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United℠ Explorer Card vs Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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

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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 3x points on dining and travel.

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

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

Rates & Fees

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Rates & Fees

finder.com's rating
finder.com's 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

60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Rewards
Rewards

2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases

10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit 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
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Summary of card features

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • Signup bonus. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you make $3,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Rewards. Earn 2x miles on United purchases, eligible hotel stays and restaurant spending. Earn 1x miles on all other purchases.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit. Get up to $100 credit once every for years to cover for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months of card membership. This is worth $750 if you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
  • Earn rewards points. Earn 3x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1x points on all other purchases. The 3x points can be worth 4.5% back if redeemed on travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards. You also earn 10x points on Lyft purchases until March 2022. This can be worth up to 15% back in travel purchases via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Annual travel credit. Get $300 in statement credit as reimbursement for your travel purchases every year on your card account anniversary.

The winner: It depends

From a raw value standpoint, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® muscles out the United℠ Explorer Card on most fronts. But these cards are aimed at two different types of travelers and have vastly different annual fees. If you enjoy a number of luxury perks over a variety of airlines and hotels, paying the Reserve’s annual fee will be worthit. But if you only travel with United, the Explorer doesn’t lag far behind in rewards and has the United perks to make it worth your attention.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $1,000. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
American Express® Gold Card
35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Hilton Honors American Express Card
75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
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