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Compare the Features and Benefits of United℠ Explorer Card and
Citi® Double Cash Card

Detailed Comparison Overview

Key Facts
Annual Fee
Avg. Min. Credit Score
APR on balance transfers
Ongoing APR
Balance transfers fees
Best Multiplier
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
Bonus Offer
Rating
Review
Key features
Unique Card Benefits
Concierge Services
Free Access to Credit Score
Free Checked Bags
Airport Lounge Access
Priority Boarding
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Trip Protections
Purchase Protection
Extended Warranty
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers
No Fees for Authorized Users
Annual Fee
$0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $95
Avg. Min. Credit Score
670-850 *
APR on balance transfers
-
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 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
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
Concierge Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Free Checked Bags
yes
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Priority Boarding
yes
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers
no
No Fees for Authorized Users
no
Annual Fee
$0
Avg. Min. Credit Score
580-850 *
APR on balance transfers
0% Intro APR (on balance transfers for 18 months, 19.24%-29.24% thereafter)
Ongoing APR
19.24%-29.24% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min).
Best Multiplier
2x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.01 - $0.016
Bonus Offer
There is no bonus offer at this time
Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(3.83) 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 Citi Double Cash® Card isn’t a card loaded with features and benefits.

But it has one killer feature that makes the card a must-have for nearly everyone and that’s the simple fact that it earns 2% cash back on all of your everyday purchases. Technically, you earn 1% when you spend and 1% when you pay, but semantics aside, you’re earning 2% cash back on absolutely all eligible purchases.

everyday-purchases-citi-double-cash

And before we forget, it also comes with a pretty amazing intro offer for balance transfers, as outlined in the Key Facts at the top of the page.

You don’t have to think about bonus categories with this credit card. The answer to “what will I earn here” is always 2%.

Just one caveat: the Double Cash does not come with many expected benefits, like extended warranty or purchase protection. For those reasons, you may want to use another card for high value merchandise purchases.

That said, why is it a must have credit card for nearly everyone? Three reasons:

1) There is no consumer credit card issued by a major bank that earns a higher % of cash back with no annual fee. None.

2) You can use this as your one credit card if you are completely averse to using multiple credit cards (although you’ll need to be aware of the foreign transaction fees charged if you travel internationally). But even better is to use this as your “default” card. What I mean by that is you may have a card that earns 4X on dining and groceries and another that earns 3% on drugstores, but that’s it. What about an insurance payment? What about daycare?

On most other credit cards, if you aren’t spending in a bonus category, you only earn 1X or 1% back. For example, the Citi Premier Card pays 3X in certain categories (Air/Hotel, Gas, Restaurants and Supermarkets) and 1X in everything else. So you can “Double Up” by having both cards.

The Citi Double Cash card earns 2X Thank You® points on everything. If your purchase is in a Citi Premier card bonus category, go ahead and make the purchase with your Citi Premier card. If it’s in any other category, make the purchase with your Double Cash card. That way, you’ll get one percent when you make the purchase and another percent when you pay it. With a Double Cash card in your pocket, you can always take it out when you have no bonus category available, ensuring that you never, ever earn less than 2% back on any purchases.

3) While you’ll earn cash back rewards with this card, it earns it as ThankYou® points. If you only have the Double Cash alone, that keeps things simple. It’s cash! You can cash out as a statement credit, via direct deposit to your bank account, or by check.

Pair with a Citi Premier® card – a great credit card strategy

In that case, once again, you simply pair this card with a Citi Premier credit card. That would allow you to pool all of your ThankYou® points together and, because of the Premier, you’ll unlock access to all of the transfer options listed below, the best kind of credit card rewards:

Citi ThankYou Transfer PartnersTransfer RatioApproximate Transfer Time *
AeroMexico1:1Generally instant
Air France Flying Blue1:1Instant
Avianca LifeMiles1:1Instant.
Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles1:1Instant
Etihad Guest1:1Instant
Emirates1:!Instant
Eva Air1:1~1-3 days
Jet Airways InterMiles1:1Instant
JetBlue TrueBlue1:1Instant
Malaysia Airlines Enrich1:1~1-7 days
Qantas1:1Instant to 1 day
Qatar Privilege Club1:1~2 days
Singapore Airlines1:1~1-2 days
Thai Orchid Plus1:1~3-7 days
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles1:11-2 days
Virgin Atlantic1:1Instant to 2 days
Hotels
Choice Hotels1:2 (Citi Prestige / Premier / Chairman cards)

1:1.5 (No fee Citi ThankYou cards)
Instant
Wyndham Rewards1:1 (Citi Prestige / Premier / Chairman cards)

1:0.8 (No fee Citi ThankYou cards)
TBD
Accor Live Limitless1:0.5TBD

What are some of the ways you can use Citi ThankYou® points for outsized value with a Citi Premier?

We outline all of that on the Citi Premier card page, since that is the card that unlocks these features. Please take a look at the Citi Premier review for everything you need to know about using Citi ThankYou® points.

The Citi Trifecta: Add the Citi Premier and then a Citi Rewards+ Card for a 10% Points Rebate

You can make your Citi Premier and Citi Double Cash rewards combo even more rewarding if you add in a no-annual fee Citi Rewards+ card.

Each calendar year, Citi will rebate back 10% of the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points that you spend, so you can get back up to 10,000 points per year Best of all, it isn’t tied in any way to your spending on the card. Just having it in your profile and linked to the same ThankYou account will ensure that you get the rebate.

Citi Application Rules

Citi won’t approve more than 2 cards in a 60-day period, although we recommend 65 days, just to be safe. This means that if you decide to apply for the Double Cash and combo with a Citi Premier and Citi Rewards+ card, you’ll have to pick one to wait and apply for on Day 66. We’d recommend getting the Rewards+ last, since the benefits are when you redeem.

Bottom Line

The Citi Double Cash is quite simply a card that should be in 99% of wallets. The 2% cash back on everything (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill), with no annual fee, is too good to pass up, even if you are using it in conjunction with other credit cards to maximize your bonus categories – as you should be!

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Concierge Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes
Free Checked Bags
no
Airport Lounge Access
no
Priority Boarding
no
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
no
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Trip Protections
no
Purchase Protection
no
Extended Warranty
no
No Foreign Transaction Fees
no
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
no
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
yes

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