United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, in our opinion, is one of the best airline credit cards on the market now. This official United Card, issued by JPMorgan Chase (JPM), comes with many mileage perks as it lets you earn miles when you fly on United, and also gives you miles in return for your 'everyday' spending so that your flights on United become cheaper.
Since United merged with Continental in October 2010, they won't continue to operate as two separate airlines since they've been granted a single operating certificate in 2012, and hence United's MileagePlus frequent flyer program now operates independently.
Things We Like About United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
$0 Intro annual fee for the First Year. Enjoy an introductory $0 annual fee for the first year, after that intro period the annual fee is $95.
Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 5,000 bonus miles if you add another cardholder to your account. With this bonus offer you will qualify and receive 5,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and the addition of an authorized user to your account; both must occur during the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 10,000 bonus miles every year when you spend at least $25,000 in net purchases on the card.
Earn double miles on tickets purchased from United. You earn 2 miles for each dollar you spend on tickets purchased from United. Tickets must be bought directly from the airline or through their website.
Earn 1 mile for every eligible $1 spent on other purchases. So whether you spend on clothing, food or movie tickets, you will be rewarded 1 mile for every $1 you spend on your card. Do note that you do not earn miles on balance transfers, cash advances, checks, or any other fees of any kind except for direct purchases.
Redeem your miles through the MileagePlus Program for award air tickets and upgrades on United or partner flights, hotel stays, car rentals, merchandise ranging from electronics, jewelry to home and sports products, magazine subscriptions, restaurant dining vouchers and many more!
$0 foreign transaction fee. When traveling abroad you will save more money as there is a $0 foreign transaction fee when making purchases in a foreign currency.
Priority boarding. You will get priority when boarding, so there's no need to stand in line with the majority of passengers.
First checked bag is free for the primary cardholder and a companion traveling together on the same United reservation. This is a great benefit as it saves you up to $100 per round trip per person checking one standard bag. As the primary cardholder you need to include your MileagePlus account number when you make your reservation and use this Credit Card from Chase to purchase tickets. If your spouse or another authorized user want to enjoy this benefits, they will have to travel with you as a companion on the same reservation. If you already get free checked baggage with your ticket, you won't get an extra checked bag by using this card. But United only offers a free checked bag for international flights, so this is a huge perk for flights inside of the U.S.
Two free one-time-use passes to the United Club lounge every year at any location. With free Wi-Fi, complimentary snacks and beverages, this gives you the chance to relax in style before you board your flight.
No limit on the amount of miles you can earn. This allows you to earn miles for every dollar you spend without there being a limit on what you can earn through your spending. The more you spend on your card, the more miles you earn. Your miles will not expire as long as your credit card account is open, so you can accumulate them over time.
You can redeem your miles for any seat, at any time, on any United flight. This is great since you won't have to worry about seat restrictions when redeeming your miles.
Low ongoing variable APR for purchases and balance transfers. You will have a 16.24% - 23.24% variable APR on both purchases and balance transfers, which is lower than the APR on most cards these days.
Get many travel and entertainment perks that are exclusive to Visa (V) Signature cardholders if you qualify for a Visa Signature card. If not, you will automatically be considered for a Visa Platinum card. Some notable travel benefits of being a Visa Signature cardholder include:
Travel accident insurance. If you pay for your travel tickets with your Visa Signature card, you receive a minimum of $250,000 in coverage for yourself and your family members.
Lost luggage reimbursement. If you pay for your travel tickets with your Visa Signature card, you will be reimbursed for your lost luggage while traveling.
Auto rental collision damage waiver. When you pay for your car rental with your Visa Signature card, you will be automatically covered for any damage caused by collision or theft of your eligible car rental.
Roadside dispatch. Get discounted 24/7 roadside assistance like towing, fuel delivery and more services when you call 1-800-VISA-TOW.
Travel and emergency assistance service. This free 24/7 emergency service is available anywhere in the world whenever you need assistance or referral in times of emergencies.
Our Least Favorite Things About United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
The $95 annual fee which you have to pay after the $0 Intro annual fee for the First Year. Most frequent flyer credit cards from other airlines have similar fees, but there are other travel cards which don't.
No introductory offer on balance transfers or purchases. From the time you sign up, there is a 16.24% - 23.24% variable APR for both balance transfers and purchases. To avoid paying any interest on your purchases, make sure to pay in full by the due date every month.
How Other Cards Compare With United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® has an offer which lets you earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases using your new card within the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus is about the same as United MileagePlus® Explorer Card since you also earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after account opening. You earn double AAdvantage® miles for each $1 that you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every dollar you spend on other purchases. When you redeem your miles you earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back (up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles every calendar year). That's pretty much the same rate of miles you get with United MileagePlus® Explorer Card. First checked bag is free for you (and up to 4 companions traveling with you on the same reservation) when you fly domestic American Airlines itineraries. United MileagePlus® Explorer Card has a similar benefits, but limits the free first checked bag to you and 1 companion traveling with you on the same United reservation. When you use this card to pay for in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights, you receive 25% savings (a perk which United MileagePlus® Explorer Card does not give you), which makes this card stand out among airline cards. But Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® does not give you airport lounge access (with United MileagePlus® Explorer Card you get 2 free passes to the United Club lounge every year at any location). Like United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, this card also has no foreign transaction fee and gives you priority boarding. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® has a $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months, which pretty much matches what you pay for United MileagePlus® Explorer Card. The benefits balance out pretty evenly, so which card you choose will really depend on which airline you fly with.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, a GET.com advertiser, has a special offer by which you earn 30,000 bonus miles after charging $1,000 in purchases to your new Card within your first 3 months. That's a similar bonus offer that you get with United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, with this card you also get a $50 statement credit after you make at least 1 Delta purchase using your new Card within the first 3 months after account opening. You earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile for every $1 you spend on other eligible purchases (here again, this rate is pretty typical). You can check your first bag free, on every Delta flight and enjoy priority boarding (again, nice perks but you get the same thing with United MileagePlus® Explorer Card). But a nice benefit you get with Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (that United MileagePlus® Explorer Card does not give you) is a 20% refund (as a statement credit) on Delta in-flight purchases (food, drinks, movies, video games, earphones and more) when you use this card to pay. The $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 is pretty typical of airline credit cards (you pay about the same for United MileagePlus® Explorer Card).
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card stands out from other airline cards in its class by giving you 2 one-time-use United Club passes every year.
If you like to fly on United, and are looking for a way to save on your travel spending, then you should consider getting United MileagePlus® Explorer Card which lets you earn double miles on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. If you add an authorized user within the first 3 months, spend $1,000 within the first 3 months from account opening, and spend at least $25,000 a year on your card, you'll rack up a total of 45,000 bonus miles for the year!
There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the First Year, so you'll get all the benefits of this card for free for the first year, after that you'll have to pay a $95 annual fee. If you qualify for a Visa Signature card, you'll get to enjoy many additional travel and entertainment privileges. This United Card replaces the already expired Continental Airlines OnePass Plus Card.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is a great choice of card for those who fly often on United and want to earn frequent flyer miles on everyday purchases.
Katrina Gutierrez is a writer at GET.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Editorial Disclosure: Any personal views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of GET.com. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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