Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier vs. United Explorer: 2024 Comparison
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Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier vs. United Explorer: 2024 Comparison

The United Explorer and the Southwest Premier card have numerous shared features. Let's explore the distinctive strengths of each card.
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: June 3, 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: June 3, 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.

Issued by Chase, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier and United Explorer credit cards cater to different airlines and provide unique benefits for loyal customers and cardholders.

Let's compare these cards side by side.

General Comparison

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card is linked to Southwest Airlines, and earns Rapid Rewards points, which can be redeemed for Southwest flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more.

On the other hand, the United Explorer card is geared towards United Airlines enthusiasts. Like the Southwest card, it typically provides a substantial sign-up bonus in the form of United MileagePlus miles. Cardholders earn miles for their everyday spending, with extra miles awarded for purchases with United and on dining and hotel accommodations.

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

united explorer

southwest_rapid_rewards_premier_art

United Explorer Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
Annual Fee
$95 ($0 first year)
$99
Rewards
2x per $1 spent on United purchases, hotel accommodations, restaurants & eligible delivery services and 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases
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.
Welcome bonus
50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
0% Intro APR
N/A
N/A
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0
$0
Purchase APR
21.99% – 28.99% variable
21.49%–28.49% 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:
85,000 miles 85,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in your first six months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

Which Card Offer Higher Point Rewards Value?

When we analyze the number of points cardholders can get for each card for the same spend, we can see that there is a significant difference between the cards. Of course, the results can change based on spending habits.

united explorer

southwest_rapid_rewards_premier_art

Spend Per Category
United Explorer Card
Rapid Rewards Premier
$10,000 – U.S Supermarkets
10,000 miles
10,000 points
$4,000 – Restaurants
8,000 miles
4,000 points
$5,000 – Airline
10,000 miles
15,000 points
$5,000 – Hotels
10,000 miles
10,000 points
$4,000 – Gas
4,000 miles
4,000 points
Total Points
42,000 points
43,000 points
Redemption Value (Estimated)
1 point = ~1.2 cents
1 point = ~1.3 cents
Estimated Annual Value
$504
$559

United Airlines provides diverse redemption choices for MileagePlus miles, enabling users to book flights, upgrade seats, or offset fees. Beyond air travel, miles are versatile for hotel stays, car rentals, and merchandise via the MileagePlus Shopping portal.

Book an experience with United explorer card
Book an experience with United explorer card miles (screenshot taken by our team from United app)

Southwest Airlines offers flexible redemption options for Rapid Rewards points. Use points for flight bookings without blackout dates or seat restrictions, simplifying travel planning. Additionally, points can be utilized for hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, and unique experiences through the More Rewards program.

Southwest Premier card Book with Points
Book flight with Southwest Premier card points(screenshot from Southwest app)

Airline Benefits And Protections: Comparison

The United Explorer is the winner when it comes to extra perks and protections, as it offers benefits such as TSA PreCheck reimbursement, free first checked bag and option to earn PQP to achieve an Elite status.

Both cards offer the following benefits and protections:

  • DoorDash Benefits: Cardholders receive a complimentary one-year DashPass membership.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Receive coverage up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged checked or carry-on luggage.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: Get reimbursed for essential purchases (up to $100 per day for 3 days) in case of baggage delays over 6 hours.
  • Extended Warranty Protection: Extend the manufacturer's warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Purchase Protection: Enjoy coverage for new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account, providing added security for your acquisitions.

Which Unique Benefits Each Card Offer?

Here are the unique benefits of each card:

United Explorer Card

united explorer

  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck® Reimbursement: You can receive up to $100 as a statement credit every four years to cover the application fee for Global Entry, TSA Precheck®, or NEXUS, making your airport security process faster and more convenient.
  • 25% Back on In-Flight Purchases: You'll get a 25% statement credit on purchases of food, beverages, and Wi-Fi on United-operated flights when you pay with your Explorer Card, saving you money during your travels.
Get 25% back for United Inflight Purchases
Get 25% back for United Inflight Purchases (Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock)
  • Priority Boarding: You and your companions on the same reservation can board United-operated flights before the general boarding process.
  • Earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP): You can earn PQP to help you achieve MileagePlus Premier® status, enhancing your travel experience with United Airlines.
  • Free First Checked Bag: You and a companion can save up to $140 per roundtrip by receiving a free checked bag when flying with United, reducing your travel expenses.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the rental company's collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. This provides primary insurance coverage for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: You can be reimbursed for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or cut short due to covered situations like sickness or severe weather.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement: If your common carrier travel is delayed over 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging.
  • Visa Concierge: Enjoy complimentary access to Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24/7, helping you find tickets to events, make dinner reservations, and more.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

southwest_rapid_rewards_premier_art

  • 25% Back on Inflight Purchases: Receive a 25% rebate on inflight purchases, making onboard snacks, drinks, and entertainment more affordable for travelers.
  • 6,000 Points Annually on Cardmember Anniversary: Cardholders receive an additional 6,000 bonus points every year on their Cardmember anniversary, further enhancing the annual point accumulation and boosting the overall rewards potential.

  • Unlimited Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs): For every $10,000 spent, earn 1,500 TQPs toward A-List status, with no limit on the amount of TQPs you can accumulate, facilitating progress towards elite status and associated benefits.
Southwest A-List Status
A-List Status balance (screenshot from Southwest app)
  • 10,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points Boost: The card provides an annual boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points, bringing cardholders closer to earning the highly coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® Each Year: Enjoy the convenience of two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year, allowing cardholders to secure earlier boarding positions. 
Use Companion pass on Southwest Flight
Boost and use Companion pass on Southwest flight

When You Might Want The United Explorer Card?

Here are situations when you might prefer the United Explorer over the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier:

  • You Want Global Network and Star Alliance Benefits: If your travel often takes you to international destinations, the United Explorer card might be preferable. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, offering a broader global network

  • You Want Better Travel Insurance: the Explorer card offers broader coverage than what you can get with the Southwest Premier card, so if you are looking to maximize your coverage, it may be a better option.

  • You Want A Variety Of Redemption Options: If you prefer the flexibility to redeem miles for various travel options beyond flights, the United Explorer might be more suitable. United MileagePlus miles can be used for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more, providing versatility in how you use your earned rewards.

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:
85,000 miles 85,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 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 Want The Southwest Premier Card?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier may be a better option if:

  • You Plan To Spend Mainly On Airline: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card earns 3x points on Southwest flights while the United Explorer card earns 2x miles on United purchases. If you are mainly looking to earn points on flights, the Premier card may be better.

  • You Need Flexible Change and Cancellation Policies: Choose the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier if you appreciate flexibility in your travel plans. Southwest is known for its customer-friendly change and cancellation policies, allowing you to modify your travel dates without hefty fees. This flexibility can be a significant advantage, especially for those with unpredictable schedules.

  • You Want No Blackout Dates or Seat Restrictions: If you want to avoid blackout dates and seat restrictions when redeeming rewards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier may be more suitable. Southwest's redemption system is based on the cost of the flight, offering flexibility in choosing travel dates and availability without the limitations often associated with traditional airline loyalty programs.

Compare The Alternatives

There are other travel cards worth mentioning, here are some of our best premium travel credit cards:

amex platinum

Venture X Rewards

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Capital One Venture X Rewards
Annual Fee
$550
$395
Rewards
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
1X – 10X

5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels, car rentals and dining when you purchase through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit. Also, earn 3x points on dining at restaurants and travel (after meeting the $300 travel credit), then 1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

1X – 10X 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars when booking via Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights and 2 miles per dollar on all eligible 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
60,000 points 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
75,000 miles 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0
$0
Purchase APR
21.24% – 29.24% APR Variable
22.49%–29.49% variable
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)

Compare Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

We think the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier wins – it's cheaper and there is no significant difference in points rewards or airline perks.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus vs Premier: Side By Side Comparison

The AAdvantage Platinum Select and the Southwest Premier card share many common features.

Here's where each card shines: AAdvantage Platinum Select vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

While the Southwest Premier card extra travel perks are better, the JetBlue Plus Card is our winner in this comparison. Here's why.

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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature vs Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier: Comparison

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

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

The Alaska Visa offers higher annual cashback value than United Explorer, but the latter takes the lead when it comes to airline perks.

Alaska Visa Signature vs United Explorer: 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.
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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.