Best Point Earning Credit Cards The Basics

5 Reasons To Keep The United MileagePlus Explorer Card

The United MileagePlus Explorer card has several benefits that may justify you keeping it – even after the bonus has already been used! Here are 5 of those reasons to keep it.

With the expected enforcement coming soon on getting approved for new Chase cards, many have been wondering and asking about what to do with the cards they already have. Since you likely won’t be able to even get the card, forget about the bonus, should you keep the ones you have? Let’s take a look at the United MileagePlus Explorer card and 5 reasons why you may want to keep it.

Important: These reasons apply to both the personal card and the business card. The business card has the added benefit of 2 miles per dollar at office supply stores.

5 Reasons To Keep The United MileagePlus Explorer Card

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

The Current Offers

Everyone knows the best reason to get a credit card is for the sign-up bonus. In this case, the regular bonus is 30,000 miles (which puts it on my list of 5 card offers to not apply for) but a widely available, targeted offer of 50,000 miles + $50 statement credit.

That is definitely an offer worth getting and, if you currently have the card, is probably similar to what you got. Since the last big public offering on this card was in the spring of 2015, many people may be coming up on their first year with the card. So, let’s look at 5 reasons to keep your United MileagePlus Explorer card.

The 10,000 Mile Bonus

With Chase about to really restrict many of us from getting new Chase cards, it is good to look at other ways to extract extra miles and points from the cards you already have. With the United MileagePlus Explorer card, you have that built in.

Every calendar year you spend $25,000 on the card, you will receive a 10,000 mile bonus. That means that if you spend exactly $25,000 in a calendar year (breaks down to $2,083 per month), you will earn 1.4 miles per dollar spent. I would only use this card for categories where you do not get bonus points with other cards but definitely something to think about with this card.

Better Award Availability (+ Last Seat Booking)

United award availability is already pretty decent but holding the United MileagePlus Explorer card actually gives you even better availability. It is not great but it certainly gives you many more options and can be the difference between you not making a trip at all/having to spend more miles or getting the trip you want for the least amount of miles.

United MileagePlus Explorer card

This is the award calendar for a random route without the MileagePlus Explorer card

United MileagePlus Explorer card

This is the award availability for the same route with the MileagePlus card. It is slightly better

To take advantage of this benefit, all you need to do is be signed in when you search for your United awards and you will see the better availability. Just remember – this only applies to United flights and not partner availability. Still, it is valuable.

Last Seat Booking

Though not many of us would take advantage of this, when you need it, it is good to have. The card also allows the primary cardholder to book the last seat on any United flight at the Standard award price. That means that if there is one seat left for sale, you can book it as an award.

It will cost you (for example, a one way domestic ticket in saver is 12,500 miles while the standard award will cost you 25,000 miles) but it can be hugely valuable if the ticket costs something like $500 and you have to fly. Something like funerals or a family tragedy probably would top the list for when you would use this.

Better Portal Payouts

United MileagePlus Explorer card

The portal payouts based on having the card vs not having the card | From Cashback Monitor

Thanks to Cashback Monitor’s upgrade to allow you to see the portal payout based on whether you hold a certain card or not, it is easy to see which payouts you get if you have the United MileagePlus Explorer card. If you like to use the United portal for extra point earning, it is definitely going to help you earn a couple extra miles per dollar just by having the United MileagePlus Explorer card.

Again, to take advantage of this benefit, you simply need to be signed in to your United account when shopping through the portal (which you need to do to get the miles anyway) and the increased amount for being a cardholder will be displayed. In fact, unless you look when not logged in or check using Cashback Monitor, you would not even notice that you would get fewer miles if you did not have the card!

Flexible With Annual Fee/Credit (+ Lounge Passes)

United MileagePlus Explorer card

Get 2 lounge passes each year

The annual fee on the United MileagePlus Explorer card is $95. That is not small and certainly not something we ever want to pay. But the good news is that Chase has, historically, been pretty good about this. That means that you can normally call Chase and ask about the annual fee and you will receive a couple of options. One is normally a statement credit of $100 (which wipes out the annual fee), extra lounge passes (you already receive two each year), or extra miles. Of course the statement credit is the most popular and will likely be something you choose.

To do this, simply call the number on the back of your card and tell them that you have some questions about the annual fee.

Priority Boarding

While not worth a whole lot, if you like to carryon your luggage (within the defined dimensions by United), then it is always worth it to board as early as possible. With many flights being quite full, boarding in an earlier group is the difference between having your bags with you or having them underneath.

As a United MileagePlus Explorer cardholder, you will be able to board after the United elites and Star Alliance elite members (and of course, behind first/business class passengers). This perk only applies for United flights but is still a good one.


The United MileagePlus Explorer card has a nice sign-up bonus, but it does offer much more than that if you like to fly on United. If you currently hold the card, hopefully this post helps you with deciding whether to keep it or let it go in the near future.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Gotta dig the Primary rental coverage as well – it’s a surprisingly good “keep don’t use” card, been paying the fee for several years now bc every time I call Chase they won’t budge bc it’s not an earner so it sits all year. Still worth the $95.

    • That is definitely a good one as well. I had thought about including it but since it is also on the Sapphire Preferred, I would stick with the ones that applied solely to this card. But thanks for bringing it up as it is good!

  • Chase might have been good at waiving annual fee in the past but lately that has come down to almost zero. Given the choices, I would rather pay the fee on INK plus than to pay another fee on United visa.

  • I loved having this card – at least up until 2 weeks ago. Long story short, I confirmed my annual spend in December had reached $26k according to Chase. That qualified for the 10k in bonus miles. After the bonus miles didn’t post I called and was informed that my spend was $24,600. They wouldn’t pony up the bonus miles and even sounded like they gloated with this ‘gotcha’. Needless to say I cut up my card and my wife hers as well.

    • That is terrible! I would definitely escalate this, based on the fact that Chase had confirmed the amount to you. With someone that is putting $25k on one card, a supervisor would likely listen to you, even if it was just to give a “one-time customer service adjustment.” They give that many miles out for retentions (least they used to). I would definitely push back.