Best For Occasional United Flyers

The United Explorer card is the best choice for folks looking to rack up United miles quickly even if they don’t fly the airline much. (Partner offer)

At a glance

  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
  • 1X 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
60,000 Bonus Miles
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Up to 29.99%
27.99% Variable
19.49% - 26.49% Variable
19.49% - 26.49% Variable
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95.

At a glance

  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
  • 1X 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
60,000 Bonus Miles
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Up to 29.99%
27.99% Variable
19.49% - 26.49% Variable
19.49% - 26.49% Variable
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card
  • Free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.

Our Take

TPG Editor's Rating

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4/5

Overview

This card is geared toward both frequent and occasional United flyers alike, and offers plenty of elite-like benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding and a discount on in-flight purchases. It also racks up miles at a steady pace on a variety of purchases including dining and hotels, putting that next award ticket within reach sooner.

Pros

  • Earns 2 miles per $1 spent on United, dining and hotels
  • First checked bag free for the cardholder and a companion
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% off eligible inflight purchases
  • Up to $100 credit every four years for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

Cons

  • Day-of-travel perks limited to United and some partner flights
  • Other United cards have higher earning rates on some purchases
  • You might get more use from transferable points instead of United miles

Who is this card good for?

You don’t have to be a frequent United flyer to make the most of this card, especially since the first year’s intro annual fee is $0 before it goes up to $95. Carrying it means you can enjoy money-saving perks when flying United, including a free checked bag, priority boarding and in-flight purchase rebates. All that adds up to a lot of potential value.

Earning Rewards

You don’t have to be a frequent United flyer to make the most of this card, especially since the first year’s intro annual fee is $0 before it goes up to $95. Carrying it means you can enjoy money-saving perks when flying United, including a free checked bag, priority boarding and in-flight purchase rebates. All that adds up to a lot of potential value.

Frequently asked questions

  • What are United miles worth?

    TPG estimates United miles to be worth 1.21 cents apiece. On the one hand, you can redeem them for flights on United and dozens of its airline partners. On the other hand, they’re not quite as flexible as some transferable types of points like Chase Ultimate Rewards.

  • Is the United Explorer worth it?

    Even if you only fly United a few times a year, you can save hundreds of dollars by carrying this card thanks to the fact that it allots cardholders and a companion on the same reservation with a first checked bag free each. Cardholders should also enjoy two United Club one-time passes per year, and it will refund the cost of a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry appliciation (up to $100) once every four years.