The Bottom Line: Business owners who fly United frequently can save money with this card. But if you don't necessarily need a business credit card, also consider the personal version, which includes a few extra perks.
Waived first year
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores
Pros & Cons
No foreign transaction fee
Has annual fee
Alternate Pick: Greater flexibility
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Transfer points to United, or use elsewhere
Earn 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 a year in combined spending on travel; shipping; Internet, cable and telephone service; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. You can transfer points to several airline and hotel loyalty programs, including United. But you won't get airline-specific perks. Annual fee: $95.Read our review
For business owners who fly United Airlines, the United℠ Explorer Business Card can be a practical, helpful travel companion whose benefits easily outstrip the cost of its annual fee.
The card can help ease common business-travel headaches while flying United, perhaps most importantly when it comes to your luggage, whether you check it or take it on board.
The personal version of this United Airlines card is similar and a good choice if you don’t necessarily need a business credit card.
» MORE: NerdWallet's best airline cards
United℠ Explorer Business Card: Basics and benefits
Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on purchases from United (including airfare, bag fees, seat upgrades, and in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi).
2 miles per dollar spent on restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.
1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Foreign transaction fee: None
First checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation.
Two United Club one-time-use passes per year.
Employee cards at no additional cost.
Where the United℠ Explorer Business Card shines
Free checked bags
The United℠ Explorer Business Card offers a first checked bag free for you and a companion on your reservation. On a round-trip flight for you and a companion, that can represent a total savings of $120 ($30 per person each way). That's more than enough to cover the cost of the card's annual fee.
Note: You get this perk only if you paid for the airfare with the United℠ Explorer Business Card.
The United℠ Explorer Business Card can get you on the plane earlier thanks to its priority boarding benefit. So even if you don't have any bags to check, you can get on the plane sooner and grab an overhead bin space for your carry-on.
Unlike some other airline credit cards, the United℠ Explorer Business Card earns double miles on more than just purchases with the airline. You'll also earn 2 miles per dollar spent on three other spending categories relevant to business owners:
Office supply stores.
That can make the card more valuable for everyday spending.
Rich Sign-up bonus
The current bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
The United℠ Explorer Business Card comes with a few other notable perks:
Airport lounge passes: You get two free United Club passes annually. Typically, you'd pay $59 for just one day pass, so the value of this perk alone surpasses the card's annual fee.
Primary car rental insurance: You'll have to pay for the rental with your United℠ Explorer Business Card and decline the rental company's coverage. But the coverage is primary, so it kicks in before your own auto insurance.
United℠ Explorer Business Card: Drawbacks
It's hard to find a co-branded airline credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee, although some do exist. With the United℠ Explorer Business Card, the annual is $0 for the first year, then $95.
While you'll get free checked bags with the United℠ Explorer Business Card, it's stingier than business credit cards from other large airlines; you'll get only two bag-fee waivers. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, for comparison, offers the first bag free for you and up to eight other passengers on your reservation.
General (non-co-branded) travel business credit cards let you redeem rewards for a variety of different travel expenses. With the United℠ Explorer Business Card, your best redemption options are award flights and seat upgrades on United and its Star Alliance partners.
United℠ Explorer Business Card: Alternatives
If you don’t necessarily need a business credit card, you might consider the very similar personal version of the United Airlines card, the United℠ Explorer Card. It also earns double points on United purchases but has slightly different additional double-points categories — restaurants and hotel stays. It has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95.
It also has a few more perks. For example, it offers a credit of up to $100 for applying to airport security programs Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years. It also offers 25% back on United in-flight purchases. The business version does not include those perks. On the other hand, while sign-up bonuses can change often, they tend to be higher on the business version of the card, along with a higher amount of required spending.
More generally, personal cards offer more consumer protections than business credit cards.
If you don't fly exclusively with United, a general travel card could work better. Good choices for small businesses include the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. An option with an annual fee of $0 includes the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card.
Is the United℠ Explorer Business Card right for you?
The United℠ Explorer Business Card offers useful rewards and perks for United business flyers that can quickly make up for the annual fee.
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