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Updated January 11, 2013

United Airlines Credit Card Review: Annual Fee Worth It?

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The United MileagePlus Explorer card can help frequent United Airlines travelers earn bonus miles for their travel and receive extra perks, like a free checked bag and priority boarding. Like many other travel credit cards, this card does have an annual fee, which frequent flyers should be easily able to offset.

9/7/2013 Update: We're sorry, United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is no longer available on CreditDonkey. This offer may have been discontinued or may no longer be available to new applicants.

Overall Score







5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Bonus miles offer
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • United Club passes
  • $95 annual fee

Bottom Line

Excellent airline card for United frequent flyers

Point bonuses

The biggest selling feature of this card is that new members can receive 30,000 miles after they spend $1,000 in the first 3 months and 5,000 bonus miles when they add an authorized user to the account and make a purchase with the card within the first 3 months.

If you spend at least $25,000 on the card, it's worth noting that you can earn 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000 on purchases with their card. Although this sounds high, it is a good feature for big spenders and frequent travelers who rely on their credit card to make purchases.

The card does have an annual fee of $95, but the fee is waived for the first year for new customers. The MileagePlus card has 15.24% APR, which is in line with other travel cards. The APR for cash advances is 19.24%, which is also typical.

Earn more mile faster

Not only can big spenders earn 10,000 bonus miles annually, but customers using their MileagePlus card for United Airlines flights will also earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on United tickets purchased directly from the airline. For virtually all other purchases, customers earn 1 mile for every dollar spent.

For this reason, miles can quickly add up. There is no limit to the number of miles cardmembers can earn and no expiration date as long as the card is active and the annual payments are made. The miles can be redeemed for flights on United with no restrictions or blackout dates.

Small perks can make a big difference

A checked bag is free for you and a companion on the same reservation on United-operated flights when you use this card, which can save cardholders up to $100 round-trip.

Cardholders also receive priority boarding, so they will be able to find space in the overhead compartments for their carry-on luggage.

Members will also receive two passes per year to the United Club so they can relax in comfort before their flight.

Once cardholders get to their destination, they will have access to exclusive benefits, such as celebrity meet-and-greets and private culinary and cultural events sponsored by Chase.

Members will also have access to benefits at Chase’s Luxury Hotel and Resorts Collection, including exclusive deals, like free room upgrades and complimentary breakfasts at select hotels, spas and resorts.

The MileagePlus card even offers its customers travel protections for lost luggage, car rentals, trip delays and cancellations. The card also offers purchase protection.


  • 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • First checked bag is free for the cardholder
  • Priority boarding and two passes annually to the United Club
  • Miles don’t expire and can be redeemed at any point with no blackout fees


  • $95 annual fee (no annual fee for the first year)

Bottom Line

Despite the disadvantages, this little card packs a big punch. The perks make the annual fee well worth it for regular United customers. The checked bag perk alone can easily pay for the annual fee for some frequent travelers.

(Editing by Erin K)

9/7/2013 Update: We're sorry, United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is no longer available on CreditDonkey. This offer may have been discontinued or may no longer be available to new applicants.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on December 28, 2011. This content may have been updated on January 11, 2013. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Chase website for updated information.

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Compare United MileagePlus Explorer to:

Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage World MasterCard
Apply for Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage World MasterCard
  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and 2 Admirals Club® Passes after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership.*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every cardmembership year with qualifying purchases and cardmembership renewal*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back - up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsBonus Airline RewardsNo Expiration on RewardsNo Limits on RewardsNo Pre-Set Spending LimitCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection $0 Fraud Liability
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
13.99% - 21.99%* (Variable)
$95, waived for first 12 months*

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CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.