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United Airlines

How Good Is the United Airlines $250 Statement Credit?

How Good Is the United Airlines $250 Statement Credit?
Joe Cortez

Is the United Airlines $250 statement credit the best offer to come to The Explorer Card? We looked at all the angles of this welcome offer and decided while it’s a great offer, you could earn even more rewards based on what you value the most.

If you haven’t flown the friendly skies in a long time, or you haven’t owned a United credit card in the past 24 months, you could get a surprise of a United Airlines $250 statement when you apply for the United Explorer Card. New cardmembers who have not had the card in the past 24 months could earn a welcome offer of 25,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months and a $250 statement credit after their first purchase.

But is this award-winning card deserving of all the hype it’s received? Or are there better offers out there for your spend? FlyerTalk took a deep dive into the offer behind the credit – and here’s what every flyer needs to know about this special welcome bonus offer.

A Brief Review of the United Explorer Card

On its own merits, the United Explorer Card holds is arguably the best United credit card on the market today. For frequent United flyers, The Explorer Card offers quite a few valuable benefits – including the United Airlines $250 statement credit (more on that later).

Like its competition, the United Explorer Card offers one free checked bag for up to four people on the same itinerary. Cardholders also get priority boarding on United flights, up to a $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees, and 25% back on United in-flight purchases. The card also earns 2 United MileagePlus miles per $1 U.S. dollar spent on United purchases, on hotel accommodations when purchased directly through the hotel and at restaurants. Everywhere else, the card earns 1 United MileagePlus mile for every $1 spent.

Where this card truly exceeds its peers is in additional United benefits. Alongside the free checked bag and priority boarding, cardmembers also get two United Club passes every year – giving an added bonus valued at up to $118. Those getting the card for the first time have plenty of opportunities to earn back the annual fee cost every year.

Check out the United Explorer Card thread for reviews by FlyerTalkers.

United Explorer 250 Credit

Which United Credit Cards Come With the $250 Statement Credit?

Although the United Airlines $250 statement credit is one of the most sought-after bonuses, it can be elusive to find. When we went searching, we found the $250 statement credit offer available directly on After searching for a flight, the card and the welcome offer immediately came up in the top-left corner.

You may also be able to access this offer through this direct link. However, if you have visited the credit card website considering a different welcome offer from Chase and United, you might not qualify for this offer. If you do apply and get approved, it never hurts to call and ask if the $250 statement credit welcome offer applies to your card – otherwise, you may get turned away like one FlyerTalker did when trying to take advantage of the bonus.

How Can I Use My United Airlines $250 Statement Credit?

Under the terms and conditions of the welcome offer, new and qualified credit cardholders can use the United Airlines $250 statement credit very liberally. The terms and conditions read: “With this bonus offer, you will qualify and receive a $250 statement credit, after your first purchase.” While the idea is that you might use it on an upcoming United flight, it appears to have very few limits. You could even buy United miles towards your next vacation.

The few limits the United Airlines $250 statement credit has are those you would normally see from a credit card. The credit cannot be applied to purchasing or exchanging money, including “balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency,” or gambling purchases, such as (but not limited to) “lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, [and] race track wagers.”

Can I Use My United Airlines $250 Statement Credit to Buy United Miles?

One of the most common uses of airline credit cards is to purchase miles towards a future vacation. When flyers are just a few miles away from getting their next big reward, using a credit card can be a great way to pick up bonus miles on top of the purchase.

Under the present terms and conditions, it does not appear that using the United Explorer Card to buy United miles is prohibited. In practice, you could use the $250 statement credit to add miles to your balance.

However, buying miles is usually a losing proposition, depending on how many you purchase and for what purpose. Miles can be purchased for anywhere between 2 and 3.5 cents per mile, which doesn’t always represent the best value for redeemable award currency. None-the-less, if you want to use your United Airlines $250 statement credit for miles, you can do so at the MileagePlus website.

Do United Credit Card Miles Count Towards Status?

One of the biggest misconceptions among new flyers is that credit card miles count towards airline elite status. That is: If I can collect so many miles through all means, then I can take advantage of all the benefits of United MileagePlus Premier status.

Although you can buy United miles and earn them through the United Explorer MileagePlus card, these reward miles do not count towards MileagePlus Premier status. Only miles flown – combined with money spent – counts towards status. Just because you can earn 100,000 miles from buying miles and spending on The Explorer Card doesn’t earn you MileagePlus Premier status. But if you do enough flying, the MileagePlus Premier status combined with the miles earned from The Explorer Card can get you closer to a free flight aboard the Chicago-based carrier (or their Star Alliance partners).

Is the United Airlines $250 Statement Credit the Best Sign-Up Bonus?

Overall, the United Airlines $250 statement credit is one of the most generous we’ve seen in a long time. Because cash is often king, this statement can grant you a discount on a United flight, or anything else that you have in mind.

However, it’s not the highest MileagePlus miles offer we’ve seen on a credit card. While the current alternate welcome offer is 60,000 miles, we’ve seen United Explorer Card 70k mile offers as well. If your overall goal is to earn miles, then wait for a big mileage welcome offer to show up for the card. But if you want good overall benefits with a statement credit, the United Airlines $250 statement credit is a very generous way to once again collect miles towards flying for a deep discount once again.

[Image: United]

View Comments (4)


  1. pdsales

    February 5, 2020 at 10:57 am

    I actually got the best targeted United credit card offer, probably ever

    United Club MileagePlus which also includes United Club access, Hertz President’s Circle status and more.

    $450 annual fee waived for first year. No minimum spend, no conditions other than a credit check.

    They must have purchased a list of American World Elite credit card holders.

    Of course, I took it.

  2. knecht

    February 6, 2020 at 8:05 am

    I found out over the holidays that the Explorer Card now only allows 1 traveling companion to have a free checked bag (2 total bags). In addition the free passes were recently changed to allow use now when you are flying only on United. Another devaluation.

  3. stephanos99

    February 6, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Is it possible the article author hasn’t heard about the changes to Mileage Plus with regards to status? “Miles flown” is no longer a component to the status requirements. It’s based on spend, or spend and flight segments.
    With regards to the previous comment about the targeted off for the United Club card, I get targeted for the first year fee waiver on occasion through the United website. There’s also the rare occasion where I’ve seen the offer posted on small signs in United lounges (though it’s been a while since the last time I saw that).

  4. hyho61

    February 7, 2020 at 7:40 am

    A simple way of looking at it, $250 equals 25,000 miles (I value 1 UA mile no more than 1c, no matter what UA says or others say, especially in these days of dynamic pricing) and an additional 25k miles for a total of $500. For some one who does not plan on travelling much or needs to have the freedom of other carriers then this is good otherwise the 60k or better offers are better.

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