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United Explorer MileagePlus Upgrade Offer

My wife is getting all of the good snail mail these days. First it was the Citi Miles Ahead Savings bonus offer which I broke down yesterday. Next up, she received a United Explorer MileagePlus upgrade offer. This is the exact type of thing I had been waiting on with our IHG Premier cards but it never came. We upgraded anyway, so take that Chase! Err, wait, that is what they were hoping would happen. Anyway, let's get back to this United upgrade offer and see if it makes sense for us and for you potentially.

United Upgrade Offer Details

My wife currently holds the United Gateway card. She downgraded into it from the United Quest card that she signed up for shortly after launch, when it had the 100,000 point offer. Earlier this week she was offered a United Explorer MileagePlus upgrade offer with the following details:

  • Earn 5,000 United MileagePlus miles after upgrading
  • Must accept the offer by 12/31/23
  • Will need to pay the $95 annual fee

Breaking Down The Value Of Offer

First off, if she was eligible for the welcome offer on this card that would be the better option. She is not though, since she is well past Chase 5/24. With that decision out the way we need to decide if 5,000 miles from the United Explorer MileagePlus upgrade offer are worth the jump to the new card.

The Explorer card comes with an annual fee of $95 versus the $0 she pays now. The card does come with some extra perks though. The most notable perks are as follows:

  • First checked bag free for you and one companion
  • Two United Club one-time passes each anniversary
  • Priority boarding
  • Better earning structure

The Explorer card should unlock more award space for cardholders too, something the Gateway card is not supposed to do. The only problem is, it does, at least for us. So, that isn't really a new perk worth considering for us, but it could be for you. I think it is a glitch when you downgrade into the Gateway card, but hey, we aren't complaining!

The better earning structure doesn't matter to me much since I would rather earn transferrable currencies. Same for priority boarding, since I don't fly United often and getting on the plane a few minutes sooner is no biggie.

The first checked bag free could be a nice perk for those that fly United often and check luggage. I am team carry-on so it doesn't sway me much personally. The two United Club one-time passes are probably worth $20-$25 each in value in my opinion. Personally, I don't know if I would be able to use them every year so I can't count on that.

In summary, the upgrade could make sense for United hub captives or frequent flyers, but not so much for us.

United Explorer MileagePlus Upgrade Offer

United Explorer MileagePlus Upgrade Offer: ToP Thoughts

While this United Explorer MileagePlus upgrade offer is a pass for me, it may not be for you. If you have a United flight or two in the near future then maybe the free bags and lounge passes more than offset the $95 annual fee the first year. That would make the 5,000 miles bonus free gravy for you. That is all assuming that you couldn't do better just grabbing the card outright via an application of course. For anyone over 5/24, or anyone that doesn't want to add to their current count with a personal United card application, this could be an option. For the rest of us, it is probably a pass for most.

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