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.
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.
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.
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.
|Card||Ongoing Purchase APR||Annual Fee||Intro Bonus||Credit Needed||Key features|
|United℠ Explorer Card||16.49% - 23.49% Variable||$0 Intro for First Year, then $95||60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.||Excellent||2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays|
|Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card||15.74% - 24.74% Variable (See Rates & Fees)||$0 (See Rates & Fees)||10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.||Excellent||Earn 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℠ Card||$0||17.49% – 26.49% (Variable)||10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||Good to excellent||2 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.|
The bottom line
As long as you fly with United every now and then, the United℠ Explorer Card should be worth the annual fee. While there are better rewards rates with other travel cards, the travel benefits with the United℠ Explorer Card makes it a promising choice.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.
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