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United MileagePlus Explorer Review

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

A great travel rewards card from the United airline.

If you think that it may be beneficial for you to get a travel rewards card, you should take into consideration the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.

In this article, we’ll point out the benefits of the card as well as some alternative options that you may be interested in.

The first thing we need to do is see what exactly it is that makes the card so outstanding from the point of view of its cardholders.

General description

Advantages:

  • As a cardholder, you have access to priority boarding feature and you’ll also be able to check your bags for free.
  • The card grants you 2 United passes each year.
  • In case you manage to spend $25,000 within one year, you’ll be rewarded bonus miles.
  • The miles you have accumulated on your account will never expire for as long as your account is active.

Disadvantages:

  • The card is great only for those who prefer flying with United.
  • There is a fee that a cardholder is expected to pay each year.
  • In comparison with other cards available at the market, this card has fewer partners that’ll waive the fee for your bags.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

  • APR Special Offer: No offer for this card.
  • Standard APR from 16.99% to 23.99%. The rate can vary. Cash Advance APR amounts to 25.99%, but it’s also a subject to changes.
  • The annual fee you’re expected to pay amounts to $95.
  • Special Offer: In case you spend as much as $2,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded 40,000 bonus miles.

More information on the card:

  • Actually, if you travel with United quite often, it won’t be hard for you to get the sign-up bonus promised.
  • The card comes with an annual fee of $95. You’re expected to pay it starting from the 2nd year of using the card.
  • You can save some money due to the fact that the card allows you to check some of your bags for free.
  • The card is ideal for those who are going to travel abroad. It implies no fee for any kind of purchases you make while travelling.
  • With this card there is no need to worry about the fact that your miles may expire if you don’t use them.
  • The card comes with a number of perks. For example, you’ll have access to priority boarding and the United Club℠.
  • Even though the card is designed as a travel rewards card, it rewards you bonuses for a number of other purchases apart from the booking of hotels and flights.

General overview of the card and our opinion:

  • Starting from the 2nd year of you using the card, the annual fee of $95 applies.
  • You can make purchases when travelling absolutely free of any additional charge.
  • Rewards program you can take part in: MileagePlus program will reward you 2 miles for each dollar you spend when buying United tickets and 1 mile per dollar for all the rest purchases you make with the card.
  • The sign-up bonus to expect: You’ll be rewarded as many as 40,000 bonus miles in case you manage to spend $2,000 with the card. Keep in mind that the sum mentioned is to be spent within the period of time of the first 3 months of you using the card.

Our opinion: The card fits you in any of the following cases: you’re the one who spends big sums of money regularly or you’re the one who prefers travelling with United.

The card will be advantageous from the point of view of the following people:

  • People who often travel with United and want to get rewards for it. Besides, the card is beneficial in terms of that it allows loyal United clients to check their bags for free.
  • People who are able to get the best value for their rewards by planning and working out a strategy before buying anything with them.

The card won’t be that good for the following categories of people:    

  • People who are looking for flexibility in terms of the airlines available.
  • People who find the annual fee of the card to be rather high.

Basic features of the card

Apart from the standard features that are offered by all the travel rewards cards, this card has a set of the following additional features to enjoy:

  • As a cardholder, you have an opportunity to get additional bonus of 5,000 miles. In order to do it, you’re required to make at least 1 purchase during the first 3 months of using the card and add 1 authorized user.
  • In case you spend big sums of money (at least $25,000) within the period of time of 1 year, you’ll be rewarded 10,000 bonus miles.
  • If you and your friend have the same reservation paid for with the card, you both will be allowed to check 1 bag for free.

As for the effective rewards rates you can expect with this card, they are quite standard. There is no surprise here. When using the card, you get the following rates: 2 miles/$1 (for tickets booked with United) and 1 mile/$1 (for any other purchases). That’s not all you’re to get with this card. Pay attention to the perks described in details below.

The reasons for you to consider applying for the card

  • The card gives you a chance to save money when you’re checking bags at an airport. Actually, this offer is valid for one of your friends (provided that you both have the same reservation). You both have a chance to check 1 bag for free. Now, let’s make simple calculations. Each bag you check will cost you $25. Consequently, you’ll have a chance to save $100 on a roundtrip with your friend. It means that you’ll successfully offset the annual fee.
  • There are some additional bonuses that you can get. We’ve already mentioned them before. If you’re looking for an opportunity to easy get additional miles, here is what you need to do: you need to make at least 1 purchase with the card and add an authorized user. This should be done within the first 3 months after you get the card. If you meet the requirements, you’ll be rewarded 5,000 bonus miles. The other additional bonus will be harder to get if you don’t spend big sums of money. At the same time, if you’re a passionate traveler, it’ll be easy for you to meet the requirement. You’ll be rewarded 10,000 bonus miles under the condition that you manage to spend $25,000 with the card within one year.

Other options that you may be interested in

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

  1. In case you’re looking for higher rewards and more flexibility, we recommend you compare the United card to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. The Barclaycard is considered to be the card that has one of the best travel rewards to offer. First of all, it’s worth mentioning that the annual fee of the card is lower. It amounts to $89 ($95 with the United card). The fee applies starting from the 2nd During the first 12 months of using the card, you’re not expected to pay it. The card offers a flat-rate rewards rate of 2 miles for each dollar you spent with it. To make the things even better for you, each time you redeem your miles you’ll get 5% of additional bonuses to be used towards your future trips. It means that the overall rewards rate is increased up to 2.1% (while the United card only offers you the rate of 1% for any kinds of purchases).

In addition, the card has more flexibility to offer in terms of the travel purchases for which you can get rewards. In other words, the Barclaycard card allows you to earn rewards for any kind of purchase that has to do with your future trips while the United card requires you to buy tickets either with the United airline or with any of the Start Alliance partners if you want to get more rewards. All in all, with the Barclaycard you’ll be free to choose any airline you want and not worry about the decrease of your rewards rate. The inly drawback of the card is that it doesn’t imply the opportunity for you to check your bags for free. Well, we believe that the rewards you’ll earn with it will make up for the charges you pay for your bags. However, if you travel very often and you have a lot of bags with you each time, this may be the disadvantage to pay attention to.

We also want to warn you about the fact that the rewards you earn with the Barclaycard may differ in value when you redeem them. It means that if you want to get the biggest value possible, you’ll need to plan your trip ahead. There are actually a number of flights that imply a higher than 2% value for your rewards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  1. One more travel card that’s very popular among travelers is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Irrespective of the fact that it comes with the same as the United card annual fee of $95, it offers a higher rewards rate (1.25%). Here it’s important for you to remember that this is the value you get under the condition that you use the Chase official portal to book your tickets. If you don’t want to use it, you’ll get the rate of 1%.

We’ve mentioned that the only way for you to earn more rewards with the United is to book tickets directly with the airline. With the Chase card it’s different and more flexible. You are to expect the following rates: 2 points/$1 (travelling expenses and dining out) and 1 point/$1 (for any other purchase.

One more thing to keep in mind for those looking for more flexibility is that the Chase card allows its cardholders to use their bonuses to book and pay for the tickets bought via a number of well-known loyalty programs apart from the portal that Chase itself has. Of course, some people will think it’s great while others will still have doubts since these loyalty programs may have a lower value to give for the bonuses they have. The truth is that you transfer your points to these programs with no loss of value (at the rate of 1:1).

The only thing that’s not so great about the Chase card is that there is no feature that allows you to save money when checking your bags. Consequently, once again we tell you to think whether the Chase card is so beneficial for you. If you often travel and you usually have lots of bags to check, maybe the United card is better for you.

Summary: Is the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card exactly the card you’re looking for?

The card is ideal for those who are loyal United clients. These people will get rewards for booking with the airline and will have an opportunity to save some money since they are allowed to check one bag for free when flying with the United airline. Still, if you’re the one who wants to have more freedom in terms of booking your tickets as well as the one who wants to earn more rewards, you’d better think of applying for any of the alternative options we describe in this article.

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