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United℠ Explorer Card Review

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card Review

Bonus Offer
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Extra Perks
Priority boarding, free first checked bag & $0 foreign transaction fee
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Who's the United℠ Explorer Card best for?

The new United℠ Explorer Card replaces the discontinued United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, but it comes with upgraded benefits.

The old card has been phased out, but cardmembers started getting the same benefits as the new card on June 1, 2018. Going forward, those cardmembers will get a new card when their old United MileagePlus® Explorer Card expires.

Overall, you’ll be pleased with many of the changes, but there are some that won’t be so welcome.

While the miles earned per $1 spent on United-related spending remains the same, the United℠ Explorer Card offers more miles per $1 spent in the all-important dining and hotel categories. There’s also a new in-flight discount, a credit for trusted traveler program fees and new travel and purchase perks. However, you may not like that the new card cut the perk of earning bonus miles that helped with elite status.

The United℠ Explorer Card represents an upgrade that cardmembers will appreciate. There are still airline- and travel-branded cards out there that offer more robust miles/points in top spending categories, but if you’re a loyal United Airlines flyer, this card is worth having in your rotation.

United℠ Explorer Card overview

    • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
    • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
    • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
    • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card
    • Free first checked bags - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.
    • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
    • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.
  • Credit needed:
    640 850
    Excellent/Good
  • Free first checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Intro Purchase APR

N/A

Regular Purchase APR

17.99% - 24.99% Variable

Intro BT APR

N/A

Regular BT APR

17.99% - 24.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

Cash Advance Fee

Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Foreign Transaction Fee

$0

Balance Transfer Fee

Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Pros and cons of the United℠ Explorer Card

Pros

  • Sign-up bonus
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Priority boarding
  • Free first checked bag
  • 2 United Club one-time passes
  • 25% back on United in-flight purchases
  • Intro annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95

Cons

  • Reduced trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Can’t transfer miles to other hotel/airline loyalty programs
  • Cardmembers can’t earn bonus points through purchases toward MileagePlus elite status

What we like about the United℠ Explorer Card

  • Sign-up bonus

    New cardmembers can earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • Traveler protections

    The United℠ Explorer Card offers a slew of traveler protections, including those for lost luggage, trip cancellation/interruption, trip delays, auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase and extended warranty protections.

  • Waived annual fee

    The United℠ Explorer Card‘s annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

  • Higher rewards for dining and hotels

    United℠ Explorer Card cardmembers can earn an elevated rewards rate outside of United purchases: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

What to watch out for with the United℠ Explorer Card

  • Bonus points no longer count toward elite status

    There’s no way for cardmembers to earn bonus points that count toward MileagePlus elite status. With the old card, you got 10,000 bonus points when you spent $25,000 a year on the card; on the new card, that benefit is now gone.

  • Free checked bag limited to one companion

    Only one traveling companion gets a free checked bag, which isn’t as good as what’s offered by some other airline cards. On the plus side, there’s no limit on how many people you can bring for priority boarding as long as they’re on your same reservation.

  • Reduced trip protections

    The reimbursement amount for trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance went from up to $10,000 down to $1,500 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations like sickness or injury.

Alternate airline card to the United℠ Explorer Card

Compare it to the United Club℠ Infinite Card

| Disclosures
United Club℠ Infinite Card
United Club℠ Infinite Card
on Chase's secure site
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$525
Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, 2 miles per
  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles.
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply
  • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.
660 850

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

While the new perks and benefits that come with the United℠ Explorer Card are an improvement over the old United MileagePlus® card, you may want a card that gives you even more — that option could be United’s version of a luxury credit card.

United got into the luxury side of the market with the United Club℠ Infinite Card. It competes with other travel-related high-end cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

The United Club℠ Infinite Card allows new cardmembers to earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

In exchange for that high annual fee, you get a wealth of benefits, including free first and second checked bags for you and a companion, a free United Club membership (worth $650), Premier upgrades and Premier Access travel services, and more.

Compare the United℠ Explorer Card to similar cards

Comparison of four different credit cards
United℠ Explorer Card United Gateway℠ Card United Club℠ Infinite Card Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card
United℠ Explorer Card United Gateway℠ Card United Club℠ Infinite Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 $0 $525 $95
Welcome Offer
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Learn more. Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases
Intro Purchase APR
N/A 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months N/A N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable 17.99% - 24.99% Variable 17.99% - 24.99% Variable 17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good Excellent/Good Excellent Excellent
Card Details
United℠ Explorer Card United Gateway℠ Card United Club℠ Infinite Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Is the United℠ Explorer Card right for you?

If you’re a frequent United flyer, then having a card like the United℠ Explorer Card that gets you priority boarding and a free checked bag can enhance your travel experience and save you some money. Plus, there’s a decent sign-up bonus, and ability to earn more miles on restaurant and hotel accommodations.

However, for the United globetrotter who is always on the go, then it may be worth upgrading to the United Club℠ Infinite Card, which comes with a free United Club membership as well as first and second free checked bags benefit.

Apply Now
on Chase's secure site