6 Benefits You Should Enjoy Now

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The United℠ Explorer card comes with many benefits that can improve many aspects of your travel experience, from the booking process to the airport experience to boarding your flight – all for annual introductory fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

While the card flaunts perks like free checked bags, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credits, and bonus miles for everyday purchases, there are also plenty of low-profile incentives. For example, you’ll have access to more award seats than most United travelers; you can be one of the first to board the plane, which guarantees you ample overhead storage space; you can even get free access to United airport lounges several times a year.

Here are six benefits you can’t overlook to get the most out of your United℠ Explorer Card.

United Explorer Card Benefits

Annual fees

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

Regular APR

16.74% to 23.74% variable

Recommended credit score

good to excellent

Annual fees

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

Regular APR

16.74% to 23.74% variable

Recommended credit score

good to excellent

Advantages
  • The annual fee is waived the first year
  • Earn bonus miles on multiple purchase categories, including restaurants
  • Includes application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Get a free checked bag on United when you pay with the card
The inconvenients
  • Not the most rewarding card for most non-United travel purchases

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More information
  • Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after spending a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of your account opening.
  • $0 annual introductory fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fees
  • 25% Off United® Inflight Purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per round trip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 unique passes each year for your birthday
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on catering, including qualifying delivery services

1. Free checked baggage

Getting free checked bags is a godsend if you’re not a fan of bringing carry-on luggage and prefer a hands-free airport experience. Or, if you’re just used to checking your bags, this benefit will save you and a travel companion up to $120 per round trip.

United charges $30 for your first checked bag. But when you pay for your flight (or taxes and fees on an award flight) with this card, you and a guest on your reservation will get the first checked bag free on United flights. If you and a travel companion used this benefit for one trip per year, you would more than offset the annual card fee.

2. Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS

If you’re planning on getting TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and you have the United℠ Explorer card, it’s easy to sign up. Both services are free with a United Card every four years.

If you pay with your card, United will credit your statement with the cost of TSA PreCheck ($85), Global Entry – which includes PreCheck ($100), or NEXUS, which includes both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry ($50) benefits. . Here’s why it should interest you:

  • TSA PreCheck allows you to keep your shoes and belt on when going through TSA security checkpoints. You won’t need to take your laptop out of your bag either.
  • Global Entry allows you to skip the immigration line when returning to the United States from abroad. All you have to do is go to a Global Entry kiosk, complete a quick electronic questionnaire and leave the airport.
  • NEXUS offers expedited entry into Canada and includes all the privileges of the two previous programs.

These three programs could save you many hours at the airport each year, depending on how long you travel. But Global Entry is the easy choice here, as it includes TSA PreCheck benefits. NEXUS is the most powerful of the programs, but is much harder to get approved than the others, as it requires you to be questioned by US and Canadian border officials. And there’s only a handful of current interview locations.

3. 2 unique lounge passes per year

The United℠ Explorer card comes with two day passes to United Club airport lounges each anniversary year. This is a nice perk that can make your airport experience a little more enjoyable. You’ll find free alcohol and snacks in airport lounges, plus comfortable seats and plenty of electrical outlets.

United Club day passes regularly cost $59 each, so you can consider these passes worth $118 a year – if you use them.

4. The Tripper’s Advantage

This little-known trick isn’t necessarily a card-specific perk, but it’s a great way to spend the increased bonus that comes with the United℠ Explorer Card.

The United Excursionist Perk effectively extends your vacation to another location for free. There are a few rules you need to know (check out our United Excursionist Perk guide for those details), but here’s how it works in a nutshell.

Suppose you want to book a round trip flight from Houston to Paris. This flight regularly costs about 60,000 miles by coach. The Excursionist Perk allows you to book an additional one-way flight within Europe during your trip for zero miles. So, instead of a simple return flight, you can book something like:

  • Houston to Paris
  • Paris to Venice
  • Venice to Houston

You’ll have to pay taxes and flight fees (often minimal), but it’s a great way to get a little more for your miles.

5. Exclusive access to cheaper reward flights

United Airlines offers different tiers of award seats that you can purchase. The cheapest (and best value for money) seats are called “Saver Awards”. Once those seat prices sell out, you could find yourself paying double the number of miles for the exact same flight.

The United℠ Explorer Card addresses this issue by opening up more Saver Award availabilities to cardholders. Only those with United credit cards and United Elite status can see these prices. So while others might think there are no more award flights available, you might have plenty of seats to choose from.

6. Book basic economy without all the restrictions

Basic Economy is a low-end fare that airlines advertise that is filled with restrictions. United Basic Economy tickets apply the following:

  • You cannot bring checked baggage with you. If you try you will be charged a $25 fee at the door.
  • You will need to pay extra to choose your seat.
  • You cannot refund or change your flight.
  • You will board the last plane.

The United℠ Explorer Card solves two of these problems. Since the card offers privileged boarding, you can book in basic economy class and still board before most other passengers. This means you won’t have to worry about space in the top tray. In addition, you can bring hand luggage bag without paying $25.

Possession of the United℠ Explorer Card allows you to book the cheapest United flights without suffering any basic economy consequences.

At the end of the line

The United℠ Explorer Card is perhaps the most comprehensive airline credit card on the market. It improves your airport experience, your boarding experience and even your reservation live. And with a currently enhanced sign-up bonus worth up to $910, it’s one of the best times in history to apply.

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