• MT Staff Writer
  • January 24, 2019

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.”

United Explorer Card Quick Facts

  • Sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days the account is open and 20,000 additional miles after $10,000 in purchases
  • 2x miles for United, restaurant and hotel purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • First checked bag is free
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Ongoing APR of 17.99% – 24.99%
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, $95 after that

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Free checked bag
  • Miles don’t expire
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Priority boarding

Cons:

  • Annual fee after introductory year
  • No 0% introductory APR period
  • Other loyalty programs offer more free checked bags
  • Only United flyers see the most return for rewards

Full Review 

If you frequently fly with United Airlines, the United Explorer Card is definitely worth looking into. 

This is because the United Explorer Card offers great rewards for purchases made with United. Plus, this card will also give you other traveling perks such as free checked bags, reimbursement for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, 25% off inflight United purchases, and more. Basically, you’ve got little to lose if you’re a current United Airlines customer. 

The United Explorer Card also offers decent rewards on non-United purchases, like at restaurants and hotel stays. You may be interested in signing up for this credit card if you can spend $2,000 in the first 90 days of the account being open. By spending this much in this time frame, you automatically qualify for a bonus of 40,000 miles. Those bonus miles can easily help pay for free roundtrip airfare or seat upgrades.  Additionally, you will earn another 20,000 bonus miles when you spend an additional $8.000.

The real rewards opportunity with this card is to rake in miles for free airfare. However, if you aren’t much of a traveler, the United Explorer Card may fall short. Here is some additional information to help you make decide whether the United Explorer Card is the right credit card for you.

United Explorer Card Basics and Benefits 

Before applying for the United Explorer Card, its recommended applicants have a credit score of around 630 or higher. After being approved, new cardholders can take advantage of 40,000 bonus miles if they spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of the account opening. What’s more, cardholders can earn an additional 20,000 miles if they spend a total of $10,000 within the first six months the account is open. 

As for other rewards, the United Explorer Card offers 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on United purchases. In addition, 2 miles are earned on restaurant purchases and hotel stays and 1 mile is awarded for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Miles earned through the United Explorer Card don’t expire as long as your account is in good standing. Miles will expire if there’s no activity on the account after 18 months.

The ongoing APR for the United Explorer Card is 17.99% – 24.99% Variable APR. So, if you decide to cash in on the welcome bonus, be ready to pay off your account as soon as possible. This card does not offer a 0% introductory APR period on purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees. 

Other traveler extras provided by the United Explorer Card include two United Club one-time passes awarded annually, statement credit to go toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years, 25% off in-flight purchases, and the first checked bag is free for you and one companion. 

The card charges $0 for the annual fee in the first year, and $95 annually for the years following. Though annual fees are no fun, it’s relatively easy to offset the $95 fee if you’re a strategic traveler. For instance, the two United Club lounge passes awarded each year are valued at $59 each. If you utilize this perk, the entire annual fee is taken care of. The same goes for checked bags. If you and a companion were to use the free checked bag for a round trip flight, that’d save you $120 in just one trip. That annual fee doesn’t sound so scary now, does it?

The United Explorer Card also provides primary car rental insurance. This means the insurance provided through the United Explorer Card will kick in before your regular auto insurance. This coverage can save you money on your insurance deductible if you happen to damage a rental. To qualify for primary insurance, cardholders pay for the rental with the United Explorer Card and decline agency coverage. 

All in all, the United Explorer Card is an excellent opportunity for current United customers to reap even more rewards for using the card for purchases they’d normally be making. The card’s unique travel perks, along with no foreign transaction fees, make it a great credit option for travel rewards. 

United Explorer Card: Pitfalls and Other Possibilities 

Like any credit card, the United Explorer Card does have a few downfalls.

First, this credit card has an annual fee. While there are several ways to take advantage of the United Explorer Card benefits and make up for the fee, this is only possible if you’re willing to put some work in. In addition, other travel credit cards offer broader discounts for checked baggage. With the United Explorer Card, you can only get two free checked bags for two people. If you have a large family, you’ll end up having to pay for checked baggage. Bummer. 

However, there’s another travel card option which may help. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card allows users and up to eight other passengers on the reservation to bring a checked bag free of charge. The card has a $0 annual fee for the first year and then $95 after that. Variable APR on purchases is 17.99% – 26.99%. In addition, new cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles if they spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of the account being open. You’ll automatically get a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with the card. For anyone who prefers Delta over United, this is a great credit opportunity. 

Finally, if you aren’t a traveler, you won’t get much use out of the United Explorer Card. The rewards with this card are the most valuable when exchanging them for free airline tickets. If you don’t fly much or don’t plan on doing so anytime soon, you’d be better suited for a simple cash back card for easy-to-use rewards. 

One example of a great cash back card is the Citi Double Cash Card. With this credit card, you earn 2% cash back on all purchases. You earn 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it back. There’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and the Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t charge an annual fee. To redeem rewards, a $25 minimum is required. Rewards can be used for a statement credit, bank account deposit, gift card, or check. 

Is the United Explorer Card right for you?

If you enjoy flying with United, there’s little to lose with the United Explorer Card. You get great rewards for spending on United purchases, as well as rewards for dining and hotel stays. Not to mention, the card offers other travel perks like free checked baggage and priority boarding. If you aren’t a fan of United or don’t travel often, you’d be better suited for a different travel card or straightforward cash back credit card. 

Learn More

Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

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