United Explorer Business card review: Generous airline perks for a $95 annual fee

United Explorer Business card review: Generous airline perks for a $95 annual fee


  • The United Explorer Business Card goes a few steps beyond your average airline credit card.
  • In addition to offering standard airline co-branded card perks like priority boarding, a free checked bag, and 2x miles on United purchases, it offers bonus miles on at restaurants, gas stations, and office supplies. Cardholders also get two one-time United Club passes each year, and access to more low-level award space than non-cardholders.
  • The card's currently offering a sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 miles: 50,000 after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and another 50,000 miles after you spend $25,000 total in the first six months.
  • This is an elevated sign-up bonus, and it's only available until October 10.

If you're in the market for a big credit card sign-up bonus, the United Explorer Business Card might pique your interest. The card has doubled its sign-up bonus to up to 100,000 bonus miles. The trade-off is that the $95 annual fee is no longer waived the first year, which is a small price to pay for the opportunity to earn an additional 50,000 miles.

If you can swing the large spending requirement, this card could be worth picking up. Below are the details of the bonus and how you might benefit from applying for this card.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.


United Explorer Business Card details

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and another 50,000 miles after you $25,000 total on purchases in the first six months

Miles earning: 2x miles at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stories, and on United miles

Foreign transaction fee: None

Learn more: The best small business credit cards to open in 2019


Sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus on the United Explorer Business Card is broken into two tiers:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Plus, an additional 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases within the first six months of account opening

This sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 miles is only available until October 10, so don't wait.

That's a pretty hefty spending requirement, but if you can manage it, the payout is pretty nice. Since this is a business credit card, most applicants probably have significant monthly business expenses they can charge to the card to meet this spending requirement. If you fall into a lower spending camp, consider these ways to meet large spending requirements.

Redemption ideas

What can you do with 100,000 United miles? Quite a bit, depending on when you travel. Here are some examples of how far 100,000 United miles can go, using low-level saver awards:

  • Four round-trip economy-class tickets within the continental US (25,000 miles each)
  • Two round-trip economy-class tickets between the continental US and Hawaii (45,000 miles each)
  • One round-trip economy-class ticket between the US and the Middle East (85,000 miles)
  • One-way business-class ticket between the US and Europe (70,000 miles)

Keep in mind that United has implemented dynamic award pricing for flights booked on or after November 15, 2019. The number of miles required for a flight will depend on demand. This could render your United Explorer Business sign-up bonus more valuable or less, depending on when you're traveling and whether you can be flexible with your dates and your routing.


Category bonuses

The United Explorer Business Card offers bonus miles on several spending categories.

Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar spent on United purchases, dining, gas and office supply stores. These are pretty common spending categories for most consumers, so being able to earn accelerated rewards is a nice perk. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar spent.

Travel perks

Whether you're a frequent or occasional United traveler, the United Explorer Business card offers some pretty useful benefits to make your travelers more comfortable. Cardholders receive priority boarding so they can board flights early and snag overhead space before it's gone.

The free checked bag benefit applies to the primary cardholder and a travel companion on the reservation. With United checked bag fees of $30, that's a potential saving of $120 per round-trip flight. To get the free checked bag benefit, you need to use the United Explorer Business card to pay for your flight.

Two annual one-time United Club lounge passes can go a long way in making layovers more bearable. United Explorer Business cardholders receive two of these passes when they open their new accounts as well as every card anniversary. Considering United charges $59 for a day pass, getting these passes completely offsets the card's $95 annual fee.


Perhaps the best benefit of the United Explorer Business card is expanded award availability. Have you ever tried to redeem your airline miles only to get blackout dates and limited availability? If you have the United Explorer Business Card, you will receive expanded award space on United-operated flights. No restrictions or blackout dates. That's an invaluable perk that no other airlines offer to their credit cardholders.

Final thoughts on the card

The United Explorer Business Card is a terrific card for those looking to give their United MileagePlus balances a boost. Credit cards with sign-up bonuses of up to 100,000 miles don't come around often and if you can manage the spending requirement, it's a great offer. Best of all, this card is a long-term keeper. Even beyond the large sign-up bonus, you'll continue to get value out of it via category bonuses, travel perks and expanded award availability. The latter part will be especially useful when it comes time to put the sign-up bonus to use.

Click here to learn more about the United Explorer Business Card from our partner The Points Guy.

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