Advertiser Disclosure

You *must* buy ticket with United MileagePlus® Explorer Card to get the free checked bag

by on Mon September 2, 2013 • 4 Comments


  • For a long time United’s systems were relaxed about that. As long as you held the card, and regardless of where you bought the ticket, the free bag benefit would apply.
  • Now it looks like that’s changed, and United fixed its systems to know whether you used your card to buy your ticket or not. So if you didn’t buy your ticket with the United MileagePlus® Explorer card, the free baggage benefit won’t apply.
  • The rule isn’t new, the enforcement of it is. And that may be a surprise to a lot of United MileagePlus® Explorer Card holders who were used to getting the free bag benefit even if they used other cards to buy United tickets.
  • So don’t apply for the card under the impression a ticket you already bought will get the free bag benefit. You’ll have to wait until you get the card and buy the ticket with it.

You can verify whether your current reservation gets the free bag benefit by following the instructions here.

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 ?

Still confused? Have a question?

Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.

"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

4 thoughts on You *must* buy ticket with United MileagePlus® Explorer Card to get the free checked bag

  1. Jake

    I just ordered tickets to fly in June on my United card so I get the free checked bag. However, I want to cancel the card in May because that’s when the annual fee goes through for me. Will I still get the free checked bag?

  2. Robert McFarlane

    This is a fallacy, and one that United is very unclear about. If you use the card with a travel agent, the travel agent may use their own account to actually purchase the ticket from United, so you lose the free bag benefit there as well, and United doesn’t care no matter how much documentation you can show them to prove that the charge to you was actually on your United Explorer card. In short, it seems what they’re really trying to do is to get you to buy your ticket directly from United (obviously also using their card), in order to bypass the travel agents. If you’re in business, and have to use your company’s travel agent, you lose. If you have a good travel agent that gives you good overall trip planning service, you lose again. The American and Delta cards actually give what they advertise – free bag check if you have the card. United masks their requirement so well there should be a class action suit coming along sometime.


      @Taylor – If the 3rd party site is issuing a United ticket (most do – though if you buy via a codeshare or other airline it might not) – then yes.

      Basically if the ticket number starts with ‘016’ and you bought it with your card, it will get the benefit.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

X Email Alerts
Hear about new offers and tips