United Gateway℠ Card vs. United℠ Explorer Card
Verdict: Much more impressive rewards for a moderate annual fee.
United’s middle-tier offering, the United℠ Explorer Card, is one of the best airline rewards cards out there. It has an introductory annual fee of $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 thereafter. One of the most significant differences between the two is that the United℠ Explorer Card has a much higher welcome bonus: You can earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. While you will have to spend triple the amount to earn this sign-up bonus, you’ll also get double the number of bonus miles.
There are more ways to earn with the United℠ Explorer Card. Cardmembers Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Cardholders also get their first checked bag free of charge, priority boarding and two United Club one-time passes.
Finally, the best perk of the United℠ Explorer Card is that you’ll receive up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years.
Bottom line? The United℠ Explorer Card offers many more travel benefits than the United Gateway℠ Card, but it incurs an annual fee. So if you’re just dipping your toes in the world of MileagePlus, the United Gateway℠ Card is a safer bet for you.
United Gateway℠ Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠
Verdict: A rewarding and flexible cashback card.
Also for a $0 annual fee, the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ is branded as a cashback credit card with high earning potential. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has a nice welcome bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
If you’re looking for more opportunities for your everyday spending, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has you covered. You can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter! Plus, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Bonus spending categories change quarterly and will help you maximize these purchases.
While the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is not necessarily a travel rewards card, you can pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for even more value. Instead of getting cash back, you can turn 1 cent of Chase Freedom Flex℠ points into 1 Ultimate Rewards point. You can then book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or transfer your points to Chase’s 14 partner airlines and hotels, including United Airlines.
If you’re looking to maximize your everyday spending, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card will give you better rewards. However, the United Gateway℠ Card is the clear winner when it comes to $0 foreign transaction fees and discounts on in-flight purchases.
United Gateway℠ Card vs. Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Verdict: A comparable airline card for Delta loyalists.
While the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card won’t get you any United-related perks, it’s a comparable $0-annual-fee airline card. Both the welcome bonus and earning rate are lower, as you will earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months. With the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, you can Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Other benefits include no foreign transaction fees and a 20% discount on in-flight purchases. The only perk that edges this card over the United Gateway℠ Card is the “Pay with Miles” feature, which allows you to take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem.
Ultimately, since most airlines offer a no-annual-fee option with similar benefits, you’ll want to apply for the one that aligns with your travel habits.
To see rates & fees for Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card please click here.