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MileagePlus Explorer: 50,000-mile bonus

The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card is offering a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus instead of the usual 30,000-mile bonus, through Sept. 2.

The spending requirement is a reasonable $2,000 in three months, and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

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The card comes with travel perks like one free checked bag for you and a travel companion on the same reservation if you buy the ticket with your MileagePlus Explorer Card, a potential savings of up to $100.

You’ll also get priority boarding and two passes per year to use the airport’s United Club, where you can get complimentary snacks, drinks and Wi-Fi.

Another perk of this card is no foreign transaction fees.

If you add an authorized user and they make a purchase, you’ll get an extra 5,000 miles.

Cost of financing with the MileagePlus Explorer

Intro interest rate Standard APR Average APR
No intro rate 15.99% 15.03%

Miles don’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder. Otherwise, United miles expire after 18 months of frequent flier account inactivity. Earning or redeeming miles keeps your account active.

You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United and 1 point per $1 on most other purchases.

Spend $25,000 in a year, and you’ll get a 10,000 mile bonus.

Including the points you’ll earn from the required spending, you’ll end up with at least 52,000 United Miles from this offer. So what do 52,000 miles get you on United?

For 20,000 miles, you can catch a round-trip flight of fewer than 700 miles with no stopovers in economy class on a saver ticket for flights within the mainland United States, Alaska and Canada.

For 25,000 miles, you can fly round-trip in economy class on a saver ticket within the mainland United States, Alaska and Canada; 50,000 miles will get you a round-trip standard ticket, which should have better booking availability.

For 35,000 miles, you can get a round-trip saver economy ticket from the United States or Canada to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean.

For 45,000 miles, you’ll get a round-trip saver economy ticket from the United States or Canada to Hawaii. Once you’re in Hawaii, you can fly around for 6,000 miles each way on an economy saver ticket.

For many more options, see United’s award chart.

You can also use United miles for flights on the 27 partner airlines that belong to the Star Alliance network, including Air China and Lufthansa, or for flight upgrades, hotel rooms or car rentals.

This card doesn’t have a promotional APR on purchases or balance transfers. The APR is 15.99% variable, and the penalty APR is up to 29.99%, so you won’t want to carry a balance on this card.

To earn enough miles to break even with the annual fee after the first year, you’d need to charge $9,500 annually, assuming each mile is worth 1 cent. If you expect to charge more than that amount and you fly United often, the fee may be worth it.

The fine print states that this bonus offer is not valid if you’ve received a bonus for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card within the last 24 months. That’s twice as long as the 12-month restrictions we’ve seen in the past.

Miles post to your account six to eight weeks after you earn them, and to use your miles for the least expensive saver tickets, you may have to book several months in advance.

In other words, think of the bonus you’ll earn from this card as a way to pay for travel six months or more in the future.

Compare this offer with the airline miles credit cards in our database.

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