United MileagePlus Explorer card review | finder.com

Review: United℠ Explorer Card – January 2019

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

United℠ Explorer Card

The United℠ Explorer Card is a good choice if you’re a regular United flyer and can wait for Saver Awards to use your miles.

  • Get this card if… you fly with United Airlines often.
  • Pick something else if… you don’t fly with United often.
  • Recommended good to excellent credit range of 670 or higher.
Product NameUnited℠ Explorer Card
Card TypeVisa
Annual Fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases17.99% to 24.99% variable
Introductory Purchase APR

N/A

Balance Transfer APR17.99% to 24.99% variable
Introductory Balance Transfer APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Fee$5 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Cash Advance Rate26.99% variable
Foreign Transaction FeeNone
Cash Advance Fee$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Interest Free PeriodUp to 21 days
Late Payment Fee$37
Returned Payment Fee$37
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Rates & FeesRates & Fees
Minimum Age18 years of age
Welcome Offer40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.
Reward Value per Dollar1x miles
Rewards Points ExpirationNever

The basics

It’s always fun to consider the value you’ll get out of an airline card. Here, the United℠ Explorer Card offers a lot to consider.

First, think about the miles you’ll earn: You have a shot at a signup bonus worth 40,000 miles (just spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months). Earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles when you spend $10,000 in the first six months. You’ll also receive 2x miles on United purchases, at restaurants and on hotel accommodations purchased directly from hotels. On everything else you buy, you’ll earn 1x miles.

Airline miles can be tricky because their value can vary wildly. With United, you can find flights worth $110 that cost 25,000 miles — giving a paltry rate of 0.4 cents per mile. But you can also find flights worth $663 that cost 30,000 miles, for an impressive 2.2 cents per mile. The key is to leverage United’s Saver Awards, through which you can purchase award flights at a heavy mile discount.

Bottom line: If you’re willing to search to maximize your miles, the United℠ Explorer Card might be for you. Otherwise, go with a simpler card like the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®, which offers travel statement credit.

The United℠ Explorer Card offers United benefits you might like. If you typically check your bags, you’ll enjoy getting one checked bag free for you and a companion on each flight. And it certainly doesn’t hurt having priority boarding.

Of course, these perks come with a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year). That could be a fair price if you’re a regular United flyer. If you’re not, consider another airline card or a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

An alternative airline card: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Want even more flexibility? Pay with Miles is a card member feature that gives you the option to redeem miles for all or part of the price of your tickets on Delta.com.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with priority boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms apply.
Read less
Read more
See Rates & Fees
Promoted

Should I get the card if I don’t fly on United often?

If you don’t fly United often, you’ll earn only 1x miles in most categories. But you’ll earn 2x miles at restaurants and on eligible hotel accommodations, which could help you accumulate rewards even if you don’t fly much.

If you don’t spend much in any of those categories, consider another travel card that gives you accelerated points or miles for categories you frequently spend in.

The perks

  • SIGNUP BONUS: Lots of miles.
    You’ll receive 40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. And if you spend $10,000 in the first six months you’ll earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles.
  • MILES: More miles on United ticket purchases.
    Earn 2x miles on United purchases, including airline tickets, in-flight refreshments, seat upgrades and baggage fees. Also, earn 2x miles at restaurants and on hotel accommodations purchased directly from hotels. Earn 1x miles on everything else you buy.
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck®.
    Every four years, you’ll receive a $100 statement credit to reimburse you for your Global Entry or TSA Precheck® fee. Just use your United℠ Explorer Card to pay for the charges.
  • 25% statement credit for eligible United purchases.
    When you use your United℠ Explorer Card to pay for food, beverages and Wi-Fi on United-operated flights, you’ll earn 25% of what you spend as statement credit.
  • United perks.
    On each flight, you and one companion can each check one bag free. Enjoy priority boarding for you and your travel companions, and get two United Club passes every year.
  • Hotel benefits.
    Enjoy room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, early check-in, late checkout and more at select resorts around the world.

You’ll also like …

  • No foreign transaction fees.
    You can use your United℠ Explorer Card internationally without incurring transaction fees.
  • Travel and purchase coverage.
    Enjoy benefits like baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waivers. Also get purchase protection and extended warranties on your purchases.
  • Access to Visa Concierge.
    Use the Visa Signature® Concierge to make plans for dining and entertainment.

What to watch out for

  • It hurts to pay late.
    Making late or returned payments could result in fees as high as $37.

Consider other cards if …

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Reward Value per Dollar APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
1x points
17.99% to 24.99% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening - that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1x points
17.99% to 24.99% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first 3 months.
1x miles
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
3x points
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$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
35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 3 months.
1x points
See Rates & Fees
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees

Compare up to 4 providers

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the United℠ Explorer Card, you must be at least 18 years old (19 in Alabama and Nebraska, 21 in Puerto Rico).

Information you’ll need

  • Full name.
  • Mailing address and residential status.
  • Date of birth, mother’s maiden name and Social Security number.
  • Phone number and email address.
  • Total gross annual income and primary source of income.
  • Optional: MileagePlus number.

What credit score do I need?

You’ll have a better chance of being approved for the United℠ Explorer Card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

How to apply for the United℠ Explorer Card

1. Go to the Chase website and click Apply Now.

2. Complete the application with details like your name, address, annual income and Social Security number. Then review your application and submit it.

How long will it take to get my United℠ Explorer Card?

Because conditional approval is automated on the Chase website, you’ll often get a decision immediately. In some cases, you’ll need to wait a few days to a few weeks to receive a response.

If you’re approved, look for your card in the mail within seven to 10 days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Make payments on time.
    You can pay your card bill online at the Chase website. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoid interest payments.
    After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 21 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases. Of course, this assumes you haven’t carried a balance from the previous billing cycle.
  • Avoid fees.
    Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $37. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
  • Contact customer service.
    If you have questions, you can contact Chase support by phone, email or even Twitter.

Bottom line

If you’re willing to wait for Saver Awards — and you’re a regular United flyer — you’ll get a lot of value from the United℠ Explorer Card.

Frequently asked questions

Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site