The Smart Investor has collected card information independently. Issuers did not provide the details, nor are they responsible for their accuracy. The review is not a recommendation, the actual rates/fees may be different.
The United Explorer Card is a Visa credit card offered through Chase bank that is an Airline branded card through United Airlines. This card is designed entirely for frequent fliers of United Airlines, and has great perks that make the cardholders overall travel experience less expensive and much more stress-free. From seat upgrades to 25% off discounts on all in-flight purchases, the United Explorer Card can make flying with United Airlines a much more relaxing process.
United Explorer Credit Card
On Chase’s Secure Website
Great Card To Build Your Credit
Average – Good Credit
Sign-Up Bonus – 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 or more in the first three months
Miles don’t Expire – miles that you accumulate through using this card don’t expire
Limited Rewards – Relevant for United customers
Limited Rewards – Relevant for United customers
- Free checked bag and priority boarding
- variable APR of 17.99%-24.99%.
- waived annual fee for the first year
Here’s a summary of the main pros & cons (click to see explanation or scroll down):
|Free Checked Bag & Priority Boarding||$95 Annual Fee|
|Annual United Club Passes||Limited Intro Perks|
|Miles Don’t Expire||High Balance Transfer Fee|
|Sign-Up Bonus||Average Miles Accumulation Rate|
United Explorer Credit Card – Benefits
Let’s take a look at the benefits of the United Explorer card and see if it’s the right one for your wallet or not.
Free Checked Bag & Priority Boarding
The United Explorer Card offers a free checked bag for you and one other guest on your reservation, as well as priority boarding onto your flight. While these seem like less important perks, they are certainly subtle things that can make traveling much less stressful.
Annual United Club Passes
When cardholders have an active United Explorer Card, they will receive two One-Time passes annually into United Club lounges. This is something that not to many airlines will give their cardholders for free. If anything, they will be available for purchase at a discounted rate, or something not even that. United Club passes such as these can make long layovers much more enjoyable and relaxing
Miles Don’t Expire
A great perk to the United Explorer Card is that the miles that you accumulate through using this card don’t expire, just so long as the account is active. This can be extremely beneficial because the cardholder truly does have the opportunity to pick and choose when and what to use their points on, whether it be flights, seat upgrades, or something else entirely.
When you sign up for the United Explorer Card, the new cardholder will receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 or more in the first three months that the account is active. While this bonus isn’t extravagant or extremely better than comparable cards, this is still a great and easy way to accumulate a large amount of points that are available immediately after the $2,000 minimum is hit.
United Explorer Credit Card – Drawbacks
Let’s take a look at the drawbacks of the United Explore credit card and see if it’s the right one for your wallet or not.
$95 Annual Fee
The United Explorer Card offers new card holders a waived annual fee for the first year. After this, the annual fee is $95. This is average or higher than other travel cards in the industry. However, with the rewards that are offered with obtained points, the United Explorer Card certainly has the potential to pay the cardholder back and make the annual fee worth it.
Limited Intro Perks
While the United Explorer Card does waive the annual fee for the first year, there are really hardly any other perks past this. Comparable travel rewards cards such as the Bank of America Travel Rewards card don’t have an annual fee to have an active account, and offer an Intro APR of 0% for the first 12 billing cycles.
Depending on how a cardholder would like to use their points, the United Explorer Card may or may not be the best card for them. Generally speaking, the best rewards that a United Explorer Card holder can get are upgrades on seating, discounts on flights, and more access into United Club lounges if they have already used their two free passes. For people who fly United frequently enough, this could be a great rewards system. However, for people who would want more flexibility in their rewards options, they might want to look elsewhere.
High Balance Transfer Fee
This fee is $5 or 5% of the transfer, whichever is bigger. The fee is incurred when you transfer debts from one or more credit cards to your Wells Fargo Rewards Card. This fee is upfront and will be added to your debt load when transferred.
Average Miles Accumulation Rate
While the United Explorer Card offers points on all purchases that a cardholder puts on it, the accumulation of these points is rather average. The United Explorer Card offers 2 points for every dollar spent on United purchase, as well as 2 points for every dollar spent on hotels and restaurants. All other purchases give the cardholder 1 point for every dollar spent. Again, for United loyalists and frequent United fliers alike, this could pay the cardholder back handsomely. But for everyone else, they might want to reconsider their options.
Alternatives to United Explorer Credit Card
When it comes to a travels rewards card that can be beneficial to both loyalty users as well as a more casual spender, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is the best of both worlds. The card has a great sign-up bonus, as well as many options for domestic traveling.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is branded by Southwest Airlines. It offers a wide variety of rewards options that extend past the typical travel rewards, which is something that separates the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card from others within the same distinctions. Combine this with a lower annual fee than competitor cards, and it makes sense as to why the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card is a great option to consider adding to your wallet.
The Citi/ AAdvantage Platinum Select WorldElite Mastercard earns the card holder double miles on all American Airline purchases, gas, and at restaurants. It also can make flying a little bit less of a hassle since the Citi/ AAdvantage Platinum Select WorldElite Mastercard gives the card holder a free checked bag, as well as a few other perks that can be nice when it comes to flying.
When comparing The AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard to the United Explorer Card, people who fly more frequently would be better off using the AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. If the cardholder wasn’t an American Airlines flyer before, this card would be a great reason to reconsider. Even if the cardholder wouldn’t want to fly soley American Airline, the wide assortment of partner sites that this card can accumulate points with makes it a great addition to the wallet of any frequent flyer. Add this on to the better rewards available when compared to the United Explorer Card, and it can be clearly seen as to why the AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is a superior choice.
As stated earlier, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card doesn’t have an annual fee, and offers new cardholders 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles. After these first 12 billing cycles, the variable APR is 17.24%-25.24%, which is comparable to the United Explorer Card’s variable APR of 17.99%-24.99%. Not only this, the BoA Travel Rewards card has a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points when you spend only $1,000 in the first 90 days of having an account, compared to the $2,000 minimum with the United Explorer Card. The BoA Travel Card also has much more flexible reward packages that aren’t limited to just travel rewards. Not only this, but there are also no blackout dates where the points aren’t redeemable.
Is the United Explorer Credit Card Right for You?
Despite the fact that the United Explorer Card does have many great rewards and benefits, it still is limited to an extent due to the fact that the United Explorer Card is designed for United Flyer loyalists. If you are a fan of United and use their airline often, or think you will be flying with United frequently in the future, then this is a great card for you and it could certainly make your experience flying with United Airlines much better. However, if you are an infrequent flyer with United, or prefer other airlines, then the United Explorer Card might not be the best viable option for you.