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United Explorer Credit Card Review

United Explorer Credit Card Review

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Sep 03, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

The information related to the United MileagePlus® Club Card and United℠ Explorer Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

If you have United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, there’s good news — the new United℠ Explorer Card* has finally landed. It’s a new version of the old United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, but it comes with upgraded benefits. The old card is being phased out, but cardmembers started getting the same benefits as the new card on June 1. Going forward, cardmembers will get a new card when their old United MileagePlus® Explorer Card expires.

Overall, you’ll be pleased with many of the changes, but there are some that won’t be so welcome.

While the miles per $1 spent on United-related spending remains the same, the new card offers more miles per $1 spent in the all-important dining and hotel categories. There’s also a new in-flight discount, a credit for trusted traveler program fees and new travel and purchase perks. However, you may not like that the new card cut the perk of earning bonus miles that help with elite status.

The new United℠ Explorer Card represents an upgrade that cardmembers will appreciate when compared to the old card. There are still airline- and travel-branded cards out there that offer more robust miles/points in the top categories. But if you’re a loyal United Airlines flyer, this card is worth having in your rotation.

Where the United℠ Explorer Card stands out in its category

The big news with this card is the change in the miles per $1 spent, where you now 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. The expansion of more miles in the popular restaurant and hotel categories makes the United℠ Explorer Card stand out from other airline-branded credit cards.

New cardmembers earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open That’s enough miles for a round-trip Saver economy ticket to the Caribbean.

You can also earn 5,000 bonus miles after adding your first authorized user and making your first purchase in the first 3 months of opening your account.

Another new perk with the United℠ Explorer Card is up to a $100 credit to cover the enrollment fee for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. The card now also offers a 25% statement credit when you use it for in-flight food and beverage and Wi-Fi purchases; most other airline credit cards don’t offer a discount on in-flight Wi-Fi.

There’s no limit on the miles you can earn, and your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open. There are no seat restrictions or blackout dates when using miles to book award travel.

The United℠ Explorer Card has added lost luggage reimbursement, which covers you up to $3,000 per passenger if you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier.

Benefits that remain include: a free checked bag for the cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation; priority boarding for everyone on the same reservation; two free United Club passes every year; the ability to use miles to book travel on United and its Star Alliance global partners; Visa Signature® Concierge; the chance to spend miles on special cardmember events; and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, with room upgrades and free daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout (if available) and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.

Where the United℠ Explorer Card falls short

There’s no way for cardmembers to earn bonus points that count toward MileagePlus elite status. With the old card, you got 10,000 bonus points when you spent $25,000 a year on the card; on the new card, that benefit is now gone.

Only one traveling companion gets a free checked bag, which isn’t as good as what’s offered by some other airlines. On the plus side, there’s no limit on how many people you can bring for priority boarding as long as they’re on your same reservation.

The reimbursement amount for trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance went from up to $10,000 down to $1,500 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations like sickness or injury.

You also have to be wedded to United Airlines, because you can’t transfer your miles to other airline or hotel loyalty programs. You earn the extra miles per $1 when you book rooms directly through hotels; this is not applicable with third-party booking.

Additional card benefits

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Compare it with the United MileagePlus® Club Card*

While the new perks and benefits that come with the new United℠ Explorer Card are an improvement over the old United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, you may want a card that gives you even more — that option could be United’s version of a luxury credit card.

United got into the luxury side of the market with the United MileagePlus® Club card in March 2012. It competes with other travel-related competitors like The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee), and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® ($450 annual fee). The United MileagePlus® Club Card offers new cardmembers 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months the account is open. You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United airfare and 1.5 miles per $1 spent on everything else.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

More Info

The United MileagePlus® Club Card comes with a United ClubSM airport lounge membership, valued at up to $550 a year. This gets you, along with either two adults or an adult and dependent child under age 21, access to all locations and participating Star Alliance™-affiliated lounges around the world. The United℠ Explorer Card only gives you two United Club passes a year, so if you want regular access, you’ll have to pay $550 for a yearly membership or pay $59 for a day pass.

With the United MileagePlus® Club Card, you and those traveling on your reservation get Premier Access®, which includes designated check-in lines, priority security lanes, priority boarding and priority baggage handling on United flights, where available. You and one companion on your reservation also get two free checked bags on United- and United Express-operated flights. Award miles are good for travel on United, Star Alliance™ and other partner airlines, along with upgrades, in-flight Wi-Fi, hotel stays, car rentals merchandise and gift cards. Miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account remains open. Plus, there is no limit to the number of miles you can earn.

The United℠ Explorer Card offers only one free checked bag for the cardholder and a single companion on the same reservation. Everyone on the cardholder’s reservation gets priority boarding, but not access to dedicated check-in and priority security lines or priority baggage handling.

The United MileagePlus® Club Card allows you to register for automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status. That comes with 10% bonus points when choosing points, an upgrade to a preferred room based on availability at check-in, free premium internet access where available, a free bottle of water daily and a 2:00 p.m. late checkout upon request. You also get Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® President’s Circle® Membership, which includes bypassing the check-in counter to get a car, choosing a car you like with Hertz Gold Choice®, getting an expedited drop-off with eReturn and receiving vehicle updates or selecting an upgrade on your phone with Mobile Gold Alerts. The United℠ Explorer Card doesn’t offer any of these benefits.

Travel and purchase protections on the United MileagePlus® Club Card include trip delay reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase protection, price protection, return protection and extended warranty. There’s also access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which offers extra perks like free daily breakfast for two, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and early check-in and late check-out at more than 900 hotels, resorts, lodges and spas.

Cardmembers can use the Inside Access program to buy private experiences like wine tastings and culinary events. United MileagePlus® Visa Signature® cardmembers can participate in exclusive MileagePlus events like VIP access to live theater and museum events. There’s also access to free Visa Signature® Concierge Service for help finding tickets to the top sports and entertainment events, make dinner reservations and even get help sending the perfect gift.

But a major flaw with this card is that like the United℠ Explorer Card, there’s no way for cardmembers to earn bonus points that help them achieve and maintain elite status on United.

While the United℠ Explorer Card comes with an up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees and a 25% discount for in-flight food and beverage and Wi-Fi purchases, the United MileagePlus® Club Card doesn’t offer these perks like other luxury cards. Those other cards also offer similar credits for airline fees, and that’s missing with the United MileagePlus® Club Card.

United℠ Explorer Card United MileagePlus® Club Card*
Annual Fee $0 Intro for First Year, then $95 $450
Regular Purchase APR 18.49% - 25.49% Variable 17.49% to 24.49% Variable
Rewards 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 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United; 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Sign Up Bonus 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months an account is open.
Foreign Transaction Fee $0 None

 

*This offer and/or promotion has since changed, expired, or is no longer available.


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