Card Comparison: AAdvantage Platinum Select vs. United MileagePlus Explorer

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There are many choices in airline available to the domestic American traveler these days.  You have new upstart budget airlines like JetBlue and Virgin America, which compete on cabin quality and price, Southwest which competes on convenience and price, and the “old dogs” like United, American, and Delta, who compete on benefits to travelers and number of destinations.

Sometimes, you may choose an airline based only on the benefits a cobranded credit card.  Thus, this post is analyzing two of those cards, AAdvantage Platinum Select and the United MileagePlus Explorer credit cards.  Let’s see if one sways you, shall we?

Annual Fee

The AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card has a $95 fee, which is waived for the first year.  For the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card, the same offer stands- a $95 fee, waived for the first year.  So, in this category, the two cards tie.


Sign-Up Bonus

Sign up bonus is often one of the most important aspect for people searching for a new credit card.  For the AAdvantage credit card, you’ll earn 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 in the first three months of cardmembership.  For the United credit card, you’ll earn the same amount of miles, 30,000, for the same amount of spend, $1,000.  Again, a wash, but United gets an edge, because by adding an additional cardmember, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles if they make a purchase in the first three months.


Bonus Miles

For the American Airlines credit card, you’ll earn two AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent with American, and one point for every other dollar spent elsewhere.  Furthermore, you’ll receive 10% of your miles back, up to 10,000 per year, when you use them to travel on American award flights.  For the United credit card, you’ll earn two miles per dollar spent on United, and one mile per dollar spent on everything else.  Furthermore, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles if you spend $25,000 in a calendar year.


Other Benefits

Each of the cards offers benefits catered to each specific airline.  On the American card, you’ll get Group 1 boarding, first checked bag free, 25% savings on in-flight purchases, and $100 discount every anniversary year.  For the United Explorer card, you’ll receive no foreign transaction fees, two United Club passes each year, priority boarding, and a free first checked bag.



In analyzing the two credit cards, it seems as though it would come down to geography which card you choose.  Do you live near a major hub for one of the airlines? I would apply for that card.  With the very similar points bonuses, benefits, and fees, both cards are great.  I think that if you enjoy one airline more over the other, that is a good enough reason to choose one over the other.

It’s all about analyzing how much travel you plan on doing, if you are traveling on these airlines often, and if you can fit in another credit card in your wallet.  So, what are you waiting for?  Apply for the AAdvantage Platinum Select or United Explorer credit card today!