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50k United MileagePlus Explorer bonus (70k targeted for some)

by on Tue January 31, 2017 • 10 Comments


The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card now has a limited time offer: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Offer ends 3/15/2018.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Is this a good deal?

Usually, the offer sits around 30,000 miles for a while, with targeted deals for 50,000 miles.  So an offer open to the public for a full 50,000 miles is a decent opportunity if you’re looking to earn more United miles, though since the annual fee isn’t waived you’re basically paying $95 for an extra 20,000 miles versus the standard offer.

But you may want to check to see if you are targeted for a bigger offer of up to 70k miles here. And if you shop for flights while logged into you might see an offer to earn the bonus miles, plus a statement credit.

If you’ve recently met the spending requirement for a big bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, this is a good add-on bonus to travel even further, since the points from your Sapphire can transfer into United miles anytime.

Just be aware that if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 2 years, you may have a tough time getting approved for this card from Chase.

How much do United awards cost?

United charges for awards based on the region you’re flying to, and has two kinds of award prices – ‘Saver’ and ‘Standard.’

‘Saver’ prices are United’s lowest award prices, and are available if you’re flexible with your plans.

Here are United’s Saver award prices for flights from the U.S. All prices are one-way, so you can double the number to get a roundtrip price.

EconomyBusiness - United flightsBusiness - partner flights
U.S. Mainland, Canada, Alaska12,50025,00025,000
Central America17,50030,00030,000
Northern South America20,00035,00035,000
Southern South America30,00055,00055,000
Northern Africa40,00070,00080,000
Central / Southern Africa40,00070,00080,000
Middle East42,50070,00080,000
Central Asia42,50070,00080,000
South Asia40,00070,00080,000
North Asia35,00070,00080,000
Australia / New Zealand40,00070,00080,000

There are some places where it’s tough to find Saver priced awards, and these include:

  • Business Class on United’s own international flights  – you’ll probably settle for paying the higher price to fly on United partners, which tend to have more award space
  • Australia / New Zealand in Business Class (Economy is pretty easy to find)
  • Southern South America in Business Class
  • Anywhere during a peak getaway times, like Spring Break to the Caribbean, or a weekend trip within the U.S. over a holiday weekend.

If you’re okay with flying Economy Class though, United miles are outstanding for international travel and can get you all over the world pretty easily.

What can you do with United miles?

United miles are some of the most useful around for international travel, with options like these…

One way in Business Class to Europe on any Star Alliance airline (70k miles)

Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, SAS, and more are all bookable with your miles.


Roundtrip to Japan on United or any Star Alliance partner (70k miles roundtrip)


United has lots of flights to Japan, or you can fly its partner ANA, which is highly regarded with service from many U.S. cities.

Roundtrip to anywhere in Europe (60k miles roundtrip)


You can fly United or any Star Alliance airline with award space and you can even tag on an extra free flight within Europe, so you can see two cities in one trip for the same price, thanks to the United Excursionist Perk feature.

Almost 3 roundtrip flights within the U.S. (25k miles roundtrip)


Short flights 700 miles of less in distance each way are even cheaper, at 20,000 miles roundtrip.

2 roundtrip flights to the Caribbean, Central America, or Mexico


Questions and Answers

What are the card benefits?

The United Explorer Card offers Group 2 priority boarding on United flights and a free first checked bag for you and a traveling companion, which can save you up to $50 per person roundtrip.

You also have access to the Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection, for upgrades and perks at hotels worldwide when you book with your card.

And there are no foreign transaction fees.

Can you get this offer if you had the card before?

If you had a United Explorer card before, you can get this offer if it’s been at least 2 years since you last got an introductory bonus for the United Explorer card.

It’s okay if you recently got another card bonus, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. That’s considered a separate product and it’s fine to hold more than one card with Chase, and earn a bonus from several of their cards.

The catch is, if you’ve opened 5 or more cards in the last 2 years from any bank, you might have a hard time getting approved.

Is there a business version of this card?

Yes, there is a small business version of the Explorer Card that earns 2x miles at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores.

Can you combine the miles with Chase Sapphire points?

You can’t send United miles into a Chase Sapphire account. But you can transfer Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve points into United miles anytime, so you can build on the miles you earn with the Explorer Card.

Can a couple get two cards?

Yes, you and your spouse / significant other can each apply for your own cards separately and earn two bonuses, but the bonuses will go to separate MileagePlus accounts.

Combining miles from two accounts costs money, and isn’t usually worth it. Instead, you can book tickets in the name of anyone you’d like from your MileagePlus account. So for example, your spouse could use miles to book a ticket in your name anytime, or vice versa.

Will the miles go in my existing account?

If you already have a United MileagePlus account, just use that account number when you apply to make sure the miles from your new card go into the account with the miles you’ve already earned.

Will you get a free checked bag on a ticket you already purchased?

Unfortunately, no you won’t be able to take advantage of the free checked bag on a ticket you already purchased. The free bag benefit only kicks in when you use your Explorer Card to pay for the ticket.

What travel protection comes with the card?

You get…

Primary car rental collision damage coverage. That lets you avoid having to file a claim with your own auto insurance carrier if you damage your rental car. Coverage also applies in any country you rent, there are no special exclusions.

Flight delay coverage. If a flight you book with the card is delayed by 12 hours or more, you can get reimbursed for hotel, meal, and other reasonable costs, up to $500. And it can be a flight on any airline, not just United.

Trip cancellation coverage. When you book nonrefundable travel with the card, like plane tickets or cruise tickets, you can get reimbursed if a serious illness, weather, or other covered event keeps you from making your original plans.




The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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10 thoughts on 50k United MileagePlus Explorer bonus (70k targeted for some)

  1. Richard

    Do I have to purchase my tickets for a flight on United Airlines directly from United to get the other benefits such as no charge for one piece of luggage and priority boarding or is the only requirement for me to make the purchase using the United Explorer credit card?


      @Richard – No need to purchase directly from United. If it has different airlines involved, it might get messy if the ticket number is issued by the other airline, but if it’s just United flights should be fine.

  2. Lynne

    I got the targeted 70k miles invitation in the mail, but when I set up a mileage account and went to the url like the invitation said, the offer that shows up is only 50k miles. What gives??


      @Lynne – Are you sure you don’t have another MileagePlus account number to try? Maybe they targeted one account, but not the other.


      @Gracelia – No specific date yet, but it’s a ‘special’ offer so don’t expect it to hang around a long time.

      1. whoa

        How long do these types of “special” offers generally stick around? I received this bonus about 21 months ago and have been targeted for 70k. Do you think it’ll be around in 3 months? If not, do you think I could get approved if I apply?


          @whoa – No good read on it but 3 months might be stretching it. The targeting from United isn’t always the best indicator of being able to get the bonus before 24 months, but if you’re okay with a credit inquiry that’s the downside to trying.


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