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November 6, 2015

Rewards Credit Cards

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Review

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card offers an extensive list of flying benefits in addition to a hefty signup bonus. Earning rewards might not be as easy as other cards, but having many ways to redeem your rewards is a bonus in itself.

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The Good

Significant bonuses

When you sign up for the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, you start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Additionally, you have the chance to earn another 10,000 bonus miles if you spend $25,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.

Priority boarding and first bag free

One standout feature of the MileagePlus® Explorer Card is that you receive priority boarding privileges so you can be one of the first to board each flight. Even better, you and your companion can also check your first bag for free when you fly on United flights, which can add up to significant savings if you fly a lot.

Free United club passes

Cardholders receive two one-time passes to the United Club each year that equals a $100 value. In the United Club, you can snack on free food and beverages while also having access to Wi-Fi.

Wide variety of ways to redeem rewards

Redeeming your air miles for flights isn't the only thing you can do with this card. You can also redeem miles for car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, and other rewards.

Decent miles rewards

With this United card, you can earn double miles on United ticket purchases, and one mile per dollar on all other purchases. While the rewards are nice, they aren't as high as other airline rewards cards, but the MileagePlus® Explorer card makes up for it with other benefits.

The Bad

Higher annual fee

The annual fee for the United MileagePlus® Explorer card is $95, which is at the top of the list of the most expensive annual fees for airline credit cards. On a more positive note, the first year is free so that helps justify the cost of paying a higher annual fee in the following years.

No in-flight spending bonus

While you do earn two points per dollar on United airline tickets, you don't earn additional miles for purchases made while you are on the airline. Several of the top airline credit cards offer statement credit or bonus points for spending while you are in the air, but that's not the case for this card.

The Details

Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: $95 ($0 first year)
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% per cash advance
  • Cash Advance Rate (APR): 19.24%
  • Foreign Currency Transaction Fee: 3% per transaction
  • Introductory Rate (APR): None
  • Standard Rate (APR): 15.99%* Variable

Penalty Fees

  • Default Penalty Rate (APR): 29.99%
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $15 - $35 (depending on balance)
  • Minimum Interest Charge: None
  • Over-Limit Fee: None
  • Returned Payment Fee: Up to $35

Balance Transfers

  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate (APR): None
  • Standard Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% per transfer
  • Standard Balance Transfer Rate (APR): 15.99%* Variable


  • Additional Rewards for Dining: None
  • Additional Rewards for Gas: None
  • Additional Rewards for Groceries: None
  • Additional Rewards for Shopping: None
  • Additional Rewards for Travel: None
  • Bonus Points Offered: (1) 5,000 miles after first purchase and additional user added within first 3 months; (2) 10,000 miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000
  • Rewards Earnings for All Purchases: 1 mile per $1
  • Sign-Up Bonus: 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within first 3 months
  • Type of Reward: Miles

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