(EXPIRED) (Targeted) Upgrade United Gateway card to Explorer & earn 5,000 bonus miles

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United sent me an email this afternoon offering an upgrade from my Gateway card to an Explorer card. I won’t be taking them up on the offer, but it could make sense for some people.

United Gateway card upgrade offer

The Deal

  • Upgrade a United Gateway card to a United Explorer card & earn 5,000 bonus miles when making your first purchase by December 31, 2023.

Key Terms

  • Earn 5,000 Bonus Miles: To be eligible for this bonus offer, you must upgrade by 12/31/23 11:59 p.m. E.T.
  • You will qualify for and receive your bonus if you make a Purchase with your new credit card during the promotional period.
  • Purchases posted to your account with a transaction date during the offer period are eligible for this offer.
  • Delays by the merchant could extend the transaction date beyond the offer period.
  • Please allow up to 8 weeks after qualifying for bonus miles to post to your account.
  • (“Purchases” do not include balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable.)
  • To qualify for this bonus offer, account must be open and not in default at the time of fulfillment.
  • This bonus offer is non-transferable and applies only to cardmembers who receive marketing communications for this offer.

Quick Thoughts

My Gateway card was, once upon a time, an Explorer card. I’d held the Explorer card for a year, then downgraded to the Gateway card in order to maintain access to expanded award availability.

This is the first upgrade offer I’ve received on the card and it’s not a bad deal on the face of it. The Explorer card has a $95 annual fee, so the 5,000 bonus miles effectively cover more than half the annual fee even if you only value MileagePlus miles at 1cpp.

That still doesn’t make it worthwhile for me, but it might do for some other people. I have Marriott Titanium status which also gets me United Silver status, so the benefits on the Explorer card overlap with those to a large extent (e.g. priority boarding, checked bags, etc.). I also don’t have any travel planned with United in the next year, so other benefits like the two United Club one-time passes at renewal might go unused.

However, for someone with no status who’s planning on flying with United in the next year, getting those United Club passes, free checked bags, priority boarding, the ability to earn PQPs with spend, etc. could make an upgrade much more enticing. Even taking just one roundtrip flight with a checked bag would mean the card upgrade would pay for itself in conjunction with the 5,000 bonus miles.

The email from United had the subject line “Stephen, upgrade to more benefits and a 5,000 mile bonus”, but I imagine they send out emails with different subject lines, so keep an eye out if you have a Gateway card and would be interested in an upgrade. It might also be the case that they’ll offer other cardholders a more generous bonus (or possibly none at all) for upgrading.

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I’m Gold for life so benefits aren’t important and I find the lounges are so packed now it’s not worth it. I downgraded a couple of years ago and get this offer frequently. If I wanted the Explorer card again I would cancel the Gateway and reapply for a much larger bonus.


I also go the offer…but since I just downgraded to Gateway two months ago, I am sure they would claw back any bonus points if I decided to upgrade back

Arthur Leyenberger

I used to have the Explorer card but could never use the two annual day passes at Newark. The lounge always had a sign saying “day passes not accepted” , so I downgraded to the Gateway card. Not sure how useful the day passes are at other airports.


I have had this offer on my account for more than a year now and they keep extending the deadline every time. Not worth the upgrade, imho.


Seems more logical to pass on the offer, apply for the card itself with a 60K bonus and 1st year waived. Better deal…..


Received the same offer to go from the Select (discontinued) to the Quest.


Same here. Benefits didn’t seem worth the higher cost as a 1K/SA Gold already.