United Explorer Credit Card Review – $95 annual fee + Great Benefits Even For Occasional United Flyers

United Explorer is an excellent card if you live near a United hub and fly United. You don’t have to be a frequent flier to benefit from the card. Even an occasional traveler will recoup the card’s annual fee by saving on checked bag fees and getting access to more award flights.

United Explorer Credit Card Review

Fees

Annual fee – $95 (first year fee is waived)
No foreign transaction fees

Sign up bonus

50,000 bonus miles (worth approximately $600) after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Rewards

  • 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on United purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on restaurants, hotels booked directly 
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits

  • First bag check for cardholder + companion (must be on the same reservation)
  • Priority boarding
  • Access to more award flights
  • Primary rental car coverage
  • Two United Club passes per year
  • $100 statement  credit for Global Entry, TSA, or NEXUS Precheck every four years
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance coverage (if your flight by delayed by 12 hours, you are covered up to $500 for hotels, meals, and transport)

Access to more award flights

With a United Explorer credit card, you will have access to more award flights. This allows you to save money compared to travelers who have a United Plus mileage account but not United’s credit card.

Free check-in bags

Even occasional travelers will benefit from getting free checked-in bags. If you are traveling with a companion, you can save $70 for two checked-in bags ($35 for each traveler). Note that you must pay with your United Explorer card to get this benefit.

If you are flying long-haul routes and you are already entitled to one checked bag, you will not get an additional bag for having the United Explorer card.

United Airport lounge passes

The United Explorer card gives you access to 45 United Club locations. You will need to present a same-day boarding pass for United or its partner airline to access the lounge.

Priority boarding

The card allows you to board earlier and gives you a better chance of getting  overhead bin space for your carry-on. This benefit is not stressed enough in my opinion.

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

If you pay for a rental car with your card, you will get primary rental car coverage. You do not have your personal auto insurance policy for a car rental.

Redeeming miles

United uses a dynamic pricing model for its rewards program. United is part of the Star Alliance and has global partners which mean you can fly  just about anywhere. United does not add a fuel surcharge if you book a flight ticket with miles. You only pay the taxes and fees. United cardholders get more reward flights and lower prices. This will help you to get the most out of your United miles.

Other United credit cards to consider

The United Quest card comes with a sign up bonus of 70,000 miles after spending $4,000 miles in 3 months + 2 checked bags. The card offers 3x miles on United purchases, 2x miles on dining and travel, 2x miles on selected streaming services, and 1x on all other purchases. You get $125 in statement credit every year for United purchases. The card has a $250 annual fee.

Frequent travelers may want to look at the United Club Infinite card which comes with 80,000 miles sign up bonus after spending $5,000 in 3 months + 2 free checked-in bags. The card offers 4x miles on United purchases, 2x miles on dining and travel, and 1x on all other purchases. The card has a $525 annual fee.

Bottom Line

If you are a loyal United flyer, you will benefit from this card even if you only fly occasionally. The free checked bags alone will offset the annual fee for the card. In addition, you get access to more award flights, primary rental car coverage, two United Club passes per year, priority boarding, and trip interruption and cancellation coverage.

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