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United MileagePlus Explorer: globe-trot with style

Got wanderlust? Scratch the itch on a dime when you take advantage of a miles-based rewards program. The United MileagePlus Explorer credit card understands what frequent travelers need out of an airline card. Yes, it does come with a relatively high annual fee at $95 (waived for the first year), but also with a relatively low variable APR of 15.24%. And the perks alone justify paying the annual fee to keep this card in your wallet. Plus, they recently eliminated the foreign transaction fee, which means that you can use this card anywhere on the globe without penalty.


Earning miles

The gig is simple: get 2 miles per $1 spent on any United ticket, and 1 mile per $1 on any other purchase. Beware: some United purchases off discount travel sites don’t qualify for the double point bonus. These miles don’t expire and have no limit, so cash out when you’re ready. They can be redeemed through the MileagePlus Program for United tickets/upgrades, partner flights, merchandise, hotel stays, or car rentals.

The United MileagePlus Explorer card has some sweet bonus mile packages, as well. Get 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1000 in the first 3 months — that’s more than enough for a round-trip domestic flight or one-way ticket to Europe! (And no, balance transfers do not count towards this minimum spend.) Nab another 5,000 bonus miles once you both make a purchase and add an authorized user in the first 3 months. And those big spenders will enjoy 10,000 bonus miles after spending $25,000 in a calendar year. Altogether, that makes a potential 45,000 bonus miles!



Here’s where this card really shines. The United MileagePlus Explorer card’s perks blow the competitors out of the water. When you sign up, and every year thereafter, you get 2 one-time-use passes to the United Club. That’s right, skip the typical airport misery and wait for your plane in style — for free! The United Club boasts free wifi, private meeting rooms, and complimentary snacks and beverages, and more. Plus, you and a companion on the same reservation will enjoy getting on your flight before general boarding and, as long as the tickets were purchased with the Explorer card, checking one bag each for free.

Not to mention that since this credit card bears the Visa Signature name, it comes with the accompanying benefits including concierge service, purchase protections, some hotel/rental car discounts, and automatic insurance for lost baggage, travel accidents, and rental cars.


Final Verdict

If you are looking around for a solid airline card, this is it. United flights can take you all over the world and now their credit card can be used internationally with no foreign transaction fee. Share the wealth — let your travel buddies share in your perks. Just because you want to travel inexpensively doesn’t mean it has to be without style.