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Compare the Features and Benefits of IHG One Rewards Traveler 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
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Trip Protections
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Free Access to Credit Score
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Grants Hotel Status
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
Annual Fee
$0
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
5x Hotels

At IHG brand hotels and resorts booked directly; otherwise earn 2X.

3x Cable / Internet / VOIP Phone
3x Gas Stations
3x Cellular Phone Service
3x Dining Out / Food Delivery
3x Streaming Services
2x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.004
Bonus Offer
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(3.95) 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 Rewards Traveler Credit Card is IHG’s no-annual-fee credit card. As such, it doesn’t offer the excellent perks that come with the IHG Premier Credit Card — like a free night each account anniversary, automatic Platinum Elite status, and other travel perks.

However, the IHG Traveler Card still offers surprisingly good benefits for a no-annual-fee card. You’ll get IHG Rewards’ intro level Silver Elite status, fourth night free on rewards stays, and a 20% discount on purchases of IHG Rewards points.

Screenshot showing IHG card benefit of 20% discount on purchases of IHG Rewards points.

Silver Elite status doesn’t offer too many perks — 20% bonus points at IHG hotels and resorts, a shot at late checkout, and not having to worry about point expiration. Cardholders can spend $20,000 in a calendar year to upgrade to Gold Elite status. Gold Elite status includes 40% bonus points at IHG hotels and resorts.

In addition to the sign-up bonus, IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card cardholders will earn bonus points on IHG hotel stays, dining, gas stations, select streaming services, and utility monthly bills. Cardholders earn 2 points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. Considering the IHG Rewards point value is only around 0.4 cents per point, that’s not the best possible return on your other purchases.

So, you might just want to limit using your IHG Traveler Card to IHG hotels and resorts. By charging IHG hotel stays to their IHG Traveler Card, cardholders will earn a total of at least 17 points per dollar spent:

  • 5 points per dollar spent by charging the IHG hotel stay to their IHG Traveler Card
  • 10 points per dollar spent as an IHG Rewards member.
  • 2 bonus points per dollar spent at as Silver Elite (or more if you have a higher tier of IHG Rewards elite status)

For those unfamiliar, the IHG Rewards loyalty program includes a wide range of hotel brands. On the luxury side, you can earn and redeem IHG points at InterContinental Hotels, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, Six Senses, and Regent Hotels. On the flip side, you can earn and redeem IHG points for stays at Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Candlewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites. That range of earning and redemption options is truly impressive.

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Trip Protections
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Grants Hotel Status
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
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
Extended Warranty
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Trip Protections
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Grants Hotel Status
no
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

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