Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » Alaska Visa Signature vs United Explorer: Side By Side Comparison
Advertiser Disclosure This website is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This website does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace. This website may use other proprietary factors to impact card offer listings on the website such as consumer selection or the likelihood of the applicant’s credit approval. This allows us to maintain a full-time, editorial staff and work with finance experts you know and trust. The compensation we receive from advertisers does not influence the recommendations or advice our editorial team provides in our articles or otherwise impacts any of the editorial content on The Smart Investor. While we work hard to provide accurate and up to date information that we think you will find relevant, The Smart Investor does not and cannot guarantee that any information provided is complete and makes no representations or warranties in connection thereto, nor to the accuracy or applicability thereof. Learn more about how we review products and read our advertiser disclosure for how we make money. All products are presented without warranty.

Alaska Visa Signature vs United Explorer: Side By Side Comparison

The Alaska Visa offers higher annual cashback value than United Explorer, but the latter takes the lead when it comes to airline perks.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card and the United Explorer Card are two popular airline credit cards that offer generous sign-up bonuses, ongoing rewards, and other perks to frequent travelers. Let's compare them side by side:

General Comparison

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature is an airline card that targets Alaska frequent flyers and is issued by Bank Of America. United Explorer, issued by Chase, targeted United loyalists. Both cards offer higher points reward ratio on airlines, similar annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, and miles that can be used for flights, upgrades, or other travel-related expenses.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the card's main features:

Alaska Airlines Visa®

united explorer
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
United Explorer
Annual Fee
$95
$95 ($0 first year)
Rewards
unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, 2X on eligible gas, EV charging station, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride share) purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
2x per $1 spent on United purchases, hotel accommodations, restaurants & eligible delivery services and 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases
Welcome bonus
70,000 Bonus Miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
0% Intro APR
N/A
N/A
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0
$0
Purchase APR
19.74% – 27.74% variable
21.99% – 28.99% variable
Read Review
Read Review
Top Offers

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

hilton honors card

Rewards Plan:
3X – 7X 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery) U.S.supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and 3x points for each dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
70,000 points 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership

Marriot bonvoy bevy card art

Rewards Plan:
2x – 6x 6X points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2X points), 2X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
85,000 points 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers From Our Partners

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

hilton honors card

Rewards Plan:
3X – 7X 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery) U.S.supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and 3x points for each dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
70,000 points 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership

Marriot bonvoy bevy card art

Rewards Plan:
2x – 6x 6X points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2X points), 2X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
85,000 points 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers

amex platinum

Rewards Plan:
1X – 5X 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

amex brilliant

Rewards Plan:
2X – 6X 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card

Rewards Plan:
1X – 3X 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
50,000 miles 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in your first six months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

Rewards Battle: A Side-by-Side Analysis

We checked how many points you earn when you spend money with each card, and the Alaska card has a small advantage here. However, this mainly depends on your spending habits – if you primarily spend on airline and gas, Alaska wins. But, if you mainly also focused on dining and hotels – the Explorer card may be a better choice.

Alaska Airlines Visa®

united explorer
Spend Per Category
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
United Explorer
$15,000 – U.S Supermarkets
15,000 miles
15,000 miles
$5,000 – Restaurants
5,000 miles
10,000 miles
$5,000 – Airline
15,000 miles
10,000 miles
$5,000 – Hotels
5,000 miles
10,000 miles
$4,000 – Gas
8,000 miles
4,000 miles
Total Miles
48,000 miles
49,000 miles
Estimated Redemption Value
1 mile ~ 1.3 cents
1 mile = ~1.2 cents
Estimated Annual Value
$624
$588

With the United Explorer Card, you can turn your miles into travel experiences. Use miles for flights with United or its partners, covering destinations worldwide. Additionally, explore options beyond flights, such as hotel stays, car rentals, and merchandise.

United compare flights price on calendar
Compare flights price in miles (screenshot taken by our team from United app)

With the Alaska Airlines credit card, you can redeem miles for flights on Alaska Airlines and its partner airlines worldwide. It includes not only flights but also upgrade your seat or travel with a friend using the Companion Fare benefit. Beyond flights, explore various redemption options like hotel stays, car rentals, and even magazine subscriptions.

Which Card Provides Better Travel Perks & Insurance?

United Explorer takes the lead in providing additional airline and travel perks, mainly because of its extensive range of travel insurance and Global Entry/TSA Precheck reimbursement:

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature

Alaska Airlines Visa®

  • Annual $99 Companion Fare: Earn a $99 Companion Fare (plus taxes and fees) annually by spending $6,000 or more in the previous year, applicable to all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • Free First Checked Bag: Cardholders and up to 6 additional guests on the same reservation can check their first bag for free when purchasing airfare with the card.
  • Priority Boarding: Enjoy priority boarding for faster access to your seat when using the card to pay for your flight.
  • 10% Rewards Bonus: Receive a 10% rewards bonus on all miles earned from card purchases with an eligible Bank of America® account.
  • 20% Back On Inflight Purchases: Get 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases.
  • $100 Lounge Membership Discount: Obtain a discount on an annual Alaska Lounge+ Membership when paying with the card.
United Explorer

united explorer

  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck® Reimbursement: Receive a $100 statement credit every four years to cover Global Entry, TSA Precheck®, or NEXUS application fees, streamlining your airport security experience.

  • 25% Back on In-Flight Purchases: Enjoy a 25% statement credit on food, beverages, and Wi-Fi when paying with the Explorer Card on United-operated flights, saving you money during your travels.

  • Priority Boarding: Board United-operated flights before general boarding, ensuring a smoother departure for you and your companions on the same reservation.

  • Earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP): Accumulate PQP to enhance your travel experience and work towards MileagePlus Premier® status with United Airlines.

  • Free First Checked Bag: Save up to $140 per roundtrip by receiving a complimentary checked bag for you and a companion when flying with United, reducing your travel expenses.

baggage fees to pay on United Airlines Flight
(Photo by FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock)
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline rental company insurance, charge the full cost to your card, and get primary coverage for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: Get reimbursed for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares in covered situations like sickness or severe weather.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement: Cover unreimbursed expenses for delays over 12 hours or overnight stays during common carrier travel, including meals and lodging for you and your family.
  • Visa Concierge: Access complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge Service for assistance with event tickets, dinner reservations, and more.
  • Purchase Protection: Enjoy coverage against damage or theft for new purchases for 120 days.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: Get reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing due to baggage delays exceeding 6 hours by a passenger carrier.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Receive coverage for damaged or lost luggage, whether checked or carried on, for you or an immediate family member.
Get 25% back for United Inflight Purchases
Get 25% back for United Inflight Purchases (Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock)

When You Might Prefer The United Explorer Card?

Here are the main reasons why you may prefer the United Explorer Card:

  • Dedicated United Flyer: If you are a frequent flyer with United Airlines and prefer the perks and familiarity of a specific airline, the United Explorer is tailored to United's ecosystem, offering exclusive benefits within their network.

  • Better Travel Insurance: For superior travel insurance, the United Explorer outshines the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, making it a preferable option if robust coverage is your priority.

  • You Have High Spend On Hotels and Dining: The United Explorer card offers higher rewards ratio when it comes to hotels and dining purchases. So, if you use your card mainly on these categories, it may be a better fit.

Top Offers

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

hilton honors card

Rewards Plan:
3X – 7X 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery) U.S.supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and 3x points for each dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
70,000 points 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership

Marriot bonvoy bevy card art

Rewards Plan:
2x – 6x 6X points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2X points), 2X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
85,000 points 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers From Our Partners

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

hilton honors card

Rewards Plan:
3X – 7X 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery) U.S.supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and 3x points for each dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
70,000 points 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership

Marriot bonvoy bevy card art

Rewards Plan:
2x – 6x 6X points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2X points), 2X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
85,000 points 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers

amex platinum

Rewards Plan:
1X – 5X 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

amex brilliant

Rewards Plan:
2X – 6X 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card

Rewards Plan:
1X – 3X 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
50,000 miles 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in your first six months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

When You Might Prefer The Alaska Visa Signature Card?

Here are the main reasons why you may prefer the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card:

  • You Frequently Fly Alaska Airlines: If you're a frequent Alaska Airlines traveler, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature is your go-to, offering a superior points rewards ratio and tailored perks for Alaska enthusiasts.

  • You Have High Spend On Gas And Airline: For those with substantial spending on gas and airline purchases, the Alaska card shines with a higher rewards ratio in these categories. If your card usage centers around these expenses, it could be the more fitting choice than the Explorer card.

Compare The Alternatives

If you're looking for an airline credit card with travel rewards – there are some good alternatives you may want to consider:

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Review

southwest_rapid_rewards_premier_art

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite
Annual Fee
$150, $0 intro first year. (See Rates and Fees.)
$99
$99 (waived for the first 12 months)
Rewards
1X – 2X 2X miles on delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide (including take-out and delivery in the U.S) and at U.S. supermarkets, and 1x miles on all other eligible purchases
1X – 3X 3X points on Southwest® purchases,2X on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners, local transit and commuting, including rideshare, internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming and 1X points on all other purchases.
1X – 2X Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.
Welcome bonus
40,000 Miles 40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months
50,000 Points 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
50,000 Miles 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0. See Rates and Fees.
$0
$0
Purchase APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable
21.49%–28.49% variable
21.24% – 29.99% (Variable)

Compare United Explorer Card

The United Gateway and Explorer are two co-branded credit cards offered by Chase in partnership with United Airlines. Here's our winner.

United Gateway vs United Explorer Card: How They Compare?

The Quest card has recently launched in order to provide a premium alternative to the old Explorer card. How they compared & is it worth it?

United℠ Explorer Card vs United Quest℠ Card: Which is Better?

In this comparison, we will delve into the key features, benefits, and considerations of both the United Explorer and Infinite Card.

United Explorer vs Infinite Card: How They Compare?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is more versatile and offers better travel rewards than the Explorer card. But what if you're loyal to United?

United Explorer Card vs Chase Sapphire Preferred: Side By Side Comparison

The United Explorer and the Southwest Premier card have numerous shared features. Let's explore the distinctive strengths of each card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier vs. United Explorer: Comparison

While the AAdvantage Platinum Select and the United Explorer Card have many common features, the Explorer card is our winner. Here's why.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select vs. United Explorer: How They Compare?

The Delta SkyMiles Gold and the United Explorer Card offer airline benefits and similar fees. The SkyMiles Gold is our winner – here's why.

United Explorer vs Delta SkyMiles Gold: Side By Side Comparison

Compare Alaska Visa Signature Card

The Capital One Venture is a clear winner as it offers higher annual cashback value and better travel perks than the Alaska Visa Signature.

Alaska Visa Signature vs Capital One Venture: Side By Side Comparison

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our winner due to its higher annual cashback value and various redemption options compared to Alaska card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card: How They Compare?

While the Hawaiian World Elite Mastercard offers a higher miles rewards ratio, we think the Alaska card offers a bit better airline perks.

Hawaiian World Elite Mastercard vs. Alaska Visa Signature: How They Compare?

While the airline benefits are pretty similar, The JetBlue Plus Card is a clear winner due to much higher cashback rates than the Alaska card.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature vs JetBlue Plus Card: Side By Side Comparison

Both Alaska and Southwest Premier have similar annual cashback values. While there is no clear winner, each card has its own unique perks.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature vs Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier: Comparison

While Alaska Visa Signature card offers higher miles rewards ratio on airline, the Delta SkyMiles Gold is our winner. Here's why.

Alaska Visa Signature vs Delta SkyMiles Gold: Side By Side Comparison

Picture of Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Search
Best Cards Per Category

#1 In credit Cards

Our Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter for secret credit card tips, insider advice, and exclusive deals straight to your inbox

Start saving smarter with

Our Credit Card Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and gain access to expert advice,
insider knowledge, and exclusive offers

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Credit Card Reviews Methodology

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.