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Your Best Credit Cards has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Your Best Credit Cards and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on Your Best Credit Cards are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. Your Best Credit Cards does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Commissions do not affect or prioritize placement within our Card Explorer results and not all cards displayed earn us a commission. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

* Suggested credit score ranges are supplied by QuinStreet, not from the issuers, and are guidelines, not a guarantee of approval.

United℠ Explorer Card

For the casual United flyer

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Your Best Credit Cards has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Your Best Credit Cards and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on Your Best Credit Cards are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. Your Best Credit Cards does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Commissions do not affect or prioritize placement within our Card Explorer results and not all cards displayed earn us a commission. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

* Suggested credit score ranges are supplied by QuinStreet, not from the issuers, and are guidelines, not a guarantee of approval.

United℠ Explorer Card

For the casual United flyer

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.  

💵 Your Projected Rewards Value
Year 1 tbd
Year 2 tbd

Key facts

The United Explorer provides elite-like perks for a fraction of the cost of premium credit cards.

Annual Fee:

$95 $0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $95

AVG Point Value:

$0.012 (Learn More)

Min. Credit Score for Approval:

670-739 * Good

Ongoing APR:

21.99%-28.99% Variable

Balance transfer fees

Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Foreign Transaction Fee:

0%

With a waived annual fee for the first year (then $95), the United Explorer is a no-brainer for semi-frequent United Airlines travelers looking for a co-branded card. That’s because you’ll get travel perks like a first free checked bag, priority boarding, and two one-time United Club passes for lounge access. The $95 annual fee can easily pay for itself.

Reward multipliers

In addition to the sign-up bonus earned after account opening, the United Explorer card earns:

  • 2X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services
  • 2X miles on hotel stays when booked with the hotel
  • 1x mile on all other eligible purchases

Earns bonus points for spend in the following bonus categories:

On United flights only; otherwise earn 1X

2x
Airfare

Estimated Rewards Value: 2.4%

2x
Dining Out / Food Delivery

Estimated Rewards Value: 2.4%

2x
Hotels

Estimated Rewards Value: 2.4%

1x
Everything Else

Estimated Rewards Value: 1.2%

Key features

1

Unique Card Benefits

25% back on United Purchases In-Flight and United Club Premium Drink Purchases

Receive 25% off United in flight purchases when using your card, including Wi-Fi, food and beverages. In addition, get 25% off United Club premium drinks.

Earn up to 1,000 Premier Qualifying Points

United elite status qualification is based on two metrics: Premier qualifying points (PQPs) and Premier qualifying flights (PQFs).

You’ll earn 25 PQPs for every $500 you spend on purchases with your Explorer Card (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year) that can be applied toward your Premier status qualification — up to the Premier 1K level.

Expanded United Award Availability

You’ll have additional access to book United economy awards and may even see economy award seats requiring fewer miles when logged into your MileagePlus account. We’ve seen awards around half off the standard (public) price.

Premier Upgrades on Award Tickets

If the primary cardholder has Premier status and is traveling on an award ticket (along with one companion that is traveling on the same reservation), they are eligible for complimentary Premier upgrades on select United Airlines and United Express operated flights, subject to availability.

DoorDash Benefit

Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. You must activate by 12/31/24.

$10 GoPuff Credit

Gopuff is a delivery service that can bring you groceries, home essentials and more to your door. Eligible United Explorer card holders (or holders of another applicable Chase credit card) get up to $10 in statement credits on Gopuff purchases each month. There’s no enrollment for this benefit — all you’ll need to do is pay with your eligible Chase credit card at checkout.

The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

This selection of over 1,000 properties includes many of the world’s top hotel accommodations, resorts, lodges and spas, each of which extend you complimentary benefits with every stay. By making a reservation for hotel stays through the program, you’ll receive:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • A special benefit unique to each property, such as a dining or spa credit
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • A room upgrade, if available
  • Early check-in and late checkout, if available

2

Free Checked Bags

The primary card holder and one companion on the same reservation will each receive their first standard checked bag free on board United operated flights when the primary card holder includes their United MileagePlus number in their reservation and purchases their tickets from United with their card.

3

Airport Lounge Access

Card holders receive two United Club one-time passes after account opening and on each anniversary.

4

Priority Boarding

The primary card holder and companions on the same reservation receive priority boarding (Group 2) on United-operated flights.

5

Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement

Receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS when charged to your card.

6

Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver

If you decline the rental car company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card, coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.

Country and vehicle restrictions apply.

7

Trip Protections

Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance

You can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares, if your trip is cancelled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations.

Trip Delay Reimbursement

If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

Baggage Delay Insurance

Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for 3 days.

Lost Luggage Insurance

If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.

8

Purchase Protection

Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.

9

Extended Warranty

Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.

10

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Purchases made with the Explorer card outside the U.S. will not be subject to foreign transaction fees.

11

Concierge Services

Get complimentary Visa Signature concierge service 24 hours a day. This service can help find tickets to sports and entertainment events, make dinner reservations and even get help sending the perfect gift. Note that card holders are still subject to paying for any third-party services or items.

12

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

The Chase Benefit Administrator can refer you to legal and medical services or provide other travel and emergency assistance.

13

Free Access to Credit Score

Check your VantageScore 3.0® credit score for free through Chase Credit Journey.

Earn more rewards by combining credit cards

United℠ Explorer Card
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Pros & cons

  • First free checked bag for the card holder and a companion on United Airlines flights when you pay with the card.
  • United miles can open the door to a wide array of United, Star Alliance, and partner flights.
  • Expanded access to United's lowest-priced economy award flights.
  • Not ideal for regular access to United Clubs.
  • Has a $95 annual fee after the first year.
  • Miles are not transferable and its best uses are for United, Star Alliance, and partner flight redemptions.

United℠ Explorer Card

Learn How to Apply

Our 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.

Frequently asked questions

1

Does the United Explorer Card have an annual fee?

Yes, while the United Explorer card waives the annual fee for the first year, it carries a $95 annual fee thereafter.

2

Does the United Explorer Card get you into airport lounges?

Yes, the United Explorer card gives you two one-time passes to United Club locations each year.

3

Is it hard to get the the United Explorer Card?

While your credit score isn’t the only thing that matters when applying for a card, it’s recommended that you have good to excellent credit. For a solid chance of an approval, you should have a credit score 670 or above.

4

Is it worth getting the United Explorer Card?

The United Explorer card offers many benefits, especially for those that travel with United Airlines with some level of frequency, for a reasonable $95 annual fee billed to your credit card account.

5

How do I earn miles with the United Explorer Card?

The United Explorer card earns:

  • 2X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services
  • 2X miles on hotel stays when booked with the hotel
  • 1x mile on all other purchases

6

Are there other United cards besides the United Explorer Card?

There are a number of other United credit cards, including the no-annual-fee United Gateway, the $250-per-year United Quest, and $525-per-year United Club Infinite credit cards. Depending on your travel patterns and desire for unlimited United Club access, it may make sense to consider these other United cards.

7

Does the United Explorer Card charge foreign transaction fees?

No, the United Explorer card does not charge foreign transaction fees.

8

Does the United Explorer Card have car rental coverage?

Yes, for car rentals, the United Explorer credit card comes with Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver insurance.

9

Does the United Explorer Card come with any Elite Status?

While the United Explorer credit card does not come with elite status on its own, it does allow you to earn 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year) that can be applied toward your Premier status qualification — up to the Premier 1K level.

10

Does the United Explorer Credit Card offer extended warranty?

Yes, the card extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.

11

Does the United Explorer Card offer purchase protection?

Yes, it covers new purchases on your credit card account for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.

12

Does the United Explorer Card offer free checked bags?

Yes, the card offers free first checked bags for you and a companion.

13

Does the United Explorer Card offer priority boarding?

Yes, this United card gets you Group 2 priority boarding for you and your companions traveling on the same reservation when you include your MileagePlus number.

14

Does the United Explorer Card offer trip protections?

Yes, the card offers a host of trips protections including:

  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement

15

Does the United Explorer card offer discounts for in flight purchases?

Yes, the card offers 25% off in flight purchases, including Wi-Fi, food and beverages. In addition, you’ll get 25% off for United Club premium drinks.

16

What credit score do I need to get a United Explorer Card?

Typically, potentially card applicants should have a credit score of at least 670 to be approved.

17

Can I earn more miles with the United Explorer Card without needing to fly United Airlines?

Yes, it’s possible to earn miles though rental car and hotel stays as well as dining and shopping programs. These other non-flying purchases will help you earn more miles. Another way to earn more miles is through transferring points from a transferrable points currency, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards.

18

What can I do with the miles earned for spending on the United Explorer Card?

You can use miles for flights on United Airlines or its partners, including Star Alliance airlines. United miles never expire. In addition, while we don’t recommend this option, miles can be used for hotel stays, car rentals, merchandise, eGift cards and more.

19

Does the United Explorer Card have Cell Phone Protection?

No, the card does not offer cell phone protection.

20

How does the United Explorer Card compare to the United Club Infinite Credit Card?

21

How does the United Gateway Card compare to the United Explorer Card?

22

How does the United Explorer Card compare to the United Quest Card?

23

How does the United Explorer Card compare to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

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