Posted by William Charles on November 10, 2017
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Published on November 10th, 2017 | by William Charles


Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card Review

The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card is Chase’s entry level United card. It comes with an annual fee of $95, priority boarding, a free checked bag and a sign up bonus of 40,000 miles. In this unbiased review we will be looking at both the positives and negatives of this card.

Application Information

One of the important things to know about this card is that the 5/24 rule applies to it. The good thing about United cards is that they are only Chase co-branded card that shows up in ‘selected for you’ offers and in branch pre-approvals. Both of these bypass that 5/24 rule. Please remember that if Chase denies you for this card that you should call the Chase reconsideration line to try and overturn the decision. If you’re new to calling reconsideration, read this guide first.

What Credit Score Is Required

 Credit Boards
Lowest approved score596
Average approved score718

Common Reasons For Denial:

  • Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card. You will not be approved for this card if you have opened 5 or more bank cards in the past 24 months

What Credit Bureau Does Chase Pull For The United MileagePlus Explorer ?

The bureau that Chase pulls depends on what region you reside in. We have more complete information on this here.

What Credit Limit Will I Receive?

As far as I know this card requires a minimum credit limit of $5,000. If Chase states that one of the reasons they have denied you the card is due to maximum credit extended it’s usually possible to ask them to reallocate your existing credit limits with them to this new card.

Minimum Credit LimitHighest Reported Credit LimitAverage Credit Limit

Rewards Program

Earning Rewards

This card earns United miles at the following rates:

  • 2x miles per $1 spent on United purchases
  • 1x miles per $1 spent on all other purchases

In addition you can get bonus miles for meeting specific spend thresholds. As follows:

  • Spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year and receive 10,000 bonus miles

Sign Up Bonus

Current Sign Up Bonus
  • 40,000 bonus miles after $2,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus 5,000 miles after you add an authorized user and make your first purchase within the first three months.
Sign Up Bonus History

It seems that generally the best public bonuses are 50,000 miles + 5,000 miles + $50 statement credit and the best targeted bonuses are 70,000 miles + 5,000 miles + $50 statement credit.

Public Offers:

Targeted Offers:


Card Benefits

United Benefits

  • Miles do not expire as long as card stays open

First Bag Free

You and a companion receive your first bag free on flights operated by United (code share flights are ineligible for this benefit). The primary cardholders MileagePlus account number must be listed on the reservation and they must use this card to pay for their tickets to be eligible for this benefit. This is a savings of $25 per person one way (or $50 per person return). You can read more about this benefit here.

Priority Boarding

Primary cardholders and companions traveling on the same reservation/itinerary receive priority boarding on flights operated by United (code share flights are ineligible for this benefit). You will be able to board before general boarding after MileagePlus Premier members, customers with Premier Access and travelers that require special assistance.

Two United Club Passes Annually

You’ll receive two United Club one-time passes after account opening and every 12 months as long as your card remains open. Each pass gives one person access to a United Club location. Passes cannot be sold or traded and as of November 2017 are issued digitally.

Increased Shopping Portal Rates

United has a shopping portal that lets you earn miles for making purchases at online retailers. By holding this card you can sometimes earn at a higher rate than a non cardholder can. Comparison site cashbackmonitor always shows this difference. Usually it’s a difference of 0.5 miles per $1 spent. Make sure you compare to other shopping portals as well, as United typically does not offer the best rate.

PQD Waiver

If you spend $25,000 or more in net purchases during an applicable calendar year on MileagePlus co-branded cards issued by Chase then you receive a PQD (Premier Qualifying Dollar) waiver for Premier Silver, Premier Gold and Premier Platinum. It’s not possible to receive a waiver for Premier 1k qualification. More about this benefit and PQD in general can be found here.

MPX 25% Bonus

Chase cardholders receive a 25% bonus on miles awarded by MileagePlus for purchases made through MileagePlus X. Read our review of MPX here.

Increased Award Availability

This card let’s you “Use miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight” and at the saver award level. This makes it much easier to find award space.

Other Benefits

Our Verdict

The main attraction to this card is the sign up bonus, I personally think you should only sign up for the card if you’re getting a bonus of 70,000 miles if you’re under 5/24 as it’s fairly easy to get targeted for those offers and this will take up one of your 5/24 slots so to speak. If you’re over 5/24 and receive a selected for you or in branch pre-approval then taking a offer of 40,000-50,000 miles is fine as it’s basically not possible to get anything better.

The card itself does provide some value for United flyers, but the annual fee of $95 makes it not worth keeping in most cases. The United Club passes do have some value, as does the free checked bag. United Premier silver members also receive a free checked bag so if you already fly United frequently that benefit might actually be worthless for you. Earning 2x miles on United flights also isn’t great when other Chase cards earn 2-3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all travel purchases and these points transfer to United miles at a 1:1 rate. For example:

It is a good card in that first year and worth considering if you’re under 5/24 (and also worth checking those in branch and selected for you offers). It’s just a shame it’s not open to more people. At the current bonus of 40,000 miles I wouldn’t recommend anybody sign up due to the fact that they offer better bonuses on a frequent basis.


F.A.Q’s & Tips

Do targeted offers bypass 5/24?

No, only ‘selected for you’ and in branch pre-approvals by pass the 5/24 rule unfortunately.

General Chase Tips/Q&A

I can’t more strongly recommend that you read our post ‘things everybody should know about Chase cards‘. It contains a lot of answers to frequently asked questions in addition to some tips you might not know.

Tips For Getting Targeted

This card very frequently offers targeted sign up bonuses (see above), these are generally much better than the public offers. All of the following have helped people get targeted in the past:

  1.  Make small MPX purchases
  2.  Sign up for MileagePlus Dining
  3.  Book a United flight(can cancel within 24 hours for free)
  4. Create a United Gift Registry and wait to get targeted
  5. Create a new United MileagePlus account and try direct link thru it

Downgrade Options

Chase has several United cards that aren’t available for public sign up, but they are available for product changes/downgrades. These cards are:

Card Changes


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Wouldn’t necessarily count on being targeted. I downgraded an old one back in April and have not gotten any offer since then. I’m going to probably pick up the biz and cancel my old one (a bit painful since it is an old Continental card that dates back to 2008) and see if that shakes something loose.

I believe the “United Gift Registry” seems to be almost unavailable for a good amount of time. Maybe you want to update it in the blog.

The main reason I’ve kept this card is so I can MS the $25k needed for the PQD waiver. I fly internationally a few times a year for work, and there’s no way that I’m doing that on United over a better *A Asian/European carrier.

For most people this probably won’t matter, but cardmembers also get a 25% bonus on any United miles earned buying gift cards through the Mileage Plus X app. I do enough gift card purchasing through Mileage Plus X (mostly ebay for reselling purposes) for the additional miles to pretty easily offset the annual fee on the card.

Another overlooked but nice benefit is Primary rental car insurance for physical damage to the rental car.

Sorry, but I think you are missing the mark here.

For me, this card is a keeper. 2 reasons:

1) the award availability is MUCH better than without it. And because United miles are still quite valuable to us coach flyers(because of stopver), it’s important.

2) Primary car insurance. Its the card I use wgen I rent.

Agree – I think a key benefit of this card is the increased saver award availability for those of us without elite status. This is a great (semi) hidden benefit of this card!

I believe the no annual fee to which you can downgrade also has this benefit. I haven’t been able to tell the difference after I downgraded.

This is correct. MileagePlus no-fee card downgrade retains expanded availability.

I want to echo that the $25K spend to waive PQD requirement on this card is a key feature, as is expanded award availability. I think these should be mentioned in the main post as benefits.

It’s not unreasonable, if you specifically want United miles and United Premier status, to put your first $25,000 of non category spend on this card, so that you get the PQD waiver, and then after receiving the 10K bonus, you’ve earned 1.4 miles per dollar spent, which is close to the 1.5 you’d get with a Freedom Unlimited.

Also, unless something has changed, I think the post is inaccurate about early boarding. You get Group 2 boarding with this card, which is the same as Premiers, and Premier Access, rather than after those.

For non-premiers who still fly United regularly, the Club card is also worth considering, as it comes with most of what’s good about Premier Silver (and some things that are better). And Premier Silver is better, in my opinion, than entry status on American and Delta.

(I break down what Premier benefits come with each card here, if you want to know more:

Thanks for a great review.
Could you point out, where exactly the 5000 miles bonus for AU is mentioned in the rules? I don’t see it there, and Chase rep couldn’t confirm (nor deny) it when I asked via messenger…

I got a targeted offer for 60,000 plus an additional 5,000 for adding an AU. I was approved last week. I’m going to send a SM to Chase to see if they can match the $100 statement credit.

I received the same 60k offers in the mail for consecutive 3 months now, but i’m hesitate to apply because i’m at 4/24 and was hoping to spend the 5th on a better card or better deal. Haven’t had time to read Doc’s cc reviews lately so not sure if there are better cards to apply. I kinda want a card that earns 2% or more but with no annual fee. Right now the only 2% card i have is Capital1 Spark which has AF.

Try Citi Double Cash.

Thanks, i will check that out!

If you’re at 4/24, get double dip on Chase cards now. Don’t bother with citi DC or any other non 5/24 card because you can get that later

What do u mean by double dip on chase cards? Which chase card r u referring to? Thanks!

I didn’t realize that my daughter, an authorized user on my Chase United card, didn’t get free baggage if I didn’t travel with her. Ridiculous. On American I get a free bag by just having an AA credit card (Aviator); even with a free ticket.

I’m actually thinking of ditching this card, because of the lousy benefits. Unless you fly United all the time, don’t bother. You’re wasting your 5/24 limitations.

Another note about the in-branch offers, they sometimes include 1st AF waived. I got 50k + waived AF in branch and was later matched to 60k. I also read another DP on reddit recently of waived AF in branch offer.

DoC, you may wish to add that holding the card gives you a 25% bonus on MPX purchases, United’s other shopping portal.

Just applied from a mailer for 60k after $3,000 spending.

This section of the page doesn’t make sense at all: “One of the important things to know about this card is that the 5/24 rule applies to it. The good thing about United cards is that they are only Chase co-branded card that shows up in ‘selected for you’ offers and in branch pre-approvals. Both of these bypass that 5/24 rule. “

Makes sense to me. Doc is saying two things. First, that 5/24 applies. Second, that Chase makes an exception to 5/24 for this card when they pre-approve you via the “selected for you” section of their website. Does this clarify?

A good benefit of this card is you can buy basic economy tickets and still get be able to take a full size carry on. Also you get the same priority boarding

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