Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » United Gateway vs United Explorer Card: How They Compare?
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United Gateway vs United Explorer Card: How They Compare?

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

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The United Gateway Card and the United Explorer Card are two co-branded credit cards offered by Chase in partnership with United Airlines. Both cards offer a variety of benefits to frequent United flyers, but they also have different annual fees and rewards structures.

General Comparison

The United Gateway Card is positioned as a no-annual-fee option, appealing to cost-conscious consumers. Despite its lack of an annual fee, it provides a gateway to United's MileagePlus program, allowing cardholders to earn miles on their everyday purchases. However, it has fewer premium perks compared to its counterpart.

On the other hand, the United Explorer Card comes with an annual fee but offers a more comprehensive set of benefits and a better points reward ratio.

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

united explorer

United Gateway card

United Explorer Card
United Gateway Card
Annual Fee
$95 ($0 first year)
$0
Rewards
2x per $1 spent on United purchases, hotel accommodations, restaurants & eligible delivery services and 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases
2X per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting and 1X 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.
20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
0% Intro APR
N/A
12 months on purchases
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0
$0
Purchase APR
21.99% – 28.99% 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:
80,000 points 80,000 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:
80,000 points 80,000 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.

Airline Miles Rewards Analysis: Which Card Is Better?

When we analyze the number of miles cardholders can get for each card for the same spend, we can see the United Explorer card is the winner, but the difference is not significant:

united explorer

United Gateway card

Spend Per Category
United Explorer Card
United Gateway Card
$10,000 – U.S Supermarkets
10,000 miles
10,000 miles
$4,000 – Restaurants
8,000 miles
4,000 miles
$5,000 – Airline
10,000 miles
10,000 miles
$5,000 – Hotels
10,000 miles
5,000 miles
$4,000 – Gas
4,000 miles
8,000 miles
Total Points
42,000 miles
37,000 miles
Redemption Value (Estimated)
1 mile = ~1.2 cents
1 mile = ~1.2 cents
Estimated Annual Value
$504
$444

With the United credit card, you can redeem points for flights on United Airlines or its partners, hotel stays, car rentals, and merchandise. The more flexible miles can be used for any available seat, while the fixed-value miles let you book without worrying about seat availability.

There are no blackout dates and access to exclusive events. Plus, there are options like transferring miles to other loyalty programs or donating them to charities. 

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

What Airline And Travel Benefits You'll Get On Both Cards?

Both the United Gateway and United Explorer offer the following benefits:

  • 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.
  • 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 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)
  • Visa Concierge: Enjoy complimentary access to Visa Signature® Concierge Service 24/7, helping you find tickets to events, make dinner reservations, and more.
  • Purchase Protection: Provides coverage for new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days.
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:
80,000 points 80,000 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:
80,000 points 80,000 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.

What Benefits You'll Get Only With The Explorer Card?

Given its higher cost, the United Explorer Card naturally provides a broader array of travel and airline benefits:

  • 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.
  • Priority Boarding: You and your companions on the same reservation can board United-operated flights before the general boarding process.
Apply for a priority boarding with United Explorer
Apply for a priority boarding with United Explorer (Photo by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)
  • 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.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Offers coverage for damaged or lost luggage when checked or carried on by you or an immediate family member.

  • Trip Delay Reimbursement: Covers unreimbursed expenses such as meals and lodging if your common carrier travel is delayed by more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.

  • Baggage Delay Insurance: Reimburses essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays exceeding 6 hours by a passenger carrier.

When You Might Prefer The United Gateway Card?

Here are situations when you might prefer the United Gateway over the Explorer card:

  • Mileage Accumulation Focus: If your primary goal is to accumulate United miles through everyday purchases rather than accessing premium travel perks, the United Gateway Card offers a straightforward way to earn miles without the higher annual fee associated with the Explorer Card.

  • Cost-Conscious Consumers: If minimizing annual fees is a priority and you prefer a more budget-friendly option, the United Gateway Card could be preferable, as it typically comes with no annual fee, allowing you to access United's MileagePlus program without additional costs.

  • You Need 0% Intro APR: if you plan a large purchase and want to leverage 0% Intro APR on purchases, you can do it only with the Gateway card.
Book an experience with United miles
Book an experience with United miles (screenshot taken by our team from United app)

When You Might Prefer The United Explorer Card?

Here are situations when you might prefer the United Explorer over the Gateway card:

  • Desire for Enhanced Travel Perks: If you prioritize a more comprehensive travel experience, including perks like priority boarding, and free first checked bag, the Explorer Card offers a suite of benefits that goes beyond the basic mileage accumulation features of the Gateway Card.
  • Better Travel Insurance Options: The United Explorer Card is a preferred choice for those who want broader coverage that includes lost luggage and trip delay reimbursement as well as baggage delay insurance. 

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:

jetblue plus card

southwest_rapid_rewards_premier_art

The JetBlue Plus Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite
Annual Fee
$99
$99
$99 (waived for the first 12 months)
Rewards
1X – 6X 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1X points on all other 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
50,000 points 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days
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
$0
$0
Purchase APR
21.24% – 29.99% variable
21.49%–28.49% variable
21.24% – 29.99% (Variable)

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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.