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This article was last updated Dec 20, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
United Airlines retired the old MileagePlus® Explorer Card on June 1 and unveiled the new United℠ Explorer Card with great fanfare and major upgrades.
The changes were welcomed by travelers, especially those who belong to the United Airlines MileagePlus loyalty program. This benefits guide will outline everything you get with this card in your wallet. We’ll also see how the United℠ Explorer Card — with an annual fee of $95 — stacks up against competing cards in the market.
New cardholders earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.. But be prepared for a big spend in the first six months of having the card in order to earn all the bonus miles available with this offer.
A welcome change with the United℠ Explorer Card was the boost in the miles per dollars spent in popular categories. Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account stays open.
- Free checked bag: It covers you and a companion traveling on the same reservation if you use the card to buy your airfare. That perk alone can save you up to $120 in round-trip fees.
- Priority boarding. The card allows you and a companion to board your flight before general boarding, but after MileagePlus Premier® members, customers with Premier Access® and those needing special assistance. The cardmember must include their MileagePlus number in their reservation, and their companion must be on the same reservation.
- Statement credits. Receive up to a $100 credit to cover the enrollment fee for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Receive a 25% statement credit when you use the card for food, beverage and Wi-Fi purchases onboard United- and United Express-operated flights.
- Lounge passes. Receive two United ClubSM airport lounge passes every year on your card anniversary.
Travel insurance and other benefits
- Primary car rental collision damage insurance. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance when you charge the car to your card. The insurance 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.
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance. Be reimbursed up to $1,500 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations, such as sickness or injury.
- Baggage delay insurance. This coverage reimburses you for items such as toiletries and clothing for baggage delays lasting more than six hours, up to $100 a day for three days.
- Lost luggage reimbursement. If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the airline, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
- No foreign transaction fees. The card has a foreign transaction fee of $0 for any spending outside the United States.
- The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. Receive room upgrades, free daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout (if available) and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
- Inside access. Purchase private, once-in-a-lifetime experiences – from celebrity meet-and-greets to private culinary and sports events — through MileagePlus Exclusives, MileagePlus Event Awards and Broadway shows.
Check out credit cards with travel insurance.
- Extended warranty. Doubles manufacturer’s warranty up to one additional year on warranties of three years or less.
- Purchase protection. Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.
How the benefits stack up
The United℠ Explorer Card has some of the best trip/baggage insurance coverage among airline- and travel-branded credit cards. The Global Entry and TSA Precheck credits are a nice perk. And being able to receive the in-flight credit for Wi-Fi access makes this card stand out.
Check out 11 credit cards that offer free Wi-Fi access.
Earning and maintaining elite status is important to those who fly on a specific airline regularly. Some airline-branded credit cards have ways to help you earn elite status, such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. But the United℠ Explorer Card doesn’t come with a way to do that.
Check out earning elite status and miles with credit cards.
The United℠ Explorer Card allows only one traveling companion to get a free checked bag, but allows everyone on the same reservation to board early. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, however, allows a free checked bag and priority boarding for the cardmember and up to nine companions on the same reservation.
Receiving two United Club lounge passes a year with the United℠ Explorer Card is a nice perk, but the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® are two airline cards that come with free lounge access for the cardholder and up to two companions.
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
See additional details for Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
The bottom line
There are enough perks with the improved United℠ Explorer Card that make it worth considering, even though there are other airline and travel credit cards on the market that offer more points and miles for spending on travel, dining, groceries and gas. But loyal United Airlines flyers may find that having a card with strong benefits that help make travel easier is worth it.
If not, there are plenty of travel-branded credit cards that may be a better fit, even if they don’t offer the flight benefits that are appealing to United MileagePlus members.
The information related to the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.