United Club Membership Fees Increasing Effective Immediately

United has announced that they’re raising their fees for United Club memberships:

  • Memberships for general members are increasing by $50 effective immediately
  • Memberships for Premier Silver, Gold, and Platinum members are increasing effective August 18, 2015
  • United is no longer offering discounted spousal memberships — previously you could add a spouse for $250 per year, while now it’ll cost you an extra $550 per year (the full cost of a membership)

With the above in mind, let’s look at the actual changes.

United-Club-Boston

Here’s the fee chart for a United Club membership from April:

United-Club-Before

Meanwhile here’s the current fee chart for a United Club membership:

United-Club-After

That second chart is the current pricing, and doesn’t reflect the price increases we’ll see for elite members as of August 18, 2015:

The discounts for some MileagePlus Premier members will change effective August 18, 2015. Pricing for Premier members as of that date will be: Premier Silver and Premier Gold – $550/70,000 award miles ($1,100/140,000 miles with spouse), Premier Platinum – $500/65,000 miles ($1,050/135,000 miles with spouse), and Premier 1K – $450/60,000 miles ($1,000/130,000 miles with spouse).

So to recap:

  • The cost of membership for Premier Silver members will be $550
  • The cost of membership for Premier Gold members will be $550
  • The cost of membership for Premier Platinum members will be $500
  • The cost of membership for Premier 1K members will be $450

In fairness, I don’t think the price increases are all that horrible, given that United has invested in their lounge food lately.

United-Club-Food

Furthermore, United isn’t changing the lounge guesting policy, as members are still allowed to guest in all immediately family or two guests. Meanwhile when Delta announced SkyClub changes, they completely eliminated free guesting privileges for “basic” club members.

Of course this makes the value proposition of the United Club Card all the more compelling, given that it has a $395 annual fee and comes with a United Club membership.

Bottom line

These increase don’t seem unreasonable, given the improved product available in United Clubs. I think the harshest change here is that there’s no more discount for adding a spouse to a membership. I’m surprised they’d do that, since you’d think that in most cases spouses wouldn’t be using clubs as much as the primary members, and therefore United was doing quite well with that. But I guess not.

What do you make of the changes to the United Club membership fees?

Comments

  1. So what am I missing? Is there any reason to “only” sign up for this vs. getting the credit card. Even at the 1K level, it’s cheaper, right?

  2. This is why I think the Club card is such a good value, especially since the food upgrade. I used to have the MP Explorer card ($95 fee), so for $300/year more I get a full United Club membership, can bring my whole family in, and also get other benefits with the Club card (2 free bags, etc.).

  3. Why even add a spouse line?

    I wonder what will happen with the cost of my spouse membership. I have a Presidential Plus CC and my spouse has been on there for a few years now (for an additional couple hundred bucks). Wonder if I’ll be grandfathered into that.

  4. @ Ben — “From April”?? Think you got a typo…

    All the more reason to use the Centurion lounge at SFO!

  5. So, those of us at the lowly Premier Gold status are being lumped in with the general members and Premier Silver members and no longer getting a discount? While a $100 raise isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things (especially when the membership is a business write-off anyway), it is just one more example of the Smisek-zation (i.e., f’ing up) of United Airlines.

  6. Do people actually pay money to spend time in a United Club? It’s usually one of the most depressing areas in any airport.

  7. Are the drinks free? I got the 50,000 mile deal for the explorer card, and will quickly have enough miles to get a year membership. Then next year will move to the club card. I am moving to Houston and I am switching my airline from Alaska to United.

  8. We should have known this is coming, right? I cannot see United doing any upgrades to anything without getting some $$$ out of it. I guess those improvements don’t look that good any more.
    I guess I can’t blame them; after all they are accountable to the shareholders not to the customers.
    Too bad I am in a “catholic or orthodox jewish marriage” with United and cannot get divorced.

  9. Just one more reason I let my Red Carpet/United Club membership of 20+ years expire. The clubs are all packed to the gills with the cc’rs and it is not worth the $500+/year in my case. If I am desperate to go spend time in the UA Club, I’ll buy a day pass or use my *G status, or better yet, go to the Lufthansa club. UA’s new clubs and food aren’t that great.
    Jeff is making enough $$$ these days, so why not screw the elites for more dinero.

  10. Lucky, out of subject, but today David Neeleman just got portuguese TAP Air and there is a whole soap opera involved, would love to read your opinion.

  11. Haven’t even used up United Club passes I got by being Hyatt Diamond… And I hope Amex makes it to IAH soon 🙂

  12. @ Miles — It’s anyone’s guess. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t go up, personally.

  13. @ Daniel — Assuming you don’t mind a credit inquiry/can apply for another Chase card, it’s absolutely the better option.

  14. My guess is that in the current era of most airlines offering a premium co-branded credit card that comes with a membership, most new memberships being bought outside of a card are ones that people’s employers are buying or reimbursing them for.

    There are probably others who have just been a member forever and $50 doesn’t make enough difference for them to drop it.

    If this is true, then this is kind of a no-brainer for United. It’s found money, and decrease demand much (if at all), since those who are price conscious still have a cheaper option of getting in with the credit card.

  15. I still don’t get why United (and AA for that matter) doesn’t offer a free membership to 1Ks. Delta DMs get free Sky Club access.

    It’s not like any of these lounges are super exclusive luxury attractions. They don’t even come close to the lounge experiences that foreign carriers and Amex offer.

  16. Wow, the Golds keep losing benefits. Mileage bonus going down from 100% to 50%, shafted one elite level with the introduction of Plat, reduction of checked bag, getting lumped into a massive Group 2 boarding with credit card holders, getting inferior “free” lounge drinks at the expense of the 2 drink chits for long-haul flights, etc., etc. And the Silvers are even worse off. I’m so glad I gave up on UA’s MP program…

    I still remember when both Premiers AND Premier Executives were treated well, and not just the 1Ks.

  17. United Club membership is overpriced: 1) the free drinks are swill; 2) free internet isn’t as valuable for business travelers who often have their own hotspots; 3) the food is poor; and 4) the clubs are crowded, often with families using their free passes from the United Explorer card. The sole value is the dedicated customer service area, but just save your free passes for the times when you need the shorter customer service line.

    If you have the Explorer card and Hyatt Diamond you get 4 passes, which is enough for those times you might be desperate. And if you live near a Chase VIP Lounge at Christmas you can easily get a couple more passes by donating toys. Spend that $400 a year (for the United Club Card) on Citi Prestige or AMEX Platinum and get better benefits.

  18. Not even Global Ssevices members receive comp entry into UC’s.
    Although, no mention of what GS discounted rates are on this chart.

  19. The clubs are horrible. The one in LA has been under construction for over a year and not open often. I have the Presidents Card but think UA needs to reimburse me for 2015 dues. They are so crowded you have to fight for access to coffee or water. The one coffee latte machine has made too much and run latte down the side of drinks for going on six months and when you tell them each time, they act like it is the first time they have heard about it.

  20. There are generally three good benefits of United Club membership. During layovers there from international flights, the IAH Terminal E Club still has that marvelous little benefit of complimentary pressing of clothes. You must ask for it and have enough time before boarding for the next flight. Nothing better than taking a shower after 16 hours of travel and having neatly pressed clothes. It’s the only club that does that.

    The other benefit is knowing the right agents in the UA clubs who can help in a pinch such as a weather delay, etc. There are several wonderful agents who have helped me over the years.

    Using the UA club card to gain access to Star Alliance clubs is very helpful as the menu and adult beverages are definite upgrades compared to what is offered at United Clubs.

    Otherwise, UA clubs are too crowded, and I often seek out other clubs via AMEX and Priority Pass when they are logistically and geographically feasible.

  21. As a spouse, I am unhappy. I could lobby that I travel alone enough to make the $250 a year worthwhile. Sadly, I can’t make that same argument for $550. 🙁

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