will be checking in 4 times so it just made sense to save on baggage fees for me and my companion. My husband is the primary on the account and me the secondary!! I just found out today that only the primary qualifies for free baggage not the secondary!! I was not able to qualify for a card even though I have excellent credit- I work in the education industry! I really feel like I’m being discriminated against . Needless to say my husband doesn’t do the traveling I do!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Brenda – Sorry to hear about that. You might want to check to see if you can apply using your combined income.

      Reply
  33. Jordan

    If my company pays for my airfare through our corporate booking tool, would there be any way to make use of the priority boarding benefits with this card?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jordan – Yes, they are tied to your MileagePlus account number so as long as that’s in the reservation the priority boarding group should appear on your boarding pass.

      Reply
  34. Vis

    I purchased my vacation package (hotel + flight) using a different credit card. But I paid the baggage fee using my Explorer card. Would I still be able to claim for a Trip Delay Expense as I paid the baggage fee using my Explorer card??

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Vis – Probably not – they require you pay at least a portion of your fare with the card, and a baggage fee doesn’t sound like an actual fare. But best to call the number on the back of your card to double check your situation.

      Reply
  35. dvg

    If I purchase a trip for me, my spouse, and adult children, are we each covered under the trip cancelation/interruption coverage?

    And if I buy a vacation package with the card, and the air portion ends up on United, will at least one of get the free checked bag?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @dvg – You’ll get the free checked bag if your vacation package ends up with a United ticket number – ask the package provider about that. As for coverage – best to call the number on the back of your card. As far as we know adult children might not be covered.

      Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Erin – Yes you can, though they won’t get the free bag. Only one companion traveling with you gets the benefit.

      Reply
    2. L. Radke

      Can I use my United MileagePlus Exployer card to purchase ticket for “adult” family member who is traveling alone?

      Reply
  36. Brenda

    I am looking at the United MileagePlus Explorer card, the benefits seem great. Free checked bag and travel insurance, awesome. Can I use the points I acrue on anything other than air travel. For instance other gift cards or make a charge and pay myself back the way my other Chase card works. Thank you so much. Brenda

    Reply
  37. maryann

    hello,

    I purchased a CRUISE through united airlines cruises. I paid for it (for 2 people) using my explorer card. We did NOT purchase airline tickets. We purchased just a cruise. Are we covered by your travel insurance????

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @maryann – Yes cruises without paying for airfare can be covered. Always best to call the number on the back of your card to run through your specific details though.

      Reply
  38. kevin miles

    If I purchase a ticket with United using my miles I understand I am eligible for free baggage because of the credit card I carry. But, if I do not renew this card before the flight occurs do I still get free baggage?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @kevin miles – Officially no, and in practice probably no as well. The equivalent would be if you had United elite status and flew after it expired. You wouldn’t receive the elite benefits then either.

      Reply
  39. SK

    Recently got this card and noticed that my wife’s card on my account doesn’t carry my milage plus number, do I still earn miles for dollars she spends?

    Reply
  40. Frances

    I just received my United Explorer card and was wondering if I have to book my trips directly on the United website in order to receive all the travel perks/benefits? I sometimes like to use 3rd party sites like Expedia, etc

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Frances – As long as you’re buying a United flight number then it should be fine. If it’s a ‘codeshare’ like ‘Lufthansa flight 5486 operated by United’ then it won’t be.

      Safest though is to find the fare on another site, then look for it on United.com.

      Reply
  41. Zach

    If you already have a sapphire preferred and not a united cc, should you apply for the United card and pair them? So you can get the united miles bonus while being able to transferred from chase?

    Reply
  42. Joyce

    “There’s also generous trip cancellation coverage in case you or a family member gets sick and can’t make your trip or need to cut it short.”

    Can the “family member” be someone who isn’t traveling with us but someone who may force us to not be able to take our trip? Such as a sick parent or child?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Joyce – If it’s serious enough and your care is needed that’s possible. Best to give them a call on the number on the back of your card to get the exact specifics for your account.

      Reply
  43. Lulu

    Hi,

    I just got the United plus explorer card, and I’m booking a vacation package on Expedia, with a United flight for my husband and I. Can I use the card for this purchase and it would count towards my spending $2,000 with United in first 3 months at of receiving card to get me my 50,000 miles?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Lulu – Yes it will count and actually the $2,000 in spending doesn’t have to be just on United purchases. It can include any normal non-travel purchases as well.

      Reply
  44. Lorie Mathew

    I recently started looking to book a vacation. While I was searching United for flights, I decided to sign up for an United MileagePlus Explorer Card last Saturday. I was immediately approved and the message said I could start using the card immediately. I then received an email on Monday saying my card should arrive in 5-7 business days and had the last 4 digits of my card on the email. I did a 7 day farelock last Saturday which will expire tomorrow. The card said I would get bonus miles if I charged a certain amount to the card within a certain time period, so I was planning on using the card for this trip. I have not received my card yet to book the flight. I have called United and Chase and neither one can give me the card # or how I was suppose to be able to use it immediately like the approval said. Help!

    Reply
    1. Lorie

      I have since noticed that the explorer card is under my account profile on United, but will only give me the last 4 digits. I assume that it could be used for the United flights, but I would need to whole number to book my hotel directly with the resort to get the miles.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Lorie – It’s probably set up so it’s only authorized to make a United purchase before you actually receive the card. Are you able to complete the airfare purchase?

        Reply
        1. Lorie

          Yes, thank you. I was able to book airfare and my card came in the mail this weekend and I was able to use it for the resort booking, Thanks!

          Reply
  45. Milos Petric

    May I use my miles to shop (for example amazon gift card) if I’m not credit card account holder (own secondary credit card)?

    Reply
  46. AnnT

    When I login united.com using my account (holding united explorer card), I see the reward ticket avail but not avail for my husband and kids. Since I don’t have enough points for everyone, how can I book tickets for them using their own points. Should I call united to book for me and using their points to book for them since they are not seeing it? Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @AnnT – United does allow card members to have access to greater award seat availability when booking from their own account. So what may be happening is the flight you’re looking at has space for card members, but no space for accounts that aren’t members. Call to check that’s going on. If that’s the case, perhaps you could open an Explorer account for your husband (no fee first year) so he has access to the space. He’ll also earn more miles that way.

      Reply
  47. Todd

    I purchased my daughters international ticket using my Explorer card and she is traveling with a friend (not traveling with me). She is in high school with no job (she would not qualify for her own card), so I was wondering if the trip insurance and perhaps other card benefits would apply.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Todd – The terms indicate dependents qualify when you purchase, though her friend would definitely not. But best to call the number on the back of your card to double check.

      Reply
  48. CC

    Can I associate my mileage plus number with more than one Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer card? I own two businesses and to keep accounting separate I am thinking of just applying for a new card for the second business?

    Reply
  49. John OHalloran

    Is a chip & pin version of the explorer card available? I love the zero foreign transaction fee, but couldn’t use the card several times in a recent trip to Europe because of the lack of chip & pin.

    Reply
      1. RE Cardholder

        With the VISA and MC both saying Oct 2015 as the date they expect to fully switch to C&P, when could it be expected to see the MileagePlus Explorer with Chip & Pin?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @RE – Unfortunately that October 2015 date simply refers to putting an EMV chip in – no PIN requirement. So don’t count on it.

          Reply
  50. Carol Schmidt

    I will embark on a tour to China. The tour company recommends I buy their pricey insurance. I have health insurance that covers me for emergencies in other countries. If I use my Visa Explorer card to pay the tour company for my tour, does that mean my trip is covered if my husband or I get sick? From what I have been reading I do have the baggage delay etc. coverage and since I am flying on miles and paid the taxes with my Visa Explorer I know that is covered. The tour company said some Visa cards do not cover tours! Just checking and appreciate knowing more.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Carol – Tours are not specifically excluded, but best to call the number on the back of your card to double check it applies in your specific situation. They’ll be glad to answer.

      Reply
  51. David Gedeon

    I am trying to book a flight for vacation for my wife and I and I have 186,988 miles. If I pay for the flight, I can fly, but if I want to use my Milage Plus miles, there are no flights available…Why is that?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @David – You should be able to book any flight with miles as an Explorer card member. Did you login to United.com using your account before searching? Granted, the ‘any flight’ benefit means you may have to pay 2x miles or more to get on the flights they deem more in demand.

      Reply
  52. Ann Nguyen

    So we ‘ve had the MileagePlus card for a while now. We love it! My question is if we buy the United tickets from Expedia and we do pay with our MileagePlus card, do we still get one free check bag? Please advise!

    Reply
  53. Fred

    Hi, I read from your previous answers that canceling the card before one year to avoid the $95 fee is OK and no penalties incurred. Is this common practice among point hunters? If I decide to do so, can I re-apply for the card for the second time or am I going to be blacklisted? Thanks for your answer.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Fred – Chase allows a new bonus 24 months after you last received a prior bonus, regardless of when you cancelled your card.

      Reply
  54. Mary

    When I fly using reward miles and I need to purchase additional tickets for my children, there is a glitch in the system, online and when you pay united to book it over the phone. It happens everytime I fly on a “reward” ticket. I am not able to book my companions together which in turn charges me for the companion’s first bag. In my opinion, this is not a reward, it is a punishment. I have been asking for this to be fixed ever since United was Continental and it was a Continental Card. I don’t understand why it can not be programmed to automatically make the companion bag free, once reservations are linked and paid for with the credit card. It is not my fault that I am booking my kids separately it is united’s system. Please make it easier for people who do not fly alone to reap the benefits of this card. I am so tired of the attitude I get at the airport from the United staff, and then later having to deal with get my bag fee reimbursed, which they do every time, but why do we have to deal with this issue? Very frustrating.

    Reply
  55. Jeff

    If I purchase a trip with united vacations, using my mileage plus card, do I still get the free bag benefit? Would seem to me that I should. However after booking a flight/hotel package with them it still shows a bag fee in my reservations? Whys that?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Jeff – It depends on what fare you purchased. If it was a ‘bulk’ fare it may not have the benefit, and on United Vacations there is a designator when the fare you get is ‘bulk’ or ‘published.’ Unfortunately they don’t spell out there that means you won’t get the free bag benefit. It’s worth lodging a complaint with all three sides there so the issue is made more clear on the United Vacations site.

      Reply
  56. unstuck

    If I add an authorized user to the account and they purchase tickets for themselves through United do they get the free checked baggage and priority boarding or do I have to make them a joint account holder to give them these benefits?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @unstuck – Unfortunately no, you’ll have to get that person a separate card account. Basically Chase and United want to make sure the person who pays the annual fee is always the one flying in order to get the benefit. Chase doesn’t allow joint accounts either anymore, though you can apply for a 2nd card account using combined income to qualify.

      Reply
        1. Jane

          If the authorized user is also a mileage plus member, will they earn miles towards their own account when using my card?

          Reply
  57. Mark

    Hey,
    I have a Explorer card and I wanted to book a flight for my friend using it. If he travels just by himself can he still get the free checked baggage and priority boarding or do I also have to be traveling with him?

    Reply
  58. Kevin

    Just received a Mileage Plus Explorer card today. When will the 2 United Club Passes arrive? Supposed to be when the account is first opened and then at the anniversary.

    Reply
      1. Kathleen

        Why wasn’t that fully explained when I applied for the card? Enduring a 6 hour layover in Houston without the help of United Club has been difficult. Was denied entrance, as my passes had not arrived 7 weeks after approval. This was the main reason I applied for the card. I feel that United/Chase should have explained this prior to having people apply for the card. Truly disappointed.

        Reply
        1. Darrell

          Wow, seven weeks after approval? Why so long? I’m considering a United Explorer card and I’ve heard this complaint a number of times.

          Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @Darrell – Unfortunately wouldn’t bank on the pass if you’re planning to use it on a trip very soon.

          2. Amanda

            I never received my passes the first year. They only came after the renewal when I paid the $95.

          3. MileCards.com

            @Amanda – Give a call to Chase on the number on the back of your card and see what they if your offer included that.

  59. Dan

    Final questions.
    If I apply for and then obtain the MileCard FIRST, and then a week after I obtain that card I book the United flight, in that case could:
    1. I receive reward miles (points) for using that card to book and pay for that United flight?
    2. I use that card to pay for that United flight?

    Reply
    1. Dan

      To be clearer, can I obtain and actually possess the card without first booking any flight on United; and thereafter (upon my receiving / possessing that card) use it to book and pay for a United flight and get the reward miles (points) for that flight?

      Reply
      1. MileCards

        @Dan – Yes, that’s right – you can hold the card without booking a United flight first. Once you hold it you will get points for 2x the cost of the flight if you book the flight with your card.

        You also earn miles for flying the flight, but you earn those whether you book with the card or not.

        Reply
  60. Dan

    If I apply now on United’s website for this card while simultaneously purchasing a roundtrip ticket at that same webpage:
    1. Is there any way to reserve that flight now (in advance) and still put that flight purchase on that credit card?
    2. That online flight price shows a “Minus $50″ 1st time Statement credit if I get the card, but how can I now book that flight on that card, when that card is only now being applied for? Thus, I cannot really get $50 off that it shows for this flight?
    3. During the anticipated slowness of card application approval, how can I pay for the flight that I want to now advance book on that card, how can I receive the $50 1st time statement credit on that card for the the flight that I want to now advance book on that card, and how can I receive air miles (points) on that card for the the flight that I want to now advance book on that card?

    Reply
  61. Dan

    Can accumulated air miles (points) be applied only to the cardholder’s own ticket or can those accumulated air miles (points) be used towards a second seat used by a traveling companion?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Dan – Yes, you can use your miles to book a seat for anyone you’d like. You don’t need to be flying the same flights either.

      Reply
  62. TommyD

    Was wondering, if I purchase a vacation package through expedia, travelocity or expedia, do I still get the free checked bag, if the carrier is United and I use the United Card to purchase the vacation?

    Reply
  63. Baerbel Miller

    I applied for a Mileage plus explorer card about 2 or 3 weeks ago. As far as monthly income goes, I was way off…I said 50 K less than the actual income..could it be that because of low income (which is not the case), I will not receive a credit card? I am waiting to book a flight.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Baerbel – Give Chase a call to inquire – at 800-436-7927 – and see what the current status is. You can ask to expedite the card as well.

      Reply
    1. MileCards

      @David – Yes, you will receive double miles for the price of the ticket. So if it’s a $500 ticket you’ll get 1,000 miles. But you won’t earn miles in your account for the miles she flies.

      Reply
  64. TT

    I have a United round trip purchased with reward miles. I used my United Mileage Plus Explorer card to pay the taxes. Am I still eligible to use the travel insurance?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @TT – Yes you are eligible for the travel insurance coverage if you use your MileagePlus miles and pay the taxes with your card.

      Reply
  65. Nancy

    I applied online but saw a 50000 mile offer in the branch so I sent them a message on Chase.com and they honored the higher bonus for me.

    Reply
  66. Kathy

    if i cancel the mileage plus explorer card before it reaches its one year period (because i don’t want to pay the annual fee), is there any penalty i will get?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Kathy – There is no penalty for canceling it early. The only thing to watch out for is if you don’t have the card your miles expire 18 months after the last activity in your mileage account. The good news is any activity – a flight, spending miles, earning miles from a qualified restaurant, resets the 18 month clock for all of your miles.

      Reply
  67. Yana

    Hello!

    I have a MileagePlus Explorer credit card and trying to book a plane ticket with it outside the US. Where can i find any information about foreign transaction fee?

    Thank you.

    Reply
  68. Martin

    If I purchase United tickets with the Explorer card via EXPEDIA would I earn double or single miles per each $1 spent? Or are the double miles earned only via the UNITED travel portal?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Martin- You would earn single miles – the double miles are on tickets purchased *from* United, so either on their website or over the phone with them.

      Reply
  69. Katina

    I have a Mileage Plus Explorer card. I travel to Europe purchasing through United and always am booked on partner Lufthansa. How do I manage to communicate to Lufthansa that I should have priority boarding?

    Also are there any special luggage allowances for international travel? Domestic is first bag free anything for Europe?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Katina- Unfortunately the special boarding and luggage allowances only apply for flights operated by United.

      But for Europe the first checked bag is free on Lufthansa.

      Reply
  70. p_flyer

    Hello,
    I paid for a ticket that someone else is flying on but with my Mileage plus Explorer CC, that should get them a free checked bag allowance, right?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @p-flyer – Unfortunately no. You, the primary cardholder, need to be flying in the same reservation.

      Reply
  71. Mickey

    If I did not purchase round trip tickets, but purchased one-way separately, one with reward miles, and one with the Explorer card:

    1. Do I only get the free checked bag for the trip I used the Explorer card to purchase the ticket?

    2. If I cancelled the Explorer card before the trip, do I still get the free checked bag since I did use the Explorer card to make the purchase?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Mickey – If you used the Explorer card to pay the small taxes on the award ticket, it qualifies for the free bag.

      If you cancel your Explorer card though you won’t be eligible for the free bag benefit, even on tickets you already purchased.

      Reply
  72. Michael

    “Your miles don’t expire as long as you’re a cardmember, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn”

    I have this card and that’s what my documentation says too.. but if you have the miles now in your United MileagePlus account, isn’t that kinda separate from the credit card? I could earn normal miles by flying on United without this card, and they would go straight into my United MileagePlus account.

    Do they keep track of what was earned with the card and what wasn’t? If I was to decide I didn’t want this card in the future, and I cancelled it, would they just take out whatever remaining miles are in my account at that time that were from the credit card?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Michael – They don’t make a distinction between miles earned with the card and flying. If you choose to cancel the card, all of your miles will be subject to the standard policy. That is they will expire after 18 months of no activity in your account. So as long as you earn miles in some form or spend miles in some form, the clock extends for another 18 months for all of your miles. It’s pretty easy to keep them ‘alive’ for many years.

      Reply
  73. SuperKirby

    Hi, Any reason to keep the Explorer card if I earned Premier Silver or even Gold? What advantages do I get with the Explorer card besides Primary car rental CDW. I guess this card is only good for the 1000-24000 mile flyer then? I already put all my spending on my Sapphire Preferred fyi. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @SuperKirby – It’s a good question and the answer is not clear cut. First, you are eligible for your complimentary Premier upgrades if you are on an award ticket and hold the card. That’s an exclusive benefit. Second, if you manage to spend $25,000 on it each year you’ll earn a 10,000 mile bonus. That’s effectively earning 1.4 miles per dollar. You would have to have almost half your spending as dining / travel on the Sapphire Preferred to earn that rate.

      Reply
      1. SuperKirby

        Excellent points! Great reasons for me to keep the Explorer.

        Another question, been browsing around and saw this MileagePlus Awards card. If I happen to want to get rid of the Explorer card, can I downgrade to the Awards card? What is the annual fee on the Awards card? Can one downgrade from the MileagePlus Club Card to the Awards card? Thanks MC!

        Reply
      2. SuperKirby

        Sorry I forgot to ask, what region is the eligible complimentary Premier upgrades for the Explorer? Only domestic or somewhere internationally? Thanks again.

        Reply
        1. MileCards

          @SuperKirby – Right now yes it does open up access to that inventory. But nowhere is it listed as a published benefit so it is possible it is a bug that may be “fixed” once United finds out. The good news is they have a lot of IT issues on their plate so it could be a while.

          Reply
  74. Kevin

    Do I understand this correctly, according to Chase website for United Credit Cards:
    The MileagePlus Explorer Card – allows you to check your first bag free and that of a companion even though you did not purchase your ticket with the card, but for
    The Presidential Plus Card it requires you to have purchased your ticket with the card for this benefit.

    I only had the Pres Plus Card because to get the Premier Access and Priority/Free Baggage since I travel for business and I am required to use our corporate card (Diners Club) for all our flights and, rarely use clubs as the only benefit they offer is a more comfortable chair if there is a flight delay.

    So my real question is when my current Pres Plus Card comes up for renewal do you think they will allow me to switch to the MileagePlus Explorer Card, I will get better benefits (Free Baggae for flights not purchased with the card) pluse the same Premier Access I had with the Pres Plus card except for the club access which I can do without, but I do not want to lose my miles or current credit limit?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Kevin- The Explorer and Presidential Plus are treated the same by United with respect to how you purchase the ticket to get the bag benefit. Officially for both, you are supposed to buy the ticket with your card to get the free bag. But in practice for both, the benefit is tied to your United Mileage Plus frequent flyer account number, so the benefit usually shows up regardless of the credit card you use to make the purchase.

      For your purposes, if you don’t value the lounge benefit, elite qualifying miles, or 2nd free checked bag (United Explorer is just for the 1st bag per person), then no reason to carry the Presidential Plus. You can apply for the Explorer card separately, get the signup bonus for it, and then ask to cancel the Presidential Plus before the fee is due. A tip is to also ask to have the credit line from the Presidential Plus transferred over to your new Explorer account. They will often do that.

      You won’t lose your previously earned United miles if you cancel. But if you earned ‘flexible premier miles’ for elite status with the Presidential Plus those can no longer be applied.

      Just remember – the Presidential Plus is no longer accepting new accounts. And no other cards available to new applicants are offering elite miles that can be earned with purchases. So make sure that’s a benefit you don’t value before canceling.

      Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Jim- Yes there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you want to earn United miles without one consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

      Reply
  75. Linda Kalinowski

    I am ready to make air reservations and want to sign up for Explorer card so I can start earning miles.. How fast can I get an Explorer card # to use with my United airlines reservation? Is it possible to start earning points
    within a day or two of filling out paperwork?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Linda – You can sign up for a Mileage Plus account at United.com before you apply for the credit card, and use that account number to earn miles with your reservations. Then, when you fill out the application for the card, just use that Mileage Plus number in the space of the application that asks if you have a Mileage Plus account.

      Reply
  76. Brian H

    I spoke to a Chase representative about the Explorer card today and she told me that in order to take advantage of the free checked back that I could not use curbside or online checkin for baggage, but had to stand in the regular line in the terminal and see an agent to get the benefit. Is that your understanding?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Brian – As long as you purchase the ticket with your Explorer card, the baggage benefit will automatically apply regardless of the method you use to check in. If you happen to have tickets from before you had the card you might have luck going straight to the agent to get the discount applied, which may be what the phone rep was referring to.

      Reply
  77. confused

    If my husband is the primary card holder and I am the second card holder do I not get the same free services?OR Does my husband have to travel with me to get the free bag for me?I am asking because if me and our daughter book a flight does that mean we have to pay for our checked bags? We have our member numbers but I also notice that my husbands starts with UN and ours with UR what does that mean?Sorry I asked maybe to many questions but I am Confused on how this works!!!
    Thanks in Advance

    Reply
    1. er

      I’m the primary cardholder and my husband is an authorized user. He’s flown alone many times for work and doesn’t pay the baggage fee. Last time we flew together we were asked to show the credit card used to purchase the ticket and then didn’t get charged the baggage fee. Hope that helps.

      Reply
    2. MileCards

      @Confused – Usually the free bag is only tied to the frequent flyer number of the primary cardholder so wouldn’t expect free bags otherwise.

      Reply
  78. Barbara Vicario

    I have a Mileage plus Explorer card and will be traveling in two weeks. Will my boarding pass show that I have priority boarding? I will be using award miles. Does this make a difference in getting free bag checked in and priority boarding?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Barbara – As long as you used the card to pay for the taxes on the ticket the benefits will apply. You’ll be boarding in Zone 4, which is the priority zone for this card and you will be eligible for the free checked bag.

      Reply
  79. Joyce

    I have had my explorer card for some time now and want to know how to obtain the club passes for an upcoming flight later this year. I don’t recall ever receiving the two passes. Do I need to request them or are they sent automatically and if so, when?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Joyce – You should have received them several weeks after first getting the card. You’ll also get another pair a few weeks after paying your annual fee later. But may be worth calling Chase at the back of your card to ask about what happened to your welcome club passes.

      Reply
  80. Margaret Walker

    You mention that on the MileagePlus Explorer that there is a bag fee waiver on United. Does that also apply to it’s star alliance airlines?

    Reply
  81. Chuck Carter

    I recently obtained a MileagePlus Explorer card. I then opened up a United MileagePlus account. How do I connect the two so my mileage earned with the card gets credited to my United MileagePlus account?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Chuck- You should have been assigned a MileagePlus number when your Explorer card was issued. Would call Chase at the number on the back of your card to verify which number they assigned. Then would use that MileagePlus number for your travels.

      Reply
  82. Betty

    I already have tickets for an upcoming trip on United, If I get the United Mileage Plus explorer card can I still get a bag free up to 2 people ? or do I have to use the card to purchase my tickets ?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Betty – The free checked bag is supposed to be only for tickets booked with the card. We’ve heard some people have had the computer not charge them when they checked in even without using the card to pay but would not count on that.

      Reply
  83. Freddy

    I also have the Mileage Plus United Visa card. If I apply for a separate MileagePlus Explorer card, will I still receive the 25,000 + 5,000 bonus? According to the website, it appears you cannot be a current or previous United Visa card holder to be eligible. I wasn’t sure if that meant a current or previous Explorer card, or did they mean a United Visa of any kind?

    Also, when my wife logs into her United Airlines account, she sees offers for a 50,000 inital bonus for the MileagePlus Explorer, then 10,000 if you spend over $25,000 annually. But when I log in, I’m only shown the offer you describe above. I’m wondering if Chase is only offering the 50,000 bonus to only certain customers.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Freddy – Unfortunately as an existing United card holder of any kind you’re not eligible. And yes, that 50,000 initial bonus is for now only offered to targeted customers. Sounds like it might be a worthwhile idea for your wife to apply for one.

      Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Collette- No it won’t automatically convert. If you like the features of your current United card Chase will still support them. If you want a United Explorer you will need to ask specifically.

      Reply
  84. Adam

    Are the benefits like checked bag and priority boarding only eligible if you book the flight with the credit card, or does it connect the Mileage Plus # to the ticket? I.e. I have the Explorer Card but my wife books the ticket, do we still get priority boarding and/or first bag free?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Adam – For the free checked bag, you have to use the card to purchase the ticket. For the priority boarding, it looks like it’s just attached to the Mileage Plus number associated with the card.

      Reply
  85. Kevin Nguyen

    If I have a Continental OnePass Plus card, it automatically gets converted or do I have to call a number to have it converted?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Kevin – It will automatically convert sometime next year. Only change is it will be a Visa. Otherwise the features are absolutely identical.

      Reply

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