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Compare the Features and Benefits of IHG One Rewards Premier Credit 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
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Trip Protections
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Free Access to Credit Score
Free Annual Hotel Night
Grants Hotel Status
Annual Statement Credits
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
No Fees for Authorized Users
Free Checked Bags
Airport Lounge Access
Priority Boarding
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Concierge Services
Annual Fee
$99
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
10x Hotels

10 points per dollar at eligible IHG hotels worldwide; 5X points per dollar on any other hotel purchases.

5x Airfare
5x Transit
5x Car Rentals
5x Gas Stations
5x Dining Out / Food Delivery
3x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.004
Bonus Offer
Earn 5 Free Nights (each worth up to 60,000 points) after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(4.48) 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 IHG Premier Credit Card can justify its place in any traveler’s wallet. After earning the excellent sign-up bonus, cardholders continue to be rewarded with IHG Platinum Elite status, an annual free night award, a reward night free on a reward stay of four or more consecutive nights, $50 per year in United TravelBank Cash, and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/NEXUS application fee credit.

IHG Rewards Club member registering to get United TravelBank Cash.

Those perks easily justify the $99 annual fee, even if you use a more rewarding card for everyday spending.

Cardholders earn bonus points in a variety of categories, including 10X IHG points on eligible purchases at IHG hotel brands and 5X points on travel, at gas stations, and on dining. All other purchases earn 3X points.

MilesTalk values IHG Rewards points at 0.4 cents each. That means IHG Premier Card cardholders can expect an approximate return of around 4% on spending at IHG Hotels and 1.2% on other purchases.

For those unfamiliar with IHG Rewards, the IHG Rewards program includes hotel brands like InterContinental Hotels, Six Senses, Kimpton, and Hotel Indigo on the luxury end and Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, and Staybridge Suites for more practical stays.

Redeem IHG Rewards points for an overwater villa at Six Senses in the Maldives.

Thanks to the Platinum Elite status that comes as a benefit on the IHG Premier Card, cardholders will earn 60% bonus points on stays, get complimentary room upgrades, and receive welcome bonus points when staying at participating IHG hotels.

For travelers that generally stay at least four nights, the IHG Premier Card’s fourth-night free benefit can save you a bunch of points. All you need to do is book at least four consecutive nights at an IHG hotel using your IHG Rewards points. And IHG will automatically discount one night to zero points — giving you a free reward night.

Screenshot showing IHG Rewards free night discount on a four-night stay.

You’ll get this perk whether you’re staying at a practical Holiday Inn or staying at ultra-luxurious InterContinental Hotels.

Screenshot showing the InterContinental Hotels New York Times Square bookable for 101,000 IHG Rewards points after the IHG Fourth Reward Night Free perk.

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Trip Protections
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Free Annual Hotel Night
yes
Grants Hotel Status
yes
Annual Statement Credits
yes
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
yes
Free Checked Bags
no
Airport Lounge Access
no
Priority Boarding
no
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Concierge Services
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 the Annual Fee waived for the first year. Offer ends August 7, 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
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Trip Protections
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Free Annual Hotel Night
no
Grants Hotel Status
no
Annual Statement Credits
no
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
No Fees for Authorized Users
no
Free Checked Bags
yes
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Priority Boarding
yes
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Concierge Services
yes

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