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United℠ Explorer Card

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  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work
  • APR21.99% - 28.99% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$95 More info

    $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

  • Sign Up Bonus 60,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

    Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $840 (60,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

The United℠ Explorer Card is the airline’s entry-level personal credit card. For people who aren’t flying on United multiple times per month, this can be a solid choice. The 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 PreCheck application fee credit every four years.

The Ideal United Card for the Occasional Traveler

Fans of United Airlines should be aware of its bread-and-butter 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.

Pros

  • Free first checked bag on United flights
  • Up to $100 back for your Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS application fee, every four years
  • Two annual United Club℠ passes
  • Annual fee is waived the first year (then $95)

Cons

  • Not the best card for those that fly United more than a few times per year
  • $95 annual fee after the first year

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
  • Two United Club℠ one-time passes after opening an account and again on each cardholder anniversary
  • No blackout dates
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases

The card's sign-up bonus is 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, 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 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.

Referral Bonus

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.

Rewards Rate

Beyond the sign-up 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.

Compare United Consumer Credit Cards

Credit Card Intro Bonus Annual Fee Perks Learn More

United Gateway℠ Card

30,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $420 (30,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$0
  • 25% back on inflight purchases

United℠ Explorer Card

60,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $840 (60,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$95 More info

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

  • 2 United Club 1-time passes annually
  • Free 1st checked bag for you & a companion
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS credit

United Quest℠ Card

70,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $980 (70,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$250
  • $125 annual United credit
  • Free 1st & 2nd checked bags
  • 2 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS credit

United Club℠ Infinite Card

80,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,120 (80,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$525
  • United Club membership
  • Premier Access travel services
  • Free 1st & 2nd checked bags
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS credit

Annual Fee

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.

APR

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 21.99% - 28.99% (Variable) APR based on creditworthiness.

Credit Score

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.

Benefits

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 as a statement credit for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® every four years when charged to the card.
  • 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 get access to DoorDash’s DashPass, which waives delivery fees and reduces service fees at select restaurants, for one year. To qualify, 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

Fees

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. 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.

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Redeeming United Miles

Your Unite 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
  • Cruises
  • 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

Points Expiration

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.

Premier Status

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.

Recommended Travel Credit Cards

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Chase Sapphire Preferred®

60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

$95 1x- 5xPoints More Info

The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), as well as 3x points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This card earns 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Companion Pass®Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent:

$99 1x - 3xPoints More Info

Earn 3 points for every $1 on Southwest Airlines® purchases, 2 points for every $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshare), 2 points per $1 on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming, and 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.

United Gateway℠ Card

30,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $420 (30,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$0 1x - 2xPoints More Info

Earn 2X United miles per dollar on United purchases, local transit and commuting and at gas stations. You’ll earn 1X mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Citi Premier® Card

60,000Citi ThankYou Points More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after making $4,000 worth of purchases during the first three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,080 (60,000 Citi ThankYou Points * 0.018 base)

$95 1X-10XPoints More Info

10X total ThankYou® Points per $1 spend on hotel, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024. 3X -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels 3X -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets 1X -- Earn 1 Point on All Other Purchases

Who Is the United Explorer Card Best For?

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.

Best for Free Checked Bag on United

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FAQs

  • 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
    -Priority boarding
    -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 
    -Purchase protection 
    -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.

KP

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a personal finance, credit card, and travel writer. He is the family travel and budget expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and four kids. His work has appeared on several websites, including FinanceBuzz, Credit Karma, Millennial Money, Club Thrifty, Student Loan Planner and Slickdeals.