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Compare the Features and Benefits of British Airways Visa Signature Card and
United℠ Explorer Card

Detailed Comparison Overview

Key Facts
Annual Fee
Avg. Min. Credit Score
Ongoing APR
Balance transfers fees
Best Multiplier
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
Bonus Offer
Rating
Review
Key features
Unique Card Benefits
Trip Protections
Purchase Protection
Extended Warranty
No Foreign Transaction Fees
No Fees for Authorized Users
Free Checked Bags
Airport Lounge Access
Priority Boarding
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Concierge Services
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Free Access to Credit Score
Annual Fee
$95
Avg. Min. Credit Score
670-850 *
Ongoing APR
21.49%-28.49% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Best Multiplier
3x Airfare

Earn 3x Avios on British Airways, Iberia, LEVEL, and Aer Lingus flights booked directly; 1X on other airlines

2x Hotels

Must be booked directly with the hotel

1x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.012
Bonus Offer

Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(3.5) Our Review

Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.

Review

On top of a generous sign up bonus, the British Airways credit card by Chase earns 3x Avios on British Airways, Iberia, LEVEL, and Aer Lingus and 2x Avios on hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel. Avios can be shared between any Avios program, which also includes Qatar Airways (home of the QSuite) and you can redeem British Airways Avios for award tickets on oneworld airlines like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and more.

Award tickets on short-haul American Airlines are actually a major sweet spot of the British Airways Avios program with flights like New York to Miami in coach going for just 9,000 Avios and $5,60 in tax.

british-airways-visa-signature-card

More importantly, you’ll receive 10% off all British Airways flights that originate in the United States. (Must book through a special website provided with your new card.)

And then, after your first year, you can earn a Travel Together Ticket (a.k.a. Companion Ticket), good for bringing a companion for just the taxes and fees when you redeem a reward flight for yourself, when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. Don’t have a companion to bring? You can use it for half off the points of an Avios award flight instead.

Finally, you’ll also receive up to a $600 statement credit on bookings for Reward Flights as described above in Unique Card benefits.

If you fly British Airways frequently, this airline credit card is truly compelling.

Keep in mind, from a pure points earning perspective, that the Chase Sapphire Reserve also earns 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card points on these airlines and on all airlines, hotels and other travel and can even be transferred to Avios if needed – as well as a range of other travel partners, like World of Hyatt which offers excellent and outsized value.

So if you are getting the card for the points alone, you may want to rethink it. If you are getting it for the benefits, your head is in the right place.

Keep in mind that British Airways Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity, though that won’t be a problem if you are spending on this credit card!

If you don’t primarily fly BA, you might want to look at other airline credit cards or bank cards with transferable points.

Note: Per Chase’s 5/24 Rule, you will only be approved for a Chase card like the British Airways Visa card if you have applied for fewer than 5 personal credit cards within the last 24 months from any issuer. (Business cards do not count against the total, except for Capital One Spark Cash Select and Spark Miles plus Discover, but are subject to the policy).

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
yes
Free Checked Bags
no
Airport Lounge Access
no
Priority Boarding
no
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
no
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Concierge Services
no
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
no
Free Access to Credit Score
no
Annual Fee
$0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $95
Avg. Min. Credit Score
670-850 *
Ongoing APR
21.99%-28.99% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Best Multiplier
2x Airfare

On United flights only; otherwise earn 1X

2x Dining Out / Food Delivery
2x Hotels
1x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.012
Bonus Offer

Earn 60,000 United MileagePlus Miles after spending $3,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account, plus Annual Fee waived for the first year. Offer ends January 24, 2024.  

Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(4.05) Our Review

Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.

Review

The United Explorer is one of the best credit cards out there for occasional United flyers. That’s because you’ll get useful perks, such as free first checked bags, priority boarding privileges, a 25% food and beverage discount on board United operated flights, and even get a taste of airport lounge access with two anniversary United Club passes. Plus. the annual fee is waived the first year, then just $95 thereafter.

Consider this scenario: Even if you only fly United a couple of times per year, the Explorer Card is worth it for the free checked bag benefit alone. Keep in mind, this applies to the primary card holder and one companion on the same reservation, as long as you use the card to pay for your ticket. At $35 for one checked bag, and $140 for a round-trip flight for two people, it’s easy to get value that exceeds the card’s annual fee.

In addition to the sign-up bonus earned after account opening, the United Explorer card earns a decent 2X miles on United Airlines purchases, 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services, 2X miles on hotel stays when booked with the hotel and 1x miles on all other purchases. Also, the card helps to fast track your United elite status goals with 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year). These PQPs can be applied toward your Premier status qualification — up to the Premier 1K level.

And don’t forget the ability to earn PQPs towards elite status from spend. You’ll earn 25 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $500 you spend on purchases – up to 1,000 PQPs per year.

If you’re in need of extra miles besides flying on United flights, keep in mind that Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the United Mileage Plus program at a 1:1 ratio to help you top up your miles balance.

While the United Explorer card is a fantastic option for the occasional United flyer, those that travel more often with the airline might want to consider other options, including United’s other, more premium, credit cards.

In more simple terms, the Explorer card fits the “occasional United flyer” once or twice per year mold, while the $250-per-year United Quest fits the “semi-frequent United flyer.” Then, there’s the United Club Infinite Card for the “frequent United flyer.” If you’re looking for a United Club membership and need more than just two one-time passes, you’ll probably be better off with the United Club Infinite Card, which comes with a full United Club membership but also charges the highest annual fee of the United cards at $525.

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
no
Free Checked Bags
yes
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Priority Boarding
yes
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Concierge Services
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes

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