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United MileagePlus Explorer Card Review

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Updated April 4, 2024

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, flying to every continent aside from Antarctica. Given the volume of its flights, United has brought in many loyal customers over the years. Those loyal customers often want a credit card to book their flights, and the card_name is a clear option.

However, with so many travel cards available, the question is whether this credit card stands out from the competition. This card_name review will analyze this credit card and whether its features, fees, and perks make it a worthy addition to your wallet.

TIME's Take

The card_name is a great choice, especially if you fly United often. But even if you only fly United a few times yearly, this card could still be worth picking up for the right customer. You receive two one-time United Club passes each year, which can offset this card’s annual_fees. That is to say nothing of its other benefits, such as 2x miles on United Flights plus hotel and restaurant purchases. Despite an annual fee lower than some alternatives, there is a lot of value here.

Who is the card for?

The card_name is for anyone who wants to take advantage of its benefits. Its 2x miles on purchases with United plus 2x miles spent on dining and hotels let you accrue MileagePlus miles rapidly. It also provides several perks for fliers, which could be worth their weight in gold. Generally, anyone who flies United at least occasionally should consider this card.

Rewards structure

The card_name card has a relatively simple rewards structure. You earn 2x miles on all eligible purchases that fall within its bonus categories, as shown in the table below. All other purchases earn 1x miles.

Given that this is a branded airline credit card, the best way to redeem points is generally by booking United flights or on seat upgrades. You can’t transfer these points to any other program, but United does have an extensive network of travel partners to help you get where you’re going.

Bonus rateBonus category details
2x miles
Earn on purchases from United, including tickets, Economy Plus®, inflight food, beverages, and Wi-Fi
2x miles
Earn on dining purchases, including eligible delivery services
2x miles
Earn on hotel purchases when you book directly with the hotel

Fine print

Interest rates

  • Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type.
  • Purchase Intro APR: intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration


  • Annual Fee: $0 your first year, then annual_fees.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: balance_transfer_fees.
  • Cash Advance: cash_advance_fee.

Additional hidden perks

This card has several hidden perks that could significantly increase its value. Some highlights include:

  • First checked bag free: You and one companion traveling on the same reservation can check your first bag (up to $35 value) for free. That equals up to $70 in checked bags for free or $140 per round trip.
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases: You earn 25% back as a statement credit on all in-flight purchases of food, beverages, or Wi-Fi when you pay with the Explorer card.
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck®, or NEXUS fee credit: The Explorer card will cover the fee for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS every four years. Depending on which you have, that is worth up to $100.
  • Priority boarding: The primary cardmember and travel companions on the same reservation can board United-operated flights before general boarding.
  • No foreign transaction fees: There are no additional transaction fees when you make international purchases with your Explorer card.


A few credit cards stack up as viable alternatives to the card_name. Here are some of the top choices.

card_name vs. card_name


The card_name is a solid choice if you want a card that isn’t tied to a specific loyalty program. Instead, it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to Chase’s transfer partners. Those include United, Southwest Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and IHG. The Sapphire Preferred has the same annual_fees annual fee as the Explorer card (although it isn’t waived the first year). It also includes the same TSA PreCheck/Global Entry as the Explorer Card.

However, you won’t get priority boarding, 25% cash back, or any of the other United-specific perks that the Explorer card provides. However, it does include Priority Pass, which grants you lounge access at select airports. If you seldom or never fly United, the card_name is the better choice. But the card_name could be better for anyone who at least sometimes flies United.

card_name vs. card_name


If you’re a serious road warrior and United is your go-to airline, it could be worth shelling out for the card_name. This card has a much higher annual_fees annual fee and a more generous welcome offer. It also includes a United Club membership, which Chase says is worth up to $650 annually. You also earn 4X miles on United purchases – twice as many points as the Explorer card. The other bonus categories have the same 2x miles rate.

It also gives you your first and second checked bags free instead of just one. And unlike the Explorer Card, which doesn’t give you any elite statuses, the card_name includes IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status. This comes with a $75 annual statement credit from IHG. There are few downsides to the card_name compared to the Explorer Card. The question is whether you would use the United Club card enough to justify the high annual fee.

card_name vs. card_name


The card_name is another general travel card that could be a viable alternative to the Explorer Card. The card_name also earns 2x miles on purchases, but it earns that rate on all purchases, not just on specific categories. The card_name also has a welcome offer and a annual_fees annual fee. But again, the fee isn’t waived for the first year. You also get access to Capital One lounges (including Priority Pass), although you only get two free lounge visits per year. Miles are also transferable to Capital One’s transfer partners.

The card_name is an interesting alternative to the Explorer Card, especially since it earns 2x miles on all purchases with a annual_fees annual fee. However, while it does come with some travel perks, the difference again is that you won’t get the red carpet treatment while flying that you might get with a branded airline card.

Useful perks that could be worth the fee


For those who fly United at least a couple of times a year, the card_name could be worth adding to your wallet. It has a generous welcome bonus and earns 2x miles on purchases with United, plus 2x miles on dining and hotel purchases. It also includes attractive perks like priority boarding, free checked bags, United Club passes, and 25% cash back on in-flight purchases. While it has a $95 annual fee, its perks could easily offset that fee, which is waived the first year.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is the United MileagePlus Explorer hard to get?

If you want to apply for the card_name, you should have a credit score of at least good to excellent (670-850) to increase your approval odds. Also note that Chase is known to adhere to the 5/24 rule, which means it won’t approve customers who have opened five or more credit cards with any issuers in the past 24 months.

What is the credit limit?

You can typically expect a credit limit between $5,000 and $20,000 for this card. However, the actual credit limit you receive will vary depending on your creditworthiness, as determined by Chase.

Does it pay for TSA PreCheck?

Yes. The card_name will cover the fee for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS every four years.

*APR current as of Mar 31, 2023. APR fluctuates based on interest rates and your credit score. Check with your credit card provider for the latest APR.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.