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Compare the Features and Benefits of United℠ Explorer Card and
American Express® Green 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
Airport Lounge Access
Trip Protections
Purchase Protection
Extended Warranty
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Free Checked Bags
Priority Boarding
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Concierge Services
Free Access to Credit Score
Earns Transferable Points
Annual Statement Credits
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Has No Preset Spending Limit
No Fees for Authorized Users
Amex Offers
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
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Free Checked Bags
yes
Priority Boarding
yes
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Concierge Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Earns Transferable Points
no
Annual Statement Credits
no
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Has No Preset Spending Limit
no
No Fees for Authorized Users
no
Amex Offers
no
Annual Fee
$150 (Rates and fees)
Avg. Min. Credit Score
*
Ongoing APR
-
Balance transfers fees
-
Best Multiplier
3x Airfare
3x Transit
3x Car Rentals
3x Dining Out / Food Delivery
3x Hotels
1x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.017
Bonus Offer
Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
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

American Express seems to have positioned the Green Card to more directly compete with high performing mid-tier cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Citi Premier card, offering a few more direct benefits than each of them in exchange for a $150 annual fee (vs. $95 on those other cards). (Rates and Fees)

The American Express Green Card is a Powerhouse for Travel, Transit and Dining

Whereas the The Platinum Card® from American Express is all about the benefits (elite statuses, statement credits galore, etc), the American Express® Green Card is all about the 3X Membership Rewards points on all things travel (including Transit!) plus 3X on dining – all for a relatively low annual fee of just $150 (Rates and Fees). It’s great for frequent travelers, especially if you don’t already have a card that earns at least 3X on travel purchases.

And it does have a couple of benefits that can cover the annual fee. If you don’t have access to CLEAR (which lets you go ahead of most other people at airport security in select airports / terminals), this card will cover $189 in CLEAR fees which is enough for a whole family to have a membership. And you also get up to $100 in credits for airport lounge access with LoungeBuddy.

It’s worth considering this card in combination with other American Express cards. One solid Trifecta that maximizes points would be an Amex Gold Card, an Amex Green Card, and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. You’d use the Gold for Dining and U.S. Supermarkets, the Green for 3X points on travel and transit, and the Blue Business Plus for 2X on other eligible purchases (up to $50,000 a year; 1X Membership Rewards points per dollar thereafter).

In another Trifecta replace the Gold Card with a Platinum Card and enjoy all the perks and benefits of the Platinum card while putting all non-airfare travel and transit charges on the Green Card and the rest on your Blue Business Plus.

In short, I don’t think anyone should have the Green Card as their sole credit card, but I do think it has a nice place among a handful of American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards points.

Keep in mind that American Express Membership Rewards points never expire and combine among all of your Membership Rewards-earning cards. All points earned from various American Express cards have the same transfer partners.

The Amex Green Card Functions as a Credit Card

The Amex Green card is part of the same family of Amex proprietary cards formerly referred to as charge cards. However, the Green Card has a built-in Pay Over Time feature, making it function in many ways as any other standard credit card. Unlike a typical credit card, the Green Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

What this means: Amex generally limits a cardmember to 5 credit cards (personal and small business combined), while they have a limit of 10 on proprietary Amex cards (formerly known as Charge).  This means that even if you already have 5 Amex credit cards, you would still be eligible for a Green Card.

Bonus Eligibility: They still state that if you had the Green Card before, you are not eligible for a welcome bonus on this card. So you’ll be eligible if you have less than 10 Amex charge cards and have never had the Amex Green card before.

Rates and Fees for the American Express® Green Card

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Your Best Credit Cards. 
Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Free Checked Bags
no
Priority Boarding
no
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
no
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Concierge Services
no
Free Access to Credit Score
no
Earns Transferable Points
yes
Annual Statement Credits
yes
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Has No Preset Spending Limit
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
yes
Amex Offers
yes

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