Chase and United Airlines have had a close relationship for years. As part of that, they have several co-branded credit cards, and you can also transfer points from Ultimate Rewards to MileagePlus. In this post, I wanted to take a look at one of United’s small business credit cards, which even has its best-ever welcome bonus at the moment.
United Explorer Business Card Review
The United℠ Explorer Business Card is a card worth considering for your small business if you fly United with any frequency. The card has an excellent welcome bonus, offers some useful bonus categories, and comes with perks that could make the card worth holding onto long term.
So let’s look at what you need to know about this card in more detail.
100,000 Bonus Miles Welcome Bonus
The United Explorer Business Card is offering a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 MileagePlus bonus miles. With this bonus you can earn 50,000 bonus miles twice for completing certain spending thresholds:
- Earn 50,000 MileagePlus bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months
- Earn an additional 50,000 MileagePlus bonus miles after spending a total of $25,000 within the first six months
Altogether if you spent $25,000 you’d earn at least 125,000 miles, which is the equivalent of five miles per dollar.
Personally I value United miles at ~1.4 cents each, so to me those bonus miles are worth $1,400.
Redeem your United miles towards a Polaris ticket
Card Eligibility & Restrictions
The welcome bonus on this card isn’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.
$95 Annual Fee
The United Explorer Business Card has a reasonable $95 annual fee for the primary cardmember. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost.
Rewards Structure: Earn Up To 2x Miles
The United Explorer Business Card offers some bonus categories, so the rewards structure is as follows:
- Earn 2x miles on United purchases
- Earn 2x miles at restaurants
- Earn 2x miles at gas stations
- Earn 2x miles at office supply stores
- Earn 1x miles on all other purchases
While there are lots of cards offering bonus categories nowadays, I’d say that’s a pretty well-rounded rewards structure for an airline credit card.
Earn double miles for United purchases with the card
No Foreign Transaction Fees
This United Airlines business credit card has no foreign transaction fees, so this is a good card to use for purchases abroad. Visa has excellent global acceptance, and you may even find yourself earning bonus miles for purchases abroad, including at restaurants.
Use your card abroad with no foreign transaction fees
United Explorer Business Card Benefits
The United Explorer Business Card has an incredible welcome bonus and fairly solid rewards structure for an airline small business credit card. The good news is that the card has great perks as well. This is true whether you’re an occasional United flyer, or whether you’re an elite member who is looking for extra perks.
Here’s what you need to know about all the benefits offered by this card.
A Free First Checked Bag
The primary cardmember and one companion traveling on the same reservation receive a standard free first checked bag when flying United or United Express. In order to be eligible for this, you have to pay for your ticket with your United Airlines credit card.
United charges $30 for a first checked bag, so this is a value of up to $120 on a roundtrip ticket.
Two United Club Passes Annually
For having the card you receive two United Club passes annually. This includes when you open your card, and in any subsequent years. These will automatically be deposited into your Mileage Plus account within four weeks.
A United Club pass ordinarily costs $50, so that’s a value of up to $100.
Two annual United Club passes is a nice perk
For having the card you and your companions receive priority boarding on United and United Express flights. You can board before general boarding, after customers with Premier Access and those requiring special assistance. This would be in Group 2.
Receive priority boarding as a cardmember
Premier Upgrades On Award Tickets
All United MileagePlus elite members ordinarily receive complimentary upgrades on domestic flights, though this only applies on cash tickets. However, if you have the United Explorer Business Card, you also receive Premier upgrades on award tickets.
This applies to the primary cardmember on United and United Express flights. Travel companions and authorized users aren’t eligible for this benefit.
Receive Premier upgrades on award tickets if you have this card
Expanded Award Availability
For having a United co-branded credit card you get access to expanded award availability. Just log into your MileagePlus account, and you should have access to more EveryDay Award level tickets, with no blackout dates.
Obviously the value of this varies depending on where you’re trying to go.
Get access to more award availability as a cardmember
Waive The Premier Qualifying Dollar Requirement
Nowadays United has a revenue requirement to earn status. In addition to earning a certain number of Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) or Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs), you also need to earn a certain number of Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs). The PQD requirements are as follows:
- Premier Silver requires 3,000 PQDs
- Premier Gold requires 6,000 PQDs
- Premier Platinum requires 9,000 PQDs
- Premier 1K requires 15,000 PQDs
You can get the PQD requirement waived for Silver, Gold, or Platinum status, by spending on a co-branded United card. Just spend $25,000 on a co-brand United card in a calendar year and the PQD requirement will be waived for Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
Trip Delays & Lost Luggage Protection
The United Explorer Business Card offers a variety of protection benefits when traveling, assuming you pay for purchases with your card. These features include the following:
- Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance — be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip when your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather, etc.
- Trip Delay Reimbursement — if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement — be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger if you or your immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by an airline
- Baggage Delay Insurance — be reimbursed up to $100 per day for five days for essential purchases when your bag is delayed by over six hours
Make sure you check your cardmember agreement for all of the details, since there are terms & conditions.
Primary Car Rental Coverage
The United Explorer Business Card offers a primary collision damage waiver benefit. Just decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card.
Coverage is primary when renting for business purposes and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the US and abroad.
Best Uses Of United MileagePlus Miles
Given all of the miles that you can earn with the United Explorer Business Card, what are the best ways to actually redeem them?
United did announce changes to their award pricing as a few months ago, but there are still lots of great uses of United miles. While they no longer have award charts, as of now they haven’t changed award pricing on partner airlines, so you can redeem on partner airlines at reasonable costs. One of the best uses of United miles is to redeem on partner airlines in business class.
Furthermore, if you can find saver level award space on United in international business class, that can also represent a good deal.
One of the positive aspects of the new program is that a lot of short-haul awards are pricing at lower levels than ever before.
Is The United Explorer Business Card Worth It?
In general, I don’t recommend using airline credit cards for everyday spending, unless you have a specific reason to do so. In the case of this card, the reason to put spending on this card could be to reach the minimum spending requirement, and also to spend $25,000 on the card per year if you value the PQD waiver for elite status.
However, beyond that, the United Explorer Business Card has some great perks that more than justify the annual fee. For non-elite members, the priority boarding and first checked bag fee could really come in handy.
For elite members, the ability to spend your way towards a PQD waiver and the elite upgrades on award tickets could come in handy.
Then for everyone, the United Club passes and expanded award availability could come in handy. This really is quite a perks-rich card, in my opinion.
Other Ways To Earn United Miles
The one thing I’d note is that while this is a great card for the perks, if you actually want to earn MileagePlus miles through spending, remember that MileagePlus is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you can convert Ultimate Rewards points into United miles at a 1:1 ratio.
There are so many great Ultimate Rewards cards that earn points at a potentially faster rate than you’d earn directly through United, so that’s something worth considering.
See this post for the best credit cards for earning United miles.
There are lots of credit cards that can earn you United miles
United Business Card Summary
The United Explorer Business Card has a great welcome bonus, which many small business owners might find useful.
This is an especially good offer if you have a business that spends a decent amount in non-bonused categories, where the incremental spending will really come in handy.
This is a card that can be worth holding onto long term, for the United Club passes, priority boarding, free checked bags, and more. If you don’t yet have this card and are eligible, I’d highly recommend prioritizing it.