Fans of United Airlines should be aware of its main co-branded credit card, the United℠ Explorer Card. This Chase credit card saw a benefits reboot back in 2018 that expanded spending categories and added valuable travel perks, especially for loyal United customers. And now, United has sweetened the offer with a sign-up bonus for new customers.
The United Explorer Card bonus is 60,000 United MileagePlus miles for new cardholders who spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months their account is open.
Secure application on issuer’s website.
Annual Fee: $95 (fee waived first year)
Bonus: 60,000 bonus miles
APR: Variable APR
Rewards Rate: 1X-2X Miles
Details: Full Review
Terms and restrictions apply
Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year
APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.
Rewards Rate: The card features 2X miles for every dollar spent on United purchases, at restaurants and eligible meal-delivery services like GrubHub, DoorDash, Seamless and Caviar. You also earn 2X miles for every dollar spent on hotel accommodations booked directly through the hotel. Additionally, you get 1X miles per dollar everywhere else.
Sign-Up Bonus: New cardholders earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases with their new cards in the first three months of account opening.
Who Should Use This Credit Card? United loyalists who want to earn free and discounted airfare.
Why We Like the United℠ Explorer Card
The United Explorer Card’s benefits are what makes it really stand out from the crowd. Here’s what you’ll get: One free checked bag for each flight, priority boarding, 25% back on inflight purchases, two United Club airport lounge passes every year and Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fee credit every four years.
The United Explorer Card also offers several trip protections including primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement. The card’s annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95 after that, which will give you some time to confirm that it’s a good fit before the fee hits.
United Explorer Card Details
Beyond its earning potential for travel and dining, the United Explorer Card is loaded with perks like the free first checked bag on flights, priority boarding on United flights, a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® fee credit and two United Club one-time passes after opening an account and again on each cardholder anniversary. You’ll never face blackout dates and can get 25% back on United inflight purchases.
|Annual Fee||$95, waived the first year|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None|
|APR||Variable APR based on creditworthiness.|
|Sign-Up Bonus||Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening|
|Rewards Rate||Earn 2X miles per dollar spent on United purchases, at restaurants and eligible delivery services including GrubHub, DoorDash, Seamless and Caviar. You’ll also earn 2X miles per dollar spent on hotel accommodations when booked directly through the hotel. Additionally, the card also awards 1X miles on all other purchases.|
The United Explorer Card charges no foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent card for international travel. There are also valuable travel and purchase protections that come with this card.
United Explorer Card Bonus
Currently, new cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus MileagePlus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
You can earn even more miles by inviting your friends and family to join in the rewards earning. You’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles for each person you refer and is approved for the United Explorer Card. You can earn 50,000 miles max annually through referrals.
Beyond the signup bonus, there’s plenty of ways to earn more rewards with the United Explorer Card. As a co-branded United Airlines credit card, it’s a given that you’ll earn a higher rate for United purchases. The card offers elevated rates in several spending categories, though.
Here’s a breakdown of what you earn with spending with your United Rewards Card:
- 2X miles per dollar spent on United purchases
- 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants and delivery services like GrubHub, DoorDash, Seamless and Caviar
- 2X miles per dollar spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel
- 1X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases
United purchases include airfare, seat upgrades, baggage charges and inflight purchases like food, beverages and Wi-Fi.
There is a $95 annual fee attached to the United Explorer Card. The fee is waived the first year from card opening. You’ll save money the first year, allowing you to maximize your rewards earning. For rewards credit cards with annual fees, you need to weigh the card benefits and determine if they are worth the extra cost.
The United Explorer Card doesn’t offer an introductory 0% APR offer for purchases or balance transfers. If you want to transfer existing credit card balances and pay off over time, some balance transfer credit cards offer 0% APR for up to 18 months.
The United℠ Explorer Card comes with variable APR based on creditworthiness.
Most credit card issuers don’t publish credit score requirements to qualify for a credit card. The United Explorer Card is geared towards individuals with good to excellent FICO credit scores (670-850).
If you don’t know your credit score, it’s a good idea to check before applying for a new credit card. It’s easy to monitor your credit scores for free. You can also use a free service like Experian Boost™ if you want to increase your credit score.
Earning miles isn’t the only perk included with the United℠ Explorer Card. Frequent travelers will love access gained to a host of other travel benefits through the card. Here’s a look at some of the best features included with the United Explorer Card.
|Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit||Cardmembers get reimbursed up to $100 for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® every four years when charged to your card. The reimbursement comes as a statement credit.|
|Free Checked Bag||The primary cardmember and one companion under the same reservation, purchased with your card, receive one free checked bag each way per person on all United flights.|
|Complimentary DashPass||Cardholders are given access to DoorDash’s DashPass service – which waives delivery fees and reduces service fees at select restaurants – for one year. To qualify for DashPass, make sure to activate the offer by December 31, 2024.|
|Priority Boarding||The primary cardmember and all companions on the same reservation have access to board all United flights before general boarding.|
|No Blackout Dates||You’ll never face restrictions or blackout dates when you use miles to book United flights.|
|Seat Upgrades||Cardmembers who are also MileagePlus Premier members on award tickets may be eligible for free Premier seat upgrades on United flights.|
|United Club Passes||Enjoy access to United airport lounges with two United Club one-time passes every year on your cardmember anniversary and when you first open your account.|
|In-Flight Discounts||In-flight purchases paid for with your Explorer Card earn 25% back. The discount comes as a statement credit.|
|Travel Insurance||Cardmembers have access to several types of travel insurance, including auto rental collision damage waivers, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance.|
|Trip Reimbursements||You’ll also enjoy reimbursements, like lost luggage and trip delay reimbursements, if your travels go awry.|
|Chase Events||The United℠ Explorer Card comes with access to exclusive Chase cardmember events and experiences worldwide.|
|Purchase Protection||New purchases made with the United℠ Explorer Card are protected against damage or theft for 120 days. Limits are $10,000 per claim and $50,000 total annually.|
|Extended Warranty Protection||Using your United Card for purchases also extends select manufacturer’s warranties by an additional year.|
|Visa Concierge||Your United℠ Explorer Card also gets you free access to the Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24/7. Get assistance in finding tickets, making reservations and sending gifts.|
As mentioned earlier, the United℠ Explorer Card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. This airline credit card charges no foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent travel companion when traveling outside of the U.S. You may run into some other fees when using your United credit card.
|Annual fee||Yes (annual fee waived for the first year)|
|Balance transfer fee||Yes|
|Foreign transaction fees||No|
|Cash advance fees||Yes|
|Late payment fees||Yes|
|Returned payment fees||Yes|
The best way to avoid costly interest charges is to pay off your United℠ Explorer Card balance in full each month by the due date.
Redeeming United MileagePlus Awards Miles
Your United℠ Explorer Card gives you access to United’s loyalty rewards program — MileagePlus.
MileagePlus offers several redemption options, but the best value is using your miles for United and United airline partner flights. You can travel to destinations all over the world through United and over 35 airline partners.
You can also use MileagePlus miles for a wide range of redemptions. Point values vary based on the redemption. Other redemption options include:
- Hotel stays
- Car rentals
- Online shopping
- Apple purchases
- Gift cards
- FTD flowers and gifts
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
- Access to exclusive experiences and events
- United Club membership
- United Wi-Fi
- TSA Pre✓® application fees
- Transfer to one of United’s partner programs
- Transfer to another MileagePlus member
- Donate to a United partner charity
The good news is that United MileagePlus miles never expire. You can use your miles once you earn enough for your desired redemption or save them up for future use.
MileagePlus members can earn Premier status through qualifying flights and points. There are four status levels you can reach:
- Premier Silver
- Premier Gold
- Premier Platinum
- Premier 1K
Some of the features that accompany Premier status include free Economy Plus upgrades, preferred seating, waived fees and other premium travel services. Specific perks depend on your status level.
Pair Award Flights With Free Hotel Stays
What’s better than earning free flights? Pairing them with free hotel stays for a complete rewards travel experience. IHG offers two co-branded rewards credit cards that earn points you can use towards free hotel stays and a host of other redemptions.
You’ll earn the biggest sign-up bonus with the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card. It comes with 140,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card is the hotel chain’s no-fee credit card. Right now, it comes with a 80,000 point sign-up bonus when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
The IHG family includes 17 unique hotel brands with over 5,200 resorts worldwide. They offer accommodations for every type of traveler.
Applying for the United Explorer Card
The United Explorer Card is best for frequent travelers, especially if you prefer to fly with United Airlines or one of its partner airlines. While there are other redemption options, you’ll get the most bang for your buck using United miles for award flights.
If you’re not a loyal United customer or value versatile travel rewards, a rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card may be a better fit. The United Explorer Card offers the best value in the first year, but if you don’t want to pay ongoing fees, you should opt for a no-fee rewards credit card instead.
The United Explorer Card offers a number of travel benefits:
-Two one-time passes to United Club per year
-Your first bag checked for free for you and a travel companion
-Up to $100 reimbursement for TSA Precheck, Global Entry, or NEXUS fees
-Up to 25% cash back on United inflight purchases
-No foreign transaction fees
-Rental car insurance
-Trip cancellation insurance
-2X miles on United purchases, dining, and hotel stays, and 1Xx miles on all other purchases made on the card.
This is a solid card for frequent travelers who like to fly United or a partner airline.
The United Explorer Card is aimed at those with FICO credit scores of at least 670, within the Good range. While there are many other factors considered in an application, having Good credit can increase your chances of approval.
One of the travel perks the United Explorer card features is a free checked bag for you and a travel companion, per flight.
You can apply for the United Explorer card online, and the application process takes several minutes. Required information includes your name, mailing address, Social Security number, employment status, and yearly income.