United℠ Explorer Business Card Review

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The United℠ Explorer Business Card is the business version of United’s popular consumer co-brand card, the United℠ Explorer Card and features a stack of quality perks and benefits—even for those who only fly United a few times a year.

New Singapore Suites Individual Suite
You can use your United MileagePlus miles to fly the new Singapore Suites.

United Business Card Welcome Offer

The current welcome bonus on the United Business Card is up to up to 100,000 miles. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open. A conservative valuation of United miles would be 1.5¢ per mile, which would mean roughly ~$1,500 in expected savings. However, those with aspirations to use their miles for premium-cabin international travel would likely see significantly higher savings.

Points Earning Potential and Category Bonuses

The United Business Card features an easy to understand bonus structure, earning 2X miles at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores, and United purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

While the earning structure is easy to understand, the United Business Card is not a card we recommend putting a lot of spend on, outside of paying for United tickets (to take advantage of the Free First Checked Bag benefit).

We regularly review the best rewards cards for each spending category, and each of the bonus categories assigned to the United Business Card contains cards with higher earn rates, including when paying for United revenue flights.

Instead, the United Business Card is a card you hold onto for the perks and benefits, which we cover in detail below.

United Business Card Feature Benefits

United℠ Explorer Business Card
United℠ Explorer Business Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Limited-time offer for small business owners: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Plus, 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases. And 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Free checked bag - save up to $120 per roundtrip (terms apply)
  • Two one-time United Club℠ passes each year - Over $100 in value per year
  • Employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account. Plus, you can set individual spending limits for each card.
  • 2X miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2X miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores
  • 1X mile per $1 on all other purchases

Unlock Hidden Award Space

We recently covered this unique benefit of United co-brand cards in depth. Holding the United Business Card gives you access to book award tickets with your miles that otherwise wouldn’t be available unless you hold United elite status. The benefit is marketed as “no blackout dates,” meaning you can use miles to grab the last seat available on a flight. The caveat is that these tickets are Everyday Awards and cost a lot more than Saver Awards. What isn’t mentioned, is that you also get access to additional saver-level award space—typically reserved for United Premier Platinum or 1K members.

Free First Checked Bag

If you fly just one round-trip flight per year with a companion, you can recoup the cost of the annual fee as the first checked bag will set you back $30 per person each way, up to $120 in value for each round-trip flight. The only catch is that you need to pay for the flight using your United Business Card, foregoing the additional points you can earn on other cards. In this case, we think the ~$120 value provided by the checked bags almost always outweighs the extra points you could earn swiping another card.

2x United Club One-Time Passes Per Year

Another great perk is the two, one-time United Club passes cardholders receive after opening their account and on account anniversary each year. These passes used to be issued as paper vouchers, that were easy to lose and never seemed to be with you when you needed them. Fortunately, United Club passes are now digital, so you can easily access them from your account or the mobile app as soon as they are credited.

10K Bonus Miles After $25K Spend Each Year

Each calendar year you spend $25,000 on the United Business Card, you’ll receive 10,000 bonus MileagePlus miles deposited into your account.

Priority Boarding

The primary cardholder and any travel companions on the same reservation can board United-operated flights before general boarding is called.

Premier Upgrades on Award Tickets

If you are traveling on an award ticket as a MileagePlus Premier member, and you also hold the United Business Card card, you can take advantage of complimentary Premier upgrades on United-operated flights if there are seats available.

Primary Auto Rental Insurance and Roadside Assistance

While these perks don’t typically fall under the feature benefits umbrella, the United Business Card stands out from similar business cards because it offers primary auto rental insurance when renting a vehicle for business purposes. You can also receive roadside assistance up to the value of $50 when driving a car you own or lease (no rentals). You can only claim one service event for the same cause during any consecutive 7-day period.

Best Uses of United MileagePlus Miles

One of the best aspects of the MileagePlus program is the lack of carrier-imposed surcharges on award tickets. While United often charges more miles than its Star Alliance counterparts for the same itinerary, your out-of-pocket costs are likely to be far less.  For example, many Star Alliance tickets cost as much as $250-300 in taxes and fees on a one-way ticket, while MileagePlus redemptions tend to fall in the $5.60-50 range.

Many other frequent flyer programs have let these taxes and fees creep higher year after year. United has held its ground and become an industry standout for reasonable out-of-pocket costs. For business owners who can generate plenty of miles through everyday spending, that feature alone makes MileagePlus a great program.

Domestic United redemptions start at just 12,500 miles in coach, with plenty of options for travel within the U.S., particularly if you live near a United hub. That said, the best return for your United miles will likely be premium cabin international awards, which typically provide a much higher cent-per-mile value than domestic or economy tickets. Some of our favorite United award redemptions include:

  • United Excursionist Perk – Only available on a round-trip itinerary, the excursionist perk allows you to make a stopover in the same region as your destination. Essentially, you get a free one-way segment within the destination region. The rules have a little flexibility which can make for some creative routings if you study the rules and region definitions of United’s award chart.
  • Australia or New Zealand starting at 40K – United charges 40K in economy and 80K in Business for flights to Australia and New Zealand from the U.S. While there are plenty of ways you can get to the South Pacific for fewer miles, United typically has good availability if you book months in advance, and you can mix and match Star Alliance carriers and routes to build your itinerary.
  • Lufthansa first-class to Europe from 110K – One of the most aspirational hard products flying from the U.S., you can bag a transatlantic flight in first class on Lufthansa for 110K United miles and tick off a bucket-list experience in the process.

Application Restrictions

The United Business Card is a business card, so you need to be able to prove you have legitimate business expenses to apply. It's also subject to Chase’s 5/24 policy, so if you’ve opened 5 or more consumer (personal) credit cards within the last 24 months, you won’t be approved for this card.

As with all of Chase’s co-brand cards, if you currently hold the United Business Card, or you’ve received a signup bonus for it in the previous 24 months, you will not be eligible to receive a new cardmember bonus. However, if you currently hold another United co-brand card, you are still eligible to receive the bonus on the United Business Card.

“This new Cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of this business credit card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of this business credit card who received a new Cardmember bonus for this business credit card within the last 24 months.”

It’s a great card to apply for if you’re holding off on personal card applications to get back under 5/24. The United Business Card card won’t add to your 5/24 count, which only factors in consumer cards.

United Business Card Application Strategy

Where does the United Business Card fit into your overall application strategy?

A lot depends on your 5/24 status. If you are well over 5/24, it likely won’t fit into your application strategy at all. The opportunity cost of trying to get back under 5/24 is too high when there are plenty of great offers out there from other card issuers.

If you are just starting in your points and miles journey, you’ve recently dropped back under 5/24, or you and a partner plan your application strategy in two-player mode, the United Business Card is a top card to factor into your plans. Here’s why:

  • While the United Business Card is subject to 5/24, as a business card it won’t count towards your 5/24 total, allowing you to apply for valuable consumer cards that fall under Chase’s restrictive application restrictions.
  • Affordable annual fee. When building out your rewards-card portfolio, keeping yearly costs to a minimum is essential if you want to maximize the value of your points and miles. With an annual fee of just $95, you can hang onto this card with the overheads of a premium rewards card.

Final Thoughts

The current offer on the United Business Card of up to 100,000 miles offers plenty of value for United fans, and with an annual fee of just $95, the card is affordable to hold in your wallet for the long term.

With the added award availability, free United Club passes, free first checked bag benefit, and all the other perks offered with the card, we see this card as a long-term keeper whose benefits more than account for the annual fee.

United℠ Explorer Business Card Review
5 (100%) 5 votes
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