Is the United MileagePlus Explorer card worth it? | April 2018

Review: United MileagePlus ® Explorer card – April 2018

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The 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 680 or higher.
Product NameUnited MileagePlus® Explorer card
Balance Transfer Rate (not intro)17.24% to 24.24% variable
APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate )17.24% to 24.24% variable
Annual fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Cash Advance Rate26.24% variable
Card TypeVisa
Interest Free Period
The interest-free period on purchases is the period or number of days you do not have to pay interest on your card purchases. You will be charged interest either from the day you make a purchase or from the statement date, unless you pay the closing balance in full by the due date (or within the interest-free period) on your statement.
Up to 21 days
Returned Payment Fee$37
Minimum Interest$0
Minimum Credit ScoreFair (660-699)
Minimum Age18 years of age
Annual fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Returned Payment Fee$37
Late Payment Fee$37
Cash Advance Fee$10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater

The Basics

It’s always fun to consider the value you’ll get out of an airline card. Here, the United MileagePlus Explorer card offers lots of airline value .

First, think about the miles you’ll earn: You have a shot at a signup bonus worth a total of 40,000 miles. You’ll also receive 2x miles on ticket purchases from United and 1x miles on everything else you buy.

Airline miles are always tricky because their value can vary wildly. With United, you can find flights worth $110 that cost 25,000 miles for a paltry value 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, then the United MileagePlus Explorer card might be for you. Otherwise, go with a simpler card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which offers travel statement credits.

The 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 p.a. annual fee. 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.

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 on your spending. That said, you might be saving up for a long time before you can book reward flights. Consider another travel card that gives you accelerated points or miles for categories you frequently spend in.

Chase United Airlines cards compared

United MileagePlus ExplorerUnited MileagePlus Explorer BusinessUnited MileagePlus Club
Annual fee$95 p.a.$0 for the first year, then $95$450
Signup bonus
  • 40,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5,000 miles when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within your first 3 months as a cardholder
50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months$100 statement credit after your first purchase
Miles
  • 2x on United ticket purchases
  • 1x on everything else
  • 2x on gas, dining, office supplies and United ticket purchases
  • 1x on everything else
  • 2x on United ticket purchases
  • 1.5x on everything else
United perks
  • 1 free checked bag for you and 1 companion
  • Priority boarding
  • 2 United Club passes each year
  • 1 free checked bag for you and 1 companion
  • Priority boarding
  • 1 United Club passes each year
  • 2 free checked bags for you and 1 companion
  • No close-in fees when booking reward flights
  • Premier Access: priority boarding, dedicated check-in and security lines, priority baggage handling
  • Complimentary United Club membership
Hotel benefitsYes — room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, etc.Yes — room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, etc.Yes — room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, etc.
Hotel loyalty program upgradeNoNoDiscoverist tier in World of Hyatt
United Club membershipNo — 2 United Club passes each yearNo — 2 United Club passes each yearYes
Miles boostYesYesYes

The Perks

  • SIGNUP BONUS: Lots of miles. You’ll receive 40,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. And if you add an authorized user and make a purchase on your card within the first three months, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles.
  • MILES: More miles on United ticket purchases. Earn 2x miles on tickets you purchase from United. Earn 1x miles on everything else you buy.
  • 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 …

  • Miles boost. Each year you spend $25,000 or more on your card, you’ll receive 10,000 miles.
  • No foreign transaction fees. You can use your United MileagePlus Explorer card internationally without incurring transaction fees.
  • Travel and purchase coverage. Enjoy benefits like baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, trip delay reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waivers. Also get purchase, return and price protection — on top of 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 other Chase credit cards

Rates last updated April 27th, 2018
Name Product APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Intro APR for Balance Transfer Annual fee Product Description
Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$450
Earn 50000 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®.
The Chase Freedom® Unlimited™ credit card
16.24% to 24.99% variable
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles (with whichever is greater, $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it's automatic. No minimum to redeem for cash back.
Chase Freedom® credit card
16.24% to 24.99% variable
0% Intro APR for first 15 billing cycles (with whichever is greater, $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
$0
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Chase Slate® credit card
16.24% to 24.99% variable
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles (with $0 for transfers in first 60 days. Then $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
$0
Jumpstart your financial fitness! 60 day introductory balance transfer offer, save on interest, and get your free monthly credit score.
United MileagePlus® Club card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$450
Enjoy United Club membership, Premier Access® travel services, free checked bags, plus earn miles on every purchase.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Business card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
50000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$99
Earn 2x points on Southwest® purchases and points on all other purchases. Plus 6,000 anniversary bonus points.
United MileagePlus® Explorer card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
40000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$69
Earn 2x points on Southwest® purchases and points on all other purchases. Plus 3,000 anniversary bonus points.
British Airways Visa Signature® card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$95
Earn Avios on every purchase and 3 Avios per $1 on British Airways purchases.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Business credit card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$99
75000 Bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening with your Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card.
Marriott Rewards® Premier credit card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$85
80000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening with your Marriott Rewards Premier credit card.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$450
2 complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel, after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
The Hyatt Credit Card
17.24% to 24.24% variable
$75
Get 40000 Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases with the Hyatt Credit Card in the first 3 months from account opening.
Disney® Visa® Card
17.24% variable
$0
Earn 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars on all card purchases.
Disney® Premier Visa® Card
17.24% variable
$49
Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the United MileagePlus Explorer card, you must be at least 18 years old (or 19 in Alabama and Nebraska).

Always consider your options and your financial situation before you apply for a credit card.

Information you’ll need

  • Full name
  • Address and residential status
  • Annual income, source of income and employment information
  • Contact information
  • Social Security number and mother’s maiden name

What credit score do I need?

You’ll have a better chance of being approved for the United MileagePlus Explorer card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher.

How to apply for the United MileagePlus Explorer card

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

step 1 United MileagePlus Explorer card

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

step 2 United MileagePlus Explorer card

How long will it take to be approved?

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.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Making payments. You can pay your card bill online at the Chase website. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoiding 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.
  • Avoiding fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $37. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
  • 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 MileagePlus Explorer card.

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