Biggest U.S. Airline Card Bonus in 5 Years: 100,000 United Miles

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UnitedSM Explorer Business Card

Five years ago there was a 100,000 mile offer for the premium American Airlines card with $450 annual fee. But we haven’t seen a U.S. airline credit card offering 100,000 miles as an initial bonus since then.

At the beginning of the year the UnitedSM Explorer Business Card had a best-ever 75,000 mile offer. Right now – definitely for a limited time – you can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases:

  • 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Another 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.

That’s an average of $4166.67 per month in spend to earn the full bonus, which is why there are easy ways to meet minimum spending on a credit card.

The card’s annual fee is $95. You receive 2 United Club passes each year with card renewal, a free checked bag, and priority boarding. In addition, United cardholders along with elites get better award availability and access to redeem miles for last seat availability. Ongoing spend will earn 2 miles per dollar at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on United purchases.

This is a really good offer for the card, the best public offer there’s been in my opinion, and the first 100,000 mile offer from a U.S. airline in five years. A few years ago I got excited when this card was being offered with just 50,000 miles. This is a great way to pick up 100,000 United miles. So if you have fewer than 5 new cards opened in the last 24 months definitely consider this one.

I find that United miles are the most flexible of any U.S. airline currency for business class awards to Europe and Asia, since United has the most partners through Star Alliance (and you can combine partners to get where you’re going).

While award pricing won’t be constrained by the old award chart starting with travel November 15 onward, that’s a change for United flights… they’re still pricing Star Alliance redemptions based on fixed cost. And there’s never any fuel surcharges on United awards.

UnitedSM Explorer Business Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Hey Gary, Just FYI, your “easy ways to meet minimum spending on a credit card” link is broken.

  2. @Gary, what are some of the highest value redemption options for UA miles these days? Transoceanic UA award flight deals in C & F appear to be mileage cost prohibitive. I even tried using UA miles for a domestic F flight (something I would have never considered in the past) and that priced out to 90k miles r/t with no saver awards anywhere to be found.

  3. Earn 100 k.
    Redeem for a round trip in first class domestic coach
    It’s really a 50k offer unless you can make use of it and find availability on a partner award
    Yawn on the whole offer

  4. It’s really a 50k offer, with a 2x bonus on the first $25k in spend if you do spend at least $25k. At some point, it becomes a bit misleading to include the fruits of hefty spend requirements as part of a welcome bonus in a headline.

  5. They have to up the bonuses to 100k due to simple “supply and demand”… 100k miles today has equivalent value of 25k miles 15 years ago. Thanks but, no thanks.

  6. Miles mean nothing now! Tried to use miles to SFO to TLV Israel and it now costs 270,000 one way from SFO in business! 180,000 one way and Im a gold for life million miler. Absolutely not using 450,000 miles to fly business on United! Nonsense! Cash ticket was $5650 RT.

  7. Can this card eventually be downgraded to a no fee card? I can’t do it with my personal Mileage Plus Explorer Card.

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