United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

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  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5,000 bonus miles after you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • First checked bag free for you and one companion


Recommended Credit Score
Good - Excellent
Intro APRRegular APRAnnual Fee

0%

14%-24%

$0 intro for first year, $95 after that

  • 2X miles on United ticket purchases restaurants and hotel accommodations, 1.5X on all other purchases
  • 25% back as statement credit on purchases or food, beverages and Wi-Fi on United flights
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit


United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Summary

If you are a loyal United Airlines flyer, or even choose them a few times a year, the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card can help save you enough money to make up for the relatively low annual fee of $95. The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is similar to other airline cards of the same annual fee level, but it does have additional perks to make it stand out from the crowd.  It was recently upgraded with new benefits and opportunities at the same annual fee that makes the card that much more cost-effective, attractive, and easier to rack up points. It offers two free airport lounge passes and no foreign transaction fees. With a free checked bag for you and a companion, the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card could be a great option for someone who travels consistently.


PROS:
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5,000 bonus miles after you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • First checked bag free for you and one companion

CONS:
  • High fees for award changes
  • Expensive business and first-class international redemption levels


Best Features

The current signup bonus is 40,000 bonus miles after you spent $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. If you add an authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening, you can earn an additional 5,000 miles. This signup bonus is often enough to get you a free domestic award travel. United Airlines often has deals for 12,500 miles for a one-way Saver Award within the continental U.S. and Canada.

The card also sends you two passes at the United Club, which typically costs $59 per entry. The value of these two passes alone exceeds the annual fee. As long as you use and enjoy using these passes each year, this perk adds value to the card.


Drawbacks

After May 31, 2018, you will no longer earn 10,000 bonus miles on purchases each calendar year. The travel and purchase protection benefits have also changed and you will now be reimbursed for up to $1,500 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares, if your trip is canceled or cut short due to illness, severe weather and other covered situations. Price protection and return protection will no longer be available.

The checked bag fee is waived but only for one other travel companion, which is significantly less than the eight or nine companions that other airlines allow.  If you want to cash in your reward miles for a flight within 21 days, you will be facing a fee of $75.


Overall Summary

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card recently introduced new benefits and opportunities that take effect June 1, 2018. The new reward opportunities include 2 miles earned per $1 spent at restaurants, 2 miles per $1 spent on hotel accomodations when purchased directly with the hotel, and 25% back as statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi aboard United and Star Alliance flights when you use your Explorer card. You also will be reimbursed up to $100 every four years for the application fee for either Global Entry or Tsa Pre-Check when you pay for it with your United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.

All the other benefits and opportunities will stay the same. Cardholders will get priority boarding privileges and no foreign transaction fees. The miles don’t expire if you are an active cardholder in good standing. If not, the miles expire in 18 months if there is no activity on the account.


Who this card is best for

If United Airlines is your airline of choice, then United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is a good option. The free checked bags and lounge access passes alone exceed the cost of the annual fee. However, if you sometimes fly other airlines, another credit card might be best for you.


 

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