United MileagePlus Explorer Card Review

This card gets you solid ongoing rewards, free checked bags, two airport lounge passes per year, reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees and primary car rental coverage.

United Mileageplus Explorer Card

If you travel using United Airlines, make sure you get familiar with the United℠ Mileageplus Explorer card. This airline and travel credit card offers great value, worthy for those that travel a lot and worthy for those that only travel a few times a year. This card has an annual fee intro of $0 for the first year, then $95 annually. Although there is an annual fee, you’re going to learn that the United℠ Mileageplus Explorer credit card offers much more than other airline and travel cards.

One important note before we get started, Continental OnePass is now United℠ Mileageplus.

United Mileageplus Benefits

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits.

Credit Card Type: Airline

Annual Fee: $0 Intro, then $95 annually

Interest Rate: The ongoing APR is 16.49% – 23.49% Variable APR.

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.

Mileageplus Rewards
  • 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on purchases from United.
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on restaurant purchases and hotel accommodations purchased directly with the hotel.
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Other Benefits And Perks
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck statement credit every 4 years
  • Two United Club one-time use passes per year
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and a companion, must be on your reservation
  • Trip cancelation or trip interruption insurance

United Mileageplus Rewards

As you’re now learning, this airline card has a lot to offer. There’s no question about it, this is one of the best airline credit cards on the market, but you be the judge. Let’s take a deeper dive and check out the United℠ Mileageplus rewards.

(1) Frequent Flyer Miles

While you can get a lot of value out of the United℠ Mileageplus credit card without using it for purchases, frequent flyer miles can get you free flights and premium cabin upgrades. 

You can earn 2 miles per every dollar spent on eligible United℠ purchases, this includes seat upgrades, airfare, bag fees, and in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi. You can also earn double miles on two other spending categories relevant to traveling:

  • Purchases at Restaurants
  • Staying at Hotels

For everything else spent on the card, you’ll earn 1 mile per dollar spent. Miles can be spent in a number of different ways, however, they’re most valuable when used for award flights and seat upgrades.

In addition to the ongoing rewards, this United℠ Explorer Mileageplus includes a solid sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.

(2) Airport Lounge Passes

When you compare the United℠ Explorer Card to other major U.S. airline credit cards in the same price range, you’ll discover that this is the only card that offers free lounge passes. It includes (2) one-day passes per year at a United Club. These will usually run you $59 each, so the value of the passes alone exceeds the annual fee of $95.

While it may not be as obvious, airport lounges can provide serenity, away from the noisy and hectic atmosphere of seating at the gate. United Clubs has some good perks as well, including free bar service, light snacks, free Wi-Fi, as well as comfortable chairs and workstations. The agents there will assist you with electronic ticketing, reservations, and seat assignments.

The passes give you access to more than 45 United Club locations. To access these lounges, you’ll need to provide a same-day boarding pass for travel on United or a certified partner.

(3) More Rewards And Benefits

The United℠ Explorer Card also comes with several other benefits that set it apart from other airline cards. Here are a few you might find useful:

  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck Credit – This United card offers you a credit for the cost of a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee when you use your card to pay for it. That could end up saving you $100 or $85. You do need to renew each program every 5 years; the benefit on this card renews every 4 years.
  • Priority Boarding – You can’t go wrong with priority boarding. Thankfully, you get it with this card. Getting on the plane earlier or in a boarding group increases your chances of finding overhead bin space. Even so, the plane can get crowded quickly, so priority boarding is a welcome reward.
  • Primary Car Rental Coverage – You usually won’t see this type of benefit with an airline card at this price. Unlike the majority of airline and travel cards, this card has car rental coverage. This can save you money on your insurance deductible if you do have an accident in a rental car. In order to qualify, you’ll need to use the card to pay for the rental and you must decline the rental company’s coverage.

Final Thoughts

We feel the United℠ Explorer Card is a great card if you’re using United Airlines for traveling. The card is loaded with good benefits, definitely more than co-branded cards from other airlines. The card is also a solid choice for occasional United flyers because of the free checked bags and lounge access passes you get, which immediately makes up for the $95 annual fee.

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