United Airlines and Continental Airlines customers have a new travel rewards credit card option following the merger of the two major airline companies.

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card from Chase is the newly launched airline rewards credit card following the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines – boasting some decent upgrades from the discontinued United Mileage Plus Signature Visa Card.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Details

As an introductory offer, cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus miles after their first purchase. Add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first two months of account opening and earn an additional 5,000 miles.

  • Variable 14.24% APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 or more per calendar year
  • Two complimentary United Club day passes every year
  • Earn 2 miles for $1 spent on airfare from United and Continental
  • Earn 1 mile for $1 spent everywhere else
  • Annual fee: $95 (first year waived)

Other perks with the card include priority boarding privileges, first bag checked for free, and unlimited miles can be earned with no expiration date.

Card Analysis

From first glance, airline credit card shoppers will notice that the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card offers the exact same features as the Continental Airlines OnePass Plus Card – which isn’t surprising as they now belong to the same company.

The now-discontinued United Mileage Plus Signature Visa Card had a $60 annual fee and offered a similar introductory offer to the Explorer Card. The rewards program was a simple 1 point for every $1 spent on everything, including United airfare. Current Mileage Plus Visa Signature cardholders won’t see any changes to their accounts but they can request an upgrade to the Explorer Card.

For $35 more, the Explorer Card provides a higher miles earning rate on United and Continental airfare, complimentary lounge passes, airport perks, and the ability to earn even more points per year. A United Club day pass can cost up to $50 and checking in a bag can cost up to $25. Toss in priority boarding and greater potential to earn miles and the $35 price hike may be well worth it.

Compared to other airline travel rewards credit cards, the annual fee, APR, and rewards structure of the Explorer Card is relatively in line with the industry standard – so the determinant factor should be which airline your travel with most often.

“If you fly United Airlines, this card should be in your wallet,” said Tom O’Toole, United’s senior vice president and COO of Mileage Plus Holdings. But, if you are a frequent Continental Airlines traveler, the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is just as appropriate for you.

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  • Friea

    Hi Simon. This isn’t about the Explorer, but since you review credit cards hoped this might be of interest. Initially loved my Chase United Mileage Plus card … easy miles, it was tied into my Chase checking acct, etc. Then a customer service rep accidentally cancelled my card when I called to report I’d be travelling to London for a week AND nobody told me. The next night my card was declined at work dinner I was hosting for 20 collagues including my boss. Nothing Chase rep could do that night AND I had no credit card the rest of the trip. Perks are lovely, but this was the worst credit card experience ever.