February 21, 2024

United MileagePlus Explorer Card Review

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United MileagePlus Explorer Card Review

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United℠ Explorer Card

Rewards rate:

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases. Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • Intro bonus: 65,000 miles
  • Annual fee: $0 Intro for First Year, then $95
  • Regular APR: 16.49{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} to 23.49{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

The United Explorer Credit Card from Chase can help United Airlines flyers unlock perks to improve their travel experience, including a first checked bag free and priority boarding on United, 25{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} off in-flight purchases, and two passes per year to access United Club airport lounges. In exchange, you’ll pay a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived the first year.

The card earns 2x miles on United purchases, plus restaurants and hotels, and one mile per dollar spent on everything else. Another notable feature is a fee credit toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Currently, it has a welcome offer of up to 65,000 United MileagePlus® miles. 

At a Glance

  • Earn 40,000 MileagePlus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 after you spend $10,000 in the first six months
  • 2x miles per dollar on all United Airlines purchases, dining at restaurants, and hotel stays
  • 1x mile per dollar on everything else
  • First checked bag free
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit
  • 25{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} off in-flight United Airlines purchases
  • Priority boarding
  • $0 annual fee first year, then $95
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 16.43{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5}-23.49{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} variable APR


  • Welcome offer

  • No annual fee for first year

  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit

  • Solid travel benefits


  • Most valuable for those who prefer to fly United Airlines

  • $95 annual fee after the first year

  • Low rewards rate on general spending

Additional Card Details

The card offers a number of travel and purchase protections which will be handy when traveling safely returns. Those travel-related perks include trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip; baggage delay insurance, which provides a refund for items you have to buy if a carrier delayed your bags; and lost or damaged luggage reimbursement. You’ll also get trip delay reimbursement, covering expenses incurred if your carrier delays your trip, up to $500.

Cardholders enjoy extended warranty protection and auto rental collision damage waiver, which lets you decline the rental company’s collision insurance if you rent a vehicle with the United Explorer card. 

The purchase protection benefit covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.

You’ll also get access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, a collection of over 1,000 properties all over the world. If you use this card to book, you can get a complimentary daily breakfast for two, property credit (toward services like dining or spa), complimentary Wi-Fi, and even room upgrades, early check-in, and late check out when available.

If you’re a MileagePlus elite member traveling on an award ticket, you can take advantage of complimentary Premier Upgrades on United flights when available. 

Should You Get This Card?

If you fly or plan to fly United Airlines somewhat frequently, this card could be a worthwhile addition to your wallet. It offers great in-flight and airport benefits, plus ongoing savings on your future United travel.

If you aren’t loyal to United Airlines, though, you’ll likely find much more value from a more general travel credit card. If you won’t use perks such as priority boarding, free checked bags, 25{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} off in-flight purchases or even lounge access while flying United Airlines, you won’t really get much value out of this card. 

If you prefer flying another airline — you live near a Delta Air Lines or American Airlines hub, for example — there are co-branded cards for those airlines to consider in the same fee range and with similar benefits, as well as general travel-rewards cards.

But if you do fly United Airlines or its partners at least a few times each year, you can easily gain value beyond the $95 annual fee.

How to Use the United Explorer Card

If you decide to get the United Explorer card, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you maximize its value.

Begin by working toward the welcome bonus while you enjoy the waived first year annual fee. The United Explorer card currently offers a 40,000-mile bonus if you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. You can add 25,000 bonus miles to that if you spend a total $10,000 in the first six months. Just be careful not to spend money you haven’t already budgeted or can’t afford to pay off in full in order to get a bonus; the interest you’ll accrue carrying a card balance would negate the benefits. 

You’re going to want to use it to purchase all United Airlines flights, as you’ll get 2x miles per dollar on these purchases (the same earning rate applies to dining and hotel bookings, too). Since it only earns 1x mile per dollar on all other purchases, you’re better off for those with a more general points-earning or cash back credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred — which earns points that transfer to United miles at a 1:1 ratio, too.

When you’re ready to book travel again, make sure you take advantage of all the added benefits this card offers. You’ll get a 25{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} discount on United in-flight purchases, a free first checked bag on United, and priority boarding. If you like to relax at the lounge before a flight, this card offers two one-time passes per year to any United Club airport lounge. These will be deposited into your account every cardmember anniversary.

Another valuable perk for frequent travelers is the credit of up to $100 every four years for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which can help you speed through airport security, or through immigration at airports equipped with Global Entry kiosks. There are also no foreign transaction fees with this card, so it’s a good choice to take abroad.

In order to avoid paying interest  — the card has a variable APR between 16.43{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} and 23.49{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} — we recommend paying your bills on time and in full. Carrying a balance with an interest rate that high can quickly outpace any savings you earn from rewards.

United Explorer Card Compared to Other Cards

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $0 Intro for First Year, then $95

  • Regular APR:

    16.49{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} to 23.49{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:


  • Regular APR:

    15.99{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} – 22.99{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99

  • Regular APR:

    15.74{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} to 24.74{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site

Bottom Line


As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

The United Explorer Card can be a worthy option if you fly United Airlines frequently and are looking to enhance your future travel experience. You’ll enjoy perks like priority boarding and two passes per year for United lounge access. The perks are geared towards United Airlines, though, so we only recommend getting this card if you are loyal to the airline. Before applying, compare this card to other travel credit card options to ensure the best value for your future travel plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the United Explorer Card have an annual fee?

The card has a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.

What credit score do you need for the United Explorer Card?

You’ll need a credit score between 690-850 for the best chances of approval for the United Explorer Card.