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United℠ Explorer Card vs Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Choose between a mid-tier airline card and a premium travel card.

You have two examples of Chase’s travel card offerings: a United cobranded card and a standard travel card. The United℠ Explorer Card is a mid-tier airline credit card with a $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95, whereas the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium travel credit card with a $550 annual fee. Both come with a generous welcome offer, but the United℠ Explorer Card offers 2x miles at restaurants, hotels, and United Airlines purchases, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card offers 5x points on dining and travel.

Compare the perks and features of these cards in the table below.

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

Terms apply, see rates & fees

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Terms apply, see rates & fees

Finder rating
Finder rating

★★★★★

4.4 / 5.0

★★★★★

4.6 / 5.0
Best for
Best for
  • Earning miles in multiple ways for United Airlines
  • Incredible signup bonus and premium travel perks
Welcome offer
Welcome offer

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Rewards
Rewards

2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases

5x points on flights and 10x points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on other travel after earning your $300 travel credit, 10x points on Lyft rides, 10x points on Chase Dining through Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on other dining and 1x points on all other purchases

Purchase APR
Purchase APR

16.49% to 23.49% variable

16.99% to 23.99% variable

Annual fee
Annual fee $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95 $550
Balance transfer APR
Balance transfer APR 16.49% to 23.49% variable 16.99% to 23.99% variable
Cash advance
Cash advance

APR: 24.99% variable

Fee: $10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater

APR: 24.99% variable

Fee: $10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater

Foreign transaction fee
Foreign transaction fee None None
Late payment fee
Late payment fee Up to $39 Up to $39
Additional cardholder fee
Additional cardholder fee $0 $75
Interest-free period
Interest-free period 21 days 21 days
Minimum interest
Minimum interest $0
Minimum credit score
Minimum credit score 670 740
Card type
Card type Credit Credit
Learn more
Learn more

The winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From a raw value standpoint, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® muscles out the United℠ Explorer Card on most fronts. But this is like comparing David and Goliath because these cards have vastly different annual fees and are aimed at two different types of travelers. The Sapphire cards offers luxury perks over a variety of airlines and hotels, which often makes paying the Reserve’s annual fee worth it. Those who only travel with United will find that the Explorer card doesn’t lag far behind in rewards for that airline and has the United perks to make it worth your attention.

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