Who Is the United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card Good For?
If you’re considering a co-branded United Airlines card and you’re a small business owner or independent contractor, you should consider getting the United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card. It has better earning potential than its personal card counterpart and it doesn’t come with a hefty annual fee like the premium MileagePlus Club card.
Like the personal card, you’ll get double miles for United purchases. The business card, though, also offers two miles per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores. That can make a big difference since gas is something most of us buy often.
The only drawback to the Explorer business card is that it doesn’t offer the 5,000-mile bonus for adding an authorized user that you’d get with the personal card. Instead, you get free cards for employees.
Both of the Explorer cards come with two free United Club lounge passes every year. That alone covers the $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. You’ll also get the perks that typically come with co-branded airline credit cards, including a free checked bag and priority boarding.
The standard sign-up bonus with the Explorer Business card is 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
One excellent perk that comes with this card is an additional 10,000-mile bonus every year you spend at least $25,000. That works out to a little over $2,000 a month. Many cards do not offer annual bonuses.
- 2 miles per dollar spent with United and for restaurants, gas and office supplies
- 1 mile per dollar for all other purchases
What Do Your Miles Get You?
United is a member of the Star Alliance, which means that you can book a flight through the MileagePlus program on any of its 26 member airlines. United also partners with 13 other airlines. With United’s extensive network, you’ll be able to get anywhere in the world with your miles.
The MileagePlus program has separate award charts for United flights and partner airlines. While economy award flights are generally competitively priced on both charts, business and first class awards on partner airlines are almost always overpriced.
However, if you can book a premium cabin award on a United-operated flight, you’ll often get it at below-market cost. For instance, round-trip business class tickets between the U.S. and Australia cost 140,000 miles on United and 160,000 on partner airlines. American Airlines, on the other hand, charges 160,000 miles for business class tickets on any airline for this route.
- Two United Club lounge passes every year
- Double miles for a variety of purchases, including gas
- Miles don’t expire
- Free checked bag
- Priority boarding
- Annual bonus for reaching a minimum spend
- No foreign transaction fees
- Must be a small business owner or independent contractor to qualify for the card
- $75 close-in booking fee
- $75 to $100 change fee
- $200 fee for redepositing miles after cancelling
How Far Do Your Miles Go?
The best thing about United MileagePlus miles is that you’ll never have to pay exorbitant fees or fuel surcharges. With some frequent flyer programs you can owe over $600 for long-haul international award flights.
United’s redemptions rates are typically competitive with the other two big domestic carriers. For example, United, American and Delta all charge about 60,000 miles for economy round-trip award flights between the U.S. and Europe.
What adds significant value to MileagePlus miles is the carrier’s generous routing policies that allow for a free stopover and open jaw on round-trip international award flights. You can visit three destinations for the price of one ticket if you plan your itinerary properly. Note that United announced that starting in the fall of 2016 the stopover has to take place in the same region as your final destination.
Additional Cardholder Benefits
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Baggage delay insurance
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Concierge service
- Purchase and price protection
- Free employee cards
- Exclusive events from Inside Access