Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » United Explorer vs Delta SkyMiles Gold: Side By Side Comparison
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United Explorer vs Delta SkyMiles Gold: Side By Side Comparison

The Delta SkyMiles Gold and the United Explorer Card offer airline benefits and similar fees. The SkyMiles Gold is our winner - here's why:
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 United Explorer Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card are both mid-tier airline credit cards that offer a variety of benefits to frequent travelers. Let's compare them side by side:

General Comparison

Both cards have similar annual fees and won't charge you extra for transactions abroad. They each have perks designed specifically for the airline they're associated with. The Delta Gold card is great for earning points, while the United Explorer card gives you better bonuses for travel and airline benefits.

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

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Review

united explorer
Delta SkyMiles Gold
United Explorer
Annual Fee
$150, $0 intro first year. (See Rates and Fees.)
$95 ($0 first year)
Rewards
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.
2x per $1 spent on United purchases, hotel accommodations, restaurants & eligible delivery services and 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases
Welcome bonus
40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months
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. See Rates and Fees.
$0
Purchase APR
20.99%-29.99% 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.

Points Rewards Analysis: Which Card Is Better?

If we look at how many points you can get for spending the same amount, the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card is the winner. It gives you more points for your money and offers better yearly rewards than the United Explorer card:

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Review

united explorer
Spend Per Category
Delta SkyMiles® Gold
United Explorer
$10,000 – U.S Supermarkets
20,000 miles
10,000 miles
$4,000 – Restaurants
8,000 miles
8,000 miles
$5,000 – Airline
10,000 miles
10,000 miles
$4,000 – Hotels
4,000 miles
8,000 miles
$4,000 – Gas
4,000 miles
4,000 miles
Total Miles
46,000 miles
40,000 miles
Redemption Value (Estimated)
1 mile = ~1.3 cents
1 mile = ~1.2 cents
Estimated Annual Value
$598
$480

Delta Gold Card holders can redeem miles for Delta flights, seat upgrades, and merchandise. Additionally, explore partner airlines, hotel stays, car rentals, and more. Access exclusive benefits, making the most of your Delta Gold Card rewards.

Delta gold card: book a flight with miles
Delta gold card holders can book a flight with miles (Screenshot taken by our team from delta app)

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.

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

Airline And Travel Benefits: Comparison

When it comes to extra travel and airline perks, the United Explorer card is the winner, mainly due to the broader protections it provides as well as TSA PreCheck reimbursement:

Delta SkyMiles® Gold

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Review

  • TakeOff 15: Save 15% on Award Travel when booking Delta flights (excluding partner-operated flights and taxes/fees).
  • $100 Delta Stays Credit: Members of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card are eligible to receive an annual rebate of up to $100 on qualifying prepaid Delta Stays bookings made on delta.com.

  • $200 Delta Flight Credit: Upon reaching $10,000 in annual purchases, cardholders can enjoy a $200 Delta Flight Credit, applicable towards upcoming travel expenses.

Get Delta flight statement credit
Get Delta flight statement credit with Delta credit cards (Photo by NextNewMedia/Shutterstock)
  • First Checked Bag Free: Receive complimentary first checked bag on Delta flights.
  • Pay with Miles Discount: You can receive up to $50 off the cost of your Delta flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem.
  • 20% Back on In–flight Purchases: Receive a 20% statement credit on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food and beverages.
  • ShopRunner: Enjoy free 2-day shipping at 100+ online stores when you enroll in complimentary ShopRunner membership with your Delta Platinum card.
  • Purchase Protection: Your card can protect eligible purchases from theft or accidental damage for up to 90 days.
  • Extended Warranty: Extend the manufacturer's warranty on eligible purchases by up to one extra year when you use your card.
  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: When you use your card to reserve and pay for a rental vehicle and decline the collision damage waiver (CDW), you can be covered for damage or theft of the rental vehicle in a covered territory.
  • Baggage Insurance Plan: Travel with peace of mind knowing your baggage is covered for loss, damage, or theft when you purchase a common carrier ticket with your card.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

United Explorer

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.
  • 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.
baggage fees to pay on United Airlines Flight
(Photo by FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock)
  • 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.
  • Purchase Protection: Provides coverage for new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days.

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

  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Offers coverage for damaged or lost luggage when checked or carried on by you or an immediate family member.

When You Might Prefer The Delta SkyMiles Gold?

You might prefer the Delta SkyMiles Gold card in the following situations:

  • Dedicated Delta and SkyTeam Traveler: If you frequently fly with Delta Air Lines or other carriers within the SkyTeam alliance, the Delta SkyMiles Gold card is a better choice. It aligns with the perks and benefits of this specific alliance, optimizing your travel experience within its network.

  • Better Points Rewards Ratio: According to our analysis, the Delta Gold card offers more miles for the same spend, so if you're focused on accumulating miles, it may be a better card, depending on your spending habits.

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.

When You Might Prefer The United Explorer?

You might prefer the United Explorer in the following situations:

  • You Fly United Most Often: If you fly United most often, then the United Explorer Card is a good option for you because you will earn double miles on all United purchases, including flights, vacation packages, and MileagePlus Club memberships. This will help you rack up miles quickly and redeem them for rewards faster.

  • You Want Better Travel Insurance And Coverage: The United Explorer offers trip cancellation insurance and trip delay reimbursement, as well as other travel perks that are not included in the Delta Gold card.

  • Frequent Star Alliance Travelers: If you often fly with airlines within the Star Alliance network, including United Airlines and its partners, the United Explorer card is preferable

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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The Delta SkyMiles Platinum is more expensive but offers more premium benefits than the Delta Gold. Here's our complete comparison.

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While the Delta SkyMiles Gold extra perks are better, the JetBlue Plus Card is our winner in this comparison due to its higher cashback value.

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Delta SkyMiles Gold vs. Citi/ AAdvantage Platinum Select: Which Card Wins?

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Hawaiian World Elite Mastercard 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.
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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.