United Explorer Card Review: Maximize Your Miles and More

United Explorer: Valuable perks, miles on purchases, lounge access.

United Explorer Card Review: Maximize Your Miles and More


  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95, balancing cost with benefits.
  • APR: Variable APR of 21.99%-28.99%, standard for rewards cards.
  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Rewards: 2 miles per $1 on United, dining, and hotel stays; 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None, ideal for international travelers.


  • Airport Lounge Access: Two one-time United Club passes annually, a unique perk not commonly found in similar cards.
  • Checked Bag Waiver: Free first checked bag for you and a companion, saving up to $140 per round trip.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Credit: Up to $100 fee credit, enhancing travel convenience and savings.
  • Primary Car Rental Insurance: A standout feature offering coverage before your personal insurance.
  • Priority Boarding: Early boarding privileges, ensuring overhead bin space and a relaxed boarding experience.


  • Annual Fee: The $95 annual fee (waived the first year) requires enough benefit utilization to justify.
  • Limited Reward Redemptions: Primarily advantageous for United and Star Alliance bookings, which may not suit those seeking broader travel flexibility.
  • General Travel Cards May Offer More: General travel cards might provide better value and versatility for those flying with multiple airlines or seeking more flexible travel rewards.

Product Summary

The United Explorer Card stands out in the crowded airline card market with practical and luxurious benefits, making it well worth its annual fee for frequent and occasional United Flyers. The two United Club passes alone can justify the annual fee, while the free checked bag benefit, priority boarding, and no foreign transaction fees sweeten the deal for travelers. Its sign-up bonus is competitive, offering a substantial mileage boost early on. Including primary car rental insurance, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, and rewards on everyday spending categories further elevate its value. This card is especially compelling for those seeking to maximize travel benefits without committing to higher annual fee cards, offering a balanced mix of perks and rewards that can enhance travel experiences significantly.

Read more