The United℠ Explorer Credit Card Review

United℠ Explorer Card Learn More

The United℠ Explorer Card is a highly practical choice if you’re interested in getting an airline credit card. It offers extensive travel perks that will benefit both frequent and occasional travelers alike, including a free checked bag, priority boarding and protection for trip delays or lost baggage. The United℠ Explorer Card also uses the Visa payment network, so it’s widely accepted wherever you go. Plus, you won’t be charged foreign exchange fees when using it abroad.

United boasts a comprehensive domestic and international route network, serving more than 300 airports across 48 countries in total. With this card, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use your rewards, regardless of whether you tend to travel within the U.S. or around the world. So, what’s the catch? The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but this is waived in the first year.

 

In this article

    What we like about the United Explorer Card

    • Promising rewards rate: You get 2x miles per dollar on United purchases, restaurants and hotels. While many airlines offer 2x miles for airline purchases, there aren’t many that offer the same rate for spending at restaurants and hotels.
    • Long list of travel perks: Cardholders are also entitled to 25% back on in-flight United purchases, two United Club passes per year, a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ ® credit every four years, no blackout dates, collision damage waiver on eligible car rental and upgrades at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
    • Shop confidently with a 12-month extended warranty and purchase protection for 120 days against theft or damage.

    Offers matched to your credit profile

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    Things to consider

    • Annual fee: At $95 per year (waived first year), you’ll need to travel often enough to compensate for the annual fee.
    • No intro APR period: This card doesn’t offer an interest-free period for purchases and balance transfers, although many travel credit cards on the market do.
    • High rewards tied to United Airlines: Although you can redeem miles for things like Apple products, merchandise and gift cards, you get the best redemption value when you redeem for United flights. It’s best to fly with United when using this card to fully utilize your rewards.

    Travel rewards details

    To earn miles, simply use your United℠ Explorer Card when making purchases to be awarded 1x mile per dollar spent at the end of each billing period. You’ll earn 2x miles for spending at restaurants and hotels that you book directly. You’ll also get 2x miles for United purchases such as flights, in-flight purchases and Wi-Fi.

    There are different redemption options, but the overall process to redeem your miles is easy. Use your miles to make your vacation more enjoyable with flight upgrades, hotel stays or car rentals. You can also redeem your miles for merchandise, gift cards or event tickets, but the redemption value varies with each option.

    To make the most of your United℠ Explorer Card and take advantage of the travel perks, you should fly with United. For example, you can have your first bag checked in for free. And at a cost of $30 per bag, you save $60 per round trip.

    Fee details

    Apart from the $95 annual fee (waived first year), you can expect a late payment fee of up to $39, a returned payment fee of up to $39 and a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% (whichever is greater). But you won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees.

    How does it compare to other airline credit cards?

    The United℠ Explorer Card is a fantastic option if you enjoy dining out and can fly at least once or twice a year to enjoy the perks that come with the card. If you prefer a card with no annual fee, then the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card also offers 2x miles spent on restaurants worldwide and purchases from United. The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card also has no annual fee, offers 2x miles on grocery purchases and uses the widely accepted Mastercard network.

    CardOngoing Purchase APRAnnual FeeIntro BonusCredit NeededKey features
    United℠ Explorer Card16.49%–23.49% variable $0 Intro for First Year, then $9560k bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10k bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months.Excellent2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
    Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card 15.74%-24.74% Variable $010,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.ExcellentEarn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
    American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ CardSee TermsSee Terms10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account openingExcellent2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services, 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

    For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here

    Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view our disclosures, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best credit monitoring services of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for brands to have different SimpleScores across multiple pages on The Simple Dollar. For instance, if we compare Experian’s ID theft monitoring services using SimpleScore, it scores a 4 out of 5. However, if we apply our SimpleScore methodology for credit monitoring services, Experian scores a 4.4 out of 5. Each unique criteria results in separate SimpleScores for multiple brands based on what we’re comparing.

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Basic plan price

    We award brands who have lower monthly costs for credit monitoring services with higher scores in our methodology.

    Premium plan price

    We award brands who have lower monthly costs for credit monitoring services with higher scores in our methodology.

    Perks

    Who doesn’t like a nice perk? We awarded brands with higher scores if they offered perks to customers, such as free trials, family plans, discounts for annual billing and more than two pricing tiers.

    Customer support

    The SimpleScore system rewards brands that have multiple channels of support so customers can contact representatives in a variety of way.

    Mobile app rating

    We compared brands based on their mobile app ratings as an average of Google Play and iOS App Store ratings.

    Kristie Kwok

    Contributing Writer

    Kristie Kwok is a finance content writer with in-depth knowledge of the banking industry from her previous work experience in banks such as UBS, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland. She is a qualified accountant with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, specializing in Accounting and Finance.