How Do I Know If the United Explorer Card Is Right for Me?

Dec 3, 2019

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The United℠ Explorer Card is a solid pick for frequent United flyers, but it could also be worth getting even if you don't fly the airline often. The United℠ Explorer Card's benefits make it attractive enough that you might not even mind its annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Here's how to determine whether the United℠ Explorer Card is one you should add to your wallet.

You fly United Airlines often

Unsurprisingly, the United℠ Explorer Card is a great card to carry if you fly United multiple times per year and will make good use of the card's airline perks. You'll get free checked bags, discounts on in-flight purchases, priority boarding and more when flying United, along with two free United Club lounge passes every year.

You check bags when flying

If you don't believe in the term "travel lightly" and are constantly checking bags when flying United, the United℠ Explorer Card is worth checking out. Cardholders get one free checked bag per reservation for themselves and one travel companion.

United normally charges $30 for each checked bag, which means you could save up to $120 per round-trip flight for you and your partner. Just keep in mind that certain rules apply, including that you must use the card to buy your ticket. If you check your bags often enough, this benefit can more than make up for the card’s annual fee.

You like boarding early

While the United℠ Explorer Card is great for United travelers who often check bags, there'a an additional nice perk if you prefer to carry your luggage onto the plane.

Cardholders receive priority boarding on United flights, which means you get to be among the first passengers to board. The earlier you board a plane, the more likely you are to find room for your bags in the overhead compartments.

You can be accident-prone

Some people are accident-prone and seem unable to avoid the minor, clumsy mistakes of life. If this describes you, there's a good chance you've been in a fender bender — or two or three — in your lifetime. That means, as a frequent traveler, you've likely paid extra for a car rental company's collision coverage. Well, the United℠ Explorer Card is calling your name.

One of this card's perks is primary car rental collision coverage, which means it kicks in before your personal auto insurance does in the event you have an accident in your rental car. That can save you a lot of money, not to mention the hassle of dealing with insurance companies. All you have to do is rent the car with your United℠ Explorer Card and decline the rental company's offer to purchase additional coverage.

You spend plenty on restaurants and hotels

The United℠ Explorer Card's earning structure is fairly straightforward: Cardholders get 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, restaurants and direct hotel bookings. All other purchases earn 1 mile per $1 spent. Once again, this card shines for United flyers. But it can also be a boon for any frequent traveler who spends plenty on restaurants and hotels.

Use your United℠ Explorer Card every time you travel and you'll rack up miles easily. Remember: There's no limit to how many miles you can earn, and they never expire. You can save up miles, then redeem them for flights at an average value of 1 cent per mile.

You enjoy in-flight conveniences

Airline food isn't the best, but maybe you enjoy it or often end up needing to purchase a meal. Just make sure you're using the United℠ Explorer Card to do so, since cardholders receive 25% off in-flight food, drinks and Wi-Fi.

The bottom line

The United℠ Explorer Card is worth a close look if you fly United often and enjoy travel perks like checked bags. It's also easy to rack up points by using the card at hotels and restaurants, two places where frequent travelers spend a lot of time.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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