United MileagePlus Rewards Card Review

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Over the last few decades, air travel has become less of a luxury reserved for the wealthy and their companions. Jetting away to a different city for work or personal time is not nearly as restricted as it used to be, thanks in part to more reasonable airfare and a growing number of competing airlines. Oh, and the bevy of rewards programs readily available to those who travel on a frequent basis doesn’t hurt, either.

Experienced travelers know that using a travel rewards credit card that is designed for racking up frequent flyer miles is a smart way to enhance the travel experience. Whether it is working toward a free flight, or using cardholder status as a means to get additional perks before, during or after a trip, travel rewards credit cards are the perfect addition to a traveler’s wallet. The United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card made available through Chase Bank is worth a second look for frequent flyers with a penchant for flying United.

 

Card Basics

The Mileage Plus Explorer credit card comes with a strong rewards program for cardholders which has the potential to pay off in a big way over time. Let’s start with the current promotions. New card members have the opportunity to earn up to 30,000 bonus miles when the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card is used to make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first three months after the account is opened. Additionally, a 5,000 bonus miles credit can be earned when an authorized user is added to the account and that user makes a purchase within the first three months after account opening. When the cardholder spends $25,000 in net purchases throughout the year, an additional 10,000 bonus miles can be credited to the account each and every year.

The bonus offers made available through the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card are incredibly attractive to card members who plan to spend big within the first three months, or have a tendency to spend big throughout the year. Fortunately, for less frequent spenders, the rewards miles still have the potential to add up. Cardholders earn two miles for each $1 spent on purchases directly through United airlines, with all other purchases earning one mile per $1 spent. The great news for all card members is that miles never expire and there is no limit on earning potential. Any miles earned through the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card can be redeemed for any seat, any time, on flights operated by United airlines.

Unique Cardholder Perks

Not having to worry about blackout dates or caps on mile earnings are the strongest benefits of the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card. However, additional perks exist for cardholders that make the card that much more rewarding. Cardholders are not required to pay a baggage fee on the first checked bag for themselves and one companion flyer, which could add up to $100 in savings per each round trip flight. Additionally, priority boarding is available for primary card members and their companions which allows travelers to board before the general boarding group.

The United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card also comes with no foreign transaction fees when purchases are made outside the United States. All United credit cards are chip-enabled, not only providing additional security but also allowing for a more acceptance within the U.S. and abroad. Cardholders also have the benefit of added comfort with United Club passes. Card members receive two United Club passes each year the account is open, providing access to the airline club with complimentary drinks, snacks, workspace and Wi-Fi.

Travelers also have additional protection when utilizing the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card for purchases through the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver program and the Purchase Protection program available directly through Chase Bank. Extra perks come by way of room upgrades and certain amenities are more than 700 luxury hotels and resorts around the world. Also, card members gain access to special events, private experiences and discounts through Chase’s Inside Access programs.

The Fine Print

Most travel cards come with some restrictions, either by way of rewards limitations or ongoing fees. The United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card does not impose earning restrictions on miles, but an annual fee of $95 is assessed. Currently, though, new card members have the annual fee waived for the first year.

Chase Bank offers some insight into who is best qualified for the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card, explaining that individuals with exemplary credit are encouraged to apply. A high credit score and strong credit history will help in getting potential card members approved for the travel card. For those who qualify, the interest rate on purchases ranges from 16.24% up to 23.24%, and the actual rate charged varies depending on broad market movement. Cash advances comes with a standard APR of 25.24%, and balance transfer fees are the same as the initial APR for purchases.

Although interest rates are a substantial part of the total cost of carrying debt on a credit card, additional feels may come in to play affecting the card holder. Late payments or returned payments due to insufficient funds result in a fee ranging from $15 up to $37, depending on the total balance due. Any balance transfers are assessed a fee of $5 or 5%, whichever is greater, of the total amount transferred to the credit card. Similarly, cash advances cost card holders $10 or 5% of the advanced amount, whichever is greater. The combination of these fees and the interest rate charged on carried over balance can add up quickly for cardholders.

The Verdict

The United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card is a smart choice for frequent flyers who prefer to travel via United flights. However, because the card offers no other way to redeem rewards aside from United airfare and their partners, this travel credit card is not recommended for individuals who are seeking a robust rewards program or cash-back options. The annual fee, the purchase APR and the cost for cash advances or balance transfers may make this card unattractive to frequent flyers who are cost-conscious or those who do not utilize the card enough to reap its benefits.